If you’re like most agents you don’t mind paying for exclusive leads, but you don’t want to pay too much up-front, especially for real estate leads that are also given to other agents. Most agents would prefer to have leads that are paid at closing, just like most referrals are paid. Top agents will tell you that they prefer exclusive real estate leads paid at closing.
A lot of real estate agents will tell you that the best leads in the real estate business are referrals. This is true, since most top-producing real estate agents have only 1 main source of real estate leads. Its usually one in which they dominate, like referrals, geographical farming or internet leads.
Referrals are generally qualified clients, who have been specifically referred to an agent in a different market who usually has already worked with the client, either helping them buy or sell a home.
Most agents are referred clients in one of three ways:
- The referring agent personally knows the inbound referral agent
- The referral agent asks another agent or friend if they know an agent in another market
- Use of Facebook referral groups to find agents in other markets (can be very spammy)
- Websites that offer referrals (either paid up-front or a referral fee at closing).
Here are a few websites that offer exclusive real estate leads paid at closing.
ReferralCloud – Exclusive Real Estate Leads Paid at Closing
A company called ReferralCloud offers exclusive leads to real estate agent without any up-front fees. ReferralCloud doesn’t charge any up front fees, it does charge a 30% referral fee after closing.
Creating an account only takes a minute and it puts the agent in line for any referrals in their market that are processed through the ReferralCloud network. They aren’t actually leads, but actual referral clients. Leads at ReferralCloud have been sourced by other real estate agents. They have been given exclusively to ReferralCloud to assign to agents. Those agents will in turn, get more inbound referrals for placing their outbound referrals.
Below is the order of assignment for agents at ReferralCloud:
- Geographical location
- Number of outbound leads sent to ReferralCloud for assignment
- Successful inbound closings through the network
- Length of time registered on the platform
How the ReferralCloud process works:
There are two agents in a market, let’s say Enid, Oklahoma. One agent signed up a month ago, and another one last week. The agent that’s been on the platform would get the 1st inbound referral into the market. That can change though if the agent who had only been on the platform a week enters an outbound referral, say to Orlando, Florida. The agent that used the system to place his outbound referral will get a 25% referral fee (standard) but will also be placed at the head of the line for any inbound referral into Enid.
A snippet from the ReferralCloud CEO, Oana Miller, says “ReferralCloud is a national referral coordination service that helps real estate agents get more inbound client referrals and also helps real estate professionals place their outbound referral clients. There are never any up-front fees paid.”
This “clearinghouse” model is new to real estate referrals. It is sorely needed in the spasmodic Facebook super-spammy referral groups where agents frantically tag their friends in an attempt to get them business in the hopes their friends will do the same with them.
Another option is Cartus. Cartus is a global relocation system that gives referrals to brokers who have joined the network.
The Cartus network has affiliates in most major US markets, and in order to become a Cartus agent it requires joining a brokerage that has the Cartus account in that market and then working to get on the relo team.
The referral fee to Cartus can be as high as 40%. And since the broker also takes a cut of the commission, the agent can be left with as little as 30% of the commission. What’s nice is that the agents that work on those teams don’t have to work hard for the leads. The 30% net commission can sometimes compensate them for the amount of work most relocation agents have to do, which with buyers can be substantial sometimes.
Cartus charging up to 40% for a lead is probably on the higher end of lead generation sources, especially considering ReferralCloud only charges 30%.
Another option for leads is Referzip.com which is more of a traditional lead site that charges for leads and also a referral fee at closing.
According to their site they offer the three main value propositions:
- Low lead costs
- Low referral fees
- Exclusive markets
What is unknown is how much Referzip charges for their leads. We also don’t know how much the total amount would be for a closing considering the 10% referral fee as well as the up-front costs. It is also unknown how much an agent pays for exclusivity in a market and whether or not there are actually other agents in that same market or sub-market also paying for leads. According to the Referzip site they have a “15% conversion rate” which means roughly 1 in 7 leads will close.
Zillow Flex – Premier Agent Program
Zillow’s Premier Agent – “Flex” program is a test to see if Zillow can get more revenue from charging referral fees to agents who previously have been paying a monthly fee for leads. Last time we checked it was costing agents about $480/month per zip code, with premium zip codes going as much as $1,500 a month. It has been a while since we have checked, and Zillow doesn’t publicly disclose exactly how many agents in each market are paying for leads per each zip code.
The Zillow Flex program seems to be popular with agents in the markets they operate. They are likely Premium agents who are testing out a new lead generation strategy. The idea is to see if Zillow can make more money by getting paid a referral fee than up-front.
Because Flex is a new product with Zillow, it is only available in a few markets according to their website. These include Phoenix AZ, Pueblo CO and Atlanta GA plus a few smaller markets. It will be interesting to see if Zillow decides to roll this program out nationally, and it is likely that tracking the real estate referrals would be very difficult absent the next company – Reconsortia.com
Reconsortia.com – Referral Recon
Dubbed “the back-end” for the referral business, Reconsortia has developed a patent-pending technology for monitoring, tracking and collecting referral fees for both large and small real estate referrers. What’s great is that Reconsortia is a company that is part of the NAR-Reach 2019 class for their tech accelerator.
How do I get more exclusive real estate leads paid at closing?
Our advice is to find one site that provides real estate leads at closing. Work really hard to dominate that site. Just like PalPay wanted to dominate eBay back when they first started. It is much easier to do well with one lead source than hunting around on the internet for a bunch of them. It is unlikely that you will get on anybody’s radar if you have only created an account and aren’t actively working with the referring company to help them as well. If the requirements of a site are to get leads you have to participate in their lead generation process, then sometimes that’s the best way to generate more inbound leads.
Being a real estate agent can be hard.
Finding good leads can be even harder.
Pick one company and try to dominate it.
And most of all good luck!