Are you a real estate professional looking to streamline lead management and deals and increase conversion rates? In that case, you may have come across real estate pipelines.
They help prioritize efforts and focus on the most promising leads.
This is just one aspect of how a real estate pipeline can help your business become more efficient and effective.
Providing you with a complete guide, in my today’s article, I will cover…
- What a real estate pipeline is
- Eight real estate pipeline stages
- What a real estate pipeline board is and how to use it
- How to build one including 13 checklist questions
- Seven common challenges in real estate pipeline management
- How to optimize a real estate pipeline
What Is a Real Estate Pipeline?
In other words, a real estate pipeline is a management and tracking system of leads from the start (first interest) to the final stage (closing a deal).
It helps you manage your whole real estate marketing or sales funnel (my article). It is a visual representation of the stages and steps involved.
Using a real estate pipeline, you can keep track of the progress of your leads and clients and thus decide on which efforts to prioritize and which leads to focus on.
So in a way, you can also consider it a marketing performance analytics system.
The benefits of marketing performance analytics are also confirmed by a statistic from “Think With Google,” stating that “sophisticated marketers who deploy 5 or more tools in a complete marketing analytics stack are 39% more likely to see improvement in the overall performance of their marketing programs.” (source)
In this context, you may also want to read about the key marketing performance indicators I discussed in this article.
8 Real Estate Pipeline Stages
Now that we have the definition of real estate pipelines, we can dive deeper into them.
A real estate pipeline often consists of more or less eight stages representing different moments, from lead generation (acquisition) to closing a real estate transaction or deal.
These stages can vary depending on your real estate business (e.g., being an investor, a single real estate agent, a brokerage, etc.).
So they are typically the following (here, I kept it pretty generic):
1) Real estate lead generation via various marketing strategies and channels
2) Lead qualification or, as I like to say, (dis-) qualification to determine the potential buyers’ or sellers’ seriousness, interest level, and other criteria.
3) Scheduling appointments with qualified leads to further enter into a sales conversation and determine their needs, wants, and preferences.
4) Real estate leads needs analysis (e.g., in the case of buyer leads, the type of property, location, etc.)
5) Offering the service based on the needs analysis
6) Offer and negotiation of the terms and conditions of the deal
7) Closing (e.g., transfer of ownership)
8) Follow-up (e.g., past client marketing) to generate potential additional business and referrals
To better illustrate how the real estate pipeline stages may vary from real estate professional to real estate professional, I included a comparison table below showcasing stages for a real estate wholesale investor, real estate buyers’ agent, and sellers’ agent.
|Real Estate Pipeline Stage||Buyers Agent||Sellers Agent||Wholesale Investor|
|1||Real estate lead generation (buyer focus) via various marketing strategies and channels||Real estate lead generation (buyer focus) via various marketing strategies and channels||Real estate lead generation (motivated sellers and other investors) via various marketing strategies and channels|
|2||Buyer lead qualification: loan pre-approval status, potential buyers’ seriousness, interest level||Seller lead qualification: seller motivation level, readiness to sell, the willingness to work with a realtor||Seller lead qualification: seller motivation level, readiness to sell at a lower price, the willingness to work with a wholesale investor|
|3||Scheduling appointments with qualified leads to further enter into a sales conversation and determine their needs, wants, and preferences.||Scheduling appointments with qualified leads to further enter into a sales conversation and determine their needs, wants, and preferences.||Scheduling appointments with qualified leads to further enter into a sales conversation and determine their needs, wants, and preferences.|
|4||Buyer leads need analysis: property type, number of bedrooms, location, price range, etc.||Seller leads needs analysis: mortgage or tax situation of the property, minimum price, renovation and remodeling needs, etc.||Seller leads needs analysis: property distress level, minimum price, renovation, remodeling needs, etc.|
|5||Service offering based on the needs analysis: finding suitable properties, helping with loan approvals, etc.||Service offering based on the needs analysis: property valuation, home staging, connecting to building service providers||Service offering based on the needs analysis: fast cash offers|
|6||Offer and negotiation of the terms and conditions of the deal||Offer and negotiation of the terms and conditions of the deal||Offer and negotiation of the terms and conditions of the deal|
|7||Closing (e.g., transfer of ownership)||Closing (e.g., transfer of ownership)||Selling of the wholesale contract to another investor|
|8||Follow-up (e.g., past client marketing) to generate potential additional business and referrals||Follow-up (e.g., past client marketing) to generate potential additional business and referrals||Follow-up (e.g., past client marketing) to generate potential additional business and referrals|
What Is A Real Estate Pipeline Board and How to Use It
In the days without computers and software, a real estate pipeline board would be a large whiteboard on the wall of an office with different columns.
Each column would represent one pipeline stage for the particular business (e.g., lead generation, qualification, etc.).
Then you would use Post-it notes or a marker and put the deal name in the relevant column.
As the deal progresses from lead to client to past client, you would move it from one column to the next.
This visual representation, which I described via words, can help real estate professionals get a quick glance at where a particular deal stands.
Now you know how to do that when you have a little blackout and can’t rely on software anymore.
However, should you have electricity, you want to use software for that.
And what software do you need for that?
Well, having a pipeline board as stand-alone software would be a bit of “overkill.” Today this is usually a feature of a decent real estate CRM (my article).
Two providers offering this feature come to mind. It’s Pipedrive, which I analyzed in this article, and Hubspot.
I enclose a little screenshot from Pipedrive below where you can get an idea of what this looks like.
And if you don’t like to use CRMs and are an Excel or Google Sheets nerd like me, you can build one independently.
Well, you probably will need at least two sheets: one with a view on your real estate leads, their contact information, status, etc., and another one with a view on the pipeline stages.
This leads me to the next section…
How to Build a Real Estate Pipeline (13 Checklist Questions)
When you look again at the different real estate pipeline stages above, what would you say is the critical element everything else revolves around and builds upon?
You guessed right…it’s your ideal real estate lead or client.
And to build a real estate pipeline, the knowledge about this ideal lead or client is crucial because to build it, you need to answer similar questions as when you create a real estate lead generation strategy or a real estate marketing plan.
The only difference is that in a real estate marketing plan or lead generation strategy, you also have to work out your goals and assess your conditions and limitations (e.g., budget, skills, etc.), informing everything else.
In that sense, a real estate pipeline is a subcategory of a real estate marketing plan.
So below are questions you can ask yourself that help you build a real estate pipeline (provided you know your goals and limitations already):
1) What is your real estate target market or niche (my article)?
2) Based on your real estate target market or niche, who is your ideal client, and what are their needs, wants, etc.?
3) Which are the ideal marketing channels to reach your ideal clients?
4) What actions must you follow to start with real estate lead generation using the identified marketing channels (e.g., creating ad creatives, running ads, producing content, etc.)? How can you effectively test these channels?
5) What are the best ways to qualify the generated real estate leads? Which practical questions can you use?
6) How will you nurture or follow up with your real estate leads? How can you do it promptly? What can be automated?
7) How do you convert leads into clients? What sales techniques will you use (e.g., scripts, systems, etc.)? Do you or your team need additional real estate sales training to improve this skill?
8)How will you manage your pipeline? Is there a CRM that offers a feature that would be a fit?
9) How will you find out about your leads’ needs?
10) What real estate service tailored to these needs will you offer? You may offer something unique that makes you stand out from your competition.
11) How do you negotiate the terms and conditions of your deal? Do you need additional training?
12) What will your closing process be? Will you use transaction management software tools?
13) How will you design your lead and past client follow-up system? What would you need to automate it?
7 Common Challenges in Real Estate Pipeline Management
When using real estate pipelines, you may encounter challenges you must overcome with time.
1) Inconsistent lead flow may be caused by lead generation methods that are not well established yet, not bringing consistent results.
2) Poor quality leads, which is somewhat related to 1): This happens when you use the wrong marketing channels for your lead generation and lack sales copy that qualifies leads.
3) Lack of organization: when you don’t use a system or database (e.g., a CRM) and thus your real estate leads fall through the cracks. Hence you will lose money and waste marketing dollars.
4) A lack of lead qualification, which ties into poor quality leads.
If you don’t qualify leads (discussed here), you will also lose opportunities with high-quality leads because you waste your time with unqualified, poor-quality leads.
5) Ineffective communication between your team members, partners or leads, and clients can bring friction and delays into the different real estate transaction stages.
6) No established system to follow up or nurture real estate leads also leads to missed opportunities and a waste of marketing dollars. It unnecessarily increases your costs per lead.
7) No tracking and reporting: As mentioned in my article about key marketing performance indicators, without tracking, you fly blind and will not know where in the pipeline or your real estate funnels you need to improve or understand what works.
How to Optimize a Real Estate Pipeline (11 Checklist Questions)
Based on the above common challenges and complementary aspects, we can work out ways to optimize a real estate pipeline.
So below, you will find a list of questions you can use as a checklist to optimize your real estate pipeline.
1) Where do leads get stuck, and which stages take too long?
2) Where do you lose potential clients?
3) Is your current real estate marketing strategy effective in generating high-quality leads? If not, do you use the proper marketing channel to target your ideal client? Are your sales or ad copy tailored to the prospect’s needs, wants, etc.?
4) Do you have a process or system for (dis-) qualifying leads in place? If not, how could you create and establish one?
5) In which parts of your real estate business process can you automate (read my article on real estate automation here and, or delegate? Where are the low-hanging fruits that don’t require drastic changes in your business processes (e.g., using an appointment scheduling tool)?
6) How can you establish a lead nurturing system, hopefully also automated, tying into question 5)?
7) How can you train your team members and partners on the improvements you make for your real estate pipeline?
8) What systems and tools could you implement to improve communication within your team and with your partners and clients?
9) Can you organize your whole real estate pipeline from one place, such as CRM software, including a real estate pipeline as a feature?
10) What components are not tracked?
11) How often do you want to commit to reviewing your real estate pipeline regularly and making adjustments?
From the above, you could learn that a real estate pipeline is a subcategory of a real estate marketing plan helping you manage your real estate funnel and gives you a visual representation of various stages of a deal.
Building a real estate pipeline is similar to creating a real estate marketing plan.
The difference is you need to be clear about who your ideal client is but also know about your goals and limitations beforehand.
They often differ from real estate business to real estate business because goals and ideal clients vary.
Since a real estate pipeline can get complex depending on how granular you get in defining the different processes of each stage, like a nicely oiled machine, you need to maintain it and optimize the various elements regularly.
This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.