Whether you’re a new real estate agent or you're looking for new contacts, it can be tricky. Here are 14 ways to help you generate real estate leads.
In some areas of sales, prospects and customers come directly to you –– no lead generation necessary. When the soles of your shoes are worn thin, for example, you might head straight to the shoe store to grab a new pair with your mind all but made up. But when it comes to real estate, it can take weeks, months, or even years to find a forever home (and the same amount of time spent nurturing leads before you finally close the sale.) While this makes persistence vital to the success of a real estate professional, your success will also be largely dependent on your ability to generate leads in the first place.
Whether you’re new to the real estate game and looking for ways to start strong, or you’re a seasoned real estate professional interested in refreshing your lead-generation strategies, stay tuned for 14 effective tactics on how to generate leads in real estate.
Behind every home sale, whether of a modest starter home or a million-dollar mansion, there’s an email, text message, phone call, or completed online inquiry form that got the whole process started. In many ways, this early lead stage can be the most promising of the entire home sale: you know their name, contact information, and the simple fact that they might be interested in buying a property. You also have every opportunity to meet or far exceed expectations, teeing up the entire business relationship.
Of course, these leads mean nothing unless they’re properly nurtured. Failing to follow up (letting a lead go “cold”) can eliminate a potential sale from the jump, as interested parties take their interest (and business) elsewhere. On the other hand, having a lead is by no means a guarantee of a sale, and it certainly doesn’t mean you should stop searching for leads. Given the long life cycle of a lead, slowing your lead generation now could impact the entire next year of your business, making it all the more important that you continue to find new and innovative ways to attract new business.
We mentioned emails and inquiry forms, but the truth is real estate leads can come from just about anywhere. They can come from friends and family looking for a new home (or looking to sell their existing property) that know you’re in the real estate game. They can come from neighbors and community members, or total strangers on social media. We can go on and on, but our point is this: realtors looking for new leads should understand that these leads are everywhere, and diversifying your approach to real estate lead generation will help keep the stream of new business flowing.
Online, in-person, at your yoga studio, or elsewhere, here are 9 ways to generate leads in the real estate industry.
If you’ve spent any time (or perhaps too much time) scrolling on Zillow, it should come as no surprise that 97% of all homebuyers reportedly use the internet in their home search.1 But beyond leveraging this popular online home-buying tool to generate interest in listings, you’ll find that creating a website of your own can help you grow your business and garner the interest of potential clients. Now, throwing a website up on the net won’t guarantee you views, inquiries, or leads, and you’ll have to work some magic to stand out. This can be achieved with some SEO-improving content, like informative blogs and strategically employed keywords. When leads search “realtor near me” on Google, you’ll want to be as close to the first result as possible.
If you’re currently working for a firm, you likely have a dedicated page on their website. However, by building a website of your own in addition to this page, you can create a brand that is completely independent of your employer. Should you move to a different firm or strike out on your own, you can take your established brand with you. All the more reason to create an impactful, search-engine-optimized website for your business.
Relationships are everything to a real estate professional, and the relationships you forge with clients over the course of their home-buying journey can last a lifetime –– or at least earn you some referrals down the line. Similarly, the relationships you forge in your community can lead to a lifetime of leads, originating from both obvious and unexpected places.
One way to generate leads in your community is by partnering with local businesses. If you routinely patronize a local coffee shop and have built a relationship with the employers or owners, ask about leaving behind business cards. If you’ve made a strong enough positive impression, you might be the first name they think of when a patron, friend, or neighbor mentions purchasing a new home. Of course, this works with far more than coffee shops or restaurants; get creative when partnering with businesses as part of your lead-generation strategy.
Realtors can also generate leads by becoming community leaders. We know this might sound like a gargantuan task –– but it may be more within reach than you think. As a realtor, you’re already a community leader in many respects; you’re the welcome wagon, helping new residents begin building their lives in your community. But to get the attention of existing residents, you can hone your leadership skills through a community-wide event. Co-sponsored block parties, movies in the park, and happy hours can all help cement your status as a leader in your community and drive leads to your business.
There’s a good reason why real estate agents still utilize billboards and bus stop ads: they work. And while social media, search engines, and podcast ads might have us convinced that the new way of advertising is the right way, the truth is traditional advertising can still be an effective tool for realtors looking to generate leads. That is, if you’re willing to think outside the box.
The problem with traditional advertising (think: print ads, radio spots, television, or billboards) is that too many advertisers adopt a traditional approach to these mediums. In a time where home buyers spend hours of their days looking at a screen (home shopping or not), it’s up to you to earn their attention. With that said, we understand that many agents might not be copywriters or designers by trade, nor might they possess the budget to outsource these duties for a full campaign.
If this is the case, direct mail can be a great way to put a modern spin on traditional advertising –– and level up your lead generation. Our email inboxes are overloaded, spam is everywhere, and physical mail has become a bit of a rarity. With a targeted direct mail marketing strategy, you can cut through the clutter of both email and social media and funnel qualified leads directly back to your business.
“It’s not no, it’s not now.” As a realtor, you might have heard something along these lines (or these exact words) from a prospective buyer. And despite the hint of promise in this sentiment, you might have moved on anyways –– assuming this was just a “no” wearing different clothes. While we don’t blame you, this could have been a misstep. But it’s not too late to re-engage these old leads.
Why revisit the past? For one, you’ve already invested your time in these leads (and if you paid for this lead, you’ve invested money, too.) Whether you’ve only talked on the phone or attended multiple showings with these potential buyers, you’ve made an initial investment that can only be recouped with follow-through. It’s quite possible the foundation of trust simply wasn’t there the last time around, but by continuing to follow up and share valuable information with leads, you can prove that you’re interested in more than just a sale.
So, instead of circling back with an email or voicemail that reads, “Now are you ready to buy a house?”, consider a more helpful approach. Share information about the overall real estate market or interest rates, send a link to an article you wrote for first-time homebuyers, or pass along the good news that the asking price on their dream home was just reduced. Let them know you’ve been thinking about them, and they’ll think of you when the time is right.
While you’ll want to continuously follow up with leads who haven’t converted to clients, it’s equally important to keep in touch with those who have –– and may be willing to sing your praises to friends, family members, coworkers, or any stranger who will listen. Client referrals can be a powerful lead-generation tool, as over a third of home buyers have found their realtors through referrals from friends or family.2 This can be attributed to the psychological concept of social proof, which suggests people are more likely to do something if someone they know does it. So, if someone buys a home from you (and has a good time doing it) their friends and family might be more likely to do the same. Using a client relationship management system (CRM), you can send automated requests to clients after the sale has closed, ensuring no referral opportunity is missed.
But as impactful as positive referrals can be for generating leads, negative reviews can be equally so. Remaining empathetic, patient, and understanding as you guide your homebuyers through the sales process can double as a marketing effort, netting your leads as a reward for your exemplary service (and preserving your Google My Business rating).
Between 2020 and 2021, over 150,000 people became realtors –– a 60% spike over the previous two years, according to information gathered by the New York Times.3 With real estate now an entirely saturated market, homebuyers are looking for ways to sift through all of these agents for a real estate agent they can trust with this major life decision. At a time when anyone and everyone is a real estate “expert,” seasoned real estate professionals should be ensuring their expertise shines through.
One way real estate professionals can demonstrate their expertise is by contributing to local journals, trade publications, or online magazines. Appearing in these publications accomplishes several goals. For one, it shows potential clients that you have the experience and knowledge necessary to help them navigate this important process. Secondly, it puts you on the maps of other real estate professionals who, though they might not be in your area, will remember your name and expertise when referring clients out. Sites like realtor.com accept contributions from skilled professionals, allowing you to reach a nationwide audience with your valuable real estate market and industry insights.
Leverage content marketing to generate real estate leads. Even if you aren’t ready to publish your insights in a magazine or trade publication website, you’ll find that creating helpful, quality content will have a positive impact on your ability to generate leads. We emphasize both “helpful,” and “quality” because these are some of the characteristics Google (and other search engines) considers when ranking content –– meaning the more value your content provides to viewers, the better your chances of being seen by leads.
By developing an expansive library of useful content you can boost your online search rankings and make your website stand out, but you also create more opportunities for potential homebuyers to join your lead pipeline. With an email sign-up link at the bottom of each article’s page, you have virtually limitless opportunities to feed your mailing list (where leads can receive even more helpful information). If the thought of creating a database of valuable content is daunting, keep in mind that these don’t have to be 10,000-word essays. Just write what you know with the hopes of helping others, and the leads should follow.
Realtors may be skilled at selling homes (and to an extent, dreams) but they’re also more adaptable than most professions, adjusting personalities and approaches with every past, present, and prospective client while selling every style of home imaginable. But by establishing a specialty, realtors may find themselves generating more qualified leads than ever before.
One notable example is Rob Kallick, realtor and owner of the popular Instagram account, Take Sunset. Rob’s specialty is well-preserved mid-century modern homes across the state of California, a niche he has developed into over $400 million in transaction sales and nearly 100,000 followers. Capitalizing on the feverish popularity of “mid-mod” homes, Rob has become the go-to guy for leads looking for the time capsule of their dreams, thus creating a thriving career out of his life-long passion. With so many different architectural styles making up our communities, you can do the same.
To generate more leads than competing real estate businesses, you might have to do more than others are willing to do. In some cases, this can mean following up with clients long after they’ve closed on their home (and have written you a referral) in the form of helpful advice like keeping utility bills low over the summers, useful tips like what new restaurants are opening in the neighborhood, or anything in between. You can earn a reputation for being attentive and helpful, and the leads will come. Or, you can be the most attentive and the most helpful, clearly distinguishing your business from your competitors and diverting leads accordingly.
For realtors just getting their start in the industry or not trying to break the bank on lead generation, here are some free and inexpensive ways to find leads in real estate.
We’ve made it this far without suggesting social media, but when it comes to free lead-generation strategies there are few better tools available –– you just have to be willing to play the game. Much like having your own website, having an established presence on social media can help you create a brand independent of your firm, growing your own business and not just that of your employer. Like your website, however, it will take some work to properly leverage Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn as a means of generating leads.
If you’re not particularly social media savvy, or if you can’t afford to spend hours of your day on a platform (what realtor can?) start with the platform you’re most likely to make an impact with: Instagram. Being a visual platform, Instagram will allow you to best showcase your available properties –– and Instagram Stories allows you to post the most up-to-date listing information. Growing your audience, and expanding your lead-generation capabilities, will come largely down to your engagement. This means you should routinely like, comment on, and interact with posts, and engage with those who interact with your content.
Above, we discussed the ways that some good old-fashioned physical mail can be what it takes to cut through the noise of email spam. Want to take this lead-generation approach even further? Try sending a hand-written postcard or note to leads. Beyond the novelty of receiving a hand-written note in the mail, a more personal touch demonstrates both the attention to detail which sets you apart as an agent and the attentiveness they can expect should they buy or sell a home with you.
This has long been a popular post-job interview tactic, and for good reason: Our brains are more likely to remember something we read on paper than something we read on a screen.4 Paper and stamps are cheap — though we recommend splurging on weighty card stock to further demonstrate your attention to every detail –– and the biggest cost will be your time. If you were already planning on following up with a lead via email, consider spending the extra time on a more personal touch.
You don’t have to be a lead’s first call for them to be a “new” lead, and you may encounter these leads at various stages in the home-buying process. They might be early on in their search, unsure of what they’re looking for, or they may be at an open house for a home they truly see a future in. With this in mind, if you aren’t paying visits to open houses as part of your lead generation strategy, now is the second-best time to start (the first-best was yesterday.)
Why? Because, while it’s ideal to attend open houses with a buyer’s agent to ensure you’re asking the right questions (and getting the full story,) not everyone does it. So, attending open houses can be an opportunity to generate qualified leads and provide essential guidance to ensure buyers make the right choice. We should note: Considering another real estate agent will likely be the one hosting the open house, it’s important to be respectful and not burn bridges in the pursuit of a potential sale.
Earlier, we discussed the importance of establishing yourself as an expert by contributing to online publications and trade magazines. We also highlighted how realtors can become community leaders. But by donating your time and expertise in the form of educational community events, you can accomplish both of these goals in one fell swoop.
How does this work? Well, any way you want it to! You can partner with local businesses to host a “First-Time Home-Buying Wine Tasting,” where you invite friends, neighbors, and community members to come learn about navigating the home-buying process while supporting a small business, or you can team up with a professional services provider (like a local mortgage or insurance office) to double the educational value and double the variety of leads. No matter how you approach this, lead with the idea that you’re doing your community a service and strengthening relationships in the process. If you get leads out of it, that’s just the icing on top.
Of all homes sold in 2021, 10% were listed as for sale by owner (FSBO).5 And while this can be interpreted as highlighting the value of real estate professionals, we see it as a lead-generating opportunity-in-waiting. According to the National Association of Realtors, FSBO homes sell for an average of $225,000 compared to the $330,000 fetched by realtor-assisted sales, with FSBO sellers citing both “getting the right price” and “understanding and performing paperwork” as the biggest headaches affiliated with the process.
As a real estate professional, these are your problems to solve. And while convincing FSBO sellers to list with you might not be your first place to look for leads, you’re positioned to help in a way that no one else is. Demonstrate the ways that listing with you can make a difference, and take these headaches (and more) away.
If there’s anything to learn from the above it’s that leads are everywhere –– you just have to be willing to look for them. And whether you take to building a brand on social media, tapping into the FSBO market, or growing into a community leader, these real estate lead-generation tactics will help you level up your business.
1. National Association of Realtors. Real Estate in a Digital Age.
2. National Association of Realtors. Quick Real Estate Statistics.
3. The New York Times. Why So Many People Became Real Estate Agents in the Pandemic.
4. Scientific American. The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens.
5. National Association of Realtors. Quick Real Estate Statistics.
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