What are leads in real estate? The right way to qualify buyers

Lead Conversion
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With apologies to Forrest Gump, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that real estate leads are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.

A lead might be itching to pull the trigger yesterday, years out from saving up their down payment — or anything in between. And with thousands of leads in your database, it can be tough to know where each one stands.

Top agents know that all leads matter. But not all are worth the same time and effort today

So, how do you know the difference? And how do you stay top-of-mind with leads that might be 6 months, or even a year out from buying a home?

The good news is that, unlike that box of chocolates, you don’t have to sample each lead to figure out if it’s the one you need to focus on today. With intentional systems and processes in place, you can optimize your client database, focus on the right prospects at the right time, and build a long-term relationship with any of your buyer leads who may just need a little more time to warm up.

Table of contents

  • First things first: What is considered a real estate lead?
  • How do we qualify a lead for real estate? Qualifying questions for buyers
  • A better way to qualify and convert real estate leads
  • Aim for automation (not autopilot)

First things first: What is considered a real estate lead?

For some agents, a name and some contact information is all they need to consider a lead a lead. 

It might be a name with an email address. If you’re lucky, you might also have a phone number. Or if you’re really lucky, you can have all three. But as long as you’ve got a name and a way to contact the person, you’ve got a lead.

However, the way other agents see it — a lead isn’t really a lead until you actually make a connection.

Because the leads in your database are just that — names with contact information. It’s what you do with that information that can turn a lead into a prospect, client, and eventually, a sale.

And while it’s common to see agents complaining about the quality of their leads, many of the most successful ones will tell you there is no such thing as a bad lead. As long as the email doesn’t bounce back and the phone isn’t disconnected, that contact information represents a potential relationship.

Of course, there are leads that are ready, willing, and able to make a today. And those that simply aren’t.

But just because a lead isn’t piping hot the minute it hits your database, doesn’t mean it won’t be ready at some point in the future. The important thing is to be able to tell the difference quickly, easily and to a certain extent, automatically.

Do you have the tools you need to be first to contact a lead? Follow Up Boss can help. "With Follow Up Boss's 4-point auto text responder, and instant calls from our call center, we are able to make contact with a high percentage of leads," says Robert Slack, Broker-Owner, Robert Slack Fine Homes.

How do we qualify a lead for real estate? Qualifying questions for buyers

Since there are no bad leads, only bad timing, the process of qualifying leads is really about determining a lead’s timeline. 

In other words, it’s not if they want to buy. It’s when they want to do it.

By positioning yourself as the very first agent to reach out and ask a few simple qualifying questions, you can determine how quickly a lead is ready to buy:

The answers to these questions will tell you if the lead needs your immediate, personal attention, whether they’ll need some schooling on how the process works, or if their timeline is so far out, you simply need to learn more about their situation, send listings, and stay in touch.

So many leads, so little time: managing the process

Unless your superpower is an unfailing memory, you can’t possibly keep track of all your leads single-handedly, especially since many are going to take some time before they’re actually ready to make a move.

Here’s how Gabe Cordova, who’s been vetting leads for 15 years as Senior Realtor in Residence for digital marketing platform Ylopo, sizes up the challenge:

“The buyer journey can take anywhere from 3 months to 18 months. How do I not just fill the top of the funnel, but how do I get the most out of my existing database?”

The key, Gabe says, is to use technology to build a relationship over time so that, when a lead is ready, they’ll already know who they can rely on for help.

Gabe’s approach is to focus on the low-hanging fruit first: “Who’s saving the most amount of homes right now? Who’s actively talking to the CRM assistant?” 

By narrowing your focus to the leads showing active interest and engagement – and using technology to keep top-of-mind with leads that have a longer timeline – agents can put their time to best use.

As Gabe puts it, “The majority of our business right now are people who have been in our database for years. We definitely have to be filling the top of the funnel with new lead generation, especially with sellers, but it’s also about getting the most of who you already have and automating that.”

The Follow Up Boss Pixel is a snippet of code on your website that opens up the ability to track activities from leads on your site. That means you can see where they’re coming from, what types of homes they’re looking at, how often they’re visiting, whether they’re reading blog posts, and more. 

A better way to qualify and convert real estate leads

The biggest challenge many agents face when trying to juggle the hundreds, if not thousands, of leads in their database, is simply time.

Giving daily, personal attention to every lead isn’t only impossible, it’s a surefire way to miss out on leads who are actually ready to buy or sell. That’s why successful agents leave the task of nurturing leads with a longer timeline to their automated systems.

“We let our tools and tech stack do a lot of the nurturing and hand-holding for the people that aren’t ready,” Gabe explains.

For that, you’ll need a lead management platform that:

  • Collects all your leads in one central place. Most agents generate leads from many different sources. With all that data, you’ll have a hard time keeping up if you’re juggling a bunch of Excel files.
  • Allows you to segment your leads by timeframe and any other criteria you choose: Organizing your CRM or database so you can easily access the most important leads and consistently nurture the others is crucial to effective time management.
  • Provides tools for automating communications: Automating follow up activities like sending market information, texting, and emailing consistently gives you a quicker response time with urgent leads and allows you to remain top-of-mind with leads who aren’t yet sales ready.
  • Tracks a lead’s activity: Life happens. Things change. You’ll want to know when a lead with a longer timeline starts actively looking at listings or asking questions that indicate a more active interest in buying or selling.

Automation is an agent’s best friend when it comes to qualifying and managing the lead generation and nurturing process. But only when it puts the client first.

The best real estate agents use authentic automation that engages customers at the stage they’re in with relevant and personalized messaging.

That’s where the human element comes in. Once you’ve segmented your database, you’ll need text and email templates, powered by relevant drip email sequences, to connect with leads throughout the various lifecycle stages of their real estate journey.

A CRM like Follow Up Boss not only gives agents the ability to respond instantly when a lead raises their hand, it also lets you organize your leads and communication so you stay top-of-mind.

Aim for automation (not autopilot)

The unfortunate truth is that today, agents are reaching out to a mere 29% of online leads.

That’s a terrible way to scale a real estate business and an even worse experience for your leads and prospects. 

If you’re here, you already know relationships can’t be built on just one contact. But if you’re like many ambitious agents, you simply don’t have the time to call and connect with each and every lead on your list.

But what if you could take the guesswork out of the lead qualification process and spend each day connecting with the people that need you most?

Follow Up Boss helps you do just that. With value-first automation tools like Action Plans and templates, agents can focus on providing maximum value to the leads most likely to convert — all while knowing that every lead is getting the right information at the right time. 

Ready to see for yourself? Learn more with a zero-strings-attached trial today.

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