As Managing Editor for The Close, I’ve interviewed hundreds of real estate agents. From wide-eyed kids who just got their license, to brokers with yearly GCI in the billions, I’ve talked to pretty much every kind of agent there is. After all of these interviews, I’ve found there’s one thing that all of the successful ones understand (and all of the failing agents complain about): Learning how to get clients in real estate is a never-ending process.
Technology moves at lightning speed these days, and if you want to keep getting clients, you need to adapt. However, learning how to find well-qualified clients is only half the picture here. Plenty of agents can get their phone to ring, but only experienced agents can keep their phone ringing consistently.
That’s why we decided to work with some top-producing agents we know at Compass, Warburg, and Real NY to come up with some underrated ways to find real estate clients in 2021.
1. Always Remember to Follow Up With Leads & Your Sphere
General advice from luxury broker Gill Chowdhury of Warburg Realty in Manhattan:
“The money is in the follow-up! You need to know your market, you need to understand what the seller or buyer needs, their goals, and how you can connect the two. Following up is everything. Think about it: Most salespeople only reach out twice and then give up.
“On top of that, we’re dealing with extremely high-ticket items. The idea that someone is going to be ready to immediately meet you and list their home is laughable. It’s oftentimes a six-month, year, or even two-year process of keeping in touch and providing value to them. Talking about the market, opportunities they may not have thought of, and so on. Following up to check in is over half the battle.”
Of course, trying to remember who to follow up with and when will drive even the most organized agent insane. Timing is everything! That’s why having a CRM, even a $12 per month CRM like Freshworks CRM, is crucial to following up with the right lead, with the right message, at the right time.
Want more CRM options for 2021? Check out our CRM buyer’s guide here. We cover CRMs for every budget, from brand-new agents to large teams and brokerages.
2. Offer to Host Open Houses for Experienced Agents
Advice for newer agents trying to find clients, from luxury Broker Gill Chowdhury of Warburg Realty in Manhattan:
“If you’re a new agent, consider hosting open houses for someone more experienced. Working open houses is the obvious way to get exposure. You’re experiencing firsthand the type of questions that people ask when pursuing a home. Further, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to come in contact with a prospect of intent and means (hopefully) and for them to view you in some sort of authoritative position. You are associated with a property they are directly interested in. Your ability to “pitch” and convert them, should the property that is open here not be the one for them. Tell the buyer why they will be better off working with you than working on their own. Sell them! And then follow up and provide massive value when they say yes.”
Just remember to keep your Zillow profile up to date, as most buyer leads are looking for open houses on Zillow. You also might want to look into becoming a Premier Agent to get even more buyer leads.
3. Offer to Shoot Videos for Your Clients or on Spec
Want to know a dirty little secret about shooting real estate videos? They’re actually not that hard to make, and if you live in a decent-sized city, you can probably hire someone to make one for less than you spend at Starbucks every month.
What most agents don’t realize is that you don’t even really need your own listings to shoot and show off real estate videos that prove you’re a property marketing pro. Here’s a strategy to position yourself as a marketing expert even if you’ve never pitched a homeowner in your life:
Approach a senior listing agent in your brokerage and tell them you want to help them market their listing. FOR FREE. Then, either shoot the video yourself or work with a local video producer. Once you have it finished, you can then show it off on your website and social media as an example of your marketing skills. Even better, once you do nab that first listing presentation, you’ll have professional-looking property videos to show off. Not bad for a few hundred bucks, right?
4. Get Exclusive Buyer & Seller Leads From the Pros
If you’re a newer agent or just want to fill in the gaps in your showing schedule, you might want to try leaving it to the pros. Here’s why: Even if you have say, two years of experience trying to get real estate clients, companies like BoldLeads have decades of collective experience creating engaging real estate ads. That means they’ve tweaked and perfected their ads to get you the best leads, for the best price. Close even one of them, and you’re already in the black. Close two or three, and you’re getting a 200%+ return on investment (ROI) from your ad spend.
Are you getting that kind of ROI from your own Facebook ads? If not, getting exclusive leads from BoldLeads will bump up your GCI in 2021.
5. Leverage Existing Relationships to Get More Referrals
Advice on how to get clients, from Louis Adler, Principal and Co-founder of REAL New York:
“The best way to get and nurture clients is to build strong relationships with your current clients because they can help you to expand your network even more. Leveraging existing relationships is the best way to get clients who already trust you. A referral is way more valuable than any other marketing technique. By using your relationships and their referrals, you can snowball your business to the max. In the end, referrals will get you a higher closing ratio compared to cold leads.”
6. Educate Your Social Media Audience With Insider Knowledge
Advice on how to get clients, from luxury Broker Rebecca Blacker of Warburg Realty Manhattan:
“I like to educate potential and existing clients. I do some of this through my Instagram account so I can reach more people at once. I will point out a feature in an apartment or something about a building that a client wouldn’t know by looking at the listing online. I think people appreciate learning something from their real estate broker. I find that it helps to build trust and a feeling for them that you are adding real value to the buying or selling experience.”
7. Get Yourself Some Press
Another great way to get real estate clients to reach out to you in 2021 is to get some press. Getting your name on a real estate website or local newspaper is a great way to position yourself locally as a real estate expert. Even better, if you can write good quotes and develop relationships with journalists, you can get them to link to your website and refer to you as say, “San Diego Luxury Real Estate Expert” rather than just “Real Estate Agent.” Believe me, your clients are going to be impressed!
You don’t even have to worry about getting your sphere to see the article when it comes out. Instead, you can create a press page on your website to show off all the places you’ve been quoted.
In order to start getting quoted, sign up for HARO (Help a Reporter Out) or, if you want to get quoted or even write a guest post or video for The Close, email us here. Just remember to proofread your quotes!
Don’t have a website yet? Don’t worry, we have you covered. We have in-depth reviews of everything from $40 per month sites like Incom to high-end team websites from Propertybase. Check out our website buyer’s guide here.
8. Show off Your Press Mentions on Social Media
Once you have some press mentions under your belt, you should start showing them off on social media. One great way to show off your mentions is to head to Canva and create a template like the one above. It’s attractive, easy to read, and shows off both your expertise and the site you were quoted in. Trust me, the sites you get quoted on will appreciate you promoting their articles! That’s a win/win in anyone’s book.
9. Build a Personal Brand & Keep It Consistent
Think you’re too new to start creating a personal brand? Guess what? Not doing anything to build your brand IS NOW YOUR BRAND. After all, your personal brand is the overall impression that your audience gets from your social media posts, marketing, lead generation, and pretty much everything else you put out into the world as a real estate agent.
So if you’re not actively building a brand, then in the eyes of your audience, your personal brand is basically “I’m an agent who doesn’t care.”
This doesn’t mean that you need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars with a Madison Avenue branding agency to get more clients. That said, doing a personal brand audit and deciding on some branding basics will absolutely help you get clients.
At the bare minimum, you should sit down and try to figure out what your value add is as an agent. Next, try and come up with a logo, slogan, website, and general aesthetic that you can keep consistent across all your real estate marketing and social media channels.
If you want to learn more about real estate branding, check out our guide to the best real estate branding here.
10. Buy Social Media Ads
If you’re somewhat tech savvy or at least willing to learn, then advertising your personal brand or listings on social media is a great way to generate clients in 2021. Yes, since Facebook reduced real estate agents’ targeting capabilities, it’s been much harder to target buyers and sellers than it was a few years ago. Difficult doesn’t mean impossible, though, and there are plenty of agents who are getting a decent ROI with Facebook and Instagram ads.
If you want to get started advertising your real estate business on Facebook, check out our step-by-step Facebook advertising guide here.
11. Humanize Your Personal Brand by Highlighting Interests & Hobbies
Another great way to get clients is to try to integrate your hobbies into your personal branding. The idea here is to appeal to your audience’s fun side by highlighting hobbies or interests you might have in common.
For example, if you’re a dog lover, you might want to consider making a cute Instagram post with your dog at your new listing, or maybe go out and rate the local dog runs and post the videos on YouTube.
Then you won’t just be another real estate agent. Instead, you’re the dog-loving real estate agent. Clients who are also dog lovers will be far more likely to choose you over someone with similar skills who isn’t a dog lover. Of course, that other agent may have four dogs and volunteer at the ASPCA, but their audience will never know. So don’t be a secret agent when it comes to your hobbies and interests! Just make sure they’re safe for work, and ideally are at least tangentially related to buying or selling a home.
If you want to learn how top-producing luxury real estate agents integrate their dogs into their personal brand, check out our article Million Dollar Dogs: The Pampered Pooches of Luxury Real Estate. Warning! There are lots and lots of cute dogs in that article!
12. Start a Boutique Brokerage
If you’ve got some experience under your belt but feel like you’ve hit the wall with your real estate career, it might be time to hang your shingle and start a boutique brokerage. While running a brokerage isn’t easy, if you create a great brand and have a strong business plan, you’ll attract hungry agents and ISAs that will constantly generate leads.
Of course, instead of working them, you’ll be running the show and collecting checks. Don’t worry, though. If you get the itch to start showing again or want a few listings to stay sharp, small local real estate offices are like catnip for local homeowners and buyers. You’ll soon start getting plenty of walk-ins.
13. Join a Luxury Real Estate Team
After buying exclusive leads from BoldLeads, the second easiest way to get clients to work with is joining a luxury real estate team. Even though you may get a smaller split, most luxury teams get more buyers and sellers than they can handle. That means your odds of just getting handed a great lead will go through the roof. Even better, since your team will have a great reputation, those clients will be far less skeptical of working with you.
14. Fake It Until You Make It
Since you’re reading this, you know very well how much luck can change your real estate career. We’ve all heard stories about agents who stumble their way into seven-figure listings their first week on the job. For the most part, those stories are true. I’ve personally worked with agents who made well over six figures their first year as an agent, mostly due to good luck.
But luck isn’t everything. Even if a local millionaire takes a shine to you, you still have to prove to them that the risk of hiring you is worth their time. Since you likely don’t have many accomplishments to point to, your personality is going to have to work overtime to seal the deal.
Now don’t get me wrong—we’re not advocating for you to lie here! In fact, starting your career off on lies is a surefire way to end it before it really starts to work for you. Instead, work on yourself and develop the confidence and knowledge that every good agent needs. Study your MLS like it was your key to the LSAT and SAT combined. Read everything you can about real estate and business, and face your fears BEFORE you get lucky enough to book that listing presentation.
Want to learn some basic mistakes to avoid once you walk through their door? Check out our guide to common listing presentation mistakes here.
15. Know When to Leave a Brokerage That Isn’t Working for You
Sometimes it’s not how lucky you are, how hard you work, or how skilled you are that keeps you from landing clients. Instead, the brokerage you sign up with might be the thing keeping you from getting buyer and seller clients.
If you find yourself defending your brokerage’s bad reputation, or worse, making excuses for it, then chances are it’s time to move on.
Want to learn the other warning signs you need to watch out for? Check out our meme-filled guide on signs it’s time to join a new brokerage here.
Over to You
Have any thoughts on the ways to get real estate clients that we covered in the article? Let us know in the comments!