This article is part of a larger series on Real Estate Lead Generation and Marketing.
A real estate referral occurs when someone personally recommends you to someone who needs your services as a real estate agent. Referrals are the most affordable and impactful way to grow your business, so it’s essential to know how to generate them. From hosting events to community involvement, networking, nurturing relationships post-transaction, and referral partnerships, these ideas will generate real estate referral leads so you can win more clients.
Growing your business requires you to keep in touch with past clients so you can ask them for new referrals down the line. To get real estate referrals consistently, use a real estate client relationship manager (CRM) like LionDesk. LionDesk organizes and automates your client communication through bulk email and text message drip marketing. It will also build multichannel campaigns to expand your realtor referral outreach and get more real estate clients. Try it for free for 30 days.
Here are nine solid ideas on how to get real estate referrals and effectively grow your business:
1. Send Periodic Follow-up Messages to Past Clients
A big part of generating real estate referrals is staying top of mind with previous clients and your sphere of influence (SOI), which are friends, family, former colleagues, and existing clients. There are likely plenty of people in your SOI who would be happy to refer you to their friends, but they need to be able to remember your name, contact information, and where to find you. CRM software streamlines communications with leads and current and former clients.
CRM software stores all the data and contact information for everyone in your contact list. From there, you can individually send or automate phone calls, emails, and texts to keep in touch with your contacts. Also, CRM software tracks activity to determine who responds (opens, clicks, replies, and so on) and reminds you if it’s been a while since you’ve reached out. Reinforce your brand and establish long-term relationships by routinely sending email marketing with holiday greetings, newsletters, market reports, new listings, or just a hello note.
As your business grows, it will be too difficult to track all your contacts on your own. That’s why you need a CRM that’s built to track and manage your contacts and communications. Here are a few of the best real estate CRM providers:
Real estate professionals looking for built-in communication channels, lead generation, and transaction management tools
Agents and brokers desiring to automate repetitive tasks like updating contact profiles and following up on emails
Real estate professionals seeking a robust, free CRM with advanced email marketing tools
Agents or teams wanting an all-in-one real estate CRM with robust automation tools
$99 per month
$29 per user, per month
Free; paid plans start at $50 per month
$69 per user, per month
2. Incentivize Real Estate Referrals
Ideally, your clients and business connections are so confident in your services that they happily and consistently refer you to all their friends and family. However, it doesn’t hurt to give them incentives to send referrals your way. Send or give them pop-by gifts to express your gratitude or a closing gift to commemorate the completion of the sale or purchase of a new home while ensuring your clients remember you and your excellent service.
Gifts are one of the most impactful ways to show previous clients and referral partners they matter to you, but shopping, wrapping, and delivering gifts can be time-consuming. That makes EvaBot so powerful—you can set up an automated gifting system to incentivize real estate referral leads that excite people to share your name with others. Aside from these, EvaBot connects to your CRM through Zapier to send a gift link to closed clients. They can select their gift preferences from the link, and EvaBot will deliver a unique item to their door.
3. Host Client Events
Hosting events for your SOI is an ideal method of generating client-to-agent and SOI-to-agent referrals. Offer to host housewarming parties after your clients close on their new home or host client appreciation gatherings like cookouts or cocktail parties for former clients.
By planning events your clients want to attend and bringing friends to, you’ll naturally position yourself as a real estate expert and highlight your mutual connections with new leads. A successful event is arguably the most effective way to quickly build your “know, like, and trust” factor with new leads.
For help designing and printing your client event invitations, agents should consider using services like VistaPrint. Its easy-to-use design editor allows you to personalize premade invitation templates—from holiday party invitations to birthday invitations—and to leverage its design services to create custom invitations to match your theme. It also has various direct mail services to help you efficiently distribute your invites.
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4. Volunteer to Get Involved in Your Community
Be as involved as you can in your target community, whether it’s sponsoring events, volunteering for events, or showing up for sporting events when you have the opportunity to support events as a donor or financial sponsor. Find community events to attend from your local newspaper event listings, physical flyers and bulletin boards, community center or community agency websites, and your town’s official website.
When you sponsor events, your logo and contact information are shared and displayed throughout the event and printed materials. For instance, if there is a school play, reach out to see if you can purchase ad space in the playbill to advertise your real estate business. This is a great way to connect with others in your community and establish yourself as a local expert who gives back to the community.
Another great way to be involved with your community and gain real estate agent referrals is by personally volunteering for events and being a part of charity organizations that matter to you. This may be a breast cancer walk, dog adoption event, food drive, or a fair in support of the local fire department.
For other charity volunteers and participants, seeing your name associated with the organization will build a strong connection and attract similar-minded people with whom you can build a network. Plus, you get to contribute to a cause you are passionate about.
5. Encourage Real Estate Referrals on Social Media
One way to gain a real estate agent referral network and increase local brand recognition is by posting on social media and encouraging your friends and clients to post about your real estate services on social networks, like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
To maximize your social media outreach for referrals, post and highlight your field expertise by providing knowledge, facts, and statistics that only real estate insiders know. Also, adding a link to your website or landing page will help to capture new leads. In addition, tag your clients when posting about their completed transaction or active listing so you will appear on their feeds, and their friends and family can see who you are and your value as a real estate professional.
Include hashtags on your social media posts that add to brand awareness and help you reach a targeted audience. For instance, Robin Roy, a real estate agent in Manhattan specializing in Midtown East, used real estate hashtags like #midtowneast, #midtowneastnyc, #midtowneastcoops, and #manhattanrealestate to reach out to the area where she wanted to gain referrals.
Also, ask your SOI to post about you on their social media to promote your real estate business to others. Forty-three percent of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends on social media. Think of your business as a product for purchase and expand your network beyond your SOI to the spheres of others who can generate referral clients for you.
If you’re at a loss for ideas to post on your social media, check out these best real estate social media marketing companies. These companies provide customizable real estate templates, hashtags, and unique captions ready for you to use.
Best for realtors with targeted social media posting and emailing marketing
Real estate professionals seeking robust social media management and SEO tools
Agents and brokers looking for a one-stop shop social media marketing company
Realtors looking to supplement their social media content with engaging videos
$9.99 per month
$99 per user, per month
$54 per month
Free-forever plan; paid plans start at $16 per month
6. Host Workshops & Seminars
Holding a physical workshop is one of the best real estate referral program ideas to meet potential buyers and demonstrate your expertise. You can also host virtual events or seminars that discuss more niche topics, like what to do after your listing expires or home improvements with the highest return on investment (ROI). Don’t forget to ask your SOI to share the seminar through email or social media, allowing them to directly refer their connections to you.
Hold seminars that cover common questions, like a first-time homebuyer’s seminar or financial tips for buying or selling a home.
If you need to send mailers to advertise your seminar or workshop, use PostcardMania to get the word out to your target audience. PostcardMania not only creates direct mailers for your event, but can use the information from your direct mailers to create and run ads on Google, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as email campaigns to maximize your outreach.
7. Join an Agent Referral Network
A direct way to build professional agent-to-agent referrals is by joining an agent referral network. For example, Referral Exchange connects your client with three top agents in their desired area and lets them choose the one they feel best fits their needs. It will also track the transaction’s progress, which makes the process easy and helps other agents feel confident that you are a reputable agent for their clients. Look for state-specific referral networks or join Facebook groups to connect with potential referral lead sources.
Generate passive income by collecting referral fees for exchanging a client’s name and contact information. Statistics show that 68% of homesellers found their agent via a referral, and clients acquired through referrals have a 37% higher retention rate and are four times more likely to purchase than those not from a referral. Since not all clients and agents are a perfect match geographically or monetarily, building an agent referral network will benefit your real estate business’ active and passive income.
8. Co-market With Real Estate-related Professionals
Forming collaborative relationships with other industry professionals can be a win-win situation for both of you. Instead of having to search and find multiple real estate professionals, clients can get plugged into a team that already works well together for their benefit. These partnerships include real estate attorneys, divorce attorneys, title companies, contractors, inspectors, and appraisers.
For instance, sending joint direct mail ads as a real estate agent and mortgage broker team creates the feeling of a one-stop shop for leads. Likewise, co-hosting events widens your potential reach to multiple audiences, and, in effect, your partnership conveys an endorsement of each other’s service, further creating confidence among potential clients.
Co-marketing partnerships can immediately increase your SOI and expedite your marketing efforts since you have your marketing tools and contacts. In short, you support other businesses, and they’ll support you. Before co-branding in marketing materials or events, ensure your state allows you to do so.
Pro tip: If you have a strong business partnership, hold a workshop or training specifically for the leads they refer to you. For example, if you consistently receive leads from a divorce attorney, plan an event that discusses all of the housing questions and concerns divorcees typically have. You can drastically increase your conversions by being a resource with the answers they need.
9. Consistently Produce Excellent Marketing Materials
Staying top of mind is essential to maximize your referral opportunities. The more previous clients and connections see or interact with you, the more likely they are to remember you when someone they know needs a referral. There are countless ways to consistently put your real estate services and brand in front of leads, including:
However, your website is foundational to all these real estate marketing ideas. It serves as the home base for all your marketing efforts, where you continually send leads from the marketing channels listed above.
Therefore, you need a professional, engaging, and functional website to gather leads and convert them into clients. Placester is a website design service for real estate pros who are not tech experts and want to have a quality website. You can create your website using their 100% no-code system or hire the Placester design experts to create a stunning real estate website for you.
If Placester does not meet your needs, explore other real estate website builders below to learn which best fit for your business:
Realtors seeking a real estate website builder managing multiple domains on a single platform
Agents and brokers who want extra customer support
Managing multiple agent-individualized sites
Real estate professionals who desire integrated email campaign tools
Starting Price (Billed Annually)
$9.99 per month
Free plan; paid plans start at $5 per month
Free plan; paid plans start at $14 per month
$16 per month
Read our Top 6 Real Estate Website Builders in 2022 article to learn more about the best real estate website builders that will help you build your brand and generate referrals.
A Deeper Look Into Types of Real Estate Referral Sources
Referrals are one of the critical sources of real estate lead generation because they are the leads most likely to convert to clients. The beauty of referrals is that there are multiple types and ways to get real estate referrals and increase your pool of referred leads. Generating referrals from multiple sources will help you connect with other homebuyers and sellers who can continue referring you to your ideal clients.
These are the three most common types of referrals for real estate agents:
Client-to-agent referrals are the most common and well-known type of how to get a referral from real estate agents. It occurs when a current or former client tells other homebuyers or sellers about your services. It would be best if you always aimed to provide such valuable service that your clients develop a strong sense of loyalty and desire to tell others about you. Agents who are successful in real estate frequently generate referrals for this reason.
However, even when you successfully provide top-notch service, you shouldn’t leave referrals up to chance. Ask your clients for new referrals, ideally around or after their closing date. It can be as simple as stating, “If you know anyone with real estate needs, I will welcome the opportunity to assist them!” Simply asking for referrals from one client can potentially generate leads and clients for months and years to come.
Most agents have a real estate farm area—a neighborhood, city, town, county, or even a specific type of client on which they focus their marketing efforts. When one of those clients moves to an area outside of your farm area or expertise, agent-to-agent real estate referrals are a great option. They provide your clients with a trusted and knowledgeable connection while allowing agents to work together to generate leads and income.
Notably, the agent-to-agent referral process works differently than others. The agent who sends a potential client to another agent receives a real estate referral fee as a commission for their work. Therefore, agent referral relationships require a written referral agreement that clearly states who the contact is, their contact information, and whether they are buying or selling. It is usually sent to the receiving agent’s broker or office manager to sign.
Here is a downloadable referral agreement template that you can use:
The agreement should contain the financial arrangement, or referral fee, set up between agents and explain how it is calculated. The standard rate for a referral fee is 25% of the commission paid, but it can be negotiated between each agent. You can also calculate the referral fee using the following formula:
Real Estate Transaction Sales Price x Commission Percentage Collected by Agent = Commission Paid
Commission Paid x 25% = Referral Fee
If you’re looking to create more agent-to-agent referral connections, a number of services can help you establish a good reputation. For example, MarketLeader allows you to fully customize your real estate website with images, layouts, and widgets to demonstrate your professionalism and value, which can help increase a would-be partner’s confidence in your ability to serve their clients’ needs. To build your agent referral network, you can also send targeted email and text messages to other agents through the MarketLeader CRM.
Did you know?
When sending a referral to another agent, there is an expiration date. When completing a referral agreement, follow up and check in on the referred clients and their progress. If, for some reason, the process has been delayed, you may need to extend your referral agreement to make sure it doesn’t expire before the deal closes. You don’t want to lose the income opportunity because the agreement has expired.
Local businesses are another excellent source of referrals. This is especially true when you create referral partnerships with other real estate-related businesses, like mortgage brokers, banks, attorneys, home inspectors, and appraisers.
Create business partnerships with or without a formal agreement for compensation. Even without a referral agreement, building relationships with business owners in every field is always good, from restaurants and coffee shops to professional services like lawyers, doctors, and financial advisers. When a new lead or client shares that someone referred them to you, always follow up with a personal note and a small pop-by gift to keep the relationship open and encourage continual referrals from that business.
Real estate referrals for agents are still the most effective and affordable way to generate leads and get new clients, which makes it a good investment for anyone trying to grow their real estate business. Even though the most common type of real estate referral is from previous clients, don’t miss your chance to get leads from other businesses and agents. With some time and effort, you’ll be able to create an efficient and effective system on how to ask for real estate referrals.