How New Real Estate Agents Can Get Leads for Free

In part one of this three-part series, I share eight ways you can get leads for free as a new real estate agent.

I see it all the time.

New real estate agents doing their best to cope with the expense of starting a new business. As they struggle to find clients, well-meaning colleagues and profit-oriented marketers insist the only way to put an end to the dearth of leads is to buy them.

Not only is that not true, it’s nonsense.

And besides, buying real estate leads can be expensive.

As a new agent, you can get leads for free from more places and in more ways than you might have thought possible. In Part 1 of this series about free lead generation ideas for real estate agents, I talk about eight of them.

  1. Remind family and friends you’re an agent.
  2. Introduce yourself to the people in your social circle.
  3. Exchange names with the people who provide you with services.
  4. Reach out to past clients.
  5. Partner up with related businesses.
  6. Volunteer, speak at, or attend community events.
  7. Write or contribute to articles, podcasts, and publications.
  8. Knock on doors.

But first . . .

Why new agents shouldn’t buy real estate leads.

If your considering whether to buy real estate leads, be it by paying per lead or shelling out a monthly fee, the most important thing to remember about paying for real estate leads is a lead is not a sale.

You could go out and easily find someone willing to sell you leads for $25 a pop. But how many leads will you need to buy before one becomes an opportunity and that one converts to a bona fide sale? What are the odds?

The National Association of Realtors® estimates that for every 200 leads, an agent will only convert one or two into a client.[1]

That’s a client, not a sale.

You could also find someone willing to take your money up front and send you a set amount of leads from a database of contacts each month, or manage an ad-based lead generation tool for you.

Now, aside from the fact that the only thing you should ever pay up front for is insurance (and you pray something doesn’t happen), tell me how shelling out a monthly fee with no guarantee you’ll get a client, let alone a sale, is supposed to help a new agent with a tight budget?

There are better ways.

Still, if you’re curious about how to buy real estate leads, here’s a few places you can look:[2]

Real Estate Lead SourcePricingBenefit
BoldLeadsflat $299 + $250 ad budget per monthBest overall with managed ad services
Zillow$20-60* per leadEasy lead generation through Zillow.com
Market Leader$20-60* per leadLeads are exclusive to ZIP codes
REDXStarting at $39 per monthMost affordable leads; best for FSBO and expired listings
ProspectNow$119 per monthAnalyze off-market homes and accurately predict future sellers
Qazzoo$299 to $499 per monthAbility to receive real-time alerts about new leads
*varies by zip codeLast updated on 04/06/20

Relationships will always be the best source of free real estate leads.

Of all the dozens of real estate lead generation ideas, whether they’re for rookie real estate agents or veterans, whether they’re free or require an investment, the good ones all come back to one primary strategy: relationship marketing.

(If you’re unsure what relationship marketing is, then this free e-book is a helpful introduction.)

As you probably know, real estate is an industry where nurturing relationships is critical to success. But it may surprise you to know that while the relationships you have with people you know are important to your beginning, the big money comes from being able to tap into the relationships the people you know have with others.

Think of the cornerstone of a building.

All the other 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, your current relationships are the cornerstone to your business—it’s from there that you’ll start building your business. From them, other relationships will be put into place. And as you work to put more and more stones (relationships) into place, your business grows.

The easiest way to get leads for free is to connect with people already in your sphere.

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. The people on your bowling team know you as a bowler. And so it goes on down the line.

Action item: In the next week, find a moment in a conversation with one family member and one friend to let them know you’re always willing to help someone who might need an agent.

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 gathering 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. Find a way to let them know you’re a real estate agent.

Before the conversation ends, ask if you can follow them on social media. When they say yes (because few will say no), use your phone to immediately add them to your social media account. Offer to give them your handle 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? The grocery clerk? Your landscaper? The snow removal guy who clears your driveway? 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, even during this highly unpredictable time. Attached 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.

A Texas Tech University study reports 83% of people are willing to give a referral after a positive experience.[3] If you already have a few clients, 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.

A little later, I’ll tell you about the most effective way to stay in touch and stay top-of-mind.

Action item: Call each client and ask how they are. 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.

Again, this is not the time to sell them anything. Simply tell them that you’re honored to have them as a client, and if they know anyone who can use your services, to please pass along your information.

If you want to get free real estate leads, then take steps to ensure your community knows who you are.

5. Partner up with related businesses.

As a real estate agent, you’re in a position to provide valuable information about the local community to people who need it.

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. This free guide will give 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. Let them know you’ll recommend them and request they do the same.

6. Volunteer, speak at, or attend community events.

It makes sense that successful real estate agents are busy people. They’re always looking for ways to meet and connect with others. It’s the way they build their network and database of contacts.

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 who you are 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. Knock on doors.

Knocking on doors is one of the most personal and effective ways to meet your potential clients; although during the pandemic, you may find fewer people willing to open their doors. But still, there will be prospects willing to chat for a couple of minutes if you keep the proper social distance. Leave at least two business cards with them—one for them and one for a spouse or friend.

Action item: As flu season approaches, consider printing and making copies of this free card and attaching a small bottle of hand sanitizer. If you can’t hand it to someone through a door, then leave them where prospects will find them.

Here’s a bonus action item: Consider asking if you can leave a few at clinics and pharmacies where people get their flu shots. It’s a thoughtful way to show you care. And since it includes your contact information, they’ll know who to thank.

How best to stay in touch with clients.

While the aforementioned real estate lead generation ideas are effective, you also need to nurture those leads if they’re to turn into strong, lasting relationships.

If you want to stay in touch with clients so that you remain top-of-mind, and they think of you straight away when someone asks if they know a good real estate agent, then a short call 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.
  • Save time and effort because you’ve got a business to run.

At ReminderMedia, we have such a tool, and it’s been proven by GfK, an independent market research company, to garner an impossible average referral rate of 58%. (Click here to see all the research results.)

We publish American Lifestyle magazine and Start Healthy magazine—two 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 four weeks on average.

Your list of recipients will automatically and consistently receive your choice of magazine every two months. 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.

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[1] Jon Yourkin, Calculating Conversion Rates for Real Estate Leads, Realvolve, May 25, 2018, https://blog.realvolve.com/calculating-conversion-rates-for-real-estate-leads.

[2] Susan Isaak, Where to Buy Real Estate Leads 2020, Fit Small Business, April 6, 2020, https://fitsmallbusiness.com/where-to-buy-real-estate-leads/.

[3] Ben Kazinik, 11 Surprising Statistics about Referrals And Why You Need a Referral Program, Share Some Friends, Accessed July 17, 2020,  https://sharesomefriends.com/blog/11-surprising-referral-statistics/.

Written by Gabrielle King

Grand Wizard of Words