Real Estate Marketing Ideas, Real Estate Lead Generation

10 Steps to More Referrals

By Lindsay Goebel Last Updated February 23, 2023 7 min read

It’s no surprise that referrals are an essential element for growing a successful real estate brand.

Ask any real estate agent, and they will agree that referrals are the #1 source of new business. This may not seem like news to you, but it’s crucial to fine-tune your referral strategy.

Here are ten steps to improve your referral business and win more listings this year!

1. Be a community resource

Top real estate professionals understand that building a rapport with their clients generates mutually beneficial success for years to come.

I strive to be there for my clients from well before the transaction, continuing to well after finalization. Many agents view their job as completed as soon as their client has closed on their home. I don’t check out after Closing Day, and I try to be fully present and available to help in any way I can, even after the closing. Whether they need a name of a good locksmith, cleaning company or have questions on closing paperwork that comes in the mail weeks after closing, I let them know to reach out to me as I am fully available even though the transaction is done. I want to be a resource any way I can.

Ryan Borger, Podium Properties

A real estate agent that goes above and beyond for their client will see long-term business success. Ryan told Virtuance that when clients receive exceptional service that exceeds their expectations, they will not hesitate in referring others to you.

2. Never forget why clients refer you

It’s simple, but it’s critical to remember why clients refer you to their friends and family. It’s not because of an incentive, or they feel obligated to refer you because you were awesome! You helped them solve the problem of finding a house, and they want to share their experience with others.

It’s easy to forget this fundamental principle, so remember to take a step back and ask yourself if you’re doing everything you can for every client.

3. Leverage your circle of influence

The real estate business is a people business. As a real estate agent, you must establish a solid and robust Circle of Influence (COI), also known as your sphere of influence. Your circle of influence will be your go-to for generating new referrals while nurturing current relationships.

Your circle should include the following individuals and groups:

  • Family, friends, social groups
  • Neighbors, community members, and children’s groups
  • Online communities and forums

Once you identify your circle of influence, you need to create a plan of action. Reach out to those in your process and make sure those individuals know you’re an agent. You can do this in several ways, including an email, a phone call, or through social media.

I get referrals from my COI and past clients by providing the best service so that at closing, I can confidently ask for referrals. I also communicate with my network regularly as part of my action plan in achieving my production goals.

Rachel Adriano, Century 21 Americana

After you initially reach out, the referrals should start pouring in. But not so fast. You will need to keep in touch to stay top-of-mind with this circle. Top real estate agents proactively target their circle of influence with routine check-ins and automated email campaigns.

Your email campaigns can include local news and community information, new or ‘just sold listings,’ and real estate photography.

Participating in Facebook and LinkedIn groups is another easy and cost-effective way to engage with your circle of influence.

When you develop the habit of systemizing how you ask for/gain referrals, you will begin to see that over time, your closed deal-to-referral ratio increases as you advance in your career.

4. Be available and reliable

Replying to emails, texts and calling clients back in a timely matter goes a long way. Remember, you are solving one of the biggest problems in your client’s life. By getting back to them quickly, you show clients that you care and are working hard to make them happy!

So, you’re good at getting back to people, but are you reliable? Are you showing up to appointments ahead of schedule? Are you good with sharing leads with other agents? Do you do what you say you’re going to do? Be the best at doing these things and watch your referrals grow!

5. Create an organized referral plan

Your referral plan will include setting goals, creating a ranking system, maintaining quality leads, and rewarding referral sources.

As we discussed earlier, maintaining a systematic plan for growing your referral pool is necessary for achieving higher close rates. The first step to creating a referral plan is setting up personal referral goals. These goals will ensure that your referrals remain priority number one on your path to becoming a successful real estate agent.

Your goal should help you decide how many referrals you wish to obtain in a given amount of time.

As you gain experience, you will be able to set more realistic goals for future periods, so be sure to monitor and document your referral numbers—and the results of each referral.

Real Estate Express

To keep your referral plan organized, establish a ranking system from the beginning. You will begin to build a more robust referral list as you achieve your set referral goals.

It is essential to organize your referral list by prioritizing the contacts that generate valuable leads. Also, you can efficiently foster the most critical relationships first.

Organizing your referrals can help you prioritize and make the most of your time.

6. Rank referral sources

Make sure to organize your referral sources. We recommend ranking them like this:

Level 1 sources

These are past and present clients who will likely send real estate referrals to you because you have a good rapport; relatives, friends, and other contacts who send you leads regularly; and associates in influential social/professional positions.

Level 2 sources

These are people who will probably send referrals to you but require additional work, such as repeat requests or further interaction. Additionally, these sources may also place certain limitations on their referrals to you.

Level 3 sources

These are people who may send you new business because they have heard about you, but you do not know when or how they will do so.

Your referral plan should also include obtaining and maintaining quality referrals.

7. Be original

Homebuyers and sellers have many options when it comes to choosing a real estate agent. What can you do to stand out? Write original content to share with leads and clients that shows you’re on top of your game. This writing style can be continuous content on your blog or one well-written piece you distribute via your website, email, or even at open houses!

Many real estate professionals have not dipped their toe into content writing yet. As a result, you give yourself a competitive advantage by starting a content strategy, you give yourself a competitive advantage!

8. Build up your social proof

Social proof is a surefire way to increase your referrals. So, what is social proof?

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behavior.

Savvy marketers use social proof as a critical source for customer acquisition. According to Power Reviews, over 70% of Americans say they look at product reviews before purchasing. Great customer support is on most customers’ wishlist when it comes to working with a company (over 80%). On top of that, nearly 63% of consumers indicate that they are more likely to buy online from a site that offers product ratings and reviews.

Collecting social proof from previous clients as well as vendors is easier than it seems. Follow the steps below to begin building your list of testimonials and reviews:

  1. Collect customer referrals on your site or through a Net Promoter Score email survey.
  2. Designate real estate on your site for featured testimonials and reviews – make sure to include reviews that contain quantitative data (i.e., “Jeff sold our house in 3 days for $10,000 over our asking price!”).
  3. Design case studies and client spotlight posts for your blog and social media channels.
  4. Have your clients write posts to feature on your site.
  5. Create video recaps that highlight successful listings/closings.

9. Be a networking powerhouse

If you want other agents and real estate professionals to refer you, they have to know you! Make an effort to attend at least three networking events each quarter and hand out business cards to people you can build a strong relationship with. When you receive contacts from these events, go above and beyond to reach out to them. Write a personal note, send a message on LinkedIn, or give them a call to see if they want to grab a coffee.

In addition to in-person networking, you also need to have a robust online presence. Make sure you have active profiles on social media platforms. Additionally, commit to producing content for these platforms and comment on other real estate professionals’ pages as often as possible.

10. Pay it forward

There are several ways to expand your referral network. Referring your vendor list to current and past clients and other agents will place you in a rewarding position. Also, the generosity you provide to clients and vendors will go a long way in their books.

Entire businesses build around the fact that their network extends far and wide. As a Realtor, people will hire you because you know someone for about every imaginable situation. This lends credibility to you as a Realtor, but, more importantly, as someone who has respect in the community.

Will Caldwell, Inman

Vendors you may want to refer to clients would include painters, roofers, lenders, landscapers, etc. Vendors to refer other real estate agents to would consist of interior design, real estate photography, professional staging, and more.

Maintaining a strong network of reliable vendors is a win-win and will build your reputation as a real estate agent who is happy to grow with others.

Referrals are one of the most beneficial business strategies for real estate agents. They bring invaluable business and can often position you as a thought-leader in your community.

Bonus tip: Be appreciative of referrals

Once you have an audience that can provide you referrals, it’s essential to reach out to them. Make sure to check in with your network and thank them for any lead they send your way, even if they didn’t work with you. Do this by a written postcard, in-person, or over the phone; avoid sending a text or email. By being personable and authentic, you show that you truly appreciate their willingness to spread the good word about you!

There are many techniques to becoming a referral magnet, from leveraging your circle of influence to building your social proof. It’s important to create a streamlined referral plan that you adhere to and always remember to pay it forward.