What are the best types of real estate prospecting?

Reading Time: 
Share article:

If the thought of cold calling gives you cold feet, you’re not alone. 

Even the most experienced agents often dread reaching out to complete strangers with no introduction. And believe it or not, 40% of salespeople — regardless of industry — say that prospecting is the hardest part of the job. 

The truth is, modern technology has taken a lot of the legwork out of building a business. Back in the day, the best way to get new customers was to go out and find them yourself. If you didn’t build personal (and in-person) relationships, you didn’t have clients.

But now, many teams have shifted focus to more passive forms of lead generation: automated nurture campaigns, SEO, retargeting ads, content marketing, and more. And of course, you always have the option to just buy leads and funnel them directly into your database.

If you’re used to using lead gen strategies like these, some of the more classic prospecting methods might seem a little labor-intensive…or even intimidating. 

But here’s the thing: even if they are a little ‘old school,’ prospecting activities can generate some serious social capital with your SOI and community at large. And that means more qualified prospects entering your funnel over the long-term. 

In this article, we’ll take you through a few of the best types of real estate prospecting, show you how to master them, and even share a few tried-and-true prospecting scripts that top performers rely on. Let’s get started!

Table of contents

  • What’s the Value of Prospecting Today?
  • 6 Authentic Real Estate Prospecting Ideas
  • Get the Most out of Your Prospecting Efforts

What’s the value of prospecting today?

Cindy Greenya gets it. 

She knows that while prospecting tactics may change and evolve over time, the value of authentic relationship building is here to stay. Cindy makes prospecting a top priority, and has a strict rule to do it even before reading her emails in the morning. 

“I always write at least two personal notes every single day, and I always call at least one or two clients every day. I’ve also morphed that into texting.”

According to Cindy, prospecting doesn’t have to be difficult or time intensive. She just reaches out to past clients with brief messages like, Hey, I was thinking about you. I drove through your neighborhood and I just wanted to say hello!

Depending on the circumstances, she may opt for a longer message like this: 

Hey, I have a client who’s looking for a townhouse like yours in your subdivision. If you or any of your neighbors are looking to sell, please make sure you let me know! I’d love to get their house sold for them quickly. 

For Cindy, the results speak for themselves — through hard work (and iron-clad willpower), she’s developed great relationships with her clients. “People appreciate those touches,” she says. 

6 authentic real estate prospecting ideas

Today, Cindy has 21 years of experience under her belt and an impressive $22.9 million in volume. Much of that success comes from her dedication to authentic prospecting and follow up.

Because while there’s no shortage of prospecting ideas out there, only the approaches that are truly customer-centric are really worth your time. 

Here are a few client-first prospecting ideas you never have to feel weird about.

1. Connect personally with past clients and SOI

These days, most people’s inboxes are jammed with irrelevant, impersonal emails that get immediately deleted. 

(Of course, there are many ways that you can turn your email campaigns into value-packed resources that truly nurture the client relationship, but that’s a topic for another time.)

One way to stand out in the era of mass emails, is to simply take a more 1-to-1 approach with your outreach. Take a page out of Cindy’s book and reach out personally via text, phone call, or email to your past clients and sphere of influence. 

By maintaining these strong relationships, Cindy ensures she’s top of mind whenever someone in her sphere has a referral pop up — or decides they’re ready to move again themselves. 

Pro Tip💡Genuine care and interest is key in 1-to-1 outreach. Look back into your call notes, last point of content, or even your prospect’s latest social media updates to add a personal touch to your message.

2. Get involved in community events

Nothing beats face-to-face interaction, and community events are the perfect place to get to know potential clients, and for them to get to know you.

Compared with some other prospecting activities, participating in a local festival, chamber of commerce networking night, or fundraiser can be an easy and organic way to make new connections. 

Of course, you can be more than a participant — you might even choose to host your own event, like a neighborhood block party or client appreciation barbeque. Take Ron Howard of Baltimore-based Ron Howard & Associates for example. “We host great events that people anticipate and they become rituals. We put a lot of focus on those types of events,” says the community-driven team leader.

And when Covid hit? Like any great leader, Ron adapted. These days, the team hosts drive-by style events where clients can swing by and pick up a pizza kit and six-pack of craft beer — or even a whole pie for the team’s Thanksgiving “pick up pie” party.

It’s a great (and safe) way to stay in touch with your existing client base and SOI, while also connecting with new prospects.

Pro Tip💡If you just show up to events without talking real estate, it’s not prospecting. You don’t have to be pushy, but you do need to make sure that people at the event know you’re a real estate agent. 
Just because you’re out of the office doesn’t mean you have to keep track of all your conversations in your head. With Follow Up Boss, you can take client notes on-the-go and access any other info you might need in the mobile app!

3. Offer free seasonal gifts and giveaways

Who doesn’t love a free gift? 

While free food is a classic go-to, don’t be afraid to get creative with your gifts and giveaways. The more memorable it is, the more likely you are to transform passive prospects into active relationships.

Here are a few great ideas to help get your name on the radar: 

  • Valentine’s gift basket with chocolates, wine, and a dinner voucher
  • Mother’s Day giveaway with flowers and a free massage
  • Summer vacation starter kit with sunscreen, pool toys, a cooler, and more
  • Porch pumpkins (or jack-o-lanterns) for the fall
  • Pies make an irresistible giveaway during the winter holidays 😉

Really, the possibilities are endless! 

Pro Tip💡 Make sure you’re capturing contact information. Whether it’s “sign up to claim your pumpkin pie” or “enter to win the giveaway,” you’re not going to be able to continue the relationship unless you get phone numbers or email addresses.

4. Ask for referrals directly

You’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating: You can still be direct without being pushy. 

Michael Montgomery of Rev Real Estate School absolutely aces it with his script for requesting referrals after a closing:

Hi [Name],

Congrats again on the home sale! Between the packing and organizing, I hope you still get a chance to celebrate.  

I really did enjoy working with you and would love to work with more people like you! If you know of anyone who may be looking for real estate advice, we are always on the hunt for more great clients like you. We work almost exclusively by referral, so if anyone comes to mind, we are always happy to help. (If not, no worries, of course.) 

Regardless, it has been such a pleasure working with you and I’m looking forward to working closely with you on the final stretch as we approach possession. 


[Your Name]

Pro Tip💡By providing that ‘easy out,’ Michael’s message stays decidedly zero-pressure, but it also pulls double duty by helping make people feel more comfortable — and more likely to respond! (Reverse psychology for the win)
You can make this process even more painless (and automatic) by leveraging email templates and creating an Action Plan to send the message shortly after closing.

5. Host epic open houses

An open house can be a great opportunity to prospect for buyer leads who are already in the market. You might even capture a few seller leads (because you know curious neighbors won’t be able to resist dropping by). 

Remember to make sure you have a way to collect contact information for all your open house visitors because otherwise — you guessed it — it ain’t prospecting. Just a missed opportunity. 

Pro Tip💡Not every listing you carry will be the right fit for hosting an open house. Prioritize high-demand areas and high-income neighborhoods. And make sure that your sellers know that professional staging is an option that could help boost interest (and increase offers). 

6. Be an active online participant

Being active on social media is more important than ever before — but you also have more options than ever before. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn…each channel offers different ways to provide unique value and connect with your audience. 

But how do you leverage them for prospecting? Here are a few suggestions: 

  • Share a stunning home listing and direct people to your site
  • Participate in local Facebook groups and answer questions
  • Invite people to watch a market update webinar, or post it as a video
  • Run a live virtual real estate Q&A for your friends, family, and others
  • Post virtual home tours or neighborhood walkthroughs on TikTok
  • Explore real estate-focused hashtags to find potential clients

While these activities may not instantly generate new phone numbers and email addresses into your database, they can help you start putting feelers out and building connections. 

Pro Tip💡You don’t have to be a social media whiz to succeed with social media prospecting. Focus on keeping it real and keeping it valuable, and you’ll do great!
Follow Up Boss can help you keep track of which prospecting activities are bringing you the best deals and the most conversions

Get the most out of your prospecting efforts

Prospecting can be a lot of work — but it can also generate lasting rewards for your real estate business. So how do you make sure it’s worth it? We’ve got two final tips for you. 

First up, make sure you’re tracking your data. 

That includes any money you invest in prospecting (whether for hosting an event or running a giveaway). You should also make sure that any new leads are correctly tagged in your sales system so you know where they came from. This will help you measure the real ROI on your prospecting efforts so you can see which strategies are working for you and which aren’t. 

Second, don’t flop on follow up. While some leads you generate while prospecting will be red-hot, ready-to-buy-now clients…most won’t. But if you’re going to invest time, effort, and money into prospecting, don’t let it go to waste by forgetting to nurture those contacts into real relationships.

Get our new guideline for free


Read related posts

Follow Up Boss Tips
Min Read

How to double your transactions on a 25-hour work week

Min Read

10 open house flyer examples to boost your on-the-day visitors

Min Read

Real estate marketing: The A to Z guide for agents and teams