11 Tips to Generate Better Real Estate Leads
Lead generation is a major challenge in real estate.
Googling “biggest problems for real estate agents'' proves it—every article mentions the lead gen pain point, and your own experience probably backs it up (why else would you be here?)
Especially for newly-licensed agents without existing contacts, building a client base is no easy task—but it’s key to your success in the industry. Quality leads help you grow your business and solidify your reputation. So, developing a sustainable and cost-effective lead gen strategy must be a top priority.
Real estate lead generation involves identifying and contacting homebuyers and sellers (or commercial companies/individuals) who you believe will make high-quality clients. Lead generation options include inbound and outbound lead generation, digital and traditional methods, and free and higher-cost methods. Today, we’ll explore different real estate lead generation strategies and share how to implement them to grow your real estate business.
However, generating new leads is just the first step.
An in-depth study by Ruler Analytics found real estate lead conversion ranges from 1.7 percent to 3.5 percent. So, in addition to finding leads, we need to ensure your follow-up strategy is airtight.
But before diving into our 11 tips to generate more real estate leads, let’s talk about lead generation companies and one key consideration: to buy or not to buy.
To Buy or Not to Buy: Should You Purchase Real Estate Leads?
Many agents find it worthwhile to pay for real estate leads, and based on your financial situation, you may be tempted to simply throw money at the lead generation problem.
Purchasing leads can speed up the growth rate of your real estate business. This makes it a particularly attractive option for newer agents getting their foot in the door—or for more experienced agents who’ve hit a rough patch with lead gen (due to market changes, or the agent changing markets.)
When buying real estate leads, you have an above-average chance of scoring a steady stream of qualified leads ready and willing to work with you.
When deciding which company to buy leads from, you’ll probably mostly look at price–but there are other factors to consider. You need a service worth the investment, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should opt for the cheapest service. Sometimes, the more costly option provides a higher ROI because it offers exclusive leads, or a built-in CRM to manage your lead outreach. Look for the value and choose accordingly.
Here are some top lead companies to consider, if you decide to purchase leads:
- BoldLeads: All-in-one solution, with a built-in CRM and advertising automation.
- Market Leader: Guaranteed number of exclusive leads.
- Offrs: Find sellers early with FSBO and expired listing leads.
- Zurple: Lead behavioral profiling, and personalized automated lead emails.
But, if you decide to use a lead generation service, your strategy can’t end there. As mentioned, these companies can be expensive—and you should never put all your resources into one hail-mary solution. Balance is key.
Instead, aim to build a multi-faceted lead generation strategy that leverages multiple sources. This will ensure your leads don’t dry up if one strategy stops working.
11 Tips to Generate Better Real Estate Leads
Both new and experienced agents need repeatable processes and reliable sources for high-quality leads. Look over these lead generation ideas, consider which ones make the most sense for your business, and then get to work.
1. Optimize Your Website for Local Search
In real estate, a solid, SEO-optimized website is central to your digital marketing strategy. By prioritizing local search optimization, you put yourself in front of your target audience at just the right time–when they’re looking for a real estate agent.
To start, make sure you’re updating content and landing pages regularly. Create location-specific pages, but don’t stuff them with keywords (that rarely ends well). Consider blogging about local housing-related topics, like school districts and neighborhood insights. For inspo, check out these 15 standout real estate websites that are user-friendly with great design features. Also, make sure that your site is mobile-friendly for on-the-go leads.
Next, focus on local link building. This includes linking to local associations and organizations, as well as area blogs and websites. Is there an association that you’re affiliated with or credentialed by? Incorporate a link–and ask if they’ll add a link to your website.
To find local content sites, search “Your City + Real Estate + Blogs/News” and then offer to write a guest article! Ideally, you want to build relationships with these contacts—and get links back to your website. This practice builds your digital authority and increases your local search engine rankings.
Finally, double-check that your Google My Business listing is optimized for local SEO. Verify ownership of your business by claiming the listing, and include all requested information: logo, hours of operation, contact information, and so on.
2. Ask for Referrals from Past Clients
Leads that start as referrals are the most likely to become loyal, long-term clients. Sixty-three percent of sellers found their real estate agent via a referral (or past experience), while 38 percent of buyers chose an agent that came as a personal recommendation from a trusted source.
Past clients who found their dream home or commercial property are likely happy to provide a referral. Key element here: focus on past clients who found value in your service. Provide consistently excellent service, and you shouldn’t have a problem. Then, make it easy for them to make the referral. For example:
- Ask clients if you can put a sign in their new yard for a week after they close.
- Ask if they know anyone who might need a real estate agent. When they say yes, send a handwritten note to the new lead. This one-to-one personal contact—including the name of your current client—has conversion power.
- Provide an email template your clients can adapt and send to their contacts.
- Sustain natural client relationships (with the help of your CRM), checking in periodically to see what’s new, or just ask how their cat is doing. Maintain a personal connection to stay top-of-mind—and organically encourage referrals.
Sometimes, it really is as easy as asking for a referral. It’s just a step people skip because they don’t want to appear pushy or intrusive.
Compared with other methods of lead gen, referrals have quite high conversion rates—in real estate, it hovers around 2.7 percent. Make it count.
3. Join Location-Specific Facebook Groups
According to a survey by the National Association of REALTORS®, a whopping 89 percent of Realtors use Facebook to generate leads. You should, too—being active on Facebook allows you to compete where most potential clients are hanging out.
But you also need to stand out. Overly promotional posts can come across as insincere and too sales-y. Promotion has its place in Facebook ads, but not when connecting one-on-one with new leads. Instead, zone in on your local market by joining location-specific Facebook groups—and add value to the conversation.
For example, search for FSBO FB groups in your area and other buyer- or seller-focused real estate groups. Post helpful and relevant information about the local market, or hop into the comments when people ask for advice. Demonstrate that you care about the industry and the community. Prove your expertise, accessibility, and value in an honest, open, no-strings-attached way.
At a time when laziness and lying are two of the biggest complaints people have about real estate agents, this approach can go the distance.
But remember: location, location, location. When seeking new clients, you can’t waste time outside of your area. Make sure whatever group you join will help you source quality buyer and seller leads with a solid chance of converting into clients.
4. Establish Your Social Media Presence
Facebook shouldn’t be your one-and-done social media platform. While it is the most popular, Instagram comes in second with 59 percent of Realtors using the platform, followed by LinkedIn at 53 percent.
Furthermore, 46 percent of Realtors say social media is the top tech tool for generating leads. While other methods like email marketing, digital ads, and content marketing are also effective, social media has become indispensable. Take a look:
How do you use social media platforms to generate leads? It often depends on the platform and your specific business, but here are some ideas.
Across platforms, create value with your posts. Naturally, you want to promote your listings—but go beyond that. Share photos taken during open houses, or livestream a walk-through. Show off your personality with relevant memes, or highlight client testimonials. Demonstrate your expertise with market insight tips—and then engage with comments. These are your leads. Don’t waste the opportunity.
Also, be sure to add a location tag—this helps leads find you.
LinkedIn is particularly helpful when networking with other professionals or commercial entities. Create your real estate brand, and then write posts and articles, engage with leads, and take up space on the platform. Like your website, you want this to be local-focused and on-brand. LinkedIn's Advanced People Search allows you to filter by industry, location, and second-degree connections. Bonus points if you take advantage of mutual contacts and secure a referral.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with platforms and how you use them. For example, only 12 percent of Realtors are on TikTok, but you can find agents and brokers with large followings on the platform. If TikTok targets your target demographic (and fits your brand), why not use it to stand out? You can use a QR code generator to easily share all of your social links with potential clients.
5. Use Zillow or Other Lead-Generating Platforms
To leverage Zillow for lead generation, you could just advertise. Or you could optimize your agent profile and build up your presence on the platform. Forty-eight percent of real estate website traffic is on Zillow, so it’s a good place to start. Here’s how.
Become the go-to person for local information, from market tips and resources to insight about school districts. Hop into forums and share your advice—you are putting yourself out there for potential clients to find you.
Let others promote you on your profile by asking clients for reviews. By sharing their experiences, leads can understand what it’s like to work with you. Also, respond to each review—the good, the bad, and the ugly—to humanize your digital presence and build rapport.
Finally, make sure you’re posting your listings on the platform. This may seem obvious, but because Zillow, Trulia, and its other acquisitions make up such a large real estate network, the more listings you have, the better. Also, consider adding sold properties to your Zillow Group profile. Like client reviews, these speak volumes about your past experience and expertise.
Besides Zillow, consider other platforms like:
- Homes.com: Agents receive leads from free exclusive listings.
- Realtor.com: Huge platform, offers multiple channels of customer support.
- Apartments.com: Best if rentals are your niche.
All these sites offer different features to different agent types. However, most have a cost—and you pay per lead, per month, or per property. Keep this in mind as you weigh the pros and cons of investing time and money in lead-gen platforms.
6. Promote Local Business = Reap Referrals
You probably have—or are starting to build—a network of contractors you work with. Use these connections to drive referrals.
To do this, pull together a list of professional movers, financial planners, painters, electricians, landscapers—anyone that you’ve worked with and have been pleased with their services.
Then, recommend them to your audience via your social media, email list, and website. You could even create a unique, location-specific page on your site (SEO, remember?) where you categorize and list recommendations. You can also include this info as a housewarming package after closing the sale. This step adds extra value to your services.
When the contractors you’ve promoted start reaping referrals, they will likely return the favor. Referral marketing has a massive influence on purchase decisions. Make sure you capitalize on that and build a referral network among other professionals in the broader real estate industry.
7. Cold Call Real Estate Leads
“I love cold calling,” said no one ever. However, this tried-and-true approach helps you cover a lot of ground quickly—especially with the right tools. There are three key factors to effective cold calling in real estate:
- Accurate contact information
- The right CRM (for real estate professionals)
- Proven cold calling scripts
Don’t waste time calling wrong or disconnected phone numbers. Instead, source and verify your leads’ contact info carefully. If you’re working with commercial real estate, consider a B2B data provider to help.
Pursue specific leads, such as expired listings, for sale by owner listings, and circle prospecting—contacting people in a hot neighborhood, and starting the “have you thought about selling” conversation.
Cold calling isn’t always the most conversion-friendly lead generation method, but it does work. And with a CRM tailored to your needs in real estate, you can make the most of that phone call. Managing leads is a major challenge for real estate professionals, but it’s key to building successful and profitable client relationships—whether or not you cold call. Look for a CRM that organizes client data, segments your leads (e.g., buyers and sellers), and streamlines your outreach.
Speaking of outreach…you should have a script when making your cold call. Even the best real estate agents benefit from a standard script, tailored for the lead at hand (expired listing, FSBO, etc.). You don’t want to sound robotic or overly scripted—just use it to launch the conversation. Here are some amazing cold calling scripts for real estate agents that you can adapt as you see fit.
8. Host Events
Open houses are essential. But have you considered hosting a first-time buyer seminar?
In-person educational events, workshops, and seminars let you mingle with potential clients while providing value and positioning yourself as a local authority. The topics are endless: relevant market trends in the area, what to look for in an apartment, a mortgage Q&A session, or even a networking event like this one:
When you do it, do it in style—that first impression matters. Choose a location like an art gallery, local coffee shop, or botanical garden. Team up with small businesses in your area to enhance your community-centered positioning (and to give back, of course).
If in-person doesn’t make sense for your situation, try an online platform! Online events are more accessible and less expensive, even if it lacks some of that all-important one-on-one contact.
Additionally, client appreciation events are quite common in real estate. However, the formality and expense can create challenges, especially for newer real estate agents. Instead, try an informal happy hour or a “thank you” open house. They might be more fun (if you get creative)—and may even generate higher attendance numbers.
9. Use Direct Mail
Direct mail is far from extinct in real estate marketing.
In fact, sending handwritten notes to leads (and existing clients) can help personalize your message and build genuine rapport. With flooded email inboxes, this method helps you stand out from the competition. It can also organically lead to asking clients for a referral either in the note, or via phone several days later.
Other forms of direct mail (e.g., newsletters, event invitations, or info packets) must be on-brand and professional. Try to differentiate yourself from the competition with your imagery and presentation…and get creative. Consider incorporating your Facebook profile info, or directions to your Zillow listings.
To target, consider your options and goals with each mailing item. Maybe you want to target all the FSBO listings or recently expired listings. Geographic location will probably play a role, regardless of the lead type.
10. Connect with Divorce, Probate, and Bankruptcy Attorneys
This tip requires additional delicacy and compassion. Also, be aware that it may sometimes get uncomfortable.
However, these leads are extremely valuable—it’s hard to find clients with more urgency to buy or sell a property. Situations like these require quick housing solutions, so you need to be able to transact quickly. If this sounds like the right niche for you, you need to find the right partner.
Networking events, online platforms, and even relatives can help connect you with busy attorneys that work in these areas. With the right skills and experience, you will help them serve their own clients better. It’s a win-win. Connect over coffee and see if they might be willing to send referrals your way.
As noted, these cases require an elevated level of finesse. You don’t want to do this the wrong way. For this reason, this lead generation tactic may be better suited to more experienced agents and brokers.
11. Contribute to Real Estate Publications
You want to build your brand and appeal to new leads. Contributing to industry publications helps you do both.
Potential clients are looking for an agent they can trust. They want someone who has demonstrated expertise and understands the complexities and nuances of the real estate market. What better opportunity to literally publish your professional aptitude?
Target a few key publications that match your lead demographic, and learn about their contribution process. Write thoughtful, authoritative, relevant content—and watch the leads come in.
Once You Have Real Estate Leads, Don’t Forget the Follow-up!
It’s one thing to get real estate leads and another to effectively follow up and convert leads into clients. Your lead generation strategy must extend through this critical step.
As mentioned earlier, lead management is often a challenge for real estate professionals—whether you have years of experience, or just started your new business. With good lead management, though, following up becomes a straightforward and streamlined step in your real estate marketing outreach.
Check out these CRMs for real estate to find one that fits your needs–or get started with a free trial to Close right now.