Generating leads in real estate might be the most important part of your job. Learn what that means and more.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average property spends only a week on the market. Once that transaction is finished, the buyer or seller probably won’t need a realtor’s services again for years—four on the low end, less than two decades on the higher end. Understanding the process of generating leads in real estate is how you keep your real estate business going, even as individual clients close and move on with their lives.
How to generate leads for real estate
Getting leads for real estate is part digital, part face-to-face. Mastering strategies from both realms is important for reaching the largest possible audience. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
1. Send referral codes to clients
An NAR report calculated that 90% of homebuyers and 89% of sellers would recommend their agent to friends or family. The average seller has recommended their agent twice since selling.
“Getting leads through referral links is one of the most common ways in the housing market right now,” said Dustin Fox, owner and real estate agent with Fox Homes in Fairfax, Virginia. “[It’s] the easiest and simplest way to generate leads and has the most chance of conversion. All you have to do is work with integrity and ‘do what you do best’ and gain the trust of your clients.”
A great strategy is to send a thank-you gift to clients after closing and include a referral link, which the client can easily share via email, text or social media.
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2. Reach out to your circle
“You can even share that referral link with your family, friends and relatives,” Fox said. “And obviously, it must be on your website and social media platforms.”
Friends and family carry twice as much weight as any other recommendation source, a 2019 study revealed. When more people suggest your services to people they know, you get a higher volume of warm leads.
3. Polish your LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn has 277 million members and 60% of them are between the ages of 25 and 34—the age range of the average first-time homebuyer, according to the NAR. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated to include where you work, who you serve and whether you have a specialty. Add any accolades or certifications.
4. Get active on LinkedIn groups
To reach more leads, including those who might not be actively hunting for an agent or buyer, join some LinkedIn groups in your city. Professional networking groups—general and industry-specific—connect you with people who have moved to the area for work.
Join local real estate groups as well. You can learn more about the market and find connections for future referrals.
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5. Use Instagram hashtags
Instagram is another smart way to reach millennial homebuyers—currently 43% of the entire market, according to the NAR. Post your listings to the platform using a hashtag like #househunting or #newhouse. Your post can then show up when someone follows or searches for that hashtag.
Add your town or neighborhood—#Brooklynrealestate, for example—to reach a more focused audience.
6. Answer questions on Quora
Use the question-and-answer website Quora to search for questions your leads might ask, like “How do I sell my house fast” or “What to look for when buying a house.” Answer those questions in detail and link to a relevant page on your website. Ensure you also have contact details in your Quora profile.
7. Optimize your site for search engines
According to the NAR, 95% of real estate buyers use the internet in the home-search process. Almost one in 10 starts by searching the internet for information about buying. That number is even higher for younger buyers.
The better you rank on Google, the more likely you are to generate real estate leads. A 2020 study shows that 28.5% of searchers click on the first result. By result number 10, that number has dropped to 2.5%.
The best way to boost your rank is through search engine optimization (SEO). Do some research on current best practices or hire a professional. Be warned, though—it can take time.
“This process can take anywhere from six to 12 months,” said Thomas Satas, founder and CEO of Windy City HomeBuyer in Chicago. “Think in the long-term, though, because once you establish yourself on the internet, the possibilities are endless.”
8. Add a blog to your website
Blogging has two benefits: It lets you optimize for more keywords and gives you more pages for Google to index. HubSpot research shows adding 50 to 100 indexable pages can increase your monthly lead numbers by 200% or more. Each post should include keywords someone might use to search for you, such as “selling a home in Chicago” or “Miami real estate agents.”
9. Write guest posts
When you post on other real estate blogs, you reach a broader audience. Google popular real estate blogs and blogs in your area, then contact the owners and ask if they accept guest posts. Have a few topics ready to suggest. In each accepted post, include a link to your business.
10. Sign up as an expert source
Journalists use sites like Help a Reporter Out (HARO), SourceBottle and ResponseSource to connect with industry websites.
When you sign up as a source on these sites, you can respond to queries and potentially get your name and a link to your website in news stories, articles and blog posts published online. Those links can boost your SEO, assuming the article comes from a respected website.
11. Request Google and Yelp reviews and respond to them
More than 80% of consumers used Google to choose a local business in 2021, according to BrightLocal. Ask happy clients to leave a review and don’t forget to respond. BrightLocal also reports that 89% of people use businesses that respond to all online reviews.
12. Start a YouTube Channel
YouTube has 27 million users in the U.S. alone. Create a channel and highlight properties in your market to reach local buyers and sellers. You can also make educational homebuying and selling videos for people still in the research phase.
13. Invest in paid ads
While you wait for SEO strategies to pay off, start generating real estate leads with paid ads. You can run ads on any of the major social media platforms for as little as $1 per day, according to WebFX.
Google is even more flexible, letting you run pay-per-click (PPC) ads on search results pages with no minimum spend. It recommends a daily budget of $10 to $50 for beginners. You can adjust your spend based on results.
Think of it as an investment, suggested Charles Chandler, owner of My Tennessee Home Solution in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Using sources such as Facebook ads, Google PPC and hiring a team to enhance your search engine optimization can cost a decent amount,” Chandler said. “But it’s comforting to realize that more leads means more appointments—which means more offers, more deals [and] a healthy business with consistent lead flow.”
14. Buy leads from a lead-generation platform
Lead-generation companies use consumer data to find interested buyers and sellers. The companies sell that information to real estate professionals in exchange for a monthly fee or a per-lead service charge. These online-based resources filter their leads by relevance so you get leads targeted to your market.
15. Reach out to for-sale-by-owner sellers
According to the NAR, for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) listings sell for four-fifths the median selling price of agent-assisted homes. Plus, more than half of successful FSBO sellers know the buyer. Sharing these statistics helps you demonstrate your service’s value.
16. Seek out expired listings
Expired sale and rental listings represent people who might need more help selling their homes. Find these listings on your multiple listing service (MLS) dashboard by selecting a geographic area and setting the expiration date. Choose recently expired listings and/or listings set to expire soon.
17. Contact absentee owners
Absentee owners—those who own property but don’t live there—may benefit from selling but not know how to get started. Start looking by browsing property tax records. Search for mailing addresses that aren’t the property address.
Owners of vacant properties are high-potential leads. Do some digging and find out who recently inherited a property, or look at rental listings to find who’s having trouble finding a tenant.
18. Send postcards to your target neighborhood
Glossy postcards are easy to order in bulk and can cost less than $0.50 each. Send out as many as you need now and save the rest for a future mailing.
19. Advertise on a billboard
Billboard advertising gets you in front of an entire community. Non-digital billboards can cost as little as $1,500 a month in small to midsize cities and less in rural areas, Fit Small Business reported. Digital billboards usually run at least a few hundred more—but according to Statista, 57% of people look at them most or all of the time.
20. Host a workshop for first-time buyers or sellers
Start generating real estate leads face-to-face by hosting a seminar or workshop. Book space at a local venue like a library or college. Promote the event via all of your marketing channels, including social media and your email list if you have one. Advertise through local news outlets and post fliers in the area.
21. Sponsor a local charity event
Sponsoring nonprofit events puts you in front of potential homebuyers and sellers while showing that you care about your community. Reach out to the organizers of annual events like fundraising runs or food drives, or call local nonprofits to see if they have events that need sponsors.
22. Offer broker price opinions for banks
Mortgage lenders ask brokers to calculate a home’s value if the mortgage holder has fallen behind on payments and may be headed to foreclosure. By offering these services to banks, you get an inside look at who might be interested in selling.
23. Become a divorce specialist
Divorcing couples often sell the home and split the proceeds as part of an asset division. Specializing in this kind of sale helps you earn the trust of families and their lawyers. You can even earn a Real Estate Collaboration Specialist - Divorce (RCS-D) certification from the Collaborative Continuing Education Council.
24. Attend area chamber of commerce events
Chambers of commerce exist to strengthen local economies and build community. Join your local chamber to meet other professionals who can give you referrals. The people you meet may even become your clients themselves.
25. Networking or partnerships
Local partnerships are another way to get word-of-mouth referrals. For example:
- Lenders and mortgage brokers often hear from people looking to buy or sell a home.
- Attorneys, especially divorce and estate attorneys, work with people in transition who might need to sell.
- Contractors, landscapers, painters and other home-services providers get calls when someone is fixing up their house to sell.
- Real estate agents with different specialties than yours may be good for partnerships.
- Home insurance professionals can send people your way when a client wants to move.
You can send potential clients to these professionals. In return, they can do the same for you.
Developing your lead-generation strategy
Learning how to generate leads for real estate is different for every professional. Use this list to gather ideas and try out one or two. Track your results to expand what works and move on from what doesn’t. In time, your strategy will fall into place.