Referrals: An Often Overlooked Way to Get Motivated Seller Leads

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On Tuesday I spent 3 hours in a mastermind session with ten business owners across a variety of industries and one of the topics we covered at length was marketing and various methods for generating leads for our businesses.  One of the key takeaways I have from the session is that referrals are one of the most effective yet overlooked methods for generating more business and more profits.  It’s one of those things that people know is helpful, but simply don’t take the time to be proactive about making it a strategic part of marketing.

I started to think of how we as real estate investors can proactively generate referrals and thought of a handful of ideas that you may or may not have ever considered.  I’d like to share some of them with you.

Ideas for Increasing Your Real Estate Referrals

  • After completing a deal successfully with a homeowner (at the closing table), ask the seller for recommendations of others in the area who may need to sell their home (and while you’re at it, ask for a testimonial regarding their experience with you!)
  • Additionally, after completing a deal successfully with a homeowner, send a token of thanks (handwritten thank you letter or small promotional item for your company like a pen or magnet) and encourage them to recommend your company to others who need to sell their home. You can wait a couple of weeks after the closing to do this….just at the time when the homeowner has moved on and isn’t thinking much about you anymore.
  • When you have satisfied buyers for your deals, remember that they too can be a great source of referrals for seller leads. So be sure to ask!
  • When talking to a seller lead who responded to your marketing and the deal doesn’t work out for one reason or another, still ask the seller for referrals, e.g. “I really wish we could’ve worked something out here, but perhaps things will change in the future. In the meantime, do you know of anyone who needs to sell their home and can benefit from our services?”
  • When calling For Rent signs to speak with landlords about their interest in selling, don’t forget to ask them if they have an investor friends who are tired of dealing with problem tenants.

When it comes to referrals, we’d like to think that people automatically will do this and that we don’t have to ask.  That’s true in some cases, but not true in many (perhaps even most) cases.  If you want something, you should ask for it.  If you are professional, you’re likable, and people believe you can truly provide a solution, they will happily give you leads if you ask.

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to generate more leads. We talked about motivated seller leads today, but we can come up for ideas for generating buyer referrals, private lender referrals….pretty much any referrals!  Just remember the obvious…a warm referral is often much stronger than a cold lead.  It’s absolutely worth spending the time and small expense to generate referrals. If you have any other ideas on effective ways to generate leads via referrals, I invite you to share them in the comments below!

Photo credit: beautydiva

About Author

Shae Bynes is a real estate investor in Sunny South Florida. On her blog,, she provides helpful tips and an inside look at her real estate investing adventures -- obstacles, failures, & successes!


  1. Shae – this is fabulous!! It’s something we’re trying to do more and more as well!! We’ve always done it with partners and private lenders but we are starting to do it with tenants too. We leave our magnets on the fridge for when they move in and ask for referrals when they say how happy they are! And we’re also doing it with sellers too!! No deals have been done from a referral yet but we are definitely getting leads… and leads are where everything starts!

    Great post!

  2. Great topic, Shae! You’re so right about referrals – they are by far the best source of more qualified leads (in general). I’d much rather receive a call from a referral than one that is random. I like your ideas for increasing referrals. I’ve actually done the testimonial thing before, it was nice. Though, I realized no one really asked me for testimonials when working with both sellers and buyers.

    What made folks work with me was more my approach and style of doing things, very low key – no pressure style. I see myself more of as a problem solver than anything else. I’m not out there to buy every single house. I’m out there to find problems to solutions. And, sometimes I could be the solution and sometimes not. It depends.

    I like your idea of asking for referrals. I’ve done that too and it’s worked. And, I think being more personable is really important, people want to get to know a person. And, it’s hard to do that through a corporation. That’s just my philosophy.

    Oh, and Julie – the magnet idea for tenants is awesome! I do that, it’s right on the fridge too. I actually have a waiting list of family members and relatives from those who have worked with me in the past. It works great! 🙂

    Great ideas here, I enjoyed the article!

    p.s. I still do Xmas cards every year, they seem to really bring a smile to folks’ face. And, I’ve received “thank you” calls and even a few referrals that way. I think you mentioned that in a prior article/post before Shae, great idea! 🙂

    • You have a good memory, Rachel! Yep, I think the holiday cards really make a difference…I’m definitely going to continue doing them. I really like the magnet idea for tenants and will use it. I agree that being personable is really helpful! Showing that you’re an actual human being who gives a hoot will serve any investor well 🙂 Thanks for your comments!

  3. Shae,

    You’ve outlined some terrific ideas in your article. Too many real estate agents (myself included) spend a lot of money on marketing and don’t spend enough effort on generating referrals. Sure I send cards during the year, but I don’t consistently put effort in getting referral leads. A referral lead is absolutely the best lead an agent can get. Thanks for the ideas.

    • You bet, Anthony! I’ll tell you something that a local realtor does in my area that makes her stand out. She includes recipes on her postcards. Really good recipes and there’s a nice big picture of her in an apron on the postcard. At first I was thinking “that’s kinda cheesy” but the more I looked at it, the more I loved it. She tells me that people recognize her all the time because she’s been doing this for so many years now as part of her ongoing marketing campaign. So doing things that are unique is helpful too…all part of the branding. But I still believe that nothing beats a good ole fashioned referral!

      Thanks for your comments!

  4. The part about asking the person you’ve just done business with to recommend you is a great idea.

    I don’t deal with real estate but to help promote my business I hand out pens, magnets and other little items. Seems to work well. 🙂

  5. The title of the blog could not be more true! Refferals are a fairly easy way of gaining real estate deals, from both buyers and sellers. The best thing about them is that they are already familiar with your services to some degree and what you repressent…AKA – the easies form of prospecting!

  6. Shae,

    You hit it right on point about referrals. When you solicit referrals you are using leverage plus it’s a great way to generate business without adding the extra cost of advertising. In order to grow your real estate business geometrically you must use referrals to get those motivated seller leads

    • Thanks Omar! It’s just one of those “no-brainer” things to do that so many of us forget to do! I think the key is making it a habitual part of your routine in your business…. soliciting referrals and following up on those referrals.

  7. Just read about this in Dan Kennedy´s book.

    It all comes down to asking.

    Once you have done a good job with someone – and you ask them for some referrals or other business – they should jump at the chance.

    People who are good at their jobs – love working with other professionals who are good at their jobs.

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