real estate business Lead Generation

What Gives You the Highest-Quality Real Estate Leads (Besides Referrals)?

By Lynn Chute on February 15, 2019

According to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 39 percent of home sellers found their real estate agents through a referral from a friend or family member. Another 24 percent used an agent they had worked with before.

Other surveys give even more credit to referrals with rates of 75 percent or higher. Whatever numbers you go with, this fact can’t be denied: Referrals and word-of-mouth are the best sources of high-quality real estate leads.

But after referrals, what’s the next best way to get leads? Several strategies work well, especially the five we’ve outlined here:

Social Media

The days of real estate agents treating social media as a novelty are long gone. According to an Inman survey, 11 percent of respondents view social media as the most important source of leads (referrals came in first in the survey at 57 percent). Channels such as Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube aren’t just good for promoting your listings and your business—followers and commenters become instant leads that didn’t cost much to attract. The opportunities to follow up with and nurture social media leads are plentiful, and even if leads aren’t ready to buy or sell, they are still there on your channels, interacting and seeing what you’re posting.

MLS and Beyond

Your listings on the MLS are an obvious way to earn high-quality real estate leads—buyers see the houses you are selling and contact you if interested. But the power of the MLS also lies in the websites that are pulling in those listings: Zillow and Trulia, identified by 8 percent of respondents in the Inman survey as the most important source of leads. Consumers love both services (and, to a lesser extent,, where they can browse listings, check on property prices, find agents, read and leave agent reviews, and more. Potential clients can’t resist Zillow and Trulia, so agents should be active on both platforms to make the most of that potential.


The brokerage you work with is a great partner to earn high-quality real estate leads. Obviously, referrals may come your way through the broker, but the marketing tools your brokerage provides its agents can also spur leads—as long as you take full advantage of those tools. Websites (more on this later), call capture technology, templates for flyers, and yard signs are just a few of the resources your brokerage might offer. Consumers see, hear, and interact with these marketing channels and become leads. The best part of this strategy is that most, if not all, of these resources are provided free of charge to agents.

Direct Mail

Direct mail may seem old-fashioned in this social media era, but it still has its place as a relatively inexpensive, moderately effective source of high-quality real estate leads. Recipients may toss out much of the direct mail they receive, but with real estate materials, they may be more inclined to at least look at the address and asking price of the listing being promoted … and that could be just enough turn a recipient into a lead.


Websites remain an important element of a real estate agent’s business, but they aren’t quite as vital to building leads as they once were. A site featuring listings (with plenty of impressive photos), testimonials, your story, and contact information can turn visitors into leads, but you still need to get those prospects to your website in the first place. Other channels—referrals, social media, Zillow and Trulia, yard signs, flyers, and so on—are the best drivers of traffic to your website, where you can wow visitors into leads.  

Of course, what agents do with high-quality real estate leads, no matter where those leads come from, is the ultimate determinant of success. Doing outstanding work for your clients and closing deals not only builds your business, but also sets the stage for more referrals, stronger marketing, and a continually expanding list of leads.

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