Real Estate Lead Generation 101

Although it may be summer and it may seem as though all of your colleagues are on vacation, there could not be a better time to reassess what you are doing for your real estate business.  Whether you are finishing up on an existing deal, between clients, or you are taking a mini-hiatus with no compelling leads on the horizon, there is always something you can do to generate quality real estate leads.  A good supply of real estate leads is vital to helping you stay busy throughout the year.

To help you get inspired, I found a great article named, Real Estate Leads: 53 Ideas on How to Generate and Find Them, with plenty of ideas bound to do the trick.

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[Originally published on Upstart Agent: Click Here]

Real Estate Leads: 53 Ideas on How to Generate and Find Them

Written by Kathleen

Every agent needs one thing to be successful: real estate leads. Real estate leads are basically anyone who has the potential to become a customer or client in your real estate business. Having a solid supply of regular business leads can help you stay busy all throughout the year.

It’s vital of course to remember that real estate leads are people, and that most people do not like to be treated as “leads”. It takes a small bit of tact, self control, and excellent people skills to talk to someone without them feeling like you are a typically starving sleazy real estate agent. It is up to you what you do with my list of 53 ways to generate real estate leads and how you handle and convert the leads that come to you as a direct result. As the saying goes: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”

Some of these ways to get real estate leads are free, some of these ways will cost only time, others may cost a small amount in advertising or marketing costs. Sure, you can buy real estate leads too – but why do that when you can get your own better qualified leads on your own?

Ready? Here’s 53 Thoughts on Finding Real Estate Leads:

1. Pass Out Business Cards: Sure, you know you’re supposed to pass out business cards. But who are you passing them out to? Are you passing them to everybody you meet? Do your friends and family have ample supply of cards for them to hand to others? Yesterday a complete weirder came unexpectedly and visited my house to tell me I should read the Bible. I welcomed her visit with open arms and made sure she didn’t leave without a few business cards.

2. PPC Campaigns: What is PPC? Basically PPC stand for pay-per-click advertising. Google Adwords is probably the most well known version, though other sites such as Yahoo and MSN also offer it. Pay Per Click campaigns, when targeted properly for your area and desired keywords can help you get real estate leads pretty quickly. This is really what a lot of people who sell leads use to get leads! Cutting out the middleman can help you do it yourself. Just be sure that the page of your site they come to when they click on is going to make them want to call or email you.

3. Speaking of Websites: You do have a real estate website, right? Complete with a regularly updated real estate blog? The successful real estate agents I know have nice websites, nice blogs, and rank #1 in Google, Yahoo, and other search engines.

4. Email Marketing: Email is one of the simplest, non-confrontational, and least expensive ways to generate real estate leads. People might not like giving you their phone number, but most will be okay with giving you an email address. Check out our list of creative real estate email marketing thoughts to get started.

5. Post in Craigslist: The first time I ran a Craigslist ad, I couldn’t believe that I really received a single email out of it, let alone several potential real estate leads. You can submit your latest real estate listings, offer a free real estate report, or entice people to call you for some other reason. Our list of Craigslist Ad Creators can help you make your Craigslist ad outshine the rest.

6. Attend Networking Meetings: Are you regularly networking with other professionals in your area? It doesn’t matter who, what, why, or when – but networking can greatly increase your referrals and real estate leads. Start up a breakfast club, find some people on sites like Meetup.com, and naturally don’t forget about your chamber of commerce.

7. Host a Seminar or Class: Everybody likes free information, and many people delight in going to seminars or classes to learn something new, especially since it takes away some of the pressure when you are with a group of people. It doesn’t matter what you teach – how to sell your house, how to buy your house, how to do xyz home improvement project with a contractor you met at a networking meeting, etc. These people will remember you and if you effectively follow up with them, they will all be brilliant sources for real estate leads.

8. Tell Everybody What You Do: You’ll be amazed how simple it can be to get leads just by telling complete strangers what you do and that you work in real estate. Mentioning it in casual conversation and you’ll likely be questioned questions which gives you a excellent opportunity to hand out business cards and/or get their contact information.

9. Advertise on Your Car: Your car can be a fantastic source of real estate leads and referrals. You can often order magnetic or vinyl signs inexpensively. This builds recognition, and you may even find yourself talking to people about real estate in your driveway or a parking lot more than you’d reckon!

10. Exhibit Yourself: Just about every community and area has some sort of trade show during the year. Sometimes they are community events, other times they are for businesses, currently in our area is a Home and Garden show. You may have to pay for a booth, but if you set up your booth professionally and come equipped with an enticing raffle (where they submit name, address, phone, and email) you will likely gain many real estate leads this way.

11. Network With Other Real Estate Agents in Different Areas: When you make real estate agent friends all over the country, you increase your chances of receiving relocation referrals from them. If you live in a small town or obscure place, this may or may not payoff, but if you live in an area that is constantly attracting relocation business, this can be very beneficial. It also helps to have real estate friends all over the country so you can send referrals their way – and know that your clients will be treated well and have confidence in the sale closing.

12. Write for Local Papers and Magazines: Many local newspapers, magazines, and newsletters simply don’t have the time to write a lot of articles or have the money to pay someone to write an article. A simple letter to the editor with a few sample writing articles and a proposal to write regularly for them in exchange for a small byline or advertisement can pay off immensely. You’d be surprised how many of those local papers will welcome you with open arms and how many have high circulation numbers.

13. Network Online: You’ve probably heard of Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others. There’s hundreds of online social networks. Go on, make a profile and find your friends on there. Don’t be shy. See Using Social Networking Sites to Meet Clients for some tips.

14. Letter of Recommendation Exchange: If you have a long past client list, and a business colleague of yours has a long past client list, why not do a letter of recommendation exchange? Basically, you send your list of past clients a letter that says “If you need xyz service, I’d like to recommend Jane Smith” – and that person writes a similiar letter to their clients recommending you. Email works too

15. Join Associations: The more associations you join, the more directories you will be in, and the more people you will meet. See what associations in your area you can join that not only add to your credibility, but also your contact database.

16. Target Soon to Be Expireds Neighborhoods: Soon to Be Expireds are people who are in the multi-list and are approaching their contract date, and have yet to sell their house. Chances are they are less than satisfied with their agent. So target any neighborhood with a listing over 4 months ancient, since many agents despite horrible DOM statistics are still accepting 90-120 day listing contracts. Obviously, you should not directly solicit someone else’s listings, since you would not want them to do the same to you and in some cases could get you in huge distress with your local board. So be creative, and send out some catchy postcards to the entire neighborhood. You ARE allowed to send to geographic areas

17. Speaking of Direct Mail: Direct Mail is a way of getting leads if done properly. The key to successful direct mail is to 1. Send Stuff People Will Open and Use and 2. Be Consistent.

18. Become a Regular Somewhere: Delight in drinking coffee? Go out to lunch often? Becoming a regular at your local coffee shop or diner can result in many possible real estate leads, since people will get to know you and be pleased to refer others to you as well.

19. Newspaper Announcements: Your newspaper can be a goldmine for real estate leads. Birth announcements, obituaries, engagement announcements, marriage licenses, and even foreclosure notices are all published regularly in your paper.

20. Speaking of Newlyweds…: Are you networking with wedding planners? Advertising on well loved wedding sites like TheKnot and others? Often times when people are getting married getting a new house together is on their to-do list.

21. Be a Guest Speaker: Chances are there are plenty of avenues in your area where you can volunteer to be a guest speaker. Career day at schools and colleges, motivational seminars, and others can all be a chance to give you a wide variety of audiences.

22. HR Departments: Is one of your local companies expanding? Do they use a large amount of people in your area? Introducing yourself and staying in contact with HR departments can help send real estate leads your way. You may even be able to work out some sort of benefits plot they can offer their employees if they work for you in the form of rebates, discounts, or other special offers.

23. Get Involved With News Channels, Radio, and Other Local Influential Media: Getting involved with your news channels might seem pretty daunting at first, but it’s not impossible. It’s all about your approach and what need they may have you can fulfill. Would they like a local real estate expert to talk for 5 minutes during their finance section? Someone to talk about real estate for free for an hour on their morning radio show? It’s a long shot if you don’t have any connections already with the local media, but it’s not an impossible thought either.

24. Offer Something for Free to Be Reviewed: Companies do this all the time, and there’s no reason why a real estate agent can’t either. Find local bloggers or writers, and question them if they would be willing to write a review in exchange for a free comparative market analysis, free ebook you wrote for home sellers, or other product/service you can provide.

25. Don’t forget the FSBO: It’s hard to believe I’m already on thought #25 and I am just now listing the FSBO. Working with FSBO’s is not simple, but it can pay off over time with a small persistence and the right strategy. Converting FSBO’s is a whole other post, so be sure you subscribe by email to make sure you don’t miss it!

26. Network With Local Bloggers: Visit my recent post on Networking With Local Bloggers to see how you can increase your website traffic and build more contacts and relationships online.

27. Get Your Overalls on and Go Back to the Farm: Okay, so farming in real estate is not the same as farming, say, corn and potatoes. (Though I have had many people who randomly visit this blog leave comments and not realize this!). Farming is the way Gary Keller started out, it’s the way many new agents are gaining success, and it’s highly under utilized. Read our complete series on Real Estate Farming.

28. Post on Local Forums: This can achieve two things: introducing you to new people and link building all at once! Don’t try to sell anyone anything, this will likely get you a terrible reputation pretty quickly. But if you simply provide helpful information regularly, people will click on your link and see your site. Too busy for this? You can really hire people to post in forums for you! Really!

29. Open Houses: I know, I know…open houses are a waste of time. Open houses don’t bring serious buyers. Go on and list your excuses. But if someone wasn’t seeing any benefit from open houses, guess what? Nobody would have them at all anymore. The 200+ open houses advertised in today’s Sunday paper tells me that you can get leads from an open house. Here’s how to get more traffic at your open houses.

30. Sundays are Excellent for Church, too: I’m not one to tell anyone they should be any specific religion or that they should go or not go to church. BUT…going to church can have an added benefit. For starters, many churches now sell advertising in their bulletins rather inexpensively, especially when you consider that anywhere from 1000-10,000 people may read it. People also tend to trust people they go to the same church with. Churches also have tons of activities you can go to – pancake breakfasts, kids parties, you name it. Don’t go to church just for the leads though – you should go mainly because it gives you some sort of spiritual fulfillment.

31. Pick up The Phone: Call up everybody you know, and maybe even a few people you don’t know if you can successfully get past the Do Not Call List. Our tips on cold calling should help you make some warm calls to past clients or associates. Have a text messaging group of contacts? You can send those, too.

32. Start Your Own Newsletter: Earlier I suggested contributing to local newsletters and magazines. If you have the time, the budget, and either the people to hire to do the work for you or the experience to make it successful yourself, starting your own newsletter for a large neighborhood or area can be a lucrative way to not only gain more business and referrals, but possibly even make a side income from advertising revenue. For example, you could partner with other businesses and have them pay for advertising or contribute towards printing costs. This one takes a lot of effort, and probably some research, but it could work out well.

33. Start a Neighborhood Blog: This one’s a lot less expensive and simpler than the last thought I suggested, and likely no less effective. There is not one single neighborhood blog in the area where I live. This is pretty ironic, when you consider how many different neighborhoods and areas there are. I’m sure the 40,000+ people in my township would appreciate an simple to access site with the latest news and events posted. Invest in a high quality blog design, send out mail to say the entire neighborhood of their new blog, and welcome others to post and comment. Make sure it also links to your site

34. Floor Time: I know, I hear you already: “Floor time is a waste of time.” Really, I don’t really know that floor time is a waste of time, I sold a $725,000 house to someone who called in during floor time. Sure, you might have afternoons where the phones just don’t ring, but you can always use that time to work on your real estate blogging while waiting for the phone. This is another one I’ll be covering in a future post, are you subscribed by email yet? Floor time is “opportunity time”.

35. Glide-er Away: Real estate flyers are nothing new. But I am willing to bet that even if you do make and use real estate flyers for all of your listings, you’ve never gotten a single lead from one. Why is that? Because chances are the only thing you do with a flyer is sit it in a sad lonely folder on the kitchen counter of a vacant house. If you don’t distribute those flyers, how do you expect them to generate any real estate leads for you or have any real purpose? Don’t leave your flyers locked up in a vacant house. Get them out somewhere they can be seen and read and make interest in potential buyers and sellers!

36. Knock-Knock: Door knocking, my friends, kind of sucks. But you know what? If you do it regularly (at least once a month), bring something of value (something a small better than a flyer), and consistently (same neighborhood, same time) and supplement it with mailers or other similar marketing plans, guess what? IT WORKS! The worst that will happen if you door knock is that nobody will answer the door. The second worst thing is you will get somebody like me who tries to promote their business to you instead as I mentioned in thought #1.

37. Don’t Leave Home Without Identification: You have a real estate pin, right? I bet you also have a jacket, or a sweatshirt, or a hat, or a bag, and probably tons of other stuff with your real estate logo. Wear it and use it. Go to the pool a lot? How about a beach towel with your company logo? I’ve heard all kinds of success tales about wearing their pins. Dress like you’re going to work everywhere you go – you never know who you’ll run into at the grocery store or other places and what conversations may ensue.

38. Do Something Press Release Worthy: Our newspaper has a section dedicated to real estate agents and happenings in the news. If you do something that is press worthy, you too can gain newspaper recognition and have your company send out press releases.

39. Run a Promotion: People respond well to freebies, special offers, and coupons. Many real estate agents don’t know what to promote or offer as a freebie, but there are plenty of things such as gift cards, commission coupons, free books, etc. Check with your broker to make sure you can do something like that, and go wild with it.

40. Visit the Library & Bookstores: This one could maybe get you in distress, but it’s a possibility. Place your business card in the first chapter of real estate related books. Alternatively, maybe you could set something up with the library or local bookstore owners where you can advertise in that section. People read books because they need help – being available can help.

41. The Retiring/Ex-Agent’s Files: You’ll have to be on the excellent side of the retiring agent and the office manager, but with the market being the way it is right now many agents are also quitting real estate. Jump in and volunteer to take over their client maintenance.

42. Enlist Family and Friends to Spread the Word: Imagine if you had just one relative tell 5 people about you, how many people you could have knowing about you and your services. Your friends and family should be pleased to help you. If not, well, you can at least make new friends!

43. Be Positive: I am so sick of hearing people say how horrible the market is, how nobody is doing anything, negative excuse after negative excuse. That is mostly my inspiration for writing this whole article on how to get more real estate leads. Repeat this phrase to yourself until you are ready to be sick: If I act enthusiastic then I’ll BE enthusiastic! People are not doing anything real estate wise because all they hear is negative this and negative that. Focus on the positives – now is a fantastic time for many people to buy.

44. Write Articles and Submit Them to Directories: Writing articles online takes a lot of time and effort but again it achieves two things: quality inbound links, and it defines you as an expert.

45. Hospital Marketing: I know one real estate salesperson who routinely sat in the cafeteria of a hospital for lunch while taking his elderly parents to doctors appointments and such. He often sat and talked with doctors and nurses. The doctors and nurses loved a non-medical conversation, and he built up a nice relationship with them that caused many of them to use him and to refer him to newly relocated employees as well. I don’t know if it will work for everybody, but if it works for one person, it can work for you too.

46. Real Estate Developers and Builders: There are many real estate developers and builders out there for you to network with. Working on a new construction site for many agents may be all the business they need for an entire year or two. See our article on getting started in new construction for some thoughts on breaking into this area of real estate if you haven’t already.

47. Real Estate Niche Marketing: In every area, there is a need for a specialist in real estate. Many agents do well specializing in horse farms, others condos, some for seniors looking to live in retirement communities. If you are knowledgeable about a certain niche in real estate, capitalize on it and find ways to reach your unique target market.

48. Spend Some Time Looking at Tax Records: It’s quite possible that there are property owners near you that are behind on their taxes, and many areas have this information freely available online. A simple friendly, warm letter offering to help may be just what both of you need.

49. Apartment/Renter Marketing: Many people are apartment renting, and these people can all be brilliant sources for specializing as a leasing agent or working with them towards purchasing their very own home. Find out some creative ways to get involved in a local apartment building near you, and you could have an entire year’s worth of real estate leads and clients. Don’t dismiss advertising in apartment rental books or on well loved apartment search websites in your area also.

50. Go Get Some Exercise: It’s vital to be healthy and get enough exercise. But you’ll find you can also meet a lot of people if you join a local health club, go to the neighborhood swimming pool at least twice a week, or even find others to walk or exercise with. You’ll feel excellent about exercising, and you’ll also find some new real estate clients to work with as well!

51. Sponsor a Sports Team: Small league baseball and youth softball will be starting up soon, and there’s also many other sports teams such as football, basketball, and soccer in need of a sponsor. Beyond just having your name on the team’s t-shirts, you can do many other things to really connect with the parents and coaches, such as treating the team to ice cream after a game. Don’t forget to go to games as well.

52. Make a Coloring Book: It’s right, I’m a sucker for coloring. I’ve loved it since I was a small kid, and now I’m just thankful I have my own kids to use as an excuse to color with them. You can make your own coloring book by hiring a print shop to design one for you, or buy royalty free coloring book images. Excellent coloring book topics are “We’re Moving!” – a tale about Sally and Jimmy moving into a new house, and other similar things that makes parents reckon it will benefit their kids. Distribute your coloring book to schools, churches, day care centers, doctors offices, and others. You can also make simple coloring pages with your company logo and contact information on it to entertain anyone who stops in with their children in tow – they’ll be unlikely to throw away their child’s artwork.

53. Day Care Centers: Day care centers are full of children and their working parents. The day care staff often knows a lot of gossip going on between parents, as well as if they are getting any new children or if other children may be moving away.

Obviously, there is no single person out there that I know of who can do all 53 thoughts on this list for generating real estate leads. But hopefully some of these will give you an thought on where to get started on generating more leads for your business. By starting with just 1-2 thoughts in this list, you may find yourself finding enough business to keep yourself busy. If you do these all right, you may even be able to hire a real estate team to manage most of the marketing and real estate lead generation for you.

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