This article is part of a larger series on Real Estate Lead Generation and Marketing.
You can’t help people buy or sell a home if you don’t know any leads, or prospective buyers and sellers. Luckily, there are ways to create lists of real estate leads with no upfront cost, at least in terms of money. You will, however, still need to strategically connect and communicate with your network and market yourself.
Here are 23 ways to start getting real estate leads for free:
1. Connect to Your Sphere of Influence (SOI) for Referrals
Your SOI consists of the people in your professional and personal networks, like colleagues, friends, and family. By reaching out to people who know and respect you, you will be creating an audience of supporters who will happily and enthusiastically share your name and expertise with their networks. You can connect with your SOI through email, social media, phone calls, and meetings to ask for referrals.
Real estate agents should connect with their SOI every 45 days to ask for leads and nurture the connection. However, keep your communications honest and personal. Sending mass messages that are clearly automated to your personal friends, especially if you haven’t reached out to them otherwise, will make them feel like you only care about what they can do for you.
While this is the most reliable way to gain leads, is worth noting this strategy is one of the most labor-intensive, which can take you away from selling a higher volume of properties. As a result, consider supplementing this work with one of the other tips in this list or by purchasing qualified leads from a source like Zillow Premier Agent, especially as it now offers a FLEX program that only costs agents a small percentage for its leads at closing. Sign up to claim your free Zillow Agent profile today.
2. Launch Giveaways on Social Media
Everyone loves to win something, and you can use the thrill of winning to your advantage to get free real estate leads through social media. Set up a contest or launch a giveaway each week for a gift card, and ask prospective buyers or sellers to enter by commenting or answering a specific question on your real estate Facebook or Instagram page. Not only does this help with real estate lead generation, but receiving online engagement can boost your reputation.
However, giveaways can sometimes attract people who aren’t in your target audience. To get a higher return on investment (ROI) for your giveaways, offer something more specific to real estate and owning a home. For instance, you could give gift cards to local home decor shops, furniture stores, or a session with an interior designer.
3. Offer Real Estate Expertise in Online Groups
Social media is full of online groups with shared interests. Look for groups or hashtags for local business groups, local members, and organizations like the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Regularly participate in these groups by posing and responding to questions.
You can show your expertise and trustworthiness within these communities without constantly promoting yourself, which turns people away. You can also ask friends in the group to recommend or tag you when they see a real estate-related post. When it’s appropriate, you can offer guidance to anyone who might need homebuying or selling assistance.
4. Attend FSBO Open Houses
Getting a homeowner to trust you with their listing can be difficult—especially if you have to talk them into meeting with you. Instead of trying to meet with the owner to talk about their listing, drop by at the end of their open house. Most buyers will have gone home already and you can ask for a tour from the owner at a time when they are feeling the pain of listing their own home.
Keep your conversation natural and genuine, but be prepared with a script or important talking points. Don’t aim to change the owner’s mind immediately, but ask questions and show that you truly care about the best thing for the homeowner. Building an honest connection will be more impactful in most cases than making a hard sale. If the listing expires or the seller encounters difficulty, they’ll come to someone they believe can help—you!
5. Email Previous Clients
Your pool of past clients can be one of the most valuable referral sources. These clients already know your work, and the sale or purchase of their home automatically proves your expertise. Make sure that you stay in touch with your previous clients for two reasons:
- Retain a connection and trust for the next time the client needs your services
- Ask and receive new clients from referrals
Staying connected through email or letters once a month with past clients keeps you at the top of their mind when friends or family members need an agent. Use these free real estate email templates to craft “touch base” communications. Keep your language personal, like you should with your sphere of influence, to maintain the relationship.
6. Host a Happy Hour
Generating free real estate leads is all about building relationships and getting your name and expertise in the right places. One way to do that is by hosting happy hours or get-togethers for various groups of people. For example, businesses in the same office park rarely get out to meet their closest neighbors.
Hosting a happy hour for your suitemates can turn your physical neighbors into valuable members of your sphere of influence. You can even host an online happy hour to make the most of companies or groups of entrepreneurs that operate remotely.
7. Set Up Professional Partnerships
Professional partnerships can be a great way to get free real estate leads. For instance, lawyers, bankers, and mortgage brokers are often working with clients who are buying or selling a home. Think about how you can help each other and develop a system to share leads. To help, consider these 14 free real estate prospecting templates.
8. Lead a Community Effort
Consider volunteering to chair a fundraiser for a cause you are passionate about. This helps you make connections with many people in the community and shows, through your actions, that you truly care about the community at large and that you are an accomplished professional who makes charity work part of their mission.
Because of this positive association, many people in the community will think of you when they have a friend in need of a real estate agent. If you’re not already aware of local organizations, you can use Great Nonprofits to search.
9. Participate in Networking Groups
Participate in local networking groups—like the Chamber of Commerce—to meet business owners and possible buyer and seller leads. Whether chatting over lunch or at an after-hours event, meeting face to face at a networking group is a perfect way to build valuable relationships in your community
You can also consider being a Chamber Ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce, which makes you responsible for attending networking events to officially greet new members and introduce them to existing members. This gives you an opportunity to share your contact information with possible leads or those who might refer leads to you.
10. Offer a Niche Class
Offering a class for a specific and common problem can be a great way to magnetize certain kinds of leads. You will establish yourself as an expert in front of people who are actively looking for help. In addition, you’ll be able to collect their contact information during registration or sign-in to continually follow up.
Find a real estate topic that people find complex or difficult to understand and offer a talk about it. You could offer:
- First-time homebuyer’s class
- How to get the most money from your listing
- How to financially prepare for homeownership
- How to increase the resale value of your home
11. Let Future Agents Shadow You
Future agents can become sources of lucrative leads—but most agents only view them as competition. Instead, you can make the most of these relationships and offer mentorship. Alternatively, have them shadow you for a day so they get an in-depth look at the life of an agent.
In the future, they will speak highly of you and your expertise, and potentially give you their own leads when they are unable to help them.
12. Recycle Older Leads
If a lead hasn’t shown interest after a certain period of time, agents will remove them from their contact list. However, it’s possible these leads have stopped seeing or responding to the first agent’s communication even though they still need help. Circling around to introduce yourself to these older leads might reveal renewed interest.
If you co-host an open house or partner with another agent, you can agree that if a lead doesn’t respond to the first agent’s inquiries after a certain period of time, you will reach out.
13. Start a Group on Meetup.com
Meeting with people after business hours can be a pleasant way to expand your sphere of influence. Meetup.com is designed to bring people with similar interests together, so you can create a group for a hobby—like golf or hiking. Starting a local group for your farm area allows you to build genuine, trusting relationships with others in the community while doing something you enjoy.
14. Call Expired Listings
A great way to find seller leads is by tracking listings that expire. Using an expired listing script, you can offer to help homeowners who were unable to sell their home. These leads are typically frustrated by their previous experience, but they need an agent who can help them.
15. Welcome New Businesses in Your Farm Area
Watch for new businesses to open in your farm area, and be one of the first people to come through their door and offer encouragement and support. New businesses offer a perfect opportunity for a potential partnership.
You can make your mark by bringing coffee or donuts for a new business owner and dropping off a few business cards. By nurturing this relationship, you may establish a new source of connections and referrals.
16. Speak at Conferences & Events
Buyers and sellers want to work with an expert real estate professional that they can trust. Speaking events are a perfect way to share knowledge about the real estate market and your niche. This is one of the best ways to build the know, like, and trust factor.
As a featured speaker, share information aimed specifically at the audience. That might be homeowners, buyers, or other real estate professionals. Be sure to follow up after each event with different participants and offer your business card.
17. Take Lunch & Treats to Service Groups
Some of the most under-appreciated groups in your farm area are public servants. Stopping by the local fire department, police station, or emergency room with some cookies or treats is a good way to introduce yourself and show appreciation. As active members of the community, public servants are in the perfect place to share your contact details with potential homebuyers and sellers.
18. Market Multiple Properties at Open Houses
You can increase the interest of people stopping by your open house by marketing several homes at each showing. This can be particularly effective in highly competitive markets, where the open house is likely to get multiple offers.
After the attendee has a chance to view the house and leave their contact details, hand them a flyer with other listings. This gives them a roadmap of where to go next if the open house property is not interesting. You’ll increase your sales by making the most of every buyer lead.
19. Use Help a Reporter Out (HARO)
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is an online forum where members of the press source quotes or tips from experts. If you register as a source, you’ll have the opportunity to answer questions and get featured throughout the web. HARO has been used by many professionals to be quoted or even featured on the most well-known publications.
It is free to sign up, and you’ll receive email alerts for industry-specific quote requests daily. When you respond to reporters, be sure to read their question carefully and supply a full answer with any supplemental materials, including a website link and professional headshot.
20. Publish Articles on LinkedIn
Publish articles on LinkedIn to distribute your content to a wide array of professionals. You can think of article topics by paying attention to common questions your clients or colleagues ask you, or by noting unique or interesting situations. You can then promote the article on your email list or on other social media platforms.
21. Optimize Your Google My Business (GMB) Profile
Google My Business is an online business directory. An effective way to build trust is to make sure that when someone searches your name, they see your business website, contact information, and positive reviews.
You can also use it to post media-rich content—like videos and images—with information about listings or events like open houses. Keeping your GMB profile active shows that you are actively helping clients find real estate success.
22. Post Your Listings to Craigslist
While many agents take the time to post their clients’ listings on Zillow or Realtor.com, many of them miss opportunities on Craigslist. Craigslist allows you to reach another audience and showcase property details with professional imagery and a detailed description. By adding high-quality photos, enticing copy, and a clear call to action, a posting on Craigslist can attract potential buyers.
23. Create Unscripted Videos
Using a free tool like Loom or Vimeo, you can create a short and personal video to send with your emails or messages. Using a video introduction makes you stand out from others who may be sending a basic copy-and-paste to cold leads.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do free real estate leads really equal sales?
Free real estate buyer leads require the agent to spend extra time interacting in the community and online to connect with interested buyers and sellers. However, if they’re qualified as a warm (interested) lead, then the cost to acquire them doesn’t matter—they can still equal sales.
Should I mix free & paid lead efforts?
Yes. Real estate agents who mix paid and free leads often get better results. When there are more buyers in your sales funnel, there is more opportunity to close a deal. Taking advantage of all prospecting avenues—paid real estate lead generation combined with free resources—to increase sales is a good idea.
If you aren’t sure about where to go to buy real estate leads, check out our article on the subject.
Do I need a customer relationship manager (CRM) to track my leads?
Yes. CRMs monitor leads and keep buyers engaged until they make a decision. The best real estate CRMs allow agents to track buyers and sellers through the buying cycle and make sure that valuable leads do not fall through the cracks.
Are there special rules for Facebook contests?
Yes. Facebook has special rules about how contests should be conducted and how winners are picked. These rules are not complicated at all, but knowing the Facebook contest guidelines can keep your page from getting penalized or taken down.
Real estate leads, secured with no upfront cost, are ideal for new agents who have very limited lead generation budgets. However, these methods to gain free leads will also work well for experienced real estate agents.
That said, to save time tracking free leads and to gain leads more quickly, many agents opt to use Zillow Premier Agent (ZPA). You can use the platform to buy warm realty leads for between $20 and $60 per contact. Plus, ZPA boosts traffic to your website and gives agents profile placement next to property search results on Zillow.com, the world’s number 1 realty website. Get your free CRM and Zillow profile set up today.