Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Jimmy Burgess

These companies help you keep a steady flow of leads coming at you without upfront costs

Lead generation is the foundation of building a successful real estate business. You can choose to spend money upfront by buying leads from companies like Zillow or Realtor.com, or could there be a low-cost way to have a steady flow of leads?

There absolutely is, and these leads are available through companies that charge no upfront fees. You only compensate them for the leads via a referral fee at closing time. These companies generate the leads, nurture them until they are ready to purchase or list, and then refer them to agents who have been approved to be a part of their networks.

If you’re looking for a way to keep your upfront expenses down but still have a steady flow of leads coming into your business, the following companies are great resources.

1. OpCity

Owned by Realtor.com, OpCity is expanding its offering of lead generation opportunities for agents. The original leads come from Realtor.com or are purchased from other lead generation sites. A representative of OpCity contacts the lead to identify if they are ready to purchase or sell. If they are not ready yet, the leads are nurtured until they are ready to engage an agent.

Whether it be on first contact or after nurturing the lead, once they are ready to be introduced to an agent, a group of agents are notified of a lead opportunity. The first agent to claim the lead is connected to the lead via an introductory phone call with the OpCity representative.

The referral fee paid on closed transactions to OpCity is 30 percent on homes that sell for $150,000 or less and 35 percent on homes that sell for more than $150,000. The approval from OpCity is done at the brokerage level, so your broker must be a participant for an agent to receive leads from OpCity. Once the brokerage is enrolled, new and experienced agents qualify to receive leads.

2. Redfin Referral Network

Redfin, the brokerage, does have salaried employees who hang their licenses with the company, but you can keep your license at your current brokerage and receive referral leads through the Redfin Referral Network. There are geographical areas where Redfin does not have salaried agent employees or where they generate more leads than their agents can handle. In those cases, referrals are available.

The agent requirements include having, as they phrase it, your fair share of closed client transactions and proven client satisfaction through client surveys. The referral fee paid varies by geography, but at last check, it ranges between 33 percent and 40 percent.

3. Rocket Homes

Rocket Homes is owned by Rocket Mortgage. The leads they provide are mortgage approved, have a verified purchase timeframe, are exclusively provided for only one agent, and Rocket Homes provides dedicated support from referral to close for the client and the agent.

Qualifications to receive leads include a minimum of 24 months of experience working as a full-time agent, a minimum of at least eight transactions in the past 12 months and completion of their Verified Partner Agent training program.

4. Estately

Estately is owned by Anywhere and partners with a few agents in every market. It requires a minimum of three years of experience, with five years preferred. They may ask you to provide recommendations from previous clients as well. The referral fee they require is not currently published, but it has been 30 percent in the past.

5. Veterans United Realty

Veterans United Realty is an affiliate of Veterans Home Mortgage that specializes in providing veteran buyer referrals. The leads that come in have already been approved for a VA loan and are relocating to your area.

Veterans United favors agents with experience helping VA buyers and good reviews. Their general expectations are for the agent to reinforce the relationship with the client’s loan officer, maintain regular contact with the clients, and use the assigned Realty Coordinator to keep all lines of communication open throughout the process.

6. HomeLight

HomeLight is a website where you can customize your profile to highlight your business and expertise in your local market. It has a data-driven algorithm that matches motivated buyers and sellers with top-performing agents who have a proven track record of experience and client satisfaction. It utilizes statistics like the number of transactions you’ve completed, your average list-to-sale price percentages and what people say about you via reviews.

The referral fees on this lead source are 25 percent on anything under $4 million and 30 percent for anything over $4 million.

7. Ojo

Ojo is a company that looks to connect buyers and sellers with highly qualified agents. They prefer agents in their network to have a minimum of three years of experience and a minimum of 25 transactions in the past 12 months.

They look for agents to maintain frequent communication with the clients and the concierge support team that is provided to make sure the transaction is a positive experience for the client and the agent. The referral fee is 30 percent.

8. UpNest

UpNest is a great resource for listing lead referrals. It prefers an agent with a minimum of three years of experience and at least six transactions in the past 12 months. Its process involves competing for the listing with other agents that it refers to the prospective referral as well.

The process begins with UpNest informing you about the listing or buyer opportunity. You compete via a proposal that is submitted to the seller or buyer outlining your services and what you will provide. The proposal includes any reductions in commission you are willing to make to secure the business. On top of any concessions you include, UpNest will receive a referral fee of up to 35 percent. The referral fee percentage varies by market and transaction value.

9. Agent Pronto

Agent Pronto looks for high-performing agents in a local market to match them with the buyers and sellers that sign up for their agent matching service. Once the buyer or seller signs up with them, Agent Pronto identifies the agent it believes is the best fit for the client via its Agent Pronto profile, production levels, service areas, specialties, communication and customer ratings.

There are no minimum requirements to join, but to maximize the referral opportunities, the company encourages participants to fill out the agent profile details as completely as possible. The more they know about your business, the more likely you are to receive referrals. The fee is between 25-30 percent depending upon the price and area for the referral.

10. FastExpert

FastExpert is a website where any agent can have a profile page, but you must be in the top 5 percent for transactions in your local market to qualify to receive referral leads. FastExpert ranks agents within their directory for local areas based on their recent sales, years in the business and customer satisfaction. The referral fee for any referrals from FastExpert is 25 percent.

For any business to grow, the quantity and quality of leads must increase. These 10 companies are a great way to increase your lead flow without increasing your upfront expenses. Take advantage of the opportunities they provide, and your business can’t help but grow.

The referral fee percentages vary for these providers, so make sure they have not changed since the research was done for this article.

Jimmy Burgess is the CEO for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida in Northwest Florida.


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