Realtors need to maintain a healthy pipeline of leads. When interest rates are low and temperatures are beautiful, you might be flooded with clients. But there’s always a winter lull or market fluctuation around the bend to stop your momentum and, in turn, your commission checks.
Prepare for the unpredictable nature of real estate with an arsenal of fresh lead-gathering tactics. Here are some real estate lead generation ideas for thinking outside the mass mailer and ahead of the curve.
1. Build partnerships.
Network with other local businesses to form mutually beneficial partnerships. Try strategies like co-hosting happy hours, sending gifts to clients or leads, and forming local alliances. Here are a few industries where real estate agents can form productive partnerships:
Insurance companies - Homeowners insurance is a must, but some homebuyers are also looking to turn their new property into rentals, flip-homes, or businesses. Having the right insurance is key.
Personal bankers - A home is the largest financial investment many of us will ever make. Having a personal banker to run numbers by can be a huge help for buyers.
Commercial lenders - Loan officers are an integral part of the home buying process, but most buyers don't have one in their back pocket.
Bakeries - Whether you're sending pies to former clients to keep your real estate firm top of mind or ordering treats to make your open house extra sweet, connecting with a bakery is never a bad idea for a real estate agent — or anyone, for that matter.
Landscapers - There's an old adage in cooking that says, "The eye eats first." A similar principle applies to real estate. Landscaping is often the first impression potential buyers have of a home. Encourage your sellers to have their homes professionally landscaped to set them apart from the crowd.
Cleaning services - No buyer wants to enter a home that looks a little grimy around the edges. Partner with cleaning services to offer discounted house cleanings to your clients.
Staging experts - Very few of us have HGTV-worthy show homes, but an aspirational home is a home that sells. Build partnerships with local stagers to get your clients' houses under contract faster.
Title companies - A less glamorous but no less important partnership is the one you'll have with local title companies. Have a few go-to companies to recommend to your clients.
One way or another, find and connect with businesses with clientele relevant to your goals and preferences — and once you establish these partnerships, make sure to contribute your fair share. All parties involved stand to gain a lot from these kinds of relationships.
2. Throw a housewarming party
Did a well-connected client just move into their new home? Offer to cater their housewarming party, spring for an open bar, pay for the appetizers, or deck the place out with gorgeous flowers — and make sure to stop by to mingle. A little facetime can go a long way when leveraging this method.
It’s the perfect place to meet prospects in similar life stages who might be impressed by the home you’ve helped their friends buy.
Did they invite the new neighbors? Now’s the time to ask if they’ve considered selling. Neighborhood sales usually generate fresh homeowner interest, and a housewarming party can turn cold leads to hot.
3. Become a restaurant regular.
Meeting clients at a restaurant or local coffee shop to discuss terms? Consistently schedule these kinds of meetings at the same restaurant.
You’ll build clout with the wait staff, gain access to the best tables, and appear popular and plugged into your community. You might even get to know the other regulars — making you the perfect person for them to contact when they’re ready to buy.
4. Send a handwritten note.
Pick up a pen, paper, and an actual stamp — then, send a note to a past or present client. Thank them for choosing you as their realtor, and remind them you’re available to answer questions, suggest a reliable moving company, or send important documents for tax season.
A handwritten note goes a long way to express your appreciation. And it keeps you from becoming yet another unread subject line in your clients’ inbox. Feeling confident? Pick up the phone a few days later and ask for a referral.
5. Leverage the internet to advertise.
Invest in paid online advertising. Websites like Zillow offer advertising options for realtors — a smart move since the share of home buyers who used the internet to search for a home increased to an all-time high of 97% in 2020, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Here are some of the better ways to market yourself as a real estate agent:
- Run Facebook ads
- Run LinkedIn ads
- Answer real estate questions on Quora
- Run Google ads
- Blog for local or national real estate websites
Here's what an effective Facebook ad might look like.
Image Source: Zillow
6. Advertise through more traditional media.
Sometimes, the best avenues to get your brand out and attract new clients are a little more old-school. Media like billboards and print ads can be excellent resources to grab prospective clients' attention and keep your services top-of-mind when they're looking for their next real estate agent. And don't be reluctant to get creative with your advertising — a little humor or eye-popping visuals can help you stand out.
Image Source: Fit Small Business
7. Build your own website.
Your brokerage will likely give you a page on their website, but it’s important to create your own web presence. This allows you to build a personal brand, showcase your specialties, and share reviews from satisfied clients. It also ensures you have a cohesive presence in the local market — even if you switch brokerages.
Pro-Tip: Don’t forget to optimize your site. Write blog posts tackling common questions or challenges clients confront during the buying process. Create and share helpful how-to videos. And capture email addresses by having a newsletter signup.
8. Develop a niche.
Do you specialize in a certain neighborhood, historic homes, or helping clients find their perfect apartment? Lean into it! Find your niche and become an expert. This allows you to focus your marketing efforts on a specific group and develop a reputation as the go-to realtor for these buyers and sellers.
Here are a few common real estate niches:
- Historic homes
- Mid-century modern homes
- Luxury homes
- Student rentals
- School district
- City or town
- First-time homebuyers
- Condominiums or apartments
- Distressed properties
- Senior homes
- Vacation homes
- Commercial real estate
- Industrial real estate
- Property rights
- For Sale By Owner (FSBO) properties
You don't have to be an expert immediately. Decide which niche interests you and immerse yourself in it. For instance, if you want to develop a niche in helping seniors find their perfect retirement homes, learn what their needs are, research local senior centers and senior-friendly neighborhoods, and work with financial planners who understand the unique home buying requirements of the seniors in your area.
9. Use "Coming Soon" signs.
"Coming Soon" and "Sold" signs are a tried-and-true way to generate interest in your properties and expertise. "Coming Soon" signs build anticipation before a home even hits the market.
And "Sold" signs are effective at gathering leads from buyers who missed out on a property — and want you to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
10. Head to an open house.
Not hitting up open houses to harvest new leads? You’re missing out. Many buyers (or soon-to-be buyers) drop in without having an agent. It’s the perfect time to introduce yourself and offer to help them navigate the market.
Pro-Tip: If you decide to go this road, don't be too pushy or aggressive. Shameless self-promotion at someone else's open house is never a good look.
11. Generate leads on LinkedIn.
Join LinkedIn groups you know your target audience frequents. That could be something like a group for local real estate investors or one for first-time homebuyers. Find the groups your buyers are spending time in, and contribute to the conversation before making a professional pitch.
Once you’ve built rapport, follow up with interested prospects, and offer to discuss their questions further on a call.
Pro-Tip: If you’re posting in a real estate investment group, consider sharing a blog article about up-and-coming neighborhoods in your city. If someone in your first-time homebuyers group asks a question about interest rates, provide a knowledgeable answer in the comments.
12. Organize educational events.
Host educational events in your community. By teaching local consumers about buying their first home, what the market’s like now, or what to look for in a rental property, you’ll build your personal brand and drum up new business at the same time.
Pro-Tip: Try partnering with local businesses to host home buying seminars over lunch. Or co-hosting events with mortgage lenders to broaden your base and increase lead potential.
13. Don’t neglect leads.
Did you show a prospect three properties before they realized they weren't ready to buy? Don’t throw their number away. Send them postcards sharing developments in the market, keep them on your email list, and leave the occasional voicemail reminder you’d love to help them find that perfect home when they're ready.
Sales pro Jeff Hoffman offers great tips for salespeople trying to bring stalled deals back from the dead. His biggest piece of advice? Don't repeat your close. "If the prospect gave you a soft yes — and then nothing — or a firm no, never follow up with the same close. Your next request should be different."
So, instead of following up with your stalled buyer a few months down the line with a "Ready to buy yet?" try asking, "Would you be interested in joining our seminar for first-time homebuyers?
This is an easier close and will keep your prospect from feeling cornered or pressured.
14. Target "For Sale by Owner" listings.
According to the National Association of Realtors, only 3% of FSBO listings sell within the desired time — and a mere 18% reported receiving the right price. Find these listings on Craigslist or other real estate sites, and offer to help them get the most from their property listing.
Share a blog post or a few bulleted stats about why working with an agent is beneficial to the seller, and ask if they’d be interested in learning more.
15. Reach out to expired listings.
Pull lists of expired listings from the MLS. Be sensitive to the fact these sellers are likely frustrated with their current realtor, discouraged they haven’t sold their home, and under a lot of stress.
Open the conversation by explaining you understand their frustrations, and share a few ways you’d do things differently to sell their home fast.
16. Generate referrals from satisfied clients.
Positive word of mouth is a major plus for virtually all kind of sales efforts — and real estate sales are no exception. It's estimated that 40% of buyers used an agent who was referred to them by a friend, neighbor, or relative. And 91% of buyers would use their agent again or recommend them to others.
Your previous and existing clients can be excellent lead-generation resources. That's why it serves you to remain in contact with them and keep yourself top-of-mind — and when you're working with them, give it your all.
Make sure you're providing them with thorough attention and exemplary service. If you can build trust and develop a productive relationship with your clients, you'll be in a solid position to capitalize on their referral potential.
17. Work divorce leads.
Divorce leads are as potentially productive as they are uncomfortable to think about. You'll be hard-pressed to find leads with more urgency behind them — a court order to sell your home tends to have that effect.
Divorced leads require some finesse and compassion. As you can imagine, these kinds of clients probably aren't too thrilled about being in the position they're in. But if you can find and appeal to them, you'll set yourself up with a base of extremely motivated clients.
Pro-Tip: Consider getting certified as a Real Estate Collaboration Specialist - Divorce (RCS-D) if you want to make the most of this method.
18. Leverage predictive analytics.
Predictive analytics — a technique that considers both real-time and historical data to predict future outcomes — can be leveraged to help generate real estate leads. Different AI programs allow you to gather and break down relevant data points, helping you pinpoint houses that are likely to be sold in your area. With that insight informing your efforts, you can reach out to prospective sellers and generate quality leads.
19. Bolster your social media presence.
As a real estate agent, you are your brand. And as with any other brand nowadays, you need a sound social media presence if you want to stay afloat. Make sure you have profiles across multiple platforms, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — anywhere you can connect with buyers and sellers.
All of these applications give you space to promote yourself and your listings. They give prospects a concrete reference point where they can get a sense of who you are and what you have to offer. They also help you project legitimacy and add a human element to your professional persona.
But the value of these platforms extends beyond conventional promotion. We touched on the merit of leveraging forums like LinkedIn groups to reach prospects earlier in this article — that also applies to Facebook groups, Twitter threads, and Instagram comment sections. You can use these avenues to establish yourself as a knowledgeable, helpful, consultative resource for prospects and generate leads.
20. Dig for especially old expired listings.
We talked about reaching out to expired listings earlier on in this article, but this point goes a little deeper. Sometimes, recently expired listings might not be sufficient when trying to generate leads — you might find some extra value by looking way back.
Several realtors look for newly expired listings, but very few think to check in with sellers whose listings went dark over a year ago without relisting. These potential clients might have run into issues like inopportune timing or relationships with ineffective realtors — and just because they were discouraged doesn't mean they can't be persuaded to sell.
21. Network at non-real estate events.
As you can probably assume, real estate events are going to be full of real estate professionals — people who do what you do, all looking for vying for attention from the same potential clients. They don't give you much space to stand out.
That's why non-real estate events present unique opportunities for you to connect with prospects without being surrounded by your competition. Local community get-togethers and recreational meet-ups offer you casual forums where you can connect with potential clients.
Pro-Tip: Avoid being too aggressive or salesy if you go this road — people don't go to these events to meet real estate agents. Try to keep your interactions as organic as possible.
22. Try going door-to-door.
Sometimes, going back to basics is your best option. Door-to-door sales is one of the most fundamental, effective ways to connect with prospects in any context — and real estate is no exception.
This strategy can be a little imposing for some, but if you're willing to put your head down and stomach some face-to-face rejection, you can put yourself in a solid position to generate some high-quality leads.
23. Join your local chamber of commerce.
Your local chamber of commerce can provide several valuable resources and opportunities for generating leads. Having your brand listed in newsletters and websites offers some valuable exposure and projects legitimacy to prospective clients. It also gives you a network of solid business connections you can lean on to help put you in touch with prospects.
24. Use Instagram stories.
One of the better ways to spice up your social media presence, capture potential clients' attention, and generate leads for your real estate business is by running Instagram stories. Posting something like a quick tour of a listing or images of interesting properties can be an excellent way to showcase your portfolio and drive quick engagement on your profile.
25. Cold call.
Sometimes, rolling up your sleeves and taking a tried-and-true approach to lead generation is your best bet. Sure, cold calling is inherently uncomfortable and generally low-converting — but it's also one of the better ways to cover a lot of ground, connect with potential clients, and ultimately generate leads.
26. Contribute to industry publications.
Potential clients want their agents to be knowledgeable and competent. They want someone who understands the ins and outs of real estate. Contributing to industry publications, like magazines or blogs, is one of the better ways to demonstrate that kind of expertise.
If you can connect with reputable publishers and put thoughtful content together, you can establish yourself as an authority in your space and gain some valuable exposure. With that kind of momentum, the leads are bound to follow.
27. Connect with estate liquidators.
Estate liquidators can be valuable resources for real estate lead generation. These professionals have consistent intel on a steady stream of sellers — and if you can establish a productive relationship with them, you can tap into that base and generate quality leads.
Leads are the lifeblood of the real estate industry. Give these tactics a try and see how they benefit your business.
Editor's note: This post was originally published on April 26, 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.