The many faces of real estate lead generation

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Real estate lead generation is a task you can’t ignore if you plan to earn a good income as agent – or even as an investor.

So where do you / can you get those leads?

Let’s look at the many ways. You can:

  • Purchase them
  • Place ads in magazines and newspaperssome real estate lead generation methods are expensive
  • Place ads on billboards, bus stop benches, and even buses.
  • Place ads on things like golf score cards, menus, place-mats, and event brochures.
  • Sponsor a youth sports team
  • Network
  • Knock on doors
  • Make cold calls
  • Hold open houses
  • Make presentations at organizational meetings
  • Create a farm area and become “their” agent
  • Prospect to a niche group
  • Make diligent use of just listed, under contract, and just sold cards
  • Encourage friends and family members to refer others to you
  • Encourage past clients to use you again and refer others to you
  • Write a weekly or  monthly real estate column for a local publication
  • Fill your website with good information
  • Install “capture” boxes
  • Blog regularly
  • Make good use of social media sites

You may use several of these real estate lead generation methods, and you should.

Keep in mind that marketing is cumulative. When people see your name and face in many places, they begin to feel like they know you. The next step is feeling that they can trust you. The next step is choosing you when they need what you offer.

Since each lead generation method requires time, money, or both, your job is to determine which gives you the most return on investment.  With that in mind, let’s look at each method more closely.

Passive and expensive methods of real estate lead generation:

Purchasing real estate leads does work for some.  The danger is in deciding where to make that purchase, because in some cases you and a dozen other agents will be purchasing the same leads. That means you’d better be fast and contact them with an outstanding message.

Placing ads in magazines and newspapers will be profitable or not depending upon local custom. It can also be expensive. So, if it interests you, test it. But I wouldn’t recommend signing a long contract until you know if it works in your community.

Placing ads on billboards, bus benches, and buses is definitely expensive. I wouldn’t try it unless I had a large marketing budget. I’d also do some research before I jumped in – as in talking with other agents who have tried it.

You may be pressured to place ads on things like golf score cards, menus, place-mats, and event brochures. Again, it is expensive and iffy. I wouldn’t try it unless I knew someone who had gotten good results. We did place-mats once with no results, and often did the event brochures, knowing that all we were doing was supporting the event.

Sponsoring a youth sports team brought us goodwill from the Moms who did the pressuring, and we did feel like we’d done a good thing by helping the kids have new uniforms. But as for monetary return on investment – there was none.

Real estate lead generation that requires more time than money

Networking is wise if you are attending events anyway. I’m not sure it is a profitable use of time if everyone is there only to make contact with people who could be future clients. For best results at meetings and social events, try what I call “reverse networking.”

Knocking on doors probably hasn’t been on your list due to COVID, but it could be coming back. It is an some real estate lead generation requires more time than moneyeffective way to put your face and name in front of people in your farm area or in the homes surrounding a new listing. Be sure to take along an interesting “leave behind.”

Making cold calls has fallen out of favor due to the do not call lists. However, some do it successfully.

Holding open houses was forbidden for many for the past year, but from what I hear, they’ll be allowed in most places again soon. These are a good way to impress future sellers and to meet potential buyers. When you’re just starting out, sitting open houses for busy agents can be a way to get started.

Making presentations at organizational meetings is a good way to get both your face and your name in front of potential clients. This could be a service club, such as the Lion’s Club, the Chamber of Commerce, a homeowner’s association, or even a senior center.

To make the most of it, present good, useful information, then offer to send participants a copy of a relevant document in exchange for their contact information. Leave a bowl or basket where business people can drop those cards as they exit or pass around a sign-up sheet at non-business events.

Be sure to send the promised material within 24 hours – and include a note thanking them for their interest.

Active Prospecting…

direct mail is effective real estate lead generationMailing directly to residents in your farm area and to individuals who fit your niche is a tried and true method. Securing lists, writing or purchasing prospecting letters, and paying for postage makes this an expensive real estate lead generation method.

However, direct postal mail puts your message directly into the homes of the people you most want to reach. It does require consistency, but requires very little time once you’ve set up your system and put the pieces in place. And – most importantly – those who use it say it works.

Using “just listed,” “under contract,” and “just sold” cards does take a little more time, since you’ll need to compile a list of homes surrounding new listings. However, once again, those who use it say it works to bring them new listings. Remember that as long as you don’t claim the listing is yours if it isn’t, you can send these notes in any neighborhood where you’d like to establish your presence.

Encouraging friends, family members, and past clients to refer to you is one of the most important real estate lead generation methods you can use. Many would not only refer to you, but come to you when they need to buy and sell – but you do have to make sure they know you’re ready and eager to help them. The really good news – in most cases, you can use email, so this is one of the least expensive methods of real estate lead generation.

Recently I spoke with a gentleman who said he had not stayed in touch with any of his past clients, and it pains him to think of the business he’s lost as a result. I identified with him, because I’ve had the same thoughts.

My first brokers didn’t teach me to hang on to those past clients – simply because they weren’t hanging on to their own past clients. Fortunately, it only took me 4 or 5 years to wake up, but I do regret the referrals and repeat business I lost during those years.

Writing a real estate column for a local publication. This can be valuable free advertising if that publication is well-read by people in your target audience. It gives you instant credibility, because by publishing your words, the newspaper or magazine is endorsing you.

Using your website for lead generation

Your website should be more than a place for would be buyers to search for homes. They can do that on hundreds of sites across the web.

Your website can and should be the hub for all the rest of your promotions. Invite people to visit you there by including your URL on everything you use – from your business card, to property flyers, to print ads, to letters and emails.

You can turn your website into a long-term lead generation tool by filling it with informative pages that keep your visitors coming back for more. You can let those visitors know that you have the personality and expertise to serve them well by including an informative bio.

By adding “capture boxes” to those informative pages, you invite those visitors to leave their names and contact information. Sell those visitors on giving you that information by offering a special report, ongoing market reports, or other information they’ll be glad to have. Be SURE that once they make the request, the information goes back to them by return email!

One size does not fit all. Seniors who are downsizing want different information from newlyweds or couples with young children who need to “upsize.” People who desire to own a historic home want different information from those who are looking for a cabin on the beach. Homeowners who have received a Notice of Default have different concerns from those who have tried and failed at selling by owner or those who need to sell a house in probate.

Blogging regularly is a long-term project that will pay off only if you’re consistent. Through blogging you can slowly but surely establish yourself as the agent “in the know” about your city, your territory, or your niche. And, when you blog about community events and concerns, you can even outrank the “big guys.” After all, the mega-sites don’t answer questions such as “What 4th of July activities are happening in Mytown in 2021?” They also don’t give restaurant reviews or promote events to benefit a local non-profit.

Social media sites have helped many agents expand their client base. If that interests you, learn how to do it well and go for it. Always remember to lead your visitors back to your own website.

What did I miss?

After I thought this was written, I thought of more real estate lead generation methods that I had failed to include. So it kept growing. That makes me feel quite sure that I still have not included all the methods you might use to collect those leads.

If you think of more – please do share!

When you need prospecting letters or help with website content, get in touch.

You’ll find dozens of pre-written prospecting letter sets at: I’ll also be happy to write custom letters, web content, property descriptions, your agent bio, and almost anything else related to promoting your real estate career.

You can reach me by email at: or by phone at 208-448-1479.

Note – that is not a cell phone and it won’t accept texts.


hand holding money Image courtesy of jannoon028 at
Time for marketing Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at
Woman mailing Image courtesy of mapichai at

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Comments (7)

Bill Salvatore - YVP Blog
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - Valley of the Sun /


So many options.  Fortunately I have build a good book of business and get mostly referral, and past clients.  Blessed. Make it the best Tuesday, and dont forget the Tacos.  Bill Salvatore

May 11, 2021 02:28 PM
Marte Cliff

@Bill Salvatore - The ultimate goal is to serve people so well that your business comes primarily from past clients and referrals. Good for you!

May 28, 2021 07:28 AM
Mark Don McInnes, Sandpoint
Sandpoint Realty LLC - Sandpoint, ID
North Idaho Real Estate - 208-255.6227

Marte,  I could not help but have the 'long term contracts' yell out at me.  So many times we are caught up in the moment and want to try what we feel will be successful on to find 6 months in on a year contract we were sorely wrong.  Good post as always Marte. Mark

May 11, 2021 05:44 PM
Marte Cliff

Thanks Mark Don McInnes, Sandpoint - Yes, sometimes unintended consequences are not nice.

May 28, 2021 07:29 AM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Marte most of my leads come directly to me because I have 26 listings all over the internet and buyers and sellers know that I must be somewhat skilled otherwise I would not have these listings in all price points, Enre

May 11, 2021 11:24 PM
Marte Cliff

Endre Barath, Jr. The more people want you, the more other people want you. It just works that way.

May 28, 2021 07:30 AM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Good morning Marte! What a great list that you have compiled to remind us all of different way to attain leads

May 12, 2021 06:57 AM
Marte Cliff

Rocky Dickerson - it really seems there is no end to the list.


May 28, 2021 07:30 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

There's usually more than one way to do something and rarely  ever just one way unless it's like... surgery or something. It's good to just go for it sometimes

May 18, 2021 10:58 PM
Marte Cliff

Yes Laura Cerrano - there are a few things, like math, that have only one right solution.

May 28, 2021 07:31 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Marte, there are many ways to obtain leads, and some work better for me than others.

May 22, 2021 03:34 PM
Marte Cliff

Joan Cox - and that's the beauty of it. There's always a method that fits your individual likes and personality.

May 28, 2021 07:32 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Marte, I was getting quite a few leads off my website, but haven't added as much lately, and my numbers dropped.

May 29, 2021 10:15 AM