There are a number of leads that automatically come to you once your business reaches a certain level. Once you have enough past clients and a big enough sphere of influence, people will call and say, Hey, list my house.’

But to build that foundation of automatic calls, you must go out and do the work to build up leads now. And no need to worry if you don’t have a big budget for leads. 

Sweat equity doesn’t cost any money. It comes down to you putting in the work, showing up every day, and having a fierce commitment to convert.

Here are six ways to gain leads without spending a dollar. 

Open Houses

Open houses are the classic sweat equity lead. Simply hosting two-hour open houses every weekend can build your entire career.

A few tips for hosting open houses:

  • Make sure the home is in showing condition. Get to the house early, set up the signs, walk the neighborhood, and make sure everything is ready for potential buyers. 
  • Be prepared. Have printouts and refreshments laid out for open house attendees. Most importantly, do your due diligence to learn as much as you can about the property (even if it is not your listing), so you can answer all questions that come your way. 
  • Greet attendees professionally. Do not ask them if they are working with an agent out of the gate. Instead, greet people at the door, let them know you are available for any questions, and let them tour the property in peace. 
  • Create relationships. The goal of open houses is to create connections—with anyone who walks through the door.
  • Sign-in and follow-up. Ask each person who attends to sign in. Use this information to thank them for attending the open house an hour or two after the open house.

Door Knocking

Door knocking is hard work. And to most, walking up to a stranger’s door sounds scary. But again, this sweat equity lead can pay off big time when done right. 

Here are some tips to get you started with door knocking:

  • Determine if door knocking is a good use of your time. If you live in an area where gated communities are the norm, door knocking likely won’t pay off. But it may be a great move if you do business in an area with a large number of walkable neighborhoods. 
  • Hook the homeowner. Just like you hook your audience on social media, hook the homeowner when they crack open the door. You might say, I just left the neighbor’s house. I’ve been spending so much time in the neighborhood, I’m starting to feel like I live here!At the end of your hook, introduce yourself and the brokerage you work for. 
  • Deliver your pitch. Next, deliver your preferred door knocking script (make sure you have practiced it!). 
  • Provide value. Leave the homeowner with a value-add piece of information. This can be a flyer with updated neighborhood value or an invite to a community event. Make sure your name is on whatever you hand them. 
  • Ask permission. Before leaving, ask permission for an email. Ask if you can keep them updated on the value of their home or send them the results from a recent sale in the area. 

Your goal is to collect email addresses from as many homeowners as possible. From there, you can continue to send value over time. So when they are ready to sell, they will think of you.

Eyeball Awareness

What I call eyeball awareness is using the things you already do on a daily basis to your advantage. It’s making sure everyone knows you are a real estate agent just by looking at you. 

Here are some easy ways to create eyeball awareness:

  • Wear your name tag. If you have a name tag from your brokerage, wear it as you run errands in your community. If name tags aren’t your thing, create a t-shirt. 
  • Post a sticker on your laptop that reads: Have a real estate question? Ask me. Then, do some of your computer work in a coffee shop every week to make sure people see it. 
  • Bubble wrap your car with your information. Ok, this one does cost a little bit of money, but it’s a cheap alternative to a billboard. 

Eyeball awareness is all about using your effort wisely everywhere you go. It may seem cheesy at first. But if you do these things enough, people will start to ask you questions about the market. Whenever you do, be sure to snag an email so you can follow up with them. 

Community Hero

Show that you care about and are invested in your community. Doing this separates you from industry disruptors. You can:

  • Join the Chamber of Commerce
  • Be on a local board 
  • Coach a youth sport
  • Engage in community Facebook groups

Just by participating and donating your time to better your community, you will naturally meet more people. And in turn, those people will become aware of you and want to help you with your goals. 

Make Your Calls

Picking up the phone and having a conversation is still your best marketing tool today.

A sophisticated version of that is signing up for a dialer. Real estate dialers extract information from the MLS (expired listings, for-sale-by-owners, canceled listings), making it easy to set up a list to call in a certain area.

A single line for a dialer does come with a monthly cost. For entirely free options, you can:

  • Call every person in your sphere for a check-in.
  • Call leads that your team or brokerage provides. 
  • Make follow-up calls with any lead or prospect from the week prior.
  • Use Google White Pages to look up numbers. (This does take some time, but it’s what I did before signing up for a dialer.)

Now, before you start making calls, make sure you are ready. Practice your scripts daily to get ready to have conversations on the phone. I recommended role-playing for a half hour daily with someone on your team or online. 

Agent Referrals

Every time you engage with an agent is an opportunity of building a relationship:

  • Setting up a showing
  • During negotiation
  • At real estate conferences

New agents often think of other agents as competition or a threat. But these are your allies. Create deep relationships with other agents so you can reach the goals and outcomes your client desires. 

And by creating lasting relationships with other agents, you’ll gain more business. You have the opportunity to gain business from agents as they retire. I’ve even listed agents’ homes while they were still holding their real estate license (for different life circumstances). 

In addition, some established agents don’t want to travel outside of their bubble. If you are a new agent, you should be willing to drive a broader region. They may have a buyer or listing they would be ready to transfer you because they don’t want to travel. 

You can also connect with agents in your brokerage regionally, nationally, and internationally. Any commonality is an opportunity to connect with and mastermind with agents. Once you build relationships, they may send you referrals in your market. Referral networks, like Refer, are also great opportunities. 

Other agents will not only give you industry tips and advice, but with the right relationships, they’ll also send you business. 

Get started today

There are always creative (and free) ways to get more leads. If you are ready to build your sphere and set yourself up for success in the future, put in the work now.