There are many ways real estate agents can go about getting new business. From paid leads to earned leads, the process of capturing them can be as creative or as simple as you’d like.

Rather than dive into paid leads — which can come from channels such as traditional or social media advertising — we’re instead going to focus on four ways real estate agents can grow their business organically, without paying for third-party leads.

There are several ways agents can go about getting new business. Some of the most common avenues to garnering organic leads are from returning clients and referrals from former clients, networking, referrals from other agents and holding open houses.

Let’s look at each of these lead generation avenues more in depth.

1. Returning Clients and Referrals From Past Customers

Getting business from returning clients seems like a no-brainer. If they’re satisfied with a previous transaction, they’ll come back — right? Well, this is only partially true.

There’s usually a window of time between customers buying a house and deciding to purchase the next one. Typically, this window can be anywhere from three to 10 years. If you have not been in touch, they may not even remember your name or contact details for their listing.

Remember, even if clients had a very positive experience with their last real estate transaction with you, they may have other agents being recommended by friends and family, and those are the names that are top of mind when the time comes to purchase their next home, so stay in touch, or lose out!

Ways to do that without feeling overbearing include keeping a personal touch by sending a birthday card, holiday card or “anniversary” card for their house purchase. Even sending them fliers about recent sales or listings entering their market, including ones you have made, are usually very interesting to owners.

Many factors come into play when it comes to people purchasing house No. 2. Perhaps their first home is perfect for the size of their family. Maybe they fell in love with the neighborhood and can’t fathom leaving. Or other issues such as their career growth or family problems have kept them from moving.

Regardless, the three- to 10-year window is a pretty long time for most clients to remember your name — let alone your contact information. Even if clients had a very positive experience with their last real estate transaction, they may have other agents being recommended by friends and family, and those are the names that are top of mind when it comes time to purchase their next home.

Of course, it’s up to you to stay in touch with them without feeling overbearing. Ways to do that include keeping a personal touch by sending a birthday or holiday card, or sending them fliers about listings entering their market. Here are three other ideas.

Remmeber: Repetition is everything. After you send something it’s a good idea to follow up with a phone call and take that opportunity to have a friendly conversation to see where they are in life and if a new home makes sense, and if not, ask for a referral.

Also, make it interesting and useful. Whatever you send can be seasonal (gardening suggestions, holiday tips, market trends/local real estate prices, etc.) or something that they’ll want to keep (sports schedules, calendars, community activities, etc.).

All of these will remind them of you and the part you played in thier home purchase.

2. Neworking

Real estate agents shouldn’t only stay close to former clients for their own future business, but also — and perhaps more importantly — for the business of their friends.

Just as you rely on your sphere of influence for business, others rely on their family and friends for input when it comes to big decisions such as choosing a real estate agent and buying a home.

So be sure to not only leave your clients with a good impression, but also stay in touch so they know how to contact you when somebody asks for a referral. Showing that you’re active, on top of current market trends, and easy to solicit valuable advice from will help keep the communication channel open.

The knowledge you share and the advice you give current and former clients doesn’t only have to be related to homebuying, however. Recommend other professionals you trust, such as contractors, mortgage brokers, inspectors or landscapers. This helps you serve as a valuable resource for your satisfied clients, past and present.

There are plenty of opportunities to network and let others know what you do for a living without coming off as a solicitor.

How often do you hear this phrase after your tennis teammates or golfing buddies find out what you do for a living: “You’re an agent? How’s the market?

That’s a perfect opportunity to impress potential prospects or turn prospects into clients.

“The market is steadily climbing. It’s doing 10 percent better this month compared to a year ago.”

They’ll note your knowledge and expertise and will remember it the next time they’re looking for an agent.

You can also network on your own through sponsored events such as wine tasting, joining interest groups or meeting new clients through other organized events, including kids’ sports, which is a great connector

For more ideas, here are 11 tips to help you master networking.

3. Agents Referrals

Often if an agent gets a prospective client moving to a different neighborhood, town or state than the one they’re familiar with, they’ll pass the lead off to a fellow great agent they know in that new area.

Typically, if you refer a prospective client and an agent makes a sale or sells that listing, you’re entitled to a percentage of the commission on the side referred — if you work it out with the agent in advance. So be sure when you’re speaking with your contacts that you always ask if they know anyone who might be thinking of buying or selling anywhere.

There are several factors agents should consider before deciding who to share business with. Here’s one broker’s in-depth process for how he identifies potential agents for clients moving out of state.

4. Open Houses

There are pros and cons about open houses in the real estate industry, but throughout the country, they are still quite popular with folks who have not yet become very active in their thinking of buying or selling.

The big advantage of an open house is that you may meet a potential customer who is not yet committed to another agent, and wind up representing that person in their property search and/or in selling their present property, if they have one.

Typical open house visitors are either those who are nervous about making the commitment to find an agent or “impulse type” buyers who are cruising an area to gain familiarity with that area and happen to see something they really like and wind up buying that property.

Additionally, even if the customers you meet do not buy that property, that open house can lead to future buyers who liked you and wanted to work with you.

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