7 real estate lead streams to help your business grow

September is Marketing and Branding Month in Inman. Tips for better branding and in-depth features on how to take advantage of marketing tools provided by Zillow, Redfin and other platforms are all in the works, in addition to expert insights. You’ll find it all at Inman, along with our two-day virtual flagship event, Your Playbook for the Fall Market, in October.

Leads are the lifeblood of any successful real estate business, and consistent lead generation doesn’t just happen. It is a process that involves multiple strategies to systematically produce buyer and seller leads.

No matter how many lead sources you currently have, an additional source or two can help your business grow. Additional lead sources keep your business stable, as all strategies can have seasons when they are less productive than they were in the past.

Below is a list of seven inbound real estate lead streams to help your real estate business stay consistent and grow.

1. Geographic farming

Farming is the most basic way to regularly generate real estate listings. I don’t know a single most productive agent who doesn’t have a neighborhood or area where he consistently adds value and is known as the real estate appraiser. The process really has three steps.

The first step is to identify the right neighborhood. The right neighborhood to farm includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • A neighborhood you like to sell and believe is a great place for home buyers.
  • Properly sized to ensure your investment of time, money and effort is worth it.
  • No dominant agent with more than 20% market share of active listings or listings sold in the last 12 months.

The second step is to develop a marketing plan for the neighborhood that includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Postcards / monthly or bi-monthly mailings to all owners in the neighborhood
  • Just Listed / Just Sold Campaigns
  • Sponsored special events for the neighborhood like food truck nights, family photography events, or family movie nights at a neighborhood park

The third step is to execute your plan, stay consistent, and measure your results in the first year. Agriculture is fundamental to creating consistent enrollment opportunities.

2. Online Leads

Online leads are a great way to generate a steady stream of leads entering your database. There are several ways to generate these leads, including but not limited to:

  • Paid site options like Zillow, Realtor.com and other easily accessible sites to buy leads.
  • Hire someone or learn how to run ads yourself for sites like Google, Facebook, or any of the other social media platforms.
  • Sites like Opcity will send you leads at no upfront cost, but a referral commission will be due at the time of closing.

The best way to optimize your online lead conversion is to have a follow-up system in place that includes engaging leads quickly and consistently. Chances are that if you can secure those leads online, they will also be sold or captured by other agents.

Online lead generation is a great way to generate multiple leads each month.

3. References

When asked what are the top sources of leads for their business, the most productive agents almost always include referrals. Referrals can come from your sphere of influence, past clients, or people who actively see you providing value through your social media content.

If you are looking to increase your referrals, focus on the constant value of your sphere of influence. This should be through a monthly or weekly email newsletter that adds value to them and keeps you top of mind.

This newsletter should also be directed to your past clients, but they should receive extra attention because they already know you, like you, and trust you because they work with you. Check-in calls to see how they are doing and to deepen your relationship with them keeps them thinking of you when they have the opportunity to send you a recommendation.

Social media has opened up an additional way to generate referrals that was unavailable just 10 years ago. By constantly adding valuable social media content that is entertaining, educational and engaging, you will be the first agent your friends or followers will think of when they hear someone talking about real estate or looking for an agent.

Referrals are not given, they are earned. Deepen the value you provide to people who already know you, and they will help your business grow.

4. Expired Ads

Expired listings are a group of owners who have raised their hands saying they want to sell. They just didn’t have the right agent to give them professional advice on pricing, staging, or marketing. This is a source of lead that has been limited in recent years as prices have skyrocketed and huge demand for homes has meant almost everything has been sold.

This is not the case now. Anticipating the upcoming surge in expired listings makes for an opportune time to develop an expired listing strategy. Yes, calling out expired listings is part of the process, but developing a systematic plan that clearly articulates your unique value proposition is critical to success.

This is a lead source that will naturally see more opportunities as the market normalizes.

5. Circular prospecting

Circular prospecting involves calling homeowners around a sales event, such as a new listing, a pending contract, or a home that has just been sold. These should be informational calls where you provide homeowners with relevant information about their neighbor’s home sale activity that affects the value of their home.

A typical script would be the following:

Hello Mr/Mrs. Owner. My name is (agent name) with (agent brokerage). I don’t know if you have the details yet, but your neighbor’s house just four doors down from yours just sold today, and it has really added to the value of your home. Have you heard the details of the sale?

This will allow you to share the details of the sale and how it might affect the value of their home. Somewhere in the conversation, you will have the opportunity to say:

Do you intend to move in the next few years?


I’d be the worst realtor in the world if I didn’t at least ask if there’s a price you’d consider selling at.

Circular prospecting is a classic way to generate leads and build an owner database that never goes out of style.

6. FSBO Lists

For Sale By Owners (FSBO) are another group of people who have clearly identified themselves as someone who would like to sell. Most will end up signing up with a real estate agent, so this is a great group of people to target with a tracking system. A system of providing homeowners with value while they are an FSBO provides opportunities when they are unable to sell the home themselves.

If you add more value and stay connected with FSBOs the longest, you will get listings.

7. Agent references

Agent referrals give you the opportunity to tap into the trust already earned by the referring agent. These referrals can become one of the most successful lead streams when strategically targeted. Here are some strategies to help you generate more of those referrals:

  • Send handwritten notes to agents at food markets where shoppers moving to your town often come asking them to keep you in mind for referrals to your town.
  • Agricultural agents in these food markets, just like you would in a neighborhood. Postcards, e-mails and calls keep you in mind.
  • Develop an email list of agents in other markets that you will regularly give advice on what works in your business that they may be able to use in their business. Then, thank them for considering you if they know of anyone moving to your area or moving to their area who might have a home for sale.

Offering a 30% referral commission compared to the typical 25% is another way to grab their attention. Like all other sources listed, the more effort you put into generating agent referrals, the more profit you will make.

Lead generation is the name of the game. Focus on maintaining multiple streams of incoming leads and developing follow-up systems that add value to them. If you achieve these two things, your business can only grow.

Jimmy Burgess is the Director of Growth for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida in Northwest Florida. Connect with him on Facebook or Instagram.