Ep. 261: Why You Need to Stop Buying Leads (with Tim Harris)

Should You Be Buying Real Estate Leads?

Real Estate Coach Tim Harris, of Tim and Julie Harris Real Estate Coaching, offers his opinion.

Who should listen: Real estate agents who want to benefit from a top coach’s insights about the industry, sales skills, hiring a coach, and buying leads.

Key idea: Nothing is going to make you a better salesperson than selling.

Action item: Start calling the people in your database.

Our interview with Tim Harris—one half of the real estate coaching team Tim and Julie Harris Real Estate Coaching—is an expedition through familiar but treacherous land given the range of opinions about coaching and about buying leads.

The best real estate coaches have proven expertise

The first 18 minutes or so is a valuable tutorial about how to determine whether a self-proclaimed coach has the proper qualifications. As a respected coach—one who coached Ricky Carruth when he started his real estate career—Tim suggests you ask any potential coach to prove their expertise by answering these four questions:

  1. Have they sold real estate before?
  2. Have they sold at least 100 houses in a year?
  3. Have they sold at least 100 houses a year for five years?
  4. Have they had more than 100,000 paid, one-on-one coaching calls?


Tim’s reason for asking these questions is simple—he suggests it’s too easy for people to call themselves real estate coaches when they have no real experience. So before you hand over your money, you want to ensure your would-be coach has successfully done what you want to do.

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Is buying real estate leads worth it?

Every real estate agent is heavily invested in finding their next lead. Consequently, it’s no surprise that, as one of the truly top real estate coaches in the country, Tim (who meets the set of criteria he proposed above) would be well-versed in the most effective lead generation tactics and strategies.

And he’s not a fan of buying real estate leads.

At one time, buying leads may have been a worthy investment, but today, Tim argues that the industry is suffering from saturation.

He also notes that back in the 1990s, buying leads was a viable way to find clients and that when Google PPC (pay-per-click) ads first came out, they worked great too. So did SEO.

The problem, according to Tim, is nothing works as well as it did when it was first introduced, but people still sell these solutions as if they do. When everyone invests in PPC ads, your ads no longer stand out. When algorithms change without warning, today’s SEO strategy won’t work tomorrow.

The second reason he doesn’t endorse buying real estate leads is grounded in what he considers a practical business decision. Tim puts it this way: Would you build a mansion on land you do not own?

When agents buy their business from the likes of Zillow, for example, he argues that they are essentially building a large, expensive home on land that is not theirs. As a result, the lifeblood of your business is essentially under the control of someone other than you.

And who wants that?

The alternative to buying leads is proactive lead generation

Rather than suggest his clients buy leads, Tim teaches them to use proactive lead generation and to be independent entrepreneurs in control of their own futures.

Rather than having to pay a 50% referral fee on all transactions (as some in the industry are predicting), Tim wants his clients to keep their hard-earned money. He teaches them seven proactive lead generation strategies, many of which include picking up the phone and making calls.

When you listen to the episode, you’ll hear Tim explain how the extent of proactive lead generation is essentially doing the work of sales—making phone calls, following up, and solving problems. He believes that nothing is going to make you a better salesperson than selling. And becoming better at any skill often means:

Doing what you don’t want to do, when you don’t want to do it, at the highest level.

We think that pretty much says it all.


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