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Real Estate Roundup: Becoming a Referral Magnet in 5 Steps

By Lindsay Davis Last Updated October 11, 2019 5 min read

Real Estate Roundup_

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

In a 2018 real estate survey, 61-percent of real estate professionals said that increasing referrals was the number one marketing technique they wanted to know more about.

Lead generation was the second most requested marketing technique at 42-percent.

With this new information in mind, we asked professional real estate agents how they generate valuable referrals. We also pulled together a few tips and tricks from the top real estate blogs to help you design a referral strategy and increase leads.

Be a community resource – Ryan Borger, REALTOR

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

For me, my goal is to be there for clients from well before the start of the transaction, continuing until well after the transaction is completed. 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.

Leverage your circle of influence – FitSmallBusiness

The real estate business is a people business. As a real estate agent, you must establish a strong 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.

According to FitSmallBusiness, your circle should include the following individuals and groups:

  1. Family, Friends, Social Groups
  2. Neighbors, Community Members, and Children’s Groups
  3. 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 circle and make sure they know you’re an agent. You can do this in a number of 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 on a regular basis 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, right? 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 as well as 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.

In my neighborhood, it was a real estate agent who started our community Facebook group. It’s now a thriving and active community with information from snow plowing to local events, and, consequently, one of her primary real estate referral sources.

– J Gurner, FitSmallBusiness

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.

Create an organized referral plan – Real Estate Express

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. This 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

In order 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 important to organize your referral list by prioritizing the contacts that generate valuable leads. By ranking your referrals, you can efficiently foster the most important relationships first.

Real Estate Express suggests ranking referral sources as shown below:

    • Level 1 Sources. 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. People who will probably send referrals to you, but require additional work such as repeat requests or additional interaction. Additionally, these sources may also place certain limitations on their referrals to you.
    • Level 3 Sources. 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.

Build up your social proof – Boast

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 key source for customer acquisition. According to Power Reviews, over 70% of Americans say they look at product reviews prior to making a purchase. On top of that, nearly 63% of consumers indicate that they are more likely to make a purchase 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 their own posts to feature on your site.
    5. Create video recaps that highlight successful listings/closings.

Pay it forward – Inman News

There are a number of ways to expand your referral network. Referring your vendor list to current and past clients as well as other agents will place you in a rewarding position. The generosity you provide to clients and vendors will go a long way in their books.

Entire businesses are built 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 is respected in the community.

– Will Caldwell, Inman

Vendors you may want to refer to clients would include painters, roofers, lenders, landscapers and so on. Vendors you may want to refer to other real estate agents would include 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.


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.