As every real estate agent knows, buyers are great, but listings are what every agent craves. After all, when you leverage your listings in the right way, you’ll get more leads. But what if you don’t have listings in the first place? The process is simple, but as always, it’s in the execution.
Luckily, along with Sean Moudry, we’ve put together 30-plus years of real estate sales and marketing experience on the best strategies to get listings in any market. We also spoke with agents at Douglas Elliman to learn how they got their first listings. Many of our tips are 100% free, and we’ve included links to our deep-dive strategy guides, checklists, and scripts so you can get started today.
1. Schedule Regular Calls With Your Sphere
Whether the ink is still wet on your license or you’ve been a Realtor for decades, there is one proven way on how to get listings in real estate that is easy, predictable, duplicatable, and efficient: regular calls to your sphere of influence. If you schedule a few folks weekly, you can talk to most of your sphere four times yearly (once a quarter). This works especially well if you’re a newer agent because the people in your sphere are the most likely to know, like, and trust you enough with the biggest and most important financial transaction of their lives. It really is that simple.
Don’t worry. I’m not suggesting you give your Aunt Tina the hard sell over the phone at dinnertime. All you need to do is call people in your sphere and talk about your shared interests and connections. Then add one simple script at the end of your call:
“If you know anyone who might be interested in selling their home, I would love to walk them through how I can sell it faster and for a better price.”
How to Get Started Today
- Add everyone in your contact list to your customer relationship management (CRM) database and tag them as your sphere. Then, segment them by how well you know them, and create tasks to call at least one person you know well every week.
- Add notes to your CRM and consider segmenting them further if they mention anything about themselves or a friend making a life change that might lead to a transaction. Are they retiring? Getting divorced? Looking for a new job? Take notes and schedule a follow-up.
2. Learn How to Find Hidden Listing Inventory Other Agents Ignore
When inventory is low, smart listing agents get creative when learning how to get real estate listings. In fact, almost 15% of sellers found their agent online. There is hidden listing inventory: You just need to get to those sellers first
How to Get Real Estate Listings Today
If you’re pressed for time, here are three of the most overlooked property types to start with:
- Preforeclosures: While this strategy works best during economic downturns, there will always be homeowners who fall behind on their payments and might need your help to sell their home.
- Probate listings: Working probate listings can be stressful, but this actually works in your favor. If you learn the process in your state, you will only be competing with a handful of other agents.
- Rentals: Even though the rental market is booming, the viral popularity of real estate investing we saw over the past few years means there are a ton of over-leveraged newbies out there who might need to sell.
Plus, don’t forget about pay at closing leads. This is a great way to generate leads where you don’t need to pay upfront. Using a site like Sold.com can get your brand out there immediately. Check them out—it’s free to register your account. When interested sellers register on sold.com to sell their home, if their situation matches your profile, you’ll be passed their information.
3. Upgrade Your Follow-up Game
Learn how to get real estate listings—it takes consistently being in front of your audience multiple times. Even if you generate a bunch of leads, if you don’t stay in touch with them, they will forget about you (it’s the unfortunate truth). Lots of CRMs and systems out there help you with your follow-up, but you must work to get those systems set up. After all, most listings come from life events. You want to consistently stay in touch with your sphere so that your name is top-of-mind when they need your services. This is your wake-up call!
Automating your follow-up is key. Using a tool like Agent Legend can help you stay in touch with your leads until they’re ready to convert. And if you’re looking for an easy, plug-and-play solution, Homebot could be great for you—each month, your sphere will get an email update with their estimated home valuation based on hyperlocal data and neighborhood trends. Check out staff writer and coach Trevor James’ write-up below.
Homebot Review: Pricing, Pros & Cons for Real Estate Agents
4. Run Facebook & Display Network Ads Targeting Homeowners
If you want to speed up the process and quickly find leads that might turn into listings, spending the time, effort, and money to learn how to run effective Facebook and Google Display Network ads is your best bet. Yes, running and optimizing ads can be expensive and dominate your time, but the potential reward here is massive. Why? The more ads you run, the more chances you have to optimize them and learn what works and doesn’t.
You might be surprised to learn that pretty much every single lead generation service that agents pay for uses the same strategies to generate seller leads online: create an offer of value (personalized home valuation or a home maintenance checklist), design an ad, and budget, then follow up, follow up, follow up. If you do not see results, continue optimizing your ads and lead magnets until you get high-quality leads at a price per lead you’re comfortable with.
Want to get affordable buyer leads to work while you wait for listings? Try Top Producer’s new Social Connect program. They do all the work for you and even give you automated nurturing tools so you never have to spend time nurturing cold leads. The best part? Social Connect leads only cost around $14 each.
5. Purchase Exclusive Seller Leads
If you don’t have time to implement your strategy for getting yourself in front of homeowners, you might consider outsourcing your lead generation strategy. You can utilize your budget to buy your listing leads. After all, just one closing could pay for the service.
One easy way to do this is to buy exclusive seller leads and conversion training from Market Leader. One flat monthly rate gets you a predictable number of exclusive leads to work every month.
6. Learn How to Prospect FSBOs (the Right Way)
No matter what’s happening in the market, there will always be people who think they can get a better deal by listing their home without an agent. Even though a 30-second Google search or a chat with literally anyone even remotely familiar with real estate will tell them this isn’t true, people are stubborn. That makes FSBOs a great source for listings in any market—even in a recession.
How to Get Started Today
Here are two easy ways to beat the competition that rely on simple psychological principles to convince FSBOs to meet with you:
- Practice the right FSBO scripts, then practice some more: Having the right scripts is not enough—you don’t want to get hung up on. You need to deliver the scripts with confidence and conviction. There is no way to do this without a lot of practice. Period. Need great scripts? Check out Chris Linsell’s FSBO scripts article.
- Leverage FOMO when writing copy for flyers, postcards, and letters: The fear of missing out (FOMO) is one of the most convincing motivations for stubborn FSBOs. Show them that they are leaving money on the table. While you must be subtle and avoid trying to scare FSBOs into listing with you over the phone, FOMO should be your primary strategy when writing flyers, postcards, and letters.
Here is an example of a FSBO flyer that leverages FOMO from our own Jodie Cordell that you can use for inspiration:
7. Join a Team as a Junior Agent or Find a Mentor
Look, I get it. Becoming a “junior” agent working for someone else isn’t why you became a Realtor. Other new agents are building their brands and crushing it alone, so why should you work for someone else? Because, you’ll learn more about getting seller clients in a month working under a successful listing agent than in six months of $5,000 coaching courses. You’ll also learn more than you can from this or any other article.
The difference? Hyperlocal market knowledge. The best agents know how to generate listings in your area better than anyone. Perhaps more importantly, they are almost always extremely confident about what they know about the local market. Confidence closes deals.
Consider finding a mentor if you’re not sold on joining a team. In fact, that’s how I got my first listing. After trying out a couple of different teams, I joined a smaller brokerage with less than six agents and a hands-on managing broker. He taught me how to speak with clients and work the phones, and passed several of his good leads on to me to allow me to learn.
I was lucky enough to find someone who believed in me and trusted me to give the best service to his referred clients. That gave me enough confidence to push for listings, and not long after I joined his brokerage I snagged my first listing—an expired condo. From there, I was able to leverage and advertise that condo with an open house and two postcard mailers to get another listing in the same building.
8. Knock on Doors in Neighborhoods Where You Want Listings
Whenever I even mention “door knocking” to new agents, their eyes light up with fear, and they quickly change the subject. Others tell me they’ll do it, but when Sunday afternoon rolls around, they find excuses to stay hunched over their laptops, trying to figure out how to go viral on Instagram.
This is a huge mistake. Door knocking is one of the best ways to show homeowners you are confident and market-savvy enough to get them the best price for their home. So if you want to get listings, then you need to get over your fear of door knocking.
Learn tips and scripts to knock on doors the right way: Learning the right language will 10x the odds of getting a listing appointment. You can’t go wrong with Sean’s simple door-knocking script below.
“Hello, sorry to bother you. My name is [your name], and I am the listing agent for the property down the street [point in the direction of the property]. We received multiple offers, and, of course, we could only accept one. The home sold well above the asking price, and these other buyers are still looking for a home in [neighborhood]. Who do you know who would like to sell their home in this hot market?”
9. Pick Your Farm & Stick to It
Most agents choose a farm, send a few mailers, don’t see anything back, and feel like they’ve thrown marketing dollars down the drain. Unfortunately, they’re not wrong. Targeting a small farming area (no more than 250 homes) and consistently providing hyperlocal, valuable information for them is key. You can use multiple channels to touch your farm twice per month: you should have one “fun” touch and one “serious” touch each month.
You can utilize print marketing once a month and a regular monthly email newsletter on the current marketing and events in the area. You can also up the ante by getting involved in the neighborhood and hosting events like a pumpkin patch or a Fourth of July barbecue.
If you’re looking for a full breakdown, check out our guide to real estate farming.
10. Focus on Your Mission, Vision & Values First
If you’re a regular Close reader, you’re probably sick of me saying this. But focusing on your mission, vision, and values (MVV) should be your priority before even thinking about trying to get listings.
Even if you’ve done this work already, it might be time to revisit your MVV if you want more listings. Take a step back and really think through how you are uniquely positioned to help sellers before trying to become a listing agent. Matching with buyers is relatively easy—they just want someone they like to open doors and walk them through the transaction. Working with homeowners is much more complicated.
A homeowner’s choice of agent is driven more by what you offer and how it benefits them. But you can’t be everything to everyone. That’s why focusing on your mission, vision, and values is a crucial first step to getting the right sellers to resonate with you and hire you.
11. Send Out ‘Just Sold’ Postcards
They may not get you many likes on Instagram, but sending out good old-fashioned just-sold postcards is a fantastic way to get or stay top of mind in your farm area. After all, they prove to homeowners that, unlike some agents, you actually get deals done.
While not every demographic responds well to postcards, one key demographic does: senior citizens with tons of equity in their homes. It gets better. National Association of Realtors statistics show that the typical first-time buyer is older, with an average age of 36. That means the average person ready to sell their home is much more likely to respond to your postcards.
Tina Van Den Hurk, senior director of luxury sales at Douglas Elliman, got her first listing from a just sold postcard from a deal she worked on as a buyer’s agent. If you want to try this strategy, just make sure to ask the listing agent for permission first, especially if you want to use pictures of the home.
“I got my first listing from a just sold postcard as a result of my first-ever sale in real estate in 2014 in a condo building on the Galt Mile. The owners kept my just sold postcard for three months, as they were here seasonally, and then proceeded to call me three months later.”
12. Convert Open House Visitors
If there is one lead generation strategy agents love to hate, it’s open houses. Many listing agents don’t bother with them, and some brand-new agents think they’re a waste of time. But one group adores open houses: nosy neighbors who own nearby homes.
OK, I know what you’re thinking. The odds of a neighbor who needs to sell her house tomorrow showing up to your open house are slim to none. But this strategy means you meet homeowners in the neighborhood with the perfect excuse to talk about real estate. And remember that many buyers need to sell their homes before they purchase a new one, so house hunters are a potential source of listings too.
Still not convinced open houses can be a fantastic way on how to get a listing? Well, what if I told you that Los Angeles Realtor and star of CNBC’s “Listing Impossible” Yawar Charlie wishes he spent more time trying to find sellers at open houses?
“I always looked at open houses as an opportunity to pick up a buyer but never to pick up a listing. I wish that I had thought about it in a different way and considered that this was an opportunity for me to meet neighbors, tell them about what I could do for them, and potentially pick up additional listings in the area.”
13. Use Our Listing Appointment Checklist & Scripts to Seal the Deal
Even if you’re the LeBron James of generating seller leads, they’re not much use to you if you can’t close them and list the house. That’s why learning the art and science of running a listing presentation that can persuade them to hire you is essential.
Here are five tips for delivering a persuasive listing presentation:
- Make sure you know as much as possible about the listing and the comps in the neighborhood.
- Create a listing marketing plan that separates you from the competition.
- Rehearse your presentation until you can deliver it smoothly and confidently.
- Learn the most common objections sellers have to new agents and use my objection handlers to address them confidently.
- Ask your team leader or mentor to let you shadow them on as many listing appointments as possible.
Over to You
How are you changing your prospecting and marketing strategies to get listings in 2024? Let us know in the comments.