Real Estate Investing Basics

How to Build a Lead Generation Funnel to Consistently Find & Close Deals

Expertise: Mortgages & Creative Financing, Buying & Selling Houses, Personal Finance, Real Estate Investing Basics
46 Articles Written
Vintage metal funnel with handle on old wooden garden table background

Past picking a market and learning how to analyze a deal properly, structuring your deal funnel and maintaining it will be one of the toughest actions you will have to undertake as an investor.

The 4-Step Real Estate Funnel to Consistently Close Deals

Brandon Turner distills the deal funnel into four actionable steps that—if consistently executed and optimized—will yield results. The steps are:

  1. Getting leads
  2. Analyzing deals
  3. Proposing offers
  4. Sealing the deal

So now that you know the four steps, you’re set, right? If only it were that easy.

As I work with investors, I see them struggle with two things that interrupt the flow of their deal funnel:

  1. Inability to create the funnel
  2. Inability to optimize the funnel

It reminds me of my favorite quote, which is:

“I can’t paint, but I can trace the Mona Lisa.”

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In short, if you take note of what other successful people are doing and copy them, this should enable you to create and optimize your own funnel.

Let’s dive in further.

Copy - Paste concept on modern aluminum keyboard.

How to Create a Deal Funnel

We can solve the first struggle—the inability to create the funnel—rather readily by repeating the systems other real estate investors are successfully utilizing. Below are 20-plus ways to generate leads for your deal funnel, many of which you can get set up in under an hour.

25 Ways to Generate Leads

Retail Websites

Retail sites are a natural first option to set up online searches that will deliver listings right to your inbox. In my experience, finding below-market deals this way can be a bit challenging, though. Try to niche down your search with words like "needs TLC," "investor special," "as-is," "fixer-upper," and "sweat equity." Alternatively, you may need to work harder to find the deal or negotiate to get a good price.

With most of these websites, you can set up filters to meet your deal criteria, such as type of investment, zip code (or some will allow you to draw around neighborhoods), beds, baths, price range, square footage, garages, etc. Your time is precious, so leverage these filtering capabilities.

Off-Market Listings

Off-market options are another great way to fill your funnel. Most of these options are relationship-based lead sources, so take care to create win-win situations.

Like setting up the web searches, time is precious, so let your deal finder know your deal criteria: type of investment, zip code, beds, baths, price range, square footage, garages, etc. Additionally, feel free to share your investment criteria, as well. If you are looking for below-market deals, make sure to let your deal-finder know this.

Creative Strategies

Then there are the more creative, hands-on, time-intensive strategies to fill your deal funnel. As you scale your business, it will be easier to outsource the strategies below to an app, VA, or team.

Related: 6 Tips for Hiring Your First Real Estate Virtual Assistant

Male Traveler Looking Through Binoculars In The Distance Against The Sky

  • Driving for dollars
  • Purchasing list for direct mail strategies
  • Reviewing courthouse proceedings to find motivated sellers for:
    • Probate
    • Divorce
    • Foreclosure
    • Tax sales
  • Partnering with lawyers who have motivated sellers for:
    • Probate
    • Divorce
    • Foreclosure
    • Elder
  • Partnering with people in different services who are working with motivated sellers:
    • Construction crews
    • Foundation crews
    • Senior move managers

Related: 3 Types of Motivated Sellers (& How to Win Deals By Solving Their Problems!)

How to Optimize a Deal Funnel

OK, now you know some surefire ways to generate leads. We’re done, right?


Let me know if this sounds like you…

You have leads coming in, and you are analyzing them with your trusty online calculator—but none meet your investment criteria or ideal returns. How on earth are you supposed to make offers?


You start second-guessing yourself.

Are you in the right market? Are you being too stringent with your deal or investment criteria? Maybe you should lower your return expectations? Has your market already topped out? Are all the good deals gone?

You become frustrated that nothing is working. Your focus wanders.

Getting leads is only half the battle to get your deal funnel going. You also have to have a simple, repeatable system to optimize your lead flow (struggle No. 2).

The solution? Put systems in place to track what is actually working and what is not. (And yes, you can copy someone’s system and shorten your learning curve!)

Then, make tweaks informed by data until you start seeing the results you want.

Related: 27 Ways to Find Real Estate Deals

Here are some questions to ask:

    1. Do you have your lead sources set up to give you leads that hit your deal criteria (i.e., beds, baths, price, area of town, condition, etc.)?
    2. Do you have enough lead sources set up to feed your funnel conversion rates yet (i.e., solve for the X number of leads you must have coming in)?
      • If you are just starting out, you don’t even know your conversion rates. But when you solve for X, you are now that much closer to results! So let’s work backward and put a few conversion criteria in place until you have your own.
        • To get 1 deal closed this month, maybe you need to get 2 offers under contract (assuming a 50% close rate)
        • To get 2 offers under contract, maybe you need to make 4 offers a month (assuming a 50% offer acceptance rate)
        • To make 4 offers a month, maybe you need to analyze 20 deals that meet your investment criteria (assuming that 25% meet your investment criteria)
        • To analyze 20 deals a month, you need X number of deals a month entering your deal funnel that meet your deal criteria. This leads back to No. 1.
    3. Are you tracking all of the leads you are analyzing and where they are coming from?
      • This is VERY important (as you can see above)! You can use a simple spreadsheet to make this happen quickly. Tracking your leads will help you understand where to tweak your funnel AND understand what is working. For me, it took me almost a year to realize my best deals were coming from one deal source. Once I realized that, I leaned in hard to that one source—my business exploded and my time to vet leads plummeted!
    4. If getting leads into the deal funnel is the one thing you must do to grow your business, is your environment set up where you can take consistent and persistent action every day?
      • You have to make this action step sacred and schedule it first.


Knowing where to find deals is only one step on the path to getting a deal. You still have to analyze them, make offers, and seal the deal.

Therefore, I propose a challenge to you:

  1. Today, set up the following lead strategies:
    • Pick 5 retail sites
    • Pick 3 off-market listing strategies
    • Pick 1 creative tactic
  2. Then, for the next 60 days, get up 15 minutes earlier. While everyone is sleeping, analyze one lead a day.

Success as an investor boils down to being able to hone in on a system that is simple to execute, optimize, and repeat.

Yes… it may seem boring. But I like my investing to be boring. I’ll save my rebellious daredevil streak for my next trail running adventure. (Join me if you dare!)

Questions? Comments? 

Let’s talk below!

Whitney is a real estate investor and personal finance trainer whose vision is to launch 10,000 families on the path toward financial independence. After purchasing her first rental in 2002, and hi...
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    Brandon Dukes Rental Property Investor from Baltimore, MD
    Replied 11 months ago
    Nice article. Are you using any CRM like propstream, podio or REipro?
    Whitney Hutten Rental Property Investor from Boulder, CO
    Replied 11 months ago
    For my leads, I have a spreadsheet. For my contacts, I use the free version of Hubspot, but will most likely condense everything into Active Campaign (and deal with just 1 system).
    Jon Miller Investor from Chesapeake, VA
    Replied 11 months ago
    Thank you so much! Building a deal funnel is a goal of mine for 2020, and your article has a TON of useful ideas. Thank you!
    Whitney Hutten Rental Property Investor from Boulder, CO
    Replied 11 months ago
    You are welcome! Go forth and build :)
    Joe Schaak Investor from Stillwater, Minnesota
    Replied 11 months ago
    Great article, Whitney. Love the action points at the end.
    Whitney Hutten Rental Property Investor from Boulder, CO
    Replied 11 months ago
    You are very welcome!
    Trey Green Investor from Dallas, TX
    Replied 11 months ago
    Great article!!
    Andrew Gonzalez
    Replied 11 months ago
    Great post!
    Cecil Valentine Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, Georgia
    Replied 11 months ago
    Great article. Good for beginners and those like myself looking to set up a system. Thanks for the information.
    Whitney Hutten Rental Property Investor from Boulder, CO
    Replied 11 months ago
    You are welcome! The key to systems is keeping them very simple.
    Trevor Kollmeyer from Las Vegas, NV
    Replied 11 months ago
    Awesome article! My wife and I are new to investing and this was a big eye opener. This is a amazing way to scale your business rather quickly! Thanks Whitney!!!
    Whitney Hutten Rental Property Investor from Boulder, CO
    Replied 11 months ago
    You bet! Here is to your success!
    Lisa DuFaux Investor from New Port Richey, Florida
    Replied 11 months ago
    This was a great article with a lot of truly actionable ideas. Thank you!
    Myra Mallet from Cypress, Texas
    Replied 11 months ago
    Thanks for the practical advice than can be acted upon right away! Great article!
    Chanakya J. Investor from Princeton, NJ
    Replied 11 months ago
    Great article. You made it look so simple. I was all over the place trying to put a strategy for this and am glad i saw this post. #BRRRR4Life
    Whitney Hutten Rental Property Investor from Boulder, CO
    Replied 11 months ago
    It is simple! And you have to hustle to make it work... (that is... don't confuse simple with easy :)
    Jessamyn Smith
    Replied 11 months ago
    This is extremely helpful. I love all the examples and the challenge at the end. All so practical!
    Whitney Hutten Rental Property Investor from Boulder, CO
    Replied 11 months ago
    Do it!
    Charmaine Holden
    Replied 11 months ago
    Thanks Whitney! You gave me some direction to focus on and to get my lead funnel started . I felt so scatter-brained before. Hi Five for the goal challenges you presented. Thanks again. This helps New Investors like myself. Will be getting started TODAY !
    Whitney Hutten Rental Property Investor from Boulder, CO
    Replied 10 months ago
    You bet!
    SilviaMargarita Rivera Real Estate Agent from Miami, Florida
    Replied 11 months ago
    Taking the challenge. Thank you for the clarity of the information.
    Glen A Hassard
    Replied 10 months ago
    That was a great, helpful article. Very practical. I'm going to adopt it into my SOP's! Thank you!
    Sean M.
    Replied 4 months ago
    Awesome article! Thank you