Updated September 26, 2023
As a new agent, you can get free real estate leads from more places and in more ways than you may have thought possible. When looking for free ways to generate real estate leads, the thing to keep in mind is to take advantage of the resources you already have in place or can easily obtain.
The first of these resources is the relationships you have within your sphere of influence—your friends, family, social circle, and past clients. It’s from these connections that you will get referrals. The second resource at your disposal is your knowledge and expertise as a real estate agent. Even as a new agent, the value you provide will help establish you as a trusted resource to which people will turn when they need the services of a real estate agent.
Relationships will always be the best source of free real estate leads
Let’s begin with your first resource—the relationships you already have. According to the 2023 NAR Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends report, 38% of all homebuyers and 36% of all home sellers found their real estate agent through a referral from a friend, neighbor, or relative. While the relationships you have with people you know now are important to your initial success, real growth happens when these people start to refer you to people they know.
Think of the cornerstone of a building. All the stones to be laid are put in place with reference to the cornerstone. It’s only one stone, but it determines the structure of the entire edifice.
Similarly, when you first begin your career as a real estate agent, your current relationships are the cornerstone of your business—from them, other relationships will be put into place. And as you work to develop more and more relationships, your referral base expands, your business begins to take on momentum, and it grows.
To begin generating real estate leads with no upfront cost, take stock of the connections you currently have and use the first five suggestions discussed below to begin mining for leads.
1. Remind family and friends you’re an agent
Periodically reminding family and friends that you’re an agent may seem unnecessary but think about this: Uncle Bob knows you as his niece or nephew, not as a real estate agent. When our own chief marketing officer was house hunting, he forgot he had a relative who was a real estate agent and hired someone else! Similarly, the people on your bowling team know you as a bowler, the people you play bridge with know you as a card player, and so on down the line.
Action item: In the next week, find a moment in a conversation with one family member and one friend to bring up the topic of real estate. You might offer a comment about current market conditions or tell a story about something that happened during the course of your work. Find some way to let them know you’re an agent, even if it’s to announce it, and that you’re always willing to help anyone who wants to buy or sell a home.
2. Introduce yourself to the people in your social circle
If you’re a member of a church, synagogue, or mosque, introduce yourself to the people with whom you attend services. The same thing goes for the people in your book club, bridge club, cycling group, or other social group in which you participate.
Action item: List the groups in which you participate, and the next time you meet with each of them, pick out one person and start a conversation. Similar to your chats with family and friends, find a way to let them know you’re a real estate agent. Before the conversation ends and as you grab your phone, ask if you can follow them on social media. When they say yes (because few will say no), immediately add them to your social media account. If social media isn’t an option, ask for their email address. Offer to give them your handle or email address as well.
3. Exchange names with the people who provide you with services
Do you know your mail carrier’s name? How about the person at the deli counter? Your landscaper? The snow removal guy who clears your driveway? And let’s not forget about who does your hair. All these people and more represent opportunities for a new real estate agent to get leads for free.
Action item: Make a point of meeting your mail carrier, and if you can’t do it in person, leave a note in your mailbox thanking them for being someone on whom you can rely. Attach your business card. Don’t try to sell them anything; just let them know you’re there to help.
4. Reach out to past clients
Nothing is more gut-wrenching for a real estate agent than seeing another agent’s “For Sale” sign on a property they previously closed on. If you already have a few clients, make certain that you stay in touch with them. If you don’t, they will forget you, and you don’t want to miss out on what is unquestionably your best source of new leads.
Action item: Examine your list of clients and resolve to call a set number of them each day for the next five days to simply ask how things are going. If you haven’t reached out in a while (or not at all), own that and then keep the conversation going. Check your notes for some personal information that will give you a way to start the conversation. If you’re stuck, try using a script to guide you through. We have several free follow-up scripts you can download from our Resource Library.
This is not the time to sell them anything; your goal is to simply connect. Tell them that you’re honored to have them as a client, and if they know anyone who can use your services, you’d appreciate an introduction.
5. Partner with related businesses
As a real estate agent, you’re in a position to provide valuable information about the local community. Recommendations about where to eat, which vet to use, a sports league for their kids, reliable contractors, a fastidious housekeeper, spots for a good cuppa joe, and the like, is information people new to the community are going to need.
Similarly, you can expect people will need referrals for moving companies, lawyers, financial professionals, mortgage brokers, and insurance agents. These are industries closely related to real estate, so who better to ask than your friendly neighborhood real estate agent?
You can help all these businesses and organizations by referring clients, prospects, and other inquisitors to them, and they can do the same for you. Our “Quick Guide to Profitable Partnerships” is a free resource that gives you tips for how to create strategic partnerships that will help you, them, and your clients.
Action item: Pick three businesses or organizations each day for the next week and introduce yourself to the owners or managers. You can do yourself one better by purchasing something or volunteering some time. Give these people several business cards or leave a personally branded copy of one of our magazines with them (more on that in a minute). Let them know you’ll recommend them and request they do the same.
Provide value to generate free inbound real estate leads
Reality is you’ve got bills to pay, so it’s hard not to have commission breath when you’re a new agent. As true as that may be, it’s also true that you need to give before you can get. Use your second resource—your knowledge and expertise as a real estate agent—and be willing to share your expertise freely. You’ll build awareness of your brand, generate good will, expand your network, and, over time, you’ll gain a reputation as a trusted expert.
6. Volunteer, speak at, or attend community events
Be visible in your community by volunteering, speaking at, and attending community events. As always, make sure you introduce yourself to people and exchange information. Give them your business card printed with your social media accounts and suggest they follow you.
Action item: Find one event in the next month at which you can volunteer your time or expertise and connect with the organizer. Don’t overlook your local Chamber of Commerce. Most will routinely host speakers who can contribute to the success of local businesses. You’re knowledge of the housing market and what attracts people to an area will be quite valuable.
7. Write or contribute to articles, podcasts, and publications
Just about every community has a town newspaper or newsletter, and they publish stories of local interest. That would include stories about home buying, home selling, the housing market, community development, or generally anything that may affect the quality of life in the local area. As an agent, you’re a valuable source of information.
Another tip is to start following an Instagram nano influencer in your area. Learn about them and their audience. Audiences who follow nano influencers tend to be small, but they’re loyal and highly engaged. What can you offer in exchange, other than money, for a shout-out? (Remember, this is about how new real estate agents can get leads for free.)
Action item: Take a trip to the local newspaper office and introduce yourself to the editor of the home section, local news section, or if it’s a small paper, the editor-in-chief. Let them know you’re a real estate agent and that you’d be happy to serve as a subject matter expert. Offer to write a short piece or let them know you’re willing to sit with reporters who need the kind of expert information you can provide.
8. Write a blog
Add a blog tab to your website and start sharing your expertise. Use our free e-book “A Beginner’s Guide to Small Business Blogging” to get started. You can repurpose this content by dividing them individual social media posts. You can also create content for YouTube where you share the same information in a video.
Action item: The easiest way to begin your blog is with a list of FAQs. Pick the 10 questions you find yourself answering again and again, write easy-to-understand answers, publish it, and then promote it in your emails, newsletters, and social media.
9. Knock on doors
Knocking on doors is one of the most personal and effective ways to meet your potential clients, and as long as their are no restrictions preventing it, you should. But don’t go empty handed. Use any of our free pop-by printables and leave at least two business cards with them—one for them and one for a spouse or friend.
Action item: Cold and flu season seem to last forever and COVID is still a threat, so consider printing and making copies of this free pop-by printable card and attaching a small bottle of hand sanitizer. If you can’t hand it to someone through a door, then leave them where leads will find them.
Here’s a bonus action item: Consider asking if you can leave a few at clinics and doctors’ offices. It’s a thoughtful way to show you care. And since the free card includes your contact information, those who pick them up will know who to thank.
10. Offer free lead magnets
An exceptionally effective way to get free buyer leads and free seller leads is to offer a lead magnet.
A lead magnet is an item of value that you offer to leads in exchange for their contact information. You provide a link to a landing page that captures visitors’ information and once you have added them to your list, you can continue to nurture them with a drip campaign. Promote your lead magnet in your emails, newsletter, and on social media.
Action item: Visit our Resource Library and download one of our free lead magnets for real estate agents. Use it, compliments of us, to capture new, free leads.
How best to stay in touch with clients
While the aforementioned free real estate lead generation ideas are effective, you also need to nurture those leads if they’re to turn into clients with whom you have strong, lasting relationships.
If you want to stay in touch with clients so that you remain top-of-mind and so they think of you straight away when someone asks if they know a good real estate agent, then a short call once a year to check in is not going to be enough.
When talking about developing the relationships that will become the cornerstone of your growing real estate business, then investing a reasonable amount of money in a follow-up tool is a wise decision.
There are a lot of them out there, so be sure to choose something proven to work. The best follow-up tool will:
- Offer a consistent way to keep in touch.
- Be something useful that provides value.
- Remind clients who you are.
Our clients have chosen to use our personally branded magazines to nurture relationships with clients. We publish American Lifestyle, Start Healthy, Good to Be Home, and Business in Action—four high-quality, professional publications that rival the quality of Architectural Digest and House Beautiful. Clients are consistently writing reviews on Facebook about the impression they make.
These magazines feature engaging content that recipients use and keep. And because each issue is printed with your photo and contact information at no extra cost, you remain visible and in the home, on average, for up to 10 weeks.*
Your list of recipients will automatically and consistently receive your choice of magazine every two months. You can even switch among the different magazines. We cover the shipping and handling. And, as hard as it may be to believe, each magazine costs less than a typical Hallmark® card.
You really need to see this magazine to appreciate its value, so click here and we’ll send you a FREE sample PDF for you to review and enjoy. There’s no obligation.
These are 10 ways to generate free real estate leads that you can use to start pulling in leads today, and there are more ideas to be found in the additional blogs as well as a free e-book listed at the bottom of your screen. Still, if any of these ideas are going to work you need to implement them and be patient—consistency is key in real estate marketing. Do that, and you’ll be rewarded with many much-deserved leads.
*2023 GfK MRI-Simmons reader survey.