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27 Ways to Build a Lead Generation Funnel to Consistently Find & Close Deals

Whitney Hutten
7 min read
27 Ways to Build a Lead Generation Funnel to Consistently Find & Close Deals

When starting out in the real estate business, finding real estate leads can seem like a daunting task. However, it doesn’t need to be as hard as you think! Once it clicks that generating leads is pretty easy in these digital days, it may even seem fun. You just have to know how to utilize the internet efficiently.

There is a process to follow and tactics to consider which will help garner results for your leads.

Brandon Turner, a well-established real estate investor, distills the “deal funnel” into four actionable steps that—if consistently executed and optimized—will yield results.

  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.

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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.”

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.

First, let’s define what real estate lead generation is.

What is real estate lead generation?

The success of a real estate agent is dependent upon their ability to generate leads. Lead generation, in real estate marketing, is a process in which an agent strives to attract and convert a potential home seller or buyer to complete their home buying or selling experience.

How do I generate leads in real estate?

When getting started, you might feel a little overwhelmed and unsure of where to look for potential clients. Don’t worry! It’s not as hard as you may think. And once you are established as a real estate agent, lead generation becomes easier and easier. You will have more and more referrals and prospects, which ultimately convert to exclusive leads and greater financial success for you.

We can solve the inability to create the deal funnel rather readily by repeating the systems other real estate investors are successfully utilizing. Below are 27 ways to generate leads for your deal funnel, many of which you can get set up in under an hour.

  1. The MLS: This will require you to be, or to work with, a Realtor. I’ve found Realtor.com and Redfin.com to be decent proxies to the MLS.
  2. Zillow, whose Zillow Premier Agent tool can be helpful for real estate agents
  3. Redfin
  4. Trulia
  5. Realtor.com
  6. LoopNet
  7. Crexi
  8. Google ads targeted to your ZIP code
  9. Realtor pocket listings
  10. Turnkey providers
  11. Wholesalers
  12. Property management: My favorite move is to ask if they know of any investors ready to sell and get a list of those properties.
  13. Banks and government agencies for seized/REO homes
  14. Other investors
  15. Real estate investment groups and meetups
  16. Social media, including Instagram, Facebook groups, and Facebook ads
  17. Hard money lenders/private money lenders: Ask if they will share properties close to maturing or those that are in default. They would rather move the “paper” than go through the foreclosure process.
  18. Other off-market portals
    • BiggerPockets Marketplace
    • Roofstock
    • Auction.com
    • Hubzu
    • HomePath
  19. Driving for dollars: Scale this strategy with apps like DealMachine
  20. Purchasing lists for direct mail strategies
    • I use MelissaData.com for my lists, but there are many companies that can and will sell you lists. I then use a done-for-you service, which creates, prints, stamps, and sends the letters to us to drop in the mail.
    • ListSource and Successors Data. On these sites, you can focus on solving problems for motivated sellers, like probate, divorce, foreclosure, high equity homes, and out-of-state landlords.
  21. Reviewing courthouse proceedings to find motivated sellers for probate, divorce, foreclosure, or tax sales.
  22. Partnering with lawyers who have motivated sellers for probate, divorce, foreclosure, or elders.
  23. Partnering with people in different services who are working with motivated sellers. Consider construction crews, foundation crews, or senior move managers.
  24. Virtual assistants
    • There are many virtual assistant companies and individuals available to help you with your seller and buyer calls.
    • This produces approximately 12-18 leads weekly for me, so two to three per hour including the sourcing time they have to do.
  25. Content management systems (CMSs): These are tools provided by expert real-estate websites that help with the construction of your web pages to better market yourself. Lead generation websites don’t typically offer these tools.
  26. Cold calling
    • Manually download or subscribe to services to get your list of numbers. You want to target expired listings first, and then For Sale By Owner listings (FSBO).
  27. Open houses
    • Broadcast your open house on Facebook Live or use other platforms to video stream your open houses. This will generate traffic to your account, and more traffic equals more referrals. Another nice thing is that people can share your videos, generating endless possibilities for additional leads.

Now that we’ve discussed this goldmine of 27 different ways to generate leads, let’s talk about the best lead generation strategies used by BiggerPockets experts.

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What is the best real estate lead generator?

Here are several examples of the best-proven strategies of real estate lead generators, and how to manage those leads, suggested by BiggerPockets experts.

1. Automate your mailings

If you are trying to establish consistent deal flow in a major city, it’s best to go big with the mailing. I would recommend doing at least 5,000 mail pieces a month.

First, you must buy a list. Try to buy your whole city list or county list if your income allows it. If not, get enough leads where you can mail at least 5,000 pieces a month.

Once you have your list, go to a mail house that will automatically send out your mail for you weekly, biweekly, or monthly. I suggest you break it up weekly. It is very important to outsource the mail because without the mail going out, you will have no consistent leads coming in.

2. Use tools for managing your leads

CRMs (customer relationship management software) are essential for managing your leads. A pen and paper will not work in this case because if you are working on automating, you will need someone to pick up where you left off. If you search “real estate investors CRM” or “CRM” on BiggerPockets, you will find many. Just pick the one that best fits your business.

I use Podio, which is highly customizable. I am not a tech person at all, so I pay a third-party company to manage Podio for my business.

The majority of your deals should be coming from the follow-up, so this is needed to run your business. It’s impossible to correctly follow up if you do not have a centralized place for leads.

On a BiggerPockets realtor forum, Taylor L., a real estate syndicator from Richmond, VA, mentions, “I use ActiveCampaign even though its CRM is not the best because the automation features are fantastic and easy to use. It also integrates very smoothly with WordPress.”

Additionally, James O., a real estate broker from Philadelphia, PA, says, “I’ve just signed on with Wise Agent and so far enjoy the ease, integrations, and navigability of its platform! Before this, I used Top Producer for years but found it clunky and a tad outdated.”

Some great options for CRM software include:

4. Set up a professional voicemail message

Set a professional voicemail that will allow callers to leave messages. Remember, you are at work, so you want a service that allows you to call your leads back when it’s convenient for you. In my business, I don’t live answer.

Now, everybody won’t leave a message, of course. However, your CRM should be equipped to automatically send a text message to those who hang up. Also, you should be able to manually text through the CRM. This allows for multiple ways to contact the lead.

5. Virtual assistants

While virtual assistants can be an essential component of your business and the lead generation process, there are a great number of options to choose from. I struggled through three of them and was ready to throw in the towel.

Then I found an amazing company that trains well, is very well scripted, and constantly improves. I hired them and have been with them for almost six years with the same person.

Virtual assistants can become an integral part of your team when utilized properly. They all charge differently. I personally spend between $125-$135 per week for six to eight hours of calling.

They send me fully filled out property information sheets on a daily basis. This assures you that you’re only speaking with quality leads that want to speak with you.

6. For sale by owners

These are always a good lead source. You can source them online and call them yourself, or you can hire virtual assistants. I utilize a mix of both.

I started sourcing and calling myself for a few hours a day three to four days a week. After your first deal, you’ll have some funds to use for hiring your first virtual assistant.

You can also find them via “for sale by owner” signs. Drive a different way to work or to wherever you’re going each time you’re out and go through different, new neighborhoods. Eventually, you’ll run into signs.

7. Expired listings

These are listings that real estate agents had on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that didn’t sell.

I personally love these because sellers tend to already be frustrated after having not sold with an agent. This will many times translate into immediate appointments, as opposed to the “for sale by owner” sellers, who typically need some time.

Where do you get expired listings? It used to be that you had to work with someone who was licensed to get them. Now there are much easier ways to get them yourself.

  • Find them on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
  • Use social media advertising for marketing to expired listings
  • Take advantage of search engines in this digital age: Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, and Yandex
  • Buy expired listing info on additional internet platforms
  • Consult with other real estate agents
  • Check public records

8. Direct mail

As with each of the above, direct mail can potentially serve as your standalone marketing source to feed your business enough leads.

You can generate these letters and target all kinds of lists, so you can get very specific and never run out of potential campaigns.

As mentioned, I use MelissaData.com for lists and a done-for-you service for the letters. It cannot get any easier than that.

The letters we use are in handwritten font and made to look like we wrote them out on a yellow pad of paper. They’re mailed in invitation-type envelopes so they get opened and not tossed in the wastebasket.

9. Print and online ads

You or your staff should always be running free online “I Buy Houses” ads. Why not? You can search on Google for free classified sites in the areas where you work and find plenty of them in addition to Craigslist. I haven’t gotten slammed with calls from these, but it’s another lead source.

Real estate lead generation is, thankfully, much easier in this digital era. I encourage you to really take advantage of online platforms, where your marketing ads will generate traffic for you as a Realtor and also turn up seller leads for your real estate business.

Make sure your contact information is readily available in ad campaigns promoting your business or on your website. Your ability to generate leads also depends on your ease of accessibility.

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.