It’s important for realtors 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 your commission checks.
Prepare for the unpredictable nature of real estate with an arsenal of fresh lead-gathering tactics. Here are a few strategies for thinking outside the mass mailer and ahead of the curve.
How to Get Leads in Real Estate
1. Build partnerships
Network with other local businesses to form mutually beneficial partnerships. Co-host happy hours, send gifts to clients or leads, and form local alliances that will help you go far. Here are a few industries with which it can be helpful for real estate agents to form 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 - 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.
2. Throw a housewarming party
Did a well-connected client just move into their new home? Offer to cater their housewarming party -- and make sure to stop by to mingle. It’s the perfect place to meet prospects in similar life stages who are awestruck 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.
To make this more attractive to your new homeowner, offer to cater an open bar, pay for the appetizers, or deck the place out with gorgeous flowers.
3. Become a restaurant regular
Meeting clients at a restaurant or local coffee shop to discuss terms? Always schedule these 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, and send a note to past or present clients. 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.
Here are a few effective ways to market yourself as a real estate agent:
Run Facebook ads
Run LinkedIn ads
Answer real estate questions on Quora
Canvas neighborhood mailboxes with your card
Run Google ads
Advertise in the local newspaper
Blog for local or national real estate websites
6. 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.
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:
Mid-century modern homes
City or town
Condominiums or apartments
Commercial real estate
Industrial real estate
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. If you want to develop a niche in helping seniors find their perfect retirement homes, learn what their needs are, research local senior centers, senior-friendly neighborhoods, and work with financial planners who understand the unique homebuying requirements of the seniors in your area.
8. 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 in this property -- and want you to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
9. 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.
10. Generate leads on LinkedIn
Join LinkedIn groups you know your target audience frequents. Maybe it’s 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.
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.
Once you’ve built rapport, follow up with interested prospects, and offer to discuss their questions further on a call.
11. 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.
Not sure how to get started? Partner with local businesses to host home buying seminars over lunch. Or co-host an event with a mortgage lender to broaden your audience base and increase lead potential.
12. Become a Redfin partner agent
Take advantage of eight million monthly Redfin users by becoming a partner agent. Redfin will send you motivated buyers in exchange for 30% of the commission.
93% of customers who closed recommend their Redfin Partner Agent to a friend, so referrals shouldn't be a problem. And because you're simply partnering with Redfin, not working for them, you can stay with your firm.
13. Don’t neglect leads
Did you show a prospect three properties before she realized she wasn’t ready to buy? Don’t throw her number away. Send her postcards sharing developments in the market, keep her on your email list, and leave the occasional voicemail reminder you’d love to help her find that perfect home when she’s 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
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.
Leads are the lifeblood of the real-estate industry. Give these tactics a try and see how they benefit your business.