5 Ways to Generate Leads as a First-Year Real Estate Agent

For new real estate agents, lead generation is key to surviving your first year of real estate. You just need to know how to find quality leads.

Here are five ways to generate leads in your first year as a real estate agent — according to professionals who’ve done it!

1. Find Your Niche

New agents are far better off choosing a specialty market and focusing on that small group, rather than trying to cast a wide net for anyone willing to work with them. 

As Kellee Buhler, Compass Real Estate Broker in New York City, points out, “it is crucial that new agents think strategically and begin to carve out a specific niche for themselves versus being all over the place, chasing deals, and trying to be everything to everyone.”

Without a niche, you're competing with every other agent in your market. With a niche, you become one of only a few agents specializing in your area. Your pool of potential leads shrinks, but your chance of landing each client increases. Would you rather land 1% of 100 leads or 25% of 20 leads? 

Buhler goes on to note that, for the best outcome, “this area of specialization should be one that comes naturally and is authentic to the individual.”

2. Start a Geographic Farm

A geo farm is an area (typically a subdivision or neighborhood) that agents focus on. The name “farm” comes from the idea that you nurture the area, then reap the benefits. For real estate leads, you regularly contact the homeowners in your farm to build rapport and trust. Then, when homeowners are ready to sell, you are the only agent that comes to mind, and you get the listing!

Wendi Roudybush, REALTOR® with Realty Executives in Prescott, Arizona, has enjoyed immense success with this strategy. Within a few years, Wendi had either listed or sold around 80% of the homes in her subdivision. Even though multiple other real estate agents live in the neighborhood as well. 

“Farm an area regularly — every month," said Roudybush. "Get to be known as the expert in your own neighborhood. Walk your dog and chat with everyone you meet. Send out a newsletter or postcard, nothing fancy but very specific to the neighborhood.” 

It may take time to reap benefits on this level, but the process of nurturing the area starts in your first year.

3. Work Your Sphere

Your sphere is simply the group of people you know. Family, friends, neighbors, colleagues…These are people who already know you, like you, and trust you. So they are already primed to hire you as their agent. 

While only a small number of people in your sphere will be looking to buy or sell this year, nearly all of them will know someone who’s looking to buy or sell. A 2020 study by the National Association of REALTORS® found that 68% of sellers found their agents through a referral by friends or family. So your job is to touch base with everyone in your sphere regularly so that you will be top-of-mind when any of those people are asked if they know a good real estate agent.

4. Build an Online Presence

Having an online presence for your business is a badge of credibility in the minds of buyers and sellers. Your website, blog, and social media profiles all built trust with an audience of potential buyers and sellers. 

Annett T. Block, owner of The Digital Adopters promotes the use of video-first online content.

"We recommend to our agents to take their offline business online as a first step and start with video," said Block. "This generation expects agents to have an online presence and will work with agents that create videos."

Impressively, 86% of video marketers say video has been effective in generating leads. But, according to NAR, only around 37% of agents use video in their marketing, with another 35% hoping to start soon.

The important thing is to use your online presence as a stepping stone to long-term client relationships. As Block points out, “we use videos as a strategy [to funnel viewers] to our end goal: a conversation to build relationships.”

5. Knock on Doors — Then Follow Up 

Traditional door-knocking can still be highly effective in the 2020s, particularly when paired with open houses. When you have an open house scheduled, take a few hours to visit the homes in the surrounding area and invite the homeowners to the open house. They probably won’t buy it, but they might be able to put you in touch with a buyer. Or they might see how much homes are selling for and decide to hire you to list their house!

Anna Matsunaga with Team Momentum of Keller Williams in University Place, Washington, started doing this 20 years ago. And she found it so effective that her team continues to practice this method regularly. The trick is to follow up with your new potential leads.

“Door knocking [...] and open houses have been wonderful sources of business," said Matsunaga. "IF, and this is the big one, you actually stay in touch with those you meet.”

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Updated 7/20/22

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