Does Cold Calling Work in Real Estate? 3 Key Considerations

Does Cold Calling Work in Real Estate? 3 Key Considerations

Let’s cut to the chase: cold calling absolutely works—especially in real estate.

Real estate cold calling requires reaching out to individuals who haven’t expressed any interest in your real estate service, but who might be potential customers. If you qualify your leads correctly and utilize a great cold calling strategy, you can discover clients who had been considering buying or selling a home, but hadn’t reached out and found a realtor yet.

In a hot real estate market like the U.S. has experienced for years, current and hopeful homeowners have been weighing their options for quite some time. Cold calling reaches them first and can move them to finally act on their thoughts.

And who do you think gets their business—the real estate professional that utilizes cold calling, or the realtor with an ad on the bus stop bench?

The Proof is in the Numbers: Cold Calling Works in Commercial & Residential Real Estate

You could sit around hoping that someone finds your website or gets referred your way. Or, you could just call them and get going.

According to research by the Keller Center, 28% of telemarketing cold calls are answered, and 1.7% of the people realtors talk to end up as appointments or referrals—that goes for both commercial real estate agents and their residential counterparts. Another study shows that cold call leads will say “no” four times before saying “yes.” Yet less than half of those agents will ever call again after hearing that first “no.”

The moral of the story: Your potential clients (at least 75% of them) want real estate agents to make between 2-4 attempts.

Depending on which source you cite, successful cold calls tend to last between 4 and 7 minutes, with the sales rep (i.e., agent) speaking 50-60% of the time. The takeaway here is that your calls aren’t meant to run on like a bad best man’s speech—they should involve engaging conversation that keeps the lead on the phone. Remember: your goal is to secure a meeting, not perform a full needs assessment.

The Keller study concluded that one home listing was secured for every 12 hours spent cold calling. By spending just an hour or so of cold calling each day, you could gain two new listings a month. What would you do with the commissions earned on two new listings each month over the course of a year?

Cold Calling for Real Estate

Who to Target in Real Estate Cold Calling

OK, so we’ve convinced you that cold calling is not just effective in finding homeowners (and property developers) to work with, but it’s also worth the time you’d need to put into it. But who do you call? Well, lucky for you, there are lots of places to source new leads.

Expired Listings

One of the first (and most obvious) places to start is with expired listings. These homeowners had a listing with a real estate agent that has expired, most likely because the home didn’t sell in the agreed-upon time frame, and the seller opted not to renew the contract. Are they potentially looking for a new realtor? It’s likely!

When calling expired listings, the homeowner is probably frustrated and disgruntled after their home failed to sell the first time. Don’t worry so much about pitching the benefits of selling a house when speaking to these homeowners—instead, listen to their failed selling story, and propose a unique strategy to resolve that problem when they list a second time with you.

Targeted Area Calling

Also known as circle prospecting, contacting others in a neighborhood where homes are selling quickly is a great way to drum up new business. If an area is hot and someone just sold a home for a great return, word has probably gotten around the neighborhood, and others may be interested in making a big profit by selling their home, too. Your call could be as simple as offering them a valuation on the property, or just proposing the idea of selling to get them thinking about it—and you.

For Sale By Owner (FSBO)

Another great option is calling “For Sale By Owner” properties. There can be resistance based on cost, but if the property has been on the market for a while and you think you can sell it faster and maybe at a higher price, they will be open to listening. Let’s face it; they don’t have your skills or industry knowledge. A gentle call offering your expertise and selling yourself may be all it takes to win that listing.

Watch a live FSBO cold call, plus 22 other fantastic cold calling videos.

For Rent By Owner (FRBO)

“For Rent By Owner” properties can be frustrating for owners if the property has been for rent for quite some time. If the property is in a location where owners/landlords struggle to find tenants or spend a lot of time taking applications and showing the property, they might be convinced to sell. As an agent, you’ll never know if you don’t reach out and ask.

What Makes a Cold Call Effective in Real Estate (3 Key Factors)

For effective cold calling, you need the right tools and strategy. When you have both together, you go into the call knowing how to approach the type of potential client for the time of day or day of the week and are ready to document the results for the next call.

1. Accurate Contact Information

Time spent calling disconnected numbers or the wrong contacts can be frustrating and disruptive. It wastes time that could be spent talking to a potential lead. Instead, get your leads and spend time validating that you’ve actually got the right contact information. If you’re working with commercial real estate, you might use a B2B data provider to discover and update contact information for your leads.

2. The Right CRM (for Real Estate Professionals)

A CRM that is tailored for cold calling is ideal. Remember, your goal is to make those valuable follow-up calls, have the information from the last conversation, know when you had that last conversation, and know the script that works at this stage.

The right CRM will improve that conversion percentage and even increase those extra earnings by much more.

Pro tip: Use Close to set up a cold calling sequence for your real estate business. With Sequences, you can time your calls, automate your emails, and get reminders when it’s time to reach out.


3. Proven Cold Calling Scripts

Sales scripts are a must, and you’ll probably have at least five of them, tailored to each type of client and the stage of their journey. You’ll also have variations for use in conversation, vs when leaving a voicemail. Using that excellent CRM, you can match the script to the customer classification and history.

Scripts can have A/B tests run, and the results tracked to see which one is most effective. Put a custom field in your CRM to log the script used, or use a Custom Activity in Close to guide you through the process of a successful call.

Building Your Real Estate Cold Call Strategy

Your strategy consists of the time of day to make calls, follow-up frequency, and how reluctance is handled and overcome. Here are some cold calling tips that get you past low-value leads and focused on those that are more likely to list with you.

When to Call

Three things to focus on when deciding the best times to call are the time of day, day of the week, and frequency between calls. Let’s break it down:

Times to Call

There are specific times of day when calling will be more successful in getting people on the line and potentially getting more appointments. Research shows that the best time to call is between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m as they are finishing tasks and unlike to be taking on new ones.

Between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. is another effective time, while people are usually handling simple administrative tasks before heading off to lunch. Avoid calling during lunch—your prospects won’t be focused or in the mood to talk business.

Calling before 10 a.m. is not advised. It’s a time people spend rushing around and focused on emergencies or daily team meetings.

Days to Call

Most research says that Wednesday and Thursday are the first and second best days, respectively, to make your calls. At mid-week, people have settled into their tasks and to-dos, and are more receptive to taking a moment for an unexpected call.

Mondays are not a great day, with most people preparing for the week ahead. It’s pretty much a law of the universe that Fridays are the worst days—everyone is trying to tie up their responsibilities for the week and turn on Weekend Mode.

Time Periods

December isn’t a popular time to pursue new listings for a reason; everyone is preparing for and hosting holiday events. They have parties, shopping, festivals, and closing out the quarter.

In fact, holiday weekends can be challenging in general. Three-day weekends often become four-day weekends, so try to schedule your calls knowing that your prospective clients may be taking a family vacation and less eager to chat.

Follow-up Frequency

A general schedule for timing cold calls would be:

  • Day 1: First call
  • Day 3: Follow up
  • Day 7: Follow up
  • Day: 28: Follow up
  • Day 58: Follow up
  • (Follow up continues every 30 days)

If you make contact with your lead and discover that they’re already working with another agent, go ahead and make a note to reach out again in six months—you never know, they may end that relationship, or need help buying a home after selling with someone else! But if you keep reaching out and don’t hear back, remember, always keep calling. You want to be known and top-of-mind when your lead decides it’s time to connect.

Handling Call Reluctancy

Call reluctance doesn’t mean your potential client is reluctant; it means you’re reluctant to make the call. Let’s face it, cold calling is tough. Hearing a perpetual “no” and “I don’t have time” can be discouraging.

The causes of sales call reluctance are often based on a fear of rejection, improper understanding of what you’re offering, improperly qualified leads, or not enough practice. You’ll know you’re reluctant if you procrastinate, spend excessive time preparing for calls, or fail to ask for referrals.

So what’s the solution?

The main steps to take to overcome call resistance include:

  • Remind yourself that you’re helping your clients solve problems
  • Know you have a deep knowledge of what you do and how it benefits others
  • Properly qualify your leads to be sure you’re targeting people who will be most receptive to your calls
  • Log your calls and prospecting work in your CRM and watch as results grow over time
  • Take a course on cold calling strategies and how to find your ideal customer
  • Talk to and practice with other cold calling pros
  • Rely on your scripts and practice, practice, practice

5 Real Estate Cold Calling Scripts that Work

Use the following examples to give you an idea of what works for real estate lead generation.

1. FSBOs

My name is [name] with [real estate company], and I’m calling about the home for sale. Are you the property owner?

Compliment how great the home looks, and the obvious work they’ve put into it. Expect the owner to ask if you have a buyer. Use empathy and the right tone of voice if they mention that they’ve been trying to sell the property for some time.

Fit several questions into the conversation, such as:

  • Where are you planning to move to?
  • When do you have to move?
  • What made you decide to sell the property yourself?
  • How did you determine your listing price?
  • Have you considered using an agent?

Before you meet with them, you want to qualify them to ensure they are willing to list the home and won’t be a waste of your time. The best questions to do so are:

  • Would you be willing to work with an agent if it means your home could sell faster?
  • Do you have a timeline set before you’ll consider interviewing prospective agents?
  • If I can present you with a marketing plan that is significantly different and superior to my peers, would you be willing to pay me a commission when I bring you a qualified buyer?

If there is interest and you’re satisfied with a good chance of picking up their listing, set an appointment.

Let’s meet up for 20-30 minutes, and I’ll show you my process so we can get your home sold faster. You’re not obligated to use me, but I am confident I can get your home sold. Is tonight at 5 p.m. good for you? If not, what’s a good time tomorrow?

Cold Calling for Real Estate Agents

2. FRBOs

My name is [name] with [company], and I’m calling about the home for rent. Are you still looking to fill the vacancy?

I work with buyers and property investors in your neighborhood and am wondering what your long-term goals are for the property.

How long has it been listed, and what is the monthly rent?

Ok, so it seems you haven’t been able to fill it for [x weeks] and have taken an income loss of [rent amount by vacancy time].

When did you last have an appraisal on the property? The market has changed dramatically over the last few years. Would you consider selling if the numbers made sense?

If there is an interest expressed, set an appointment.

I’ve helped lots of property owners get top dollar for their investment properties, and the market is in a great place for selling high. If you don’t mind, I’d like to research the property value and rental prices to see if you can increase your rent, or if selling is a better return. Do you have some time this week I can bring the numbers by?

3. Circle Prospecting

My name is [name] with [company]. I’m calling because I’ve recently sold a home in your area and wanted to share how much your own property is valued at $XXX,XXX.

Based on neighborhood comps, your house could easily sell for $XXX,XXX. I still have buyers expressing interest in your area from just last week, and I’m confident that your property could draw a premium value based on its condition and curb appeal.

Would you be interested in selling if I could get you the best price for your property? New listings are having great success at drawing premium prices.

If there is an interest, move to the appointment script.

Let’s meet up for 20-30 minutes, and I’ll show you my process so we can get your home sold faster. You’re not obligated to use me, but I am confident I can get your home sold. Is tonight at 5 p.m. good for you? If not, what’s a good time tomorrow?

4. Expired Listings

My name is [name] with [company], and I’m reaching out about the property at [address]. Are you the homeowner?

I see the listing expired [last month/year] after being on the market for X months. I was curious, did the home just not sell, or did you reconsider and decide to remain there?

I see. Well, I have to say, the property is [in excellent condition/in an excellent location/etc.]. I would love the chance to help you sell it again. Would you consider listing again?

If there is interest, ask a few more questions:

  • What was the highest offer you received last time?
  • Did home buyers mention any areas of concern or a pain point that deterred them from the property?

It looks like we can make it happen this time. I’d like to bring you new comps for your property and show you my strategy for getting your home sold—is tonight good for you, or is tomorrow better?

5. Pre-Foreclosure

My name is [name] with [company], and I’m calling about the property at [address]. I’m a realtor that specializes in navigating the pre-foreclosure process and getting you and your family set up with secure and reliable housing.

I know you’re going through a lot right now. Is there anything I can help you with, or any questions I can answer? My goal is to be a partner you can rely on during this process. I’m here to help you make the most of this difficult situation and keep disruptions to a minimum so you can continue moving forward with your life.

Is there a good time we could meet tomorrow and discuss some strategies that would work for you?

These are just some quick examples of what a script might look like. Use them as a base or template for formatting your own scripts, customized to fit your personality. If you’re looking for more advice, check out our top real estate cold calling scripts.

Alternatives to Cold Calling in Real Estate

Cold calling isn’t the only way for you to reach out to potential clients—though you already know that. The following marketing strategies can be used as an alternative to cold calling, or to supplement your cold calling efforts.

SMS/Text Message

Does Cold Calling Work for Real Estate?

SMS/text platforms allow realtors to send, manage, and respond to thousands of text messages. It allows you to perform outreach in an incredibly time-efficient manner.

SMS can have a high response rate if sent to very well-qualified leads. Consumers tend not to mind receiving text messages from brands, and some sources say the success rate could be as high as 35%. SMS messages do have an amazing 98% open rate. That said, before sending text messages to leads, you’ll need to have some kind of opt-in to make sure you comply with the legal requirements for businesses using SMS.

Ideally, SMS systems should be integrated into your CRM so that all outreach efforts can be tracked in unison.

Personalized Email Campaigns

Well-put-together and personalized email campaigns are shown to have a substantially better return on investment, with $42 returned for every $1 spent on an average click-through rate of 2.5%.

Email campaigns can incorporate media like eBooks and videos and create an easy way for future or past clients to contact you. They display your expertise and thought leadership when providing tips and assessments of the current market.


Referrals are the Holy Grail for realtors. If every realtor’s goal is to build up a circle of repeat clients, then their dream is to have those repeat clients refer their friends. Really—what’s better than fielding phone calls left and right with people continually offering you more business?

Until you reach that dream, though, you shouldn’t feel shy about asking clients for referrals. There’s no better form of advertising than word of mouth. Ask your clients if they know anyone who’s looking to buy or sell a home—even if they can’t think of anyone right now, they may pass your name along in the future!

Warm Calling

Warm calling is something every realtor has to do. If you’ve already had contact with someone, follow up with them. They already know you and you’ve already worked to develop some level of trust. Don’t let that slip away!

Instead, set your calendar or CRM to remind you to contact prior leads and see where they’re at in their home buying or selling journey.

Social Media

Social media is the default expectation for every agent, and while it can be used effectively, lots of real estate business pages are only followed by the realtors in that office and their family friends.

To use social media to your advantage, you need to do more than post photos of recent listings and give infrequent market assessments. Share actionable advice that both buyers and sellers can use. Share your thoughts on market trends. And always tag relevant people in your posts—including businesses, buyers, and sellers alike—so their friends will see the hard work you did for them.

In-Person Events

Cold Calling in Real Estate

Showings are essential. People do drive around neighborhoods when looking for homes that have come on the market. Grab those appetizers, get some cookies baking in the oven, and spend the day having an open house to bring in new potential clients.

Lots of realtors also do client appreciation events—hosting happy hours, delivering baked goods, or even setting up family photoshoots. These events go a long way in reminding past clients that you’re there, ready and waiting whenever they’re ready to start the search for a new home.

Keep Track of Your Hard Work

Lots of time and effort goes into cold calling (we know—we’ve built a business around making it easier for you). Even with lower success rates, cold calling produces tremendous returns.

But losing notes from conversations, missing reminders to send information, or getting follow-up call dates wrong might result in losing potential sales for those leads you worked so hard to get and qualify. Nothing matters more than a quality CRM that helps you cultivate those leads and turn them into real estate sales.

That’s why the most successful real estate agents use a CRM like Close for tracking and nurturing leads. It allows you to access your leads and sales reports, set custom fields for your market, and track your emails, calls, and interactions in one place. Every follow-up has the information you need to be successful.

Curious if having a CRM could really change things? Try a free trial of Close today and see for yourself how you’ll end up attending many more real estate closings.