Any experienced real estate agent will tell you that word-of-mouth referrals are the number one source of business. Many agents, however, fail to capitalize on the wealth of referral business available within their area. Instead, they overlook valuable resources within their sphere of influence and rely on costly marketing tactics that don’t quite deliver results.

According to market research by NAR in 2017, home buyers found their property in the following ways:

  • Internet: 51%
  • Real estate agent: 30%
  • Friend, relative, neighbor: 6%
  • Yard Signage: 7%
67 Strategies to Get More Referrals

Referral business is the way to go

  • 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth from peers and friends over advertising
  • 82% of ALL real estate transactions came through word-of-mouth referrals and repeat business
  • 21% of agents earn over 50% of their business through referrals
  • The average agent generates 42% of their revenue through repeat and referral business

What does all this mean for you? Forget yard signs and open houses if you want more referrals! There are three key points you should consider when planning your referral strategy:

  1. Even though buyers and sellers are using the Internet to find their dream home, they still rely on an agent to facilitate the purchase. There’s a huge opportunity for you to earn more listings if you can cultivate relationships with more existing homeowners.
  2. More listings mean more referrals. To get more listings, you need to cultivate relationships with more homeowners.
  3. By targeting homeowners in your geographic area, you stand a higher chance of securing more listings. As local homeowners come to know and trust you, your referrals will grow naturally.

Convincing homeowners in your area that you are the right agent to represent them won’t happen overnight.

If you’re tired of sinking money into marketing and advertising that yields low conversion, you should consider these 7 simple strategies for generating more referral business throughout the year!

giphy burning money

Stop throwing money away on yard signage and open houses- build referrals!

7 Ways Agents Can Get More Referral Leads

1) Create and Share Helpful Online Content for Free

Share your expertise and knowledge with local residents for free and they will come to trust you. Create your own unique content that local residents will find helpful and informative. Some content ideas you can create on your own include:

  • Start a monthly neighborhood newsletter
  • Create a free handbook for first-time home buyers
  • Publish a monthly housing market report on your website
  • Host a regular webinar or podcast for local residents

The time you invest in creating free items of value will be worth it! Local residents will come to rely on the information you provide as a valuable community resource. If you’re consistent, your content can be shared on social media and discovered on search engines by prospective buyers and sellers. These can be converted into subscribers whom you can cultivate for referrals over time.

2) Become A Specialist

New agents, in particular, should focus on a niche audience to build contacts and referral business quickly. You’ll find it a lot easier to generate word of mouth among a targeted group of prospects, rather than trying to appeal broadly to homebuyers and sellers.

All your branding and marketing should consistently relay the message that you are an expert in your chosen specialty. Whether it’s your business card, website, or blog, prospective buyers and sellers should be able to immediately identify what your specialty is.  

Experiment with different taglines that are short and easy to remember. Include them in all your marketing to establish your brand clearly.  Some examples to consider are:

  • “Jane Smith, your residential property specialist…”
  • “Mary Jane, relocation specialist for retirees and veterans…”
  • “John Doe, helping first-time buyers save money…”

3) Interview Local Business Owners

Local business owners can be a valuable source of referral business because of their existing relationships with residents. Restaurant owners, landscaping and renovation services, retailers, and a host of professionals (accountants, dentists, hairdressers, beauticians, etc.) tend to have regular customers and a trusted relationship with their community.

Contact local business owners and offer to promote their services for free through your social media, your website, and your newsletter. Business owners will appreciate the additional exposure you provide. In turn, they’ll be more open to promoting you to their circle of friends and associates.

4) Use LinkedIn To Cultivate Relationships With Professional Contacts

LinkedIn is a great tool for nurturing relationships with professionals in your network. The professionals you connect with can also become valuable referral generators. Their endorsement of your services, knowledge, and expertise will add credibility to your brand and further expand your sphere of influence within your industry.

There’s no charge to create a LinkedIn profile. You can search for professionals on LinkedIn by job title or geographic location. You can also search organizations to identify key decision-makers. Reach out to these individuals with a simple hello. Show appreciation for their work by leaving a comment or review of their business.

You’ll also find some amazing, cost-effective marketing tools on LinkedIn that will help you expand your sphere of influence and attract qualified listings from your geographic area.

5) Stay Engaged In Social Media – Especially Facebook

In addition to LinkedIn, platforms like Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are fantastic online sources for generating referral business. Sharing your content regularly on these and other relevant social media platforms will help you to build an audience of loyal subscribers.

Even more importantly, you should budget time in your weekly schedule to engage with people you discover on social media. For instance, you can search Facebook for groups you can join. Add content to these groups, but be sure to comment on the content left by others. Search Twitter for important industry updates, and retweet relevant information to your own circle.


With consistency, local residents will come to recognize you as a reliable source of news and information. They’ll be motivated to subscribe to your website or newsletter because your content is up-to-date and relevant. Search engines, in turn, will reward you with more traffic because your content is always current.

digital in 2018

2018 Global Overview of Social Media by Hootsuite


6) Cultivate Relationships With Contacts Regularly

One easy way to cultivate referrals is to maintain a calendar of important dates for your contacts and update it on a daily basis. A simple but personalized happy birthday email or text will keep your name top-of-mind with prospective clients and costs nothing more than your time.

Keep track of personal contacts through social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and engage with them regularly. Create alerts or notifications on your phone or desktop calendar for birthdays, weddings, bar mitzvahs, anniversaries, and graduations. Dedicate one hour each day to maintaining your calendar consistently, and watch as the referrals roll in!


Schedule notices and reminders to cultivate relationships.

7) Implement Email Marketing Automation to Reach More Contacts

If you use a real estate CRM and IDX integration to log and display listings, you’ll want to invest in some form of marketing automation. It will save you valuable time each day and help you cultivate relationships strategically.

Quite simply, marketing automation is software that automates email delivery across multiple channels alongside other repetitive marketing operations. You can schedule email delivery to different time zones and recipients, reducing the time you spend creating and sending emails. You’ll also improve your attrition rate by staying in touch with older contacts more consistently.


Example automation funnel

As your database grows, consider segmenting your contacts by age, location, job title, property type, and other variables. Create a detailed buyer persona for each segment and craft marketing messages that speak to the needs of each group.

You can then schedule regular email messages to targeted segments of your database based on your buyer personas. Not everyone will respond to your emails, but your consistency will build a greater share-of-thought with your contacts.

67 Strategies to Get More Referrals


Increasing referrals will take time, but you’ll spend far less time and money if you’re willing to implement certain business practices into your weekly or daily routine.

By increasing your engagement online and creating free content that’s relevant to your local audience, you can generate referral business every month! Utilize marketing automation software and social media platforms to routinely engage with homeowners in your area, and focus on a specialty to drive word-of-mouth more quickly.

Consistency will be the key to your success. You’ll win more listings as your reputation grows, but you need to stay focused, excited, and engaged each day. Find the social media platform you enjoy most and work it! Experiment with a variety of content until you find the type of content that you enjoy creating.

Ultimately, your enthusiasm and positive attitude will win you more listings and referral business than any ad campaign.

Got a question or comment about attracting referral business in your farm? Leave us a comment or question below for a reply!