15 Lead Generation Ideas and Strategies for Real Estate Agents

15 lead generation ideas and strategies for real estate agents header image with house | AgentAdvice.com

Finding the initial clients can be a challenge for new real estate agents looking to establish themselves in a market or community. Even for established real estate agents, driving new and continued business is a process of lead generation that requires constant innovation and effort. 

Lead generation strategies can also help new agents level the playing field. Lead generation involves building an awareness of your company among potential clients. Then, it drives those potential clients to engage with your business directly.

Lead generation can be broadly applicable, casting a wide net to reach as many prospective clients as possible. It can also be more targeted, down to the individual prospect an agent wants to work with.

Being creative and intentional with lead generation can expand your reach and awareness among real estate buyers and sellers alike. It can disrupt markets that take lead generation for granted. 

Not all lead generation strategies and tactics are created equal. Their value and impact can vary depending on real estate agents’ target market segment, demographics, or timing. It’s crucial for real estate agents to approach lead gen with a toolkit of options instead of a never-changing set of rules to be “copy and pasted” to every context.

We’ve compiled fifteen ideas and strategies to help realtors drive new real estate leads. They include a mix of traditional and modern approaches and range from specific practices to new or innovative platforms. These tactics enable real estate agents to reach their target audiences.

 

Paid Advertising

There is a wide range of advertising options available to real estate agents. We’ll focus today on online paid advertising. The vast majority of buyers use online resources when house hunting.  This means real estate agents’ lead gen strategies should start with going to where the leads already are. 

1) Facebook

Social media messaging and advertising have taken the real estate marketing world by storm. Facebook still has the most extensive user base and potential audience for advertisers of any available platform. The social media platform has a broad and deep pool of potential clients and leads that real estate agents can convert into clients. However, these ad campaigns should be very targeted and closely monitored.

Facebook offers some advertising tools specific to real estate agents. Specifically, the platform provides Real Estate Ads, which use retargeting to provide realty-tailored ad content to prospective clients. Facebook identifies these individuals by downloading a “pixel” on the agent’s website and tracking those website visitors onto Facebook. This method of retargeting allows real estate agents to focus their ad spend on prospects that have already indicated they are in the market. 

However, the advertising landscape for real estate agents on Facebook has changed since fair housing regulations took effect. These regulations, which are intended to prevent discrimination, prevent real estate agents from targeting ads based on zip code, age, or gender. They also limit the other categories that real estate agents can use to target users. These regulations necessitate more effort on real estate agents’ part to make sure their ads are reaching the correct users. 

From there, real estate agents can select the ad types that work best for them. Ad strategies include those that offer some content or asset from the agent in exchange for a potential client’s contact information. These are called “lead ads.” There are also more straightforward ads that redirect the user who clicks the ad to the agent’s website. These ads may not directly generate leads the same way that lead ads can. 

2) LinkedIn

Like Facebook, LinkedIn can provide targeted advertising to its user population based on users’ profile info. However, LinkedIn ads vary from Facebook ads because it is targeting a professional audience, compared to Facebook’s broader audience. 

LinkedIn can be a great place to use paid ads to target either buyers and sellers in professional business roles. It’s also effective at helping commercial real estate agents target commercial buyers and sellers. LinkedIn users who are on the platform are primed to receive and process financial information, such as real estate pitches. 

Like Facebook, LinkedIn gives real estate agents the ability to retarget ads to users who also visited the agent’s website. Real estate agents can target LinkedIn users based on profile information. These traits are much more focused on professional information, such as job title or industry, instead of personal information. 

3) Google

When looking to buy, or sell, a home, many people start their journey with Google search. The search engine allows real estate agents to harness this behavior to serve their advertisements to these buyers/sellers.

Real estate agents should approach targeted ads on Google differently than they would social media advertising. Real estate agents “pay per click” or a flat amount every time a user clicks on their ad within Google search. Real estate agents should make sure to pay only for the most relevant and valuable leads possible. To do that, they should target their ad dollars on specific keywords that their prospects are likely to click on.

There are benefits and drawbacks to advertising on Google directly. On the one hand, the ability to target specific keywords allows real estate agents to serve ads based on specific search activities. This can be a much clearer signal of an intent to buy or sell than what can be inferred from personal information on social media sites. Google ad campaigns are also highly automatable — users can almost “set and forget” them.

On the other hand, Google ads are far from free. The cost per click varies by the competitiveness of a keyword or search term. Ads can be especially expensive in hyper-competitive industries like real estate. It can also take some time upfront to learn the Google Ads tool and adequately set up campaigns that will deliver results, including focusing ads on the right search terms that prospective clients are most likely to be using.

 

Buy Leads from Realty-Specific 3rd-Party Platforms

Many options help real estate agents organically generate leads. For those with the budget, buying those leads can be a simpler and more straightforward tactic. 3rd-party businesses or organizations do the work of identifying individuals in the market to buy or sell real estate. They then sell real estate agents those individuals’ contact info after some degree of lead qualification. 

There are two broad ways to find sources of leads to buy– those that offer a broad range of possible leads, and those that target specific demographics. 

4) Market-wide platforms

There are many broadly-applicable platforms that real estate agents can buy leads from. Some real estate platforms, like Zillow, integrate lead generation with advertising for a more streamlined agent experience from start to finish. Others focus on just providing the lead information itself. 

5) Demographic-specific sites

Some sites also specialize in certain demographics. They may target specific geographic areas, such as large metros. Some sites even offer segmentation based on demographics who are the most likely to be buying or selling real estate, such as divorce real estate.

 

Evaluating quality when buying leads

Not all leads are created equal. When comparing options for buying leads, there are several factors agents should be aware of. Consider how the vendor sources those leads: What kinds of activities are the vendor interpreting as “intent”? How complete is the information about the leads themselves that the vendor provides? How much information about each lead’s prior activities is available? These factors will help real estate agents determine how actionable the leads from a given vendor are. 

6) Direct Mail

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Direct mail to homeowners and tenants in a REALTOR’ ®s farm area remains a valuable method of engaging with prospects, especially if new to the area.

Unlike other industries, direct mail as a real estate lead gen strategy has been resilient. The nature of the industry makes it much easier to access addresses and locations and focus mailing activities based on geography.

Doing so lets real estate agents cast a wide net across their territory during generic outreach or awareness campaigns. For areas with limited internet access or a less technologically-inclined population, direct mail remains a robust tool for real estate agents. 

Direct mail can also be used to target prospects who have already engaged with the agent. This is especially true if the interaction was physical instead of virtual, such as attending an open house. In these cases, thank you cards are one example method of following up on initial interaction. A thank you note also allows real estate agents to personalize the communication to each prospect.  

7) Professional Website

Real estate agents should develop their standalone real estate websites. These sites host the agent’s current listings, contact information, prior clients’ testimonials and reviews, community information pages, and any other content the agent can provide. Investing in a real estate website can pay off in multiple ways, but it comes with a learning curve. 

Developing a unique professional website can provide direct and indirect benefits. If done well, the website adds to the agent’s perceived credibility and professionalism. This can boost real estate agents’ standing among prospects, peers, and current clients and contribute to better “brand awareness.”

The website should also serve as a direct lead gen platform. The most straightforward way to do so is to add lead gen forms to the site. “Lead gen forms” are fillable online forms that site visitors can fill out with their contact information. These forms could be structured as a portal for contacting the agent, or in exchange for an asset or piece of content that the agent is offering. Either way, lead gen forms on the agent’s site are a clear source of inbound leads– prospects that opt-in to contact the agent.

Put the lead gen forms on pages of the site that get the most traffic in order to maximize their visibility and likelihood of someone to fill them out. Google Analytics, a free tool, can help real estate agents determine which pages on their websites get the most traffic. 

 

Community Referrals

The community, an agent, works, and lives in can be their best source of leads. By developing their brand and reputation within the community, real estate agents can become a trusted source of information and assistance in real estate. 

However, this strategy may not show results as quickly as other methods. Community trust does not come by default. It often requires prior investment in developing those community relationships before it pays off. Be aware of this timing factor when determining how well it will work for you. 

There are several traditional and creative methods to maximize your community network and generate organic referrals. 

8) Real estate-adjacent professionals

Some industries will learn about a homeowner’s intent to sell their property before any agency, brokerage, or search engine. For instance, the owner may be planning to renovate or upgrade their home before putting it on the market to be more competitive/get a higher valuation.

The contractors, renovators, and construction organizations that conduct these activities can help drive leads for real estate agents either by passing the agent’s info to the homeowner or by tipping the agent off about a job they had that will likely go on the market soon. 

9) Client referrals

Few will be able to speak on an agent’s behalf as well as clients who have already had success through them. Real estate agents should keep track of those clients who have been extremely successful in either buying or selling, those who are well known in the community, and especially those clients who have been successful and are well known. 

To maximize client referrals, simply do the best job possible serving the clients. Personal interactions, saving clients money and staying in touch with follow-up communications (“How are you settling in? Anything I can help with?”) all go a long way towards making a lasting impression with clients.

Word of mouth and personal validation are potent tools that also work without the agent having to do anything– the easiest form of lead gen actively. 

 

Track Prospects who are Already in the Market

Real estate can be a long game. Buyers and sellers alike can spend months active in the market before closing a deal on a property. There are constant streams of new prospects entering the market. All of these factors make it advantageous to keep an eye out for opportunities with folks who may already be in the buying/listing process. Many lead generation tools provide capabilities to make this process easier. 

10) Open Houses

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Open houses can be great opportunities to find other prospects who are already in the market but may not have an agent yet. This includes holding an open house for a selling client or attending open houses with a buying client. 

Hosting an open house will provide the best opportunities for lead generation. For instance, the agent has the opportunity to engage personally with every buyer who visits the open house, any of which may still be early in the buying process and still open to working with an agent.

Alternatively, the open house can feature a more formal “welcome book” where buyers can sign in or leave their info. This can lead to follow-up contact via email, direct mail, etc. 

11) FSBOs (For Sale By Owner)

FSBO listings are those managed and run by the homeowner, rather than an agent. Homeowners may choose to sell their home on their own because of prior bad experiences with an agent because they think they have the time and know-how to sell it or a host of other reasons. 

Real estate agents may view FSBOs as hostile territory, and they should certainly proceed with caution. However, there is always the possibility that a resourceful agent can convert an FSBO into a client.

The key is to watch for warning signs that the FSBO strategy is not working for the homeowner. This may be the case if the listing stays available for an unusually long time or expires, or if the asking price drops frequently and substantially. These signs of distress suggest that the homeowner is more open to working with an agent than they initially were. 

 

Content Creation

Creating content targeting prospective clients is an excellent but more time and resource-intensive approach to generating direct and indirect leads. It utilizes real estate agents’ expertise in their markets, communities, and clients to serve prospective clients with valuable information when buying or selling.

Content should be a part of any lead gen strategy. However, which content real estate agents use, and how they use it, can vary.

12) Video Marketing

Video marketing uses video content to engage prospective clients, frequently on social media or video platforms like YouTube. It is a higher-investment strategy since it requires videography, editing, and potentially acting skills to execute.

This investment can deliver excellent results– nearly ¾ of homeowners are more likely to list with an agent who offers to make a video of their listing. Video marketing allows real estate agents to both serve current clients and catch the eye of prospective clients at the same time. 

13) Leveraging Reviews

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Much like community referrals, online reviews can play a central role in lead generation strategies. There are a host of real estate websites where clients can review their agents, including Zillow, Yelp, and Realtor.com. The bare minimum for real estate agents is to monitor their profiles on these sites to be aware of what information prospects may be looking at.

Real estate agents can also go a step further in actively managing their profiles. They can reach out to happy reviewers for referrals or quotes, address any complaints from unhappy reviewers, or work directly with the website to use the review content itself. 

14) Community pages

Community pages are a crucial source of content that real estate agents should provide on their websites. Community pages give buyers and sellers up to date insights on the area’s population, cost of living, schools, attractions, and any other valuable information. 

These are also places where real estate agents can answer common or frequently asked questions that buyers or sellers have about the area. Answering these questions in a clear and structured way will benefit the website’s authority in prospects’ minds and improve its ranking on Google. 

15) Guest writing on real estate websites

If an agent is new to the area and doesn’t have any market authority, it can help to lean on someone else’s. Look for opportunities to guest write on blogs, newsletters, or other publications that popular real estate websites in the area offer. This is a great opportunity for real estate agents to drive backlinks back to their own site by linking to it in the post, improving both their site’s SEO and their brand authority. 

 

Finding the Strategy that Works for You

While there are myriad lead gen ideas and strategies available, not all of them are great for all situations. There are some factors to consider when choosing strategies:

  • The market: Who are the potential leads most likely to be? Are there any unique demographic factors? Where are these leads most centralized or easy to reach?
  • The network: Are there preexisting community relationships to build on, or is the agent starting fresh? 
  • The budget: How much money is there to work with? Strategies like paid advertising bring heftier price tags than leaning into community referrals. 
  • The platform: Where is it easiest to get in front of prospects and leads? Are certain platforms more advantageous than others? 

The exact mix and emphasis on various strategies will be different for every agent. Staying flexible with lead gen strategies can help make sure that real estate agents are attracting the most high-quality leads, and can help break into markets that would otherwise seem impossible from the outside.