Real estate prospecting is the act of generating new real estate clients through active outreach and outbound communication. Rather than waiting for the phone to ring, a real estate prospector picks up the phone (or emails or texts or knocks on the door) to initiate contact with their potential clients.
Most new agents dread the idea of real estate prospecting. After all, they’ve been conditioned to think that all cold outreach is too hard and too humiliating to actually work. In reality, learning how to prospect in real estate can be one of the most rewarding things you can do as an agent, and is without a doubt the best way to generate new leads.
But unlike buying leads, prospecting requires agents to dedicate time each and every day for long-term payoff, something most inexperienced agents have a hard time with.
If you’re feeling like your real estate prospecting needs to level up, here are some pro tips to generate more business, as well as advice from five top producers in the residential and commercial real estate world.
1. Learn the Art (& Science) of Prospecting Letters
The real estate prospecting letter is a fantastic tool for prospectors because it serves multiple purposes.
First, it’s great for conveying a lot of information. If you’ve conducted a general comparative market analysis (CMA) for a neighborhood and you want to share that information with everyone who lives there, a text message is too short and too informal, a postcard doesn’t give you enough space to give all the details, and it would take too long to explain everything over the phone. That makes the prospecting letter the perfect format.
Second, the real estate prospecting letter is a great communication tool for those who are looking to soften the ground a little bit before they start making phone calls. Introduce yourself to your prospecting audience with a non-confrontational letter and they are more likely to engage with you on the phone when you call.
Don’t forget: You’ll want to balance the U.S. mail media you send. There’s a lot of value in sending letters, and that value increases if you can also include postcards in your mailing strategy. Our favorite place to get real estate postcards is ProspectsPLUS!. With a ton of different templates to customize, you can choose the perfect message to send at the perfect time.
2. Make Your Real Estate Prospecting Decisions Based on Data, Not Comfort
In business and real estate, the professional who uses data from the past to guide their decision-making is going to come out ahead. You should take this data-driven approach in your prospecting too. Here’s what California real estate broker and marketing guru, Marc Azfal, had to say on the topic:
“When you’re real estate prospecting, make sure you are tracking your results very carefully. If there’s a particular strategy that connects with your prospects well, leverage that strategy and focus more on it, even if it is relatively uncomfortable.
“For instance, a letter is easy to write and non-confrontational, but if it doesn’t advance your goals, why would you consider sending it? That neighborhood garage sale you sponsored was time-consuming and required a lot of face-to-face prospecting, and it netted you three new clients. Even though the garage sale took longer and was more difficult, it’s clearly the way to go.”
3. Remember: You’re Providing Value to Your Community
One of the biggest complaints we hear from new agents is that they don’t want to “bother” anyone with cold calls or door knocking. We get it—no one wants to be seen as the sleazy salesman.
Of course, the reality of the situation is that you’re actually providing value to your community. No, really!
When you reach out to potential buyers and sellers, letting them know about your services and expertise, you’re also making them aware of their options in the real estate community. I am sure we’ve all heard the first-time homebuyer or seller say, “I had no idea I could do any of this!”
One way to start to provide this value to your community is by creating neighborhood websites. These websites act as hubs for what’s going on week to week, provide valuable opportunities for property owners to get the latest information on the real estate in their area, and are a great way to establish yourself as an authority in your community.
Parkbench specializes in these sorts of websites. They only allow one real estate agent per neighborhood; check to see if your ZIP code has neighborhoods available.
4. Make Your Weekly Goals About Work & Your Long-term Goals About Results
When you’re prospecting for new real estate buyers and sellers, you aren’t waiting for the phone to ring—you’re picking it up and making it ring for your soon-to-be clients. Obviously, many of the contacts you make aren’t going to be ready to buy or sell immediately, so there’s a certain amount of nurturing baked into the prospecting process.
Because of this, overnight success with prospecting is unlikely. But don’t be discouraged. Make your weekly prospecting goals about the work you’re doing: the number of calls you make, the number of texts you send, the number of doors you knock, and so on.
Make your six-month goals about the amount of business you close.
Say you set a six-month goal of four closed sales as a result of real estate prospecting. If your median sales price is $250,000 and your commission is 3%, that’s a gross commission income (GCI) of $30,000. At seven and a half hours per week, that works out to be a little more than $123 per hour of work—not a bad wage.
5. Use Technology to Improve Your Prospecting Efficiency
Just a few years ago, real estate prospecting involved a huge amount of grunt work. You’d have to gather addresses for mailers, scrounge through various less-than-reputable websites to try to find phone numbers, and don’t even get us started on trying to locate contact information for Expired Listings.
Luckily, these days we have amazing and affordable software that can do the heavy lifting, meaning all you need to do is polish those scripts.
REDX is a prospector’s best friend because they do all the hard work for you, giving you all the information you need to start reaching out on day one, and even tools to make that outreach more efficient. REDX gives you owner profiles on every single Expired Listing, FSBO seller, and local lead in your community. Their built-in Storm Dialer automates your calling, making you up to 400% more efficient in your prospecting time.
Check out our full review of the REDX platform, and see what REDX can do to supercharge your real estate prospecting.
6. Sponsor Seasonal Family-friendly Neighborhood Giveaways
There are few better ways to ingratiate yourself to a community than to give away fun stuff. There are lots of chances throughout the year to sponsor giveaways of things like American flags on Memorial Day and 4th of July, pumpkins before Halloween, and Christmas trees in December.
Either go door to door offering these items, or set up a neighborhood pick-up night where your potential clients can come to a particular location and meet you. However you choose to do it, each giveaway comes with a handshake, some exchange of contact information, and a call to action to become the neighborhood real estate expert.
7. Create a Lead Generating Website
Real estate prospecting is easier if people are already familiar with who you are and what you do. By creating a website that will provide visitors with information about buying or selling a home in your community, an opportunity to search for properties currently listed for sale, and a way to contact you with questions, you are setting yourself up for easy conversations and higher conversion rates when you do actually get to speak to your prospects directly.
If you’re in the market for a new lead generating powerhouse of a website, you should check out Placester. Placester is a real estate-specific company, so they know what real estate agents need to convert their traffic into leads.
Their websites are clean and well-designed, and National Association of Realtors (NAR) members qualify for a special discount, making their sites just $99 a month. The best part is they offer optional add-ons like access to their content library so you can run a successful real estate blog without ever having to write an article.
8. Follow Relevant Hashtags on Social Media & Engage in 1-to-1 Prospecting
Prospecting isn’t about cold calling and mass mailers—it’s about starting and then cultivating a relationship with people who you think will be great buyers and sellers, either now or in the future. One-to-one prospecting is a great way to build this relationship, as explained by Manhattan real estate expert, Claudine O’Rourke:
“When I see a baby bump or a stroller, I know there’s a potential client who needs more space! So, not only do I engage any way I can in person, but I engage on Instagram with those in my sphere who are posting about being a new mom. As a mom myself, I can relate. Instead of offering mommy advice, I offer NYC real estate advice. #nycmoms.”
The Close recently put together a list of top 97 real estate hashtags to follow across Instagram, Twitter, and beyond—check it out!
9. Dedicate 90 Minutes a Day to Real Estate Prospecting
Any successful real estate agent or salesperson will tell you your prospecting efforts will only be as successful as they are consistent. Prospecting is a lot of work (and has a lot of potential reward), so thinking that you’re going to get your prospecting done in just a couple minutes a day isn’t realistic.
That’s why the most successful real estate agents set aside 90 minutes every day just dedicated to prospecting. Seriously, make a calendar event out of it. In six months, you’ll be amazed at the results that seven and a half hours of prospecting each week will get you.
If you’re not sure how to prospect in real estate for 90 minutes each day, start by setting up a real estate farm and really concentrating on one specific neighborhood.
10. Call Expired Listings Every. Single. Day.
Expired Listings can be golden opportunities for real estate prospectors (no pun intended). After all, the owners of these homes have raised their hand and said, “Yes, I want to sell my home.” For one reason or another, their home didn’t sell, and chances are, their desire to sell their home hasn’t changed.
The only question is whether you’re going to list the home or a more aggressive agent in your office will get to it first.
Whenever a listing expires, you’ve got to get on the phone and find out why it didn’t sell as well as convince that owner that you’re the person to help them sell it. You can go into this call prepared by doing a quick bit of research on the last listing. What was it listed for? Was the price right? How was the home marketed? What was the listing period? Be ready with this information and ask good questions.
Since other agents are going to be calling these leads too, you’re going to need a great script if you want to get their listings. We suggest using a script like one of the scripts in our 15 Best Expired Listing Scripts & Objection Handlers article.
11. Call FSBO Sellers Every. Single. Day.
Just like Expired Listing sellers, FSBOs are fantastic leads to prospect because the sellers have proven that they want to sell their home now. However, the approach is different with FSBO owners than it is with Expired Listing sellers.
FSBO owners are convinced (or at least they claim to be) that they don’t need a real estate agent or the MLS or any other professional real estate service to sell their home.
Either that, or they just don’t want to pay the commissions.
You’d think that these folks would be impossible to convince otherwise, but you’d be wrong.
Since we know that more than 91% of homes in the U.S. are sold utilizing the services of a Realtor, and according to Realtor.com, the median home sale price for a FSBO home is close to $60,000 less than the median sale price of a Realtor-listed home, we know that many of these FSBO sellers eventually see the light and switch to using a real estate agent.
But don’t go into a FSBO call with no tools or direction. Try using a script like one from our 5 Best FSBO Scripts & Why They Work article.
12. Stop Fearing the Word ‘No’
According to a study done at Baylor University on real estate cold calling, on average, it takes 209 calls from a real estate agent to a farm area to set an appointment or get a referral.
For those of you with a fear of rejection, the takeaway here is that you’re going to have to endure 208 gut-wrenching “noes” before you finally get a yes.
For those of you who have already gotten over your fear of “no,” this statement is music to your ears. It means that for every “no” you get, you are quantifiably closer to a “yes.” It means that if you can make 627 calls in a week, you’re going to get three appointments out of that hard work.
As a prospector, you’ve got to stop taking “no” personally, and start treating it like a data point. For more on this, check out the recent article we’ve written about how to get over your fear of cold calling, and see how one agent settled his nerves and used cold phone prospecting to more than triple his business in just one year.
13. Get Some Face-to-Face Time With Your Real Estate Prospects
If real estate prospecting is about establishing a relationship with potential buyers and sellers, there’s no better way to take that relationship to the next level than a little face-to-face time.
Just shaking hands with someone you’d like to do business with is a powerful experience, as explained to us by one of California’s leading commercial real estate experts, Hans Hansson:
“Keeping your face in front of your current decision-makers, as well as getting it in front of any new decision-makers, is a must for real estate prospecting.
“In the commercial world, I’ve learned the hard way that I could have worked miracles for a client, but the decision-maker had been replaced, and since I didn’t have any face-to-face time with a new decision-maker, they wouldn’t have a clue as to the great work I’ve done in the past. The same idea can be applied to residential real estate.
“People need to see your face; they need to shake your hand in order to really establish a relationship so you become their go-to real estate resource.”
14. Use Video Marketing to Soften Your Prospects
Prospecting letters aren’t the only way to soften a particular set of future clients. Social media advertising provides some very specific targeting options when it comes to who you want to see your content. Texas-based real estate expert, Evan Roberts, told us:
“YouTube Ads now allow real estate agents to run video advertisements within a specific geographic farm area. We found that recording testimony videos from past clients and running these videos as YouTube Ads to be a great way to build brand awareness within our farm area.
“Using YouTube’s targeting features, we were able to reduce our audience size to only homeowners and those likely to buy a house in the near future. YouTube Ads have been cost effective for our marketing efforts since they cost 3 to 5 cents per view and are targeted to only be shown to qualified, potential clients.”
15. Create Facebook Groups Your Prospects Will Flock To
Social media is a popular place to prospect, but it’s not the easiest place to do it unless you know what you’re doing. In fact, a study done by Kuno Creative showed that for business pages with less than 500,000 followers, on average, only 6% of your organic following actually even sees your post, much less engages with it.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t prospect profitably on Facebook. Take, for instance, the strategy used by Will Friedner, broker with the Montana Life Realty Team:
“We’ve had great success using Facebook Groups to generate real estate leads. I now have four real estate Facebook Groups around the state of Montana with a total membership now over 30,000 people (almost 3% of this state’s population). These groups now account for over 50% of my business.”
Over to You
The Close has a ton of great real estate lead generation tips for real estate agents of all experience levels. Not sure where to get started? Check out 37 Underrated Lead Generation Ideas for 2020 to get inspired.
Have a great real estate prospecting strategy that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below—let’s keep the conversation going.