If you look for information about generating real estate leads, you will undoubtedly stumble upon many different articles and videos that will provide you with a nice and long list of ideas.

There can often be more than twenty ideas from which you are left to choose, usually too many. 

According to a study from Caltech, the optimal number to not get overwhelmed by choices is between 8 and 15.

So this is where much of the content with long real estate lead generation lists fails.

And that’s why this article will take a different approach.

It will discuss…

  • Why give real estate lead generation any importance in the first place?
  • A “Choice-Filter” to cut through the noise of marketing channels for real estate lead generation
  • The four marketing channels for real estate lead generation to keep it simple (and a bonus channel on top)


Why Give Real Estate Lead Generation Any Importance in the First Place?

You may roll your eyes, but for some, the importance of generating real estate leads is not that obvious.

So if this is already clear, you can skip this section. I won’t feel hurt.

However, if you need a bit extra motivation and want to know why real estate lead generation is essential in the first place, you may keep reading.

Suppose you just got your real estate license.

If you do nothing and think you will close property sales just because of holding a license, you will soon find out that nothing will happen.

No buyer or seller wakes up in the morning and suddenly thinks: “Oh yeah, let me check who has a real estate license in my state, so I can call them to help me find a property or sell my home.”

Well, maybe a tiny percentage of people do that, but I doubt this is a sustainable real estate lead generation strategy. 

Besides, it would be more out of your control than a proactively run real estate lead generation campaign targeting a particular type of potential buyer or seller.

So why real estate leads?

Well, you don’t have a business without real estate leads. It’s the lifeblood of the business, and lead generation is the heart.

Here are the benefits of real estate lead generation:

  • It increases your sales opportunities because more leads mean more chances to convert potential clients into buyers or sellers.
  • Builds a pipeline of future clients: real estate leads may not be ready to sell or buy now, but with the right follow-up campaign (my article) in the future.
  • Is a prerequisite to growing your real estate business (my article) in the future 
  • Over the long run, it can enhance your brand recognition and increase your visibility in the marketplace and make you stand out from your competition (with the right strategy) 


Your “Choice Filter” to Cut Through the Noise of Marketing Channels for Real Estate Lead Generation

Once you get into the rabbit hole of different real estate marketing channels, you can quickly get lost if you don’t take a strategic and thoughtful approach.

You may collect a list of 20, 30, or more real estate lead generation ideas, try to start each one, but master none in the end, because you weren’t aware of something you need to do before that.

By the way, this is where my “Ultimate Real Estate Lead Gen Strategy and Performance Suite” comes in.

So what is it that you need to know before you go all out with the different marketing channels you may find all over the web?

You will need to assess your goals and, most importantly, your constraints and conditions.

Regarding your goals, you would need to know the annual net commission goal you want to earn.

Once you have this number, you want to assess your conditions and constraints. Regarding your constraints and conditions, the list of questions you must ask yourself is much longer…

  • What is your gross commission?
  • What is your brokerage commission split?
  • What is your income tax rate?
  • What is the average property/ home value of your listings typically?

Based on these first four conditions and constraints, you can calculate the number of closings you need per year and month to reach your net commission goal.

It doesn’t stop here. You also want to ask yourself the following:


1) When do you want to reach your net commission goal (12 months, 24 months, 36 months, etc.)?

What you will answer here will inform and automatically exclude particular marketing channels for real estate lead generation.

For example, if you want to reach a sporty net commission goal within 12 months, and think of doing content marketing (inbound marketing), don’t do it. The lead time until it brings in results can easily surpass 12 months, even if you already have some experience.


What is your monthly budget for real estate lead generation?

Knowing this information and the average real estate lead costs will help determine whether you can generate the necessary monthly real estate leads to reach your annual net commission goal. 

It also informs whether the time you want to reach this goal is viable in the first place.


What is your daily or monthly “sweat-equity” budget in hours for lead generation methods that are “free” but cost your time?

Suppose you don’t have a large monthly budget or none at all. 

In that case, the answer to this question also determines whether you can generate the number of monthly or annual leads in the desired time you want. 

It will also show whether your net commission goal is viable in your desired time.


Do you need more buyer or seller leads or equal of both (this depends on your real estate niche (my article), provided you focus on one)?

The answer to this question determines which marketing channels you should use to target the particular buyer and/or seller prospects. 

You may already know this if you focus on a real estate niche. It also depends if you have a seller or buyers’ market.


What real estate marketing channels for lead generation are available?

This is where the content and articles you may have read come in with the different real estate lead generation ideas they float around. 

So you want to know which real estate marketing channels are available in the first place. 

But not only is this information important, which leads me to the next question you want to ask yourself…


What is the typical awareness level of prospects in these channels?

Customer awareness determines how close a potential lead of a marketing channel is to a real estate transaction. 

So you want to determine where most of the audience’s awareness levels stand.

Of course, you can slightly influence this by using the proper marketing message or sales copy. 

For example, this is easier in search PPC advertising or content marketing targeting the right search intent than on social media platforms.

The lower the customer awareness level, the farther away a prospect is from a real estate transaction. 

Suppose a marketing channel consists primarily of unaware prospects. 

In that case, it likely will conflict with a shorter period in which you want to reach your net commission goal, thus often turning it into an unviable marketing channel.

You can also read my article here for background information on lead types and customer awareness.

What is the average lead time for real estate lead generation of available marketing channels?

The average lead time for a campaign on a particular marketing channel depends on how fast you can iterate a new campaign based on the first feedback and data you get back.

This iteration speed depends on the following:

  • Your monthly budget
  • How well can you track the marketing performance indicators (my article), such as CTR, CVR, etc.?
  • How well you can optimize and improve these marketing performance indicators by improving ad creatives, ad copy, and more.
  • How fast can you technically implement these improvements?
  • Your experience level or the experience level of the person managing the campaigns (you may have a steep learning curve first).

Again, the lead time is the slowest for content marketing since the pieces of content need to be produced first and then require additional time to rank high enough before you can get feedback regarding conversions. 

So for the estimated average lead time, you need to factor in the time to rank plus the time to produce all required content.


What are your experience and skill level in the different real estate lead generation methods and marketing channels?

This question is related to the one before.

Suppose you are already experienced in one or more marketing channels. 

In that case, it can shorten the average lead time. 

Without experience, it extends until you see real estate lead generation results. 


What is the average cost per lead per marketing channel?

Suppose you know the real estate lead cost information. 

In that case, you can estimate if you can generate the necessary number of real estate leads to reach your net commission goal (here is my article about the different real estate lead costs).

This enables you to exclude specific channels that are not (yet) viable for your monthly budget. 

So you don’t start with something you shouldn’t have started in the first place.

Once your goals, conditions, and constraints are defined and aligned, excluding certain property marketing channels for your real estate lead generation will be much easier.

Sounds like a lot of work before you even get started with a real estate lead generation campaign? It is.

But it’s worthwhile and can save you from wasting a lot of time and money you may put into something that you shouldn’t have started in the first place.

Using this approach will also reveal to you whether your net commission goals are realistic in the time you want to reach them or at all.

Of course, the selection of proper real estate marketing channels will be significantly more extensive the more realistic your net commission goals are, the more monthly budget, and experience you bring to the table, the better your real estate niche and target prospects are defined.

The Ultimate Real Estate Lead Gen & Performance Suite I recently created can help you align all these factors to find a proper real estate marketing channel quickly. 


There Are Only Four Marketing Channels for Real Estate Lead Generation (No Need to Overcomplicate Things)

Now let’s continue with what others use as their primary content: the real estate marketing channels for real estate lead generation available.

And surprise, as I have already discussed in this article, there are actually only five with their respective subcategories.


1) Outbound Real Estate Lead Generation (paid and “free”) 



So digital and offline outbound real estate lead generation is characterized by being more proactive and in the prospect’s face.

This can sometimes feel interruptive.

However, it is also more controllable, akin to the girl or guy with the megaphone shouting the marketing message at you.

When I say “free” concerning outbound lead generation, I mean it has a low monetary cost, but this doesn’t account for the time and effort required. 

The good news is that you can control the results of outbound lead generation to a certain extent by putting in the necessary effort.


2) Real Estate Lead Generation via Database Marketing

  • Past client direct mailing
  • Past client marketing
  • Past client retargeting via ads on search and social media
  • Email marketing
  • Sphere of influence marketing

Technically, this isn’t actual real estate lead generation. Instead, it involves converting cold leads you have already generated or past clients into warm or hot ones once more.

This is provided you use a database or customer relationship management system

The good news is that results can be easily controlled in this process since you are working with leads and clients with whom you have already connected. 

Over time, you will likely gain experience in knowing which efforts will yield specific outcomes, making the process more efficient and effective.


3) Inbound Real Estate Lead Generation (paid and “free”)


  • Content marketing on your website (publishing blog articlesvideos, downloadable whitepapers, free giveaways, etc.)
  • Content marketing on social media (posting on Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, etc.)
  • Answering questions on social media, forums, Quora, etc.
  • Lead magnets (often combined with email marketing and nurturing campaigns)
  • On-page SEO
  • Webinars (with strategic partners)
  • Guest-posting (however, not Google’s favorite anymore)


  • Publishing content in larger publication channels (local and national newspapers, magazines, etc.)
  • Organizing a housewarming party
  • Organizing an open house event
  • Organizing educational events

Inbound lead generation is a more subtle approach, allowing prospects to find you rather than actively searching for them. 

This means that it is less controllable than outbound lead generation. 

Compared to outbound real estate lead generation, inbound lead generation could be seen as the feminine aspect or the honeypot that attracts prospects to you.

As a general observation, whenever you enter the world of digital real estate lead generation outbound or inbound, you will be better off long-term when you also have your own website (my article). 


It will…

  • Increase your visibility
  • Improve your credibility (necessary for persuasion and thus lead conversions)
  • Increase your efficiency to streamline your workflow by automating tasks like appointment scheduling or lead nurturing.
  • Give you independence from social media platforms (what happens if Facebook, Instagram, etc., shut down your account tomorrow with all your hard, built-up following?)


4) Real Estate Referral Marketing for Lead Generation

Regarding real estate referral marketing for lead generation, the results can be even more unpredictable than inbound lead generation. 


You rely on partners, past clients, or acquaintances to refer you to potential new leads. 

As a result, your level of control over the outcome is diminished, and success is heavily reliant on the referrals you receive from others.


Bonus: Real Estate Lead Generation Done-for-You Companies

Strictly speaking, I wouldn’t classify real estate lead generation done-for-you companies as directly relevant to the question “How to generate real estate leads” since the question is related to you doing the lead generation. 

However, if you were less rigid, it could still be your way of generating real estate leads.

These lead generation services operate on a pay-per-lead basis or a referral fee at closing, offering either exclusive or non-exclusive real estate leads. 

However, the level of control over the results of these services is similar to real estate referral marketing since you are relying on the service providers’ performance. 

It’s important to note that some of these providers may label their services as lead generation.

Still, they provide you with contact scraping functionality to collect potential buyers’ or sellers’ contact information, which you can then target for lead generation purposes. 

For this bonus section, I focus on done-for-you lead generation services that go beyond contact scraping.

Here are the companies you pay upfront:

For the ones below, you pay a referral fee (you can read about a deeper analysis of them in my article here:

  • Realtor.com
  • Zillow Flex
  • HomeLight
  • AgentHarvest
  • Navy Federal – RealtyPlus
  • Clever
  • Upnest
  • Agent Pronto
  • Agent FixUp

This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.

Tobias Schnellbacher