If you work as a real estate salesperson, or have joined the National Association of Realtors and can legally call yourself a Realtor, you probably know just how important real estate marketing – and more specifically- real estate leads are for making an income that’ll keep you happy.
Regardless of whether you’re part of a team or work alone, real estate requires an entrepreneurial mindset to be successful. Having leads that you convert into clients that buy or sell with you is the most basic metric that separates the high-volume agents from those that are just barely getting by.
Generating real estate leads is easier said than done, and old school methods like direct mail and cold calling don’t really cut it anymore. Leads don’t grow on trees and people rarely appear out of the blue in your local market requesting your services, even during an open house. Lead generation requires a lot of time and effort, especially if you are just beginning to build a strong base of clients. And even if you are working with a lot of clients, having a pipeline of strong leads is important to keep your success rolling after your existing clients have completed their deals.
The problem you may have noticed with digital marketing and generating real estate leads is that it can take your attention away from the clients that are already working with you. Striking a balancing act between lead generation and servicing current clients is essential and something that even experienced real estate agents can struggle with.
Luckily, there are solutions to help you build a list of the best real estate leads that don’t require a ton of effort on your part. There are also a number of companies that’ll do the leg work of building lists of qualified real estate leads, which you can then buy and instantly fill your sales pipeline with. This gives you more time to dedicate to existing clients, which improves your overall service quality and helps ensure past clients will come to you in the future again as repeat customers.
So, where should you turn to buy real estate leads and how does this strategy fit in with other lead generation strategies? We’re going to help you build a plan to make sure you always have a strong base of client leads.
Why do you need real estate leads?
For your clients, finding a real estate agent is not like going to the store and buying a new pair of pants where you can see the various offerings all on the same rack. You have to go to clients, earn their trust, and then earn their business.
Leads are a great way to help get you through slow times. Many Realtors find that spring and summer are busy times, but that fall and winter can be unbearably slow. This is especially true if you live in colder climates. The good news is that if you have a pipeline of exclusive leads ready to go after current client’s needs are taken care of, then you can immediately move on to a new client and keep your schedule busy. In any real estate business, there will be peaks and valleys, but you can help smooth out those bumps with a good list of leads.
Leads can also act like a snowball rolling down a hill, and a client can act as a lucrative lead source of their own. For some realtors, up to 75% of their new clients are referrals from previous clients. If you look at every new lead as someone who may recommend you to their friends, family, or co-workers, then you can quickly see how one lead turns into several. Best of all, you don’t have to do any leg work to earn these new leads. All you have to do is simply deliver great service, and ensure that you’re the top Realtor your clients recommend to other people. Plus, don’t forget that the average person moves over 11 times in their lifetime. This means your best source of referrals may simply be repeat business as clients look to move to a new home.
How to generate real estate leads yourself
There are many proven methods for generating your own high-quality leads. These require varying amounts of time and effort on your part but can be very rewarding in the end. Trying several different lead generation methods is helpful to find what works for you, especially if you’re just starting out in your real estate career.
First, focus on building relationships. Arguably, the real estate industry relies more on relationships and connections than any other business. Look for other professionals in your sphere of influence who may be able to connect you with new leads who need your services. People like mortgage brokers, insurance advisors, financial advisors, and lawyers are all fantastic lead generation sources. Best of all, building relationships doesn’t have to cost money. Recommend your clients to these professionals to build trust and you will quickly see the referrals start to come back your way.
Advertising is another great way to generate leads. It can unfortunately also be one of the most expensive methods. Radio, television, newspapers, billboards, Facebook ads, and Google PPC ads are all great ways to get your name, your face, and your brand out to your community. When you do purchase advertising, however, be sure to consistently measure where your leads are coming from so you can focus your marketing strategy on what’s actually working so that you’re earning a positive return on your investment.
When looking for referrals from previous clients, be sure to offer some type of referral offer. This could be as simple as a gift card upon a successful closing, or it could be more involved, like weekend getaway trips for people who refer very valuable clients to you.
Having a real estate website is essential for being in business these days. Plus, it can be a very valuable way to bring in leads that won’t cost you a lot of money. Many services like Squarespace or Wix allow you to quickly build a professional website with little time or technical know-how involved.
There are countless ways to generate leads yourself, but most of them involve some amount of time commitment, and many require a monetary investment as well. That’s why coupling your own hard work and real estate lead generation strategies with paid leads is a great way to keep a full pipeline.
Check out our guide on How to Get a Real Estate License
What should you look for when buying real estate leads?
First and foremost, let’s make one thing very clear: not all lists of real estate leads are the same. Some generate leads that may be more relevant to your specific business, target audience and/or location than others.
First, make sure the real estate leads are actually fitting for your niche if you have one. Some lead generation companies will generate leads that cater to Realtors who sell commercial properties, while others target buyer leads and/or first-time homebuyers. If the leads don’t fit in with your area of expertise, then you probably won’t have great conversion rates.
Location is also important as well when buying leads. Does the lead provider offer focused real estate leads that target your specific area? While you may be licensed to work throughout the state, chances are you have no interest in actually working with clients who are 50-100+ miles away from you.
Of course, pricing is always important to consider when buying real estate leads. Extremely low-cost services may be appealing at first, but you may find you end up spending too much time following up on leads that aren’t productive. Plus, many low-cost lead generation companies share lists of leads with multiple real estate professionals.
Real Geeks is a very popular lead generation service for Realtors that puts a lot of the power right into your own hands. With their tools, you can create professional online advertising campaigns and then follow up on leads quickly. With Real Geeks, you can also use their professional tools – like forms – to build a complete lead generation funnel that brings you qualified leads.
Once you have some leads, Real Geeks gives you the automated tools you need to follow up easily while the lead is still hot. Set up drip campaigns and/or text messages to nurture your leads, and then make the final conversion on leads that have entered your funnel.
One challenge that some new real estate agents may find with Real Geeks is the cost of using the platform. Customized lead generation funnels are not cheap, and the $550 initial monthly cost may prove to be too rich for some. Plus, in addition to the cost of using the platform, you must also budget for buying ads online that show up on search engines like Google and Bing. This can cost an additional $300 or more each month. Of course, this is still much more cost-effective than things like TV and radio advertising. In fact, closing a single real estate lead from Real Geeks every month should be more than enough to justify the cost of the platform. With more traditional advertising campaigns, you’ll probably need to close several leads per month to generate a positive return on your financial investment.
Bold Leads is another online marketing tool that uses ads to help funnel leads to websites and other platforms. Unlike Real Geeks, however, Bold Leads is less about self-directed advertising campaigns, and instead provides a lot more support and training for their tools. Of course, this does come with a slightly increased cost, with buyer and seller leads starting at $589 per month plus advertising costs.
One great feature about Bold Leads is the ability to target specific zip codes to get online leads that are truly relevant to the area you’re targeting. If you want to sell luxury homes, for example, you can target zip codes in wealthier areas of your city or region.
Like many other lead generation services, Bold Leads also offers continual marketing tools like drip email marketing, which keeps your name top of mind for potential clients who may not be ready to immediately sign on the dotted line but could be making a decision in the future.
Zillow is an incredibly popular online real estate platform where potential buyers can view real estate listings, build profiles of properties they like, and connect with professionals when they’re ready to take searching more seriously. This makes it a great tool for lead generation, and to help you connect with these leads, Zillow has the Zillow Premier Agent service.
The main feature of Zillow Premier Agent is having your name, photo, phone number, and a short bio posted as a recommended agent on the sidebar of listed properties. As people view listings, they will see you as Zillow’s top agent. This is a great platform because the people, simply by using it, have shown an interest in buying or selling in their area.
Those warmer leads, however, come at a higher cost in comparison with other platforms. Zillow charges anywhere from $20 to $60 per lead to appear as a recommended agent on a listing. If you expect hundreds of people to visit a listing and you want to be the top agent for them to see, well, be prepared for a hefty financial outlay. There’s also no guarantee of exclusivity or lead potential when paying this cost. What this means is that other agents may appear on the listing below you, and you can’t be sure if the people seeing you on the platform are serious buyers or just people who are casually checking out their neighbor’s listing.
The massive popularity of Zillow means that it’s a great place to get real estate leads, but you do need to be aware that not all leads are people who are looking to buy or sell right away.
As one of the most affordable lead generation services on this list, REDX is an attractive option for Realtors with limited budgets. It’s important to be aware of the benefits and limitations of REDX before making a decision, however.
Unlike some tools that cast a wide net, REDX is much more focused with lead generation by targeting for sale by owner listings (FSBO), for rent by owner homes, foreclosures, and expired listings. These are not always easy demographics to break into, and generally, are more suited to an agent who wants to dedicate the time to become an expert in these areas.
With prices starting at just $39.99 per month, REDX is much more affordable than other services, and even with limited lead potential, may be worth the cost. There is also no additional advertising cost on top of the lead generation tool, as REDX finds leads through data mining rather than advertising.
Using their CRM tool, Vortex, you can tackle lead management much like you would on other platforms, as well as follow up with leads regularly so that your name stays top of mind. While the potential of REDX is somewhat limited simply due to the niche markets it targets, the cost of the leads makes it an expense that’s easy to justify as you grow your real estate business.
Market Leader is a full-service lead generation company that takes a lot of the work out of your hands. While there is an initial setup cost and ongoing monthly fee, you get a lot of bang for our buck since Market Leader creates a customized landing page, CRM platform, and online ads for you. Each lead has an individual cost, but Market Leader does back up their leads with a 48-hour guarantee and will refund the cost of fake leads. What this means is that you can feel confident in the leads they generate for you.
Perhaps the best feature of Market Leader, and what sets them apart from other lead generation companies, is their exclusivity agreement. They only sell each lead once. This means your profile won’t be recommended next to other profiles, and you won’t call a lead only to find another Realtor beat you to them.
When using Market Leader, you can also set a specific zip code that you want to target, as well as the number of leads per month that you’re willing to pay for. This can help you budget your costs ahead of time, and grow your marketing efforts as your budget grows with your business.
BoomTown is one of the more costly platforms on this list, starting at $750 per month before you even factor in an ad budget. This cost does deliver you some very unique features, however, including what is perhaps the most advanced real estate CRM available which leverages data like social media behaviors.
At its core, BoomTown uses social media and online advertising much like other platforms. The user-friendly advanced CRM platform gives you the ability to follow up on leads and create customized marketing campaigns for people who have submitted lead information through ads placed online.
One major downside of BoomTown, especially when considering the cost, is the lack of exclusivity for leads. A lead generated for you may have also been funneled into another real estate agent’s platform, which essentially makes it a race to see who can contact the lead first. The lack of low-cost options also puts BoomTown out of reach for new agents and agents who simply want to keep their budget in check.