Are They Leads or Bleeds?

Mortgage and Lending with Guaranteed Rate NMLS# 2611 NMLS #208860

Sales LeadsI just hired a new loan officer that has been successfully working Internet leads for the past few years and he has requested that I look into purchasing a batch of these things.  I've never bought a lead and it feels kind of weird to me.  All of my business is referral-based and that's the way I like it; I enjoy relationships with my clients and if I treat them well, they come back.

Leads seem very cold.  Some potential customer fills out a bunch of Internet quote forms one night and these companies running the websites harvest the information and divvy the leads up to paying customers.  I know there's no such thing as an exclusive lead, but I wanted to see if any of you in the AR community have had any luck with buying leads.  Ultimately, they're only as good as the individual working them, but I'm sure it helps to have a quality source of leads so that my loan officer isn't the 50th person to call these folks.

My loan software Encompass is affiliated with LoanBright, ReallyGreatRate, Key Leads, and BigMortgageLeads.  Do any of you know anything about these companies?  Are there other lead companies I should look at?  Any advice you can provide would be huge.  Hopefully you can lead me in the right direction!

Comments (19)

Rob Arnold
Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc. - Altamonte Springs, FL
Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F
I've never fooled with them.  Most of the leads I get from internet sites like and such the people don't even want to give out a phone number.  I like real referrals as you said.
Apr 03, 2008 02:19 AM
Lorraine or Loretta Kratz
Crescent Moon Realty, Inc. & Land N Sea Auctions. - San Marcos, CA
Certified Negotiation Consultants


I rather purchase mailing list, of the target area I wish to work in. Many of my fellow REALTORS have tried buying leads and the success ratio has been zero.

Apr 03, 2008 02:23 AM
Steve Sanders
Independent Observer - Saint Paul, MN

Lead lists make me think of Glengarry Glen Ross.  I never saw the play, but the movie is great.

Nothing will ever replace good old fashioned client relations.  You might be able to meet someone through a lead list, but if you don't build trust with that client, the list was a waste of time and money.

Apr 03, 2008 02:25 AM
Mike Tullio
Guaranteed Rate NMLS# 2611 - Sarasota, FL
VP of Mortgage Lending

I'm with you Rob.  I'm not a big fan of rejection and would much rather talk with people that like me.  Or at least they pretend to like me.

Thanks for the suggestion Lorraine and Loretta.  I'm a big fan of being strategic with our marketing dollars and targeted mailers seem like they make sense.

You're so right Steve.  Trust is the key when people are dealing with one of the largest financial decisions of their life.  I'm not that into phone trust.

Apr 03, 2008 02:54 AM
Jacob Webster
Sagamore Home Mortgage, LLC. - Zionsville, IN
Indiananulls Senior Mortgage Consultant
When I started in the business 3 years ago thats all I closed (Internet Leads and Mailers).  Now 95%+ of my closings are Referrals. 
Apr 03, 2008 04:14 AM
Mike Tullio
Guaranteed Rate NMLS# 2611 - Sarasota, FL
VP of Mortgage Lending
Hey Jacob.  That sounds like a really healthy shift in your business model.  I appreciate your thoughts.
Apr 03, 2008 05:15 AM
Paul McFadden
Hi Mike: I too called leads when I first got in the business. The most difficult thing it to build a realtionship with the borrower. Now, I work exclusively by referral. Although it takes longer, you tie your customers to you and not just the lowest rate or fee.
Apr 03, 2008 05:41 AM
Mel Miller
Soleil Real Estate - Spokane, WA
If your new agent really feels that he need to use the leads then work out a deal where you will pay for each successful lead.  So lets say that he buys 1000 leads and gets one deal out of it, you pay him a pre-determined amount.  If he is good at working the leads then he can come out way ahead and you have lost nothing.  But if it turns out to be a bad deal the he bears the cost.
Apr 03, 2008 03:24 PM
Mike Tullio
Guaranteed Rate NMLS# 2611 - Sarasota, FL
VP of Mortgage Lending

Wise words Paul.   I like the idea of creating a relationship and not just a rate.  I get the feeling that leads are kind of like bicycle training wheels.  You can still make progress, but you don't have the freedom and confidence yet.

Great thoughts Mel.  Thanks for the suggestion.  I can see how your system puts the responsibility on the loan officer vs. me.  People are much more motivated when they've invested themselves.

Apr 04, 2008 01:44 AM
Steven Odierno
Mahwah, NJ
NJ Mortgage & Marketing Professional

Mike - I am quite envious of your company.  To have a company whose base is referrals is quite an accomplishment and, hopefully, insulates you to a degree against many of the negativity surrounding our industry.  I wish that I had spent more time on that in the past. 

My company is heavily involved in Direct Mail and Telemarketing, both of which have, thankfully, been successful for us.  In our search for a third leg for our marketing table, we did purchase quite a bit of Internet leads over the years.  It will come as no great shock to you that much of our experience has been negative - recycled leads, 50th person to call, etc. 

But, I must tell you this:  there was a time when we were purchasing leads from  At that time, we had one, dedicated woman working on the leads and we say a tremendous ROI - far better than the lead cost of Direct Mail or Telemarketing.  I believe that it was a combination of some decent leads from lowermybills and, more importantly, a person whose sole job it was to work on them.  These leads are inherently "weaker" than a call into your office from a piece of Direct Mail and certainly not as strong as a referral.  I found that once we exposed her and anyone else we had to "stronger" leads, the Internet leads went by the wayside.

So, I would say that if you have an LO with a proven track record of success with Internet leads who has a system in place to continuously follow up with people who are often difficult to get a hold of, then it is probably worth doing on a trial basis.  Best of luck. 

Apr 04, 2008 03:33 AM
Don Draughn - Mortgage Professional
High Point, NC
I started my career over 6 years ago working nothing but internet leads.  I still subsidize my referral base with them every now and then.  It might not be such a bad idea but I would also strongly encourage this LO to start building a referral base from the contacts he makes with the leads.  As for lead companies, I think they are really all the same.  Just pick your poison.
Apr 04, 2008 03:52 AM
-- Casey Brischle
Columbia Bank - Spokane, WA
Spokane Home Loan Mortgage Professional

Referral based business will give you less gray hair! :)

Great post!

Apr 04, 2008 04:01 AM
Find a Notary Public needAnotary
QEC Internet Services - Long Beach, CA

You are right, there is no such animal as an exclusive lead.  So  consequently there should be NO reason to pay and outrageous price for any leads. 

There was a time that I spent $500 for 500 leads said to be 30 days old and did pretty well with, but it was a ton of work getting through them and a lot of negatitity in doing so.  It took about 3 weeks getting through them in a through manner.  I got 3 loans out of the bunch and made more than my money, but it was hard work and energy consumming.


Apr 04, 2008 04:13 AM
Mike Tullio
Guaranteed Rate NMLS# 2611 - Sarasota, FL
VP of Mortgage Lending

Steven.  Your genuine and thoughtful response is the type of behavior that will bring you a lot of success.  Thanks for sharing your experience and allowing me to learn from it; you truly have helped me out and I appreciate it.

Don.  I really like the word subsidize.  It's good to have multiple sources of business and leads, although time consuming and draining, may be the right source for the right person.  Good thoughts.

Casey.  I can't afford any more grays, so I'll probably go light on the leads!

Find a Notary.  Good synopsis of the process.  I need all the reality I can get.  I tend to function in the ideal vs. the real sometimes.  I'll take your advice on not overpaying.

Apr 04, 2008 05:37 AM
Jeff Fullmer
FM Properties - Idaho Falls, ID
Real Estate Investor/Financier

Mike, what "systems" do you have to deal with the mass influx of leads? Some lead purchase programs are better then others. Back in my Realtor days, I paid for House Values and in 4 months it more then paid for itself. What I liked about House Values was the systems they had for tracking your leads and the automatic drip campaigns that you could set them up on. (They have lender leads there too by the way, never checked it out though). 

Just buying "leads" with no systems in place could prove extremely exhaustive. The average internet home shopper is 6 months to a year out so the loan leads may be just as far out. (Just a guess, haven't seen hard data on that. Could be less though I would think.) 

Apr 04, 2008 07:00 AM
John Popp
Charlotte, NC

I agree with much of what has been said about mortgage leads - they are terrible...why would anyone buy leads from LendingTree when they write their on mortgages?  I even heard that lead generating companies sell leads between them selves to generate more profit.  That is why the consumer is telling you that they have been contacted 30 times already - Exclusive Internet Leads - don't think so...There are lead companies that are willing to buy a LO's TD's just so they can sell them to anyone who will buy them....beware of what you are buying.

Referrals are the only way to go. 


Apr 04, 2008 07:45 AM
Kevin Hancock
Evergreen Home Loans - Poulsbo, WA
The Hancock Mortgage Team
I bought some leads with a group of fellow lenders about 5 years ago and they were worthless.  Most of the people had either already secured a loan or were so shell-shocked from the barrage of calls they received that they had disconnected their phones.  Maybe they have gotten better, but I doubt it.  I haven't ever spoken to anyone who thought they were a good idea who wasn't trying to sell them to me.  Good luck!
Apr 04, 2008 11:43 AM
Mike Tullio
Guaranteed Rate NMLS# 2611 - Sarasota, FL
VP of Mortgage Lending

Hey Jeff.  Yeah, my system is this new loan officer dropping the hammer on these leads.  He has been working Internet and trigger leads exclusively for the past 2 years and doing very well.  He is committed to making any lead system work and his W2 has made me a believer.  We'll see how things pan out, but I hear you on the nature of the folks that are filling out those online forms.  Thanks for your thoughts.

Thanks for your opinion John.  I have never purchased a lead for the reasons you mention and I'm curious to see how my first batch turns out.  I guess it's a lesson that we all need to learn for ourselves; what works for some doesn't for others.  I am a big fan of referrals and will continue to make that my loan platform!

Shell-shocked.  Good choice of words Kevin.  I appreciate you chiming in with your experience.  I'd much rather learn from other than make the mistakes myself.

Apr 05, 2008 03:12 AM
Maria Virginia Rolon

Hi guys!

My name is Maria Virginia Rolon. I am a cashflow specialist and I could really use a referral or two, see I have brokers that would pay top $ for mortgage notes and I would appreciate if you guys could pass along my information.

Thanks a lot and good luck;

MY web site is;


fax # 201/443-8230

Sep 06, 2010 03:28 PM