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Realstate lead Genration

Another way to get contact information is to start conversations with people walking through the house and therefore figure out upfront whether you might be able to help them with their home search. Even if this listing isn’t the right one for them


In our guide, you’ll learn—step by step—how to think about marketing, lead-generation tactics and opportunities,

guiding leads through your sales funnel to turn them into clients, including:

  • Why you should focus on lead generation in the first place
  • What a sales funnel is and how it relates to lead generation
  • The difference between inbound and outbound marketing, and how to decide where to focus first
  • How to find leads online and offline, using traditional lead-generation tactics in addition to brand-new, cutting-edge options
  • Why you need to qualify your leads and exactly how to do it for maximum efficiency and minimum churn
  • What lead nurturing is and how to think about it in relation to your funnel and your database
  • How to evaluate and improve upon your lead-generation strategies until you’ve turned them into a well-oiled machine … and much more

Who is this for?

You are:

  • A real estate agent, office manager, managing broker, admin, tech lead, or anyone else who wants or needs to build a new lead-generation system from the ground up.
  • Knowledgeable about the process of buying and selling real estate. You’ve worked in real estate, in a brokerage, with other agents, brokers, admins, and assistants, and you are seeking to understand how lead generation works and how to improve your strategies.
  • Interested in how you can use improved lead generation tactics to effectively generate new clients and take your real estate business to the next level of efficiency and effectiveness. You are eager to learn more, while recognizing that there are no silver bullets.

You want:

  • To understand enough about lead generation to know what’s working, what’s not, and where to wisely spend your money.
  • To create a steady stream of buyer and/or seller leads in your area and your niche.
  • A focused strategy for generating leads using a web of proven, powerful tactics.
  • To create a system for generating leads that relies less on paying for advertising and more on diverse and unique techniques.
  • To be super-effective supporting other agents and brokers with real estate lead generation needs.
  • To develop several channels for bringing leads into your business so that you never have to rely on just one source for your leads.
  • A long-term strategy that you can focus on and execute instead of running in circles chasing the next big thing (that really isn’t).

By the end of reading this guide, you will:

  • Understand what lead generation is and why it is critical for real estate agents.
  • Know exactly what increases your lead generation results, and what can backfire on you.
  • Be able to prioritize the lead-generation projects that will provide the highest return for your investment.
  • Know how to talk about lead generation to administrators, marketing assistants, and the rest of your lead-generation support team.
  • Understand how to integrate your lead generation efforts within your marketing strategies.
  • Be able to measure the results of your lead generation endeavors, iterate on what’s working best, and discard what isn’t.

Let’s start learning about lead generation for real estate.

What’s the big deal with lead generation?

Lead generation is the lifeblood of any real estate agent’s business. Agents who have a solid lead generation strategy in place can adjust and iterate on it to create a steady flow of clients — and agents without a solid lead generation strategy can expect to constantly scramble for their next deal.

A lead is just another word for a buyer or seller you’re going to help with one major transaction: a home sale. You want those buyers and sellers to know who you are, what you do, and what you can offer them so that they decide to hire you as their agent. When that buyer or seller becomes aware of you, you can now consider them leads.

How do agents find—or generate—leads? First: Marketing and lead generation go hand-in-hand. To generate the best leads, you’ll need to lay the groundwork by understanding what value and benefits you have to offer your clients, and promoting those in the most efficient and effective way. You’ll need to discover what niche you serve best, brand yourself accordingly, and then let the world know what you can do.

There are just about as many lead-generation strategies as there are real estate brokerages. In the past, agents would knock on doors in certain neighborhoods and introduce themselves to the homeowners. You could buy lists of expired listings and for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) listings and start cold-calling those sellers. Mail and print advertisements are other forms of lead generation that agents have used in the past. 

Today, agents have many more options when it comes to generating leads. The internet has opened up a new landscape of possibilities, and agents are generating leads using search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), social media, blogs, videos, and other online channels to attract, engage, and nurture leads.

Whether you’re a brand-new or seasoned agent, this guide to real estate lead generation will explain how it works and why it’s critical, share dozens of different tactics for generating leads, drill down into lead qualification and nurturing, and describe how to build a powerful lead generation system using multiple strategies.

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How to think about lead generation in real estate

In the marketing world, a lead is someone who is interested in doing business with you. For a real estate agent, a lead could be either someone who’s interested in buying a house (but doesn’t yet have an agent lined up) or someone who’s interested in selling a home (but doesn’t yet have an agent to list the property). Or, it could also be someone who wants to rent a home and needs your help.

For real estate agents, a lead must be:

  • Interested in buying, selling, or renting a house
  • Financially qualified to buy or rent
  • Willing to share contact information with you (such as a phone number or email address) for follow-up

Buyer, seller, and renter leads alike will all progress through what marketers call the “customer journey.” This journey describes how the lead moves from awareness (learning about a product or service) through conversion (buying that product or service). From the marketer’s perspective, this journey looks like a funnel; there is attrition at every stage, so marketers know they’ll need to make a lot of people aware of their services to convert a few.

The three stages in the customer journey are:

  • Awareness: The buyer or seller learns that you are a real estate agent who works in their area.
  • Evaluation: The buyer or seller discovers more about you and compares what they learn to your competition (other agents).
  • Conversion: The buyer or seller decides on the best (or one of the best) agents and makes a decision.

From the buyer or seller’s perspective, the customer journey looks more like this:

  • Awareness: I have a problem, and I’m not sure who can help me solve it.
  • Evaluation: I know these people could help me solve my problem, and I’m weighing my choices.
  • Conversion: I am very close to making a final decision, but may have a few last questions.

As a real estate agent, your most effective lead generation strategies will capture more leads at the awareness and evaluation stages of their journey, because that’s when they’ll be weighing their choices and will be the most open to considering hiring you as their agent.

Be mindful that the awareness, evaluation, conversion customer journey applies to customers who know they have a problem to solve—buyers who know they want to buy a house, and sellers who know they want to sell. The buyer and seller leads who haven’t taken that step or made that decision aren’t represented in the funnel, but don’t forget about them! There’s an enormous opportunity to engage leads before they know they have a problem, or after they’ve solved that problem (for next time), by providing high-quality information and advice to them; we’ll share more about how that works later.


Do the leads come to you, or do you go to them? Inbound vs. outbound

So how do you get leads? Lead generation strategies can be broadly categorized in two big groups: inbound marketing strategies and outbound marketing strategies.

Inbound marketing involves attracting leads to you by creating resources and assets that you think those leads will covet. Think a downloadable checklist or ebook that you promote on social media, or using SEO or SEM to draw search engine traffic to your website. Remember, to count as a lead, the buyer or seller must be willing to provide accurate contact information to you so you can “capture” them.

You might also see inbound marketing called “permission-based marketing”—the idea is that you are asking your leads for permission to talk to them about their problem by enticing them to your website or social media page using the resources and assets you’ve created.

The inbound marketing customer journey looks something like this, and the prospect becomes a lead in the middle of the journey:

Outbound marketing traditionally involves advertising your services to strangers in the hopes that one of them might need you. One example is buying a billboard on the highway to promote your business. 

There are some ways in which inbound marketing strategies and outbound marketing strategies can overlap (for example, email and social media can be effectively used for both types of strategies).

The other term you could see associated with outbound marketing is “interruption-based marketing”—the lead does not have a choice whether or not to pay attention to your message because you are sending it to them, not waiting for them to come to you. However, outbound marketing does not have to be obnoxious or disruptive to work effectively.

Outbound marketing will be most effective if you have some basic knowledge about your target audience. For direct mail or door-knocking, you’ll need to know where they live. For cold-calling, you’ll need to know that they were recently trying to sell a house (FSBO or expired listings). 

Social media will allow you to target your audience even more specifically. You can conduct outbound marketing campaigns on complete strangers (a billboard on a highway with lots of traffic would be one offline example of this type of outbound marketing campaign).

The outbound marketing customer journey looks similar to inbound marketing, but you’ll be using tactics like direct mail, door-knocking, and cold-calling in lieu of blogs, keywords, and social publishing. Those early tactics will turn strangers into website and social media visitors, just like with inbound marketing, and when you have accurate contact information, you can add the lead to your customer relationship manager (CRM).

On that note: Using a CRM will be just as critical to your lead generation success as choosing the best tactics; if you can’t capture and follow up with the leads you’re generating, you might as well not even bother. Make sure you are coordinating all your leads into a single source and tracking their progress through your funnel and their individual customer journeys.

Which marketing strategy should you focus on as a real estate agent? Most of the best agents use multiple forms of lead generation—some inbound and some outbound tactics. It’s also smart to mix up your strategy in terms of digital and traditional or in-person lead generation efforts, whenever possible. We’ll provide several examples of each so you can customize a lead generation strategy that works best for you.


Traditional marketing tactics are tactics that real estate agents have been using for decades – well before the internet emerged. There are both inbound and outbound traditional marketing tactics; exploring these different ways to generate leads and market your services can help you pinpoint the mix that works best for you and your clients.

Some newer agents might want to start with digital marketing tactics before digging into traditional marketing tactics. It’s entirely up to you and where you feel comfortable, but remember: the more ways you learn to generate leads, the more robust and strong your business will become.

Outbound traditional lead generation tactics


With a for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) lead, you know that the seller is interested in selling because they have listed their house for sale without the assistance of an agent. The challenge is to convince this seller that they’ll have an easier time (and make more money) if they use an agent. And another challenge is that many agents target FSBO listings to try to convert them.

However, if a homeowner has had their home listed for months with little to no action, they will likely be more interested in hearing how you can help them. An FSBO lead is a warm lead in the sense that they are ready to sell a house soon or immediately – so targeting them can be a lucrative and smart lead-generation strategy for agents.

To find FSBO leads, check your MLS, look in your local publications for real estate listings (there might be a FSBO section), on Craigslist, social media (especially Facebook), and real estate portals (especially any sections that encourage sellers to list a price for which they’d be willing to move). There are also companies that specialize in providing FSBO leads to agents.

According to the latest statistics available from the National Association of Realtors, FSBO homes sell for (on average) $60,000 less than agent-assisted homes. You’ll want data like this at your fingertips when you start a conversation with an FSBO lead.

Expired listings

An expired listing is a house that was for sale recently, but for whatever reason, it’s been pulled off the market. Maybe the seller didn’t get an offer they liked; maybe the house wasn’t marketed as well as it could have been; maybe the buyer financing fell through and the seller was too daunted to keep going.

You can get lists of expired listings yourself from your MLS. Figure out which areas you want to target and start looking for listings in those areas that are about to expire. Make some calls and ask if the sellers are interested in switching agents. It sounds simple, but to be really successful, agents will have to make sure they are keeping tabs on leads in their CRM and following up after the listing expiration date. Depending on how many leads you’re juggling – and how many deals you have in the works—this can quickly get overwhelming.

There are also companies that curate and send you lists of expired listings, which might be something to consider if you have luck with them but don’t have time for detailed lead documentation and follow-up.

Circle prospecting

When you get your first listing, circle prospecting is a low-cost but effective way to generate interest in the house for sale and more leads for your own business. Circle prospecting involves sending notices or fliers to the homes within a block or two of your listing, letting homeowners know that the house is for sale and inviting them to learn more on your website or at the open house.

You should always include a way for the recipient to ask you more questions, obligation-free, so include a sentence or two about a free comparative market analysis for homeowners who are interested in learning about how their own property measures up against your listing.

Target absentee owners

Ever driven past a home that’s been empty for as long as you can recall and wondered “who owns that place and will they ever do anything with it?” As a real estate agent, you have an opportunity to discover more and possibly inspire them to make a decision about an asset that’s been literally collecting dust.

The best (and least creepy) way to do this is to note the address of the house in question and send a letter there, requesting forwarding to the homeowner. You can also check public records to try to find out the homeowner’s name and address, which might be necessary if the owner lives out-of-town or out-of-state. Introduce yourself, note your experience in selling homes like this one, and offer to answer any questions.

Think seasonally

Holidays and seasons are huge for agents who like to leverage outbound marketing tactics; there are all kinds of things you can offer to give away that people will want at different times of the year. This can, and should, go well beyond sending a card with a reminder that you’re still in business. Some agents bake (or buy) pies for Thanksgiving, others might create a custom Christmas ornament to offer, while others might customize chocolate foils for Valentine’s Day and hand them out.

If you like holidays, then coming up with some custom swag or ways to celebrate might be a fun activity to pair with an inbound marketing tactic, such as inviting friends and neighbors to a holiday event that you host. Pumpkins at a fall festival, flags on Fourth of July, eggs at an Easter hunt—those are some of the most obvious options, but your creativity is the only limitation!

Print ads

This once-quite-popular lead generation tactic has fallen out of favor among real estate agents, but even though local newspapers aren’t as thick as they used to be, they’re usually supplemented in larger cities by specialty publications like business journals and alternative weeklies. If a local newspaper targets the same group of leads that have worked well for you, then why not place an ad in the real estate section and see what happens?

Public records

Be careful with this one, as you don’t want to get a reputation as an “ambulance-chaser” or an unethical agent. Public records document big life events such as marriage, divorce, and death, and oftentimes, people need to upgrade or downsize their housing situation as a result.

That said, please do not use public records to look up people in your area who have suffered a death in the family or are going through a divorce, so you can cold-call them and ask if they are interested in selling their house. Ideally, you should use public records to see whether someone you know is experiencing a life event that has somehow escaped your notice, so you know when to offer your services tactfully.

Mark milestones for clients

Do you remember the first home sale you helped usher across the closing table? Your buyers definitely remember signing all those documents and then palming the keys to their new, biggest asset. Agents who help commemorate those milestones by sending cards, gifts, or just reaching out to say “hey, happy homeowner-birthday to you!” prove that they care about the long-term happiness of their buyers, not just the short-term commission check.

Meet in person

Some agents meticulously run through their CRM monthly or quarterly, making a point to schedule in-person meetings with a certain number of leads or former clients. There’s a lot you can discern in person that you can’t over the phone and certainly not over text message or email, and catching up over coffee gives you a good reason to share how you’ve been doing and ask how your lead is getting along.

Maybe you’ll hear that they’re thinking about selling, or maybe you’ll learn how happily settled they are in their current home … but that they have a friend who’s not in the same situation.

Old-fashioned phone calls

Although in-person meetings definitely tell you more, calling your leads on the phone periodically to check in on them is a good way to make sure you know what’s going on in their lives. As a result, you can keep tabs on their interest in or timeline for buying or selling.

The calls should feel like you’re catching up with friends or family, not like a chore. If you find yourself “cutting to the chase” and asking questions about whether your lead knows anyone looking to buy or sell, without allowing the conversation to travel naturally there (or not), then take a break from this one and come back when you’re interested in having a longer conversation.

Handwritten notes

Sending your leads a handwritten note is a thoughtful and personal way to let them know you’re thinking about them. Unlike a phone call or in-person meeting, your lead can respond (or not) to your handwritten note at their convenience. Many agents swear by sending a certain number of handwritten notes every day or week to their leads and people in their spheres of influence.

This can be an especially effective tactic when you pair it with a phone call or invitation to meet in person: Set the stage for the more in-depth conversation with a quick handwritten note asking your lead to catch up. Then call them a week after you mail the note to check in or see if they’re free to grab coffee.

Inbound traditional lead generation tactics


Referrals are one of the most powerful and reliable sources for new leads. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 41% of buyers used an agent referred to them by a friend, neighbor, or relative, and 12% worked with an agent they’d worked with in the past. The survey noted that 66% of sellers worked with an agent referred to them or with whom they’d worked in the past to buy or sell a home.

You can generate referrals by keeping into close contact with your past clients using some of the ideas above. If you have a handful of clients who tend to send you business, reward them with gift cards, a meal out at their favorite restaurant (your treat), or another perk so they know you appreciate them.

If you’re just starting out in real estate, it can be tough to get referrals, but talking to your friends and family members to build your contacts—and providing great service—will give you an opportunity to test this strategy soon enough.

Agent networking

To get referrals, you’ll need a strong agent network. This should include not just the agents in your own brokerage, but ideally, agents all over the country who might know buyers moving into your area. This can be done through activity in your Realtor association, attending conferences, and building relationships with the people you meet.

You can also network on social media. There are tons of agent groups on Facebook, some specifically focused on referrals and networking, and others that are more about education and improving the industry. Lurking in a couple of different groups before you dive in can tell you more about whether it will be a good way for you to meet other agents.

Open houses

When you have a listing to promote, running an open house is a good way to show it off to lots of prospective buyers at once. And as a real estate agent, it’s an excellent way for you to find buyer leads who might not be working with an agent just yet, even if the house in question isn’t the best fit for them.

To make the most out of hosting an open house, you should make sure that you have a system for capturing and following up with possible buyer leads.

1. Market the open house

You aren’t going to have any luck finding buyer leads if you don’t let buyers know that you’re hosting an open house. Distribute marketing materials throughout the neighborhood and hang fliers to let everyone know about the open house. Promote it on social media. Add a banner, highlight, or flag to your own website listings so that browsers know there’s an open house happening. Don’t forget about the signage for the day of the event!


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