As we head into the 2021 real estate market, the biggest question on every real estate agent’s mind is, “How can I generate leads this year?” Increased buyer demand and low interest rates, along with other factors, have created a unique market with record-low levels of inventory, both nationally and locally. 

Sellers typically aren’t motivated to leave their homes on the market during the winter when returns are lowest and activity is traditionally slow. But the last year has shown us that buyer demand is as high as ever, despite the challenges of the pandemic and economic slowdown. As we prepare for the spring, when buyer demand typically starts ramping up, agents may start wondering how they can generate leads and find listings when inventory is so low. So what lead generation tactics can agents start using to develop inventory in their markets?

housing inventory

8 Lead Generation Tactics Real Estate Agents Can Use Today

Build your business and generate listings this year with these eight lead generation tactics you can start using today to create inventory. 

1. Database Calls

This may seem pretty basic, but leverage your database to generate momentum. A consistent level of contact and care is proven to earn you referrals from the people in your sphere of influence (SOI). This is what Brian Buffini calls “the stacking effect.” Your best referrals come from your best clients, a result of the relationships you’ve built with them. Plant the seed with these connections so you are at the top of their minds whenever they encounter someone who is considering buying or selling. 

Action steps:

Reach out to your best contacts on the phone (yes, voice-to-voice contact is still the best way to connect!). Take the time to chat with them about their lives and then let them know you’re calling to see if they know of anyone who might be interested in making a move at some point this year. 

Need a script? This “Big 3 Dialogue” from Buffini & Co. will help you get the conversation started. 

 2. Market Reports

Sending market reports to homeowners who are not currently listing is one of the best ways to broach the idea of selling. They might be hesitant to list because they’re unsure of how to buy and sell at the same time and they’re unprepared to navigate the unique challenges in the market. Provide value and care to them by sending them local market reports with a personalized letter.

Action steps:

Prepare a local market report for homeowners in select neighborhoods. Include a personalized letter that provides additional context to the market data, as well as your contact information. Follow up with a phone call one week later and talk to the homeowner about their willingness to list, what price point would entice them to move and where they might think about moving. 

3. Geographic Farming

Whether you have an active buyer or not, this lead generation tactic should be leveraged in markets that are “hot commodities.” The goal of geographic farming is to get potential sellers to call you, so make your mailers and notes as personal and straightforward as possible. 

Action steps:

Identify 100 homeowners in the target neighborhood. If you have an active buyer, let homeowners in the area know and ask if they would be interested in showing their home. If you don’t have an active buyer, you can still send out market reports with personalized notes to entice homeowners.


Need a template for your letter? Use Buffini & Co.’s “I May Have a Buyer for Your Home” letter.

4. Awaken Expired Listings

Sellers with expired listings still have the motivation to move, but their willingness has faded. How can you revive their interest in selling? Chances are good the seller has received several calls from local agents. How can you build a relationship and stand out from the crowd?

Action steps:

Identify 20 expired listings and search for an introduction. Do you have mutual connections? Know anyone in that neighborhood? You can also contact the owner directly, either via phone call or face-to-face. Ask questions to learn more about their previous experiences with real estate agents and why their home didn’t sell. Follow up if the conversation goes well. 

5. Befriend a FSBO

Think about how you can provide value to a For-Sale-By-Owner. Joe Niego identifies three types of FSBOs: the ones who will “die trying”, the ones who can do it themselves, and the homeowners who just want to try selling on their own. The last group is usually the most open of the three to using an agent, if you build a relationship with them. 

Action steps:

1. Open houses

Attend their open house, introduce yourself and give them your business card. Walk through the home like any other interested party and talk to the seller as you do. The seller will either be defensive and closed off or curious and open to conversation. If conversation naturally emerges, ask them questions about pricing, traffic and if they’ve had any offers. If all goes well, follow up the next day with a personal note and start building the connection with market reports, phone calls 

2. Sign calls

Block time to drive neighborhoods to find new FSBO signs. Call the number, identify yourself as an agent and ask if you can preview the property. If you do have an active buyer, let them know that. If you don’t, let them know there is high buyer demand in their area. You could ask if they’re open to co-broke the property or ask to preview the property. The goal is to schedule a time to see the home so you can start building a relationship. 

6. Duplicate Every Listing

Think back to every client you served in the last three to six months, including both buy- and sell-side and current listings. How can you strategically leverage these relationships? You’ve already done the work of connecting, now think about how to generate more connections. 

Action steps:

Target a 250 home radius around your listing and send either “for sale”, “open house” or “just sold” letters to all of them. Use these as a chance to introduce yourself to the neighborhood, share market information and connect. You could also include market activity reports for the area. 

7. Mail an “Item of Value” and Personal Letter to your SOI.

Items of value (IOV) are a Buffini & Co. tactic to help you stay top of mind with your SOI while also providing care and value (not actively selling to them!). Items of value are typically one-page content pieces that are mailed to your people. They can be anything from ‘10 Ways to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft’ to ‘How to Increase Your Home Value This Spring.’ 

Action steps:

Pick an item of value to provide to your database, add your contact information and mail it out (ideally on a monthly basis). Follow up digitally with a digital copy of your IOV or a complementing resource and include a personal note with your contact information. Don’t forget to plant the seed and ask them to refer you to anyone they know who might be thinking of buying or selling in the next year.

8. Retrace Your Steps

Dig up old leads that can be reawakened. As Joe Niego says, “There are no bad leads; there are just leads that aren’t ready yet.” Who did you work with that wasn’t ready to make the move? Was it a matter of financing or not being able to find the right home? Was it just the timing? Go back through your database to discover who you can re-engage with. 

Action steps:

Review old open house lists, old sign call leads, and Internet leads. Call up old clients and refresh their memories about the last time you worked together. Make sure you can recall personal information from the last conversation you had. For example, “Back in February we talked about [personalized info]…At the time you mentioned you were thinking of moving. I’m curious if you’ve updated your plan?” 


As inventory levels continue to drop to new record lows, real estate agents across the country are asking, “How can we bring inventory back?” At the end of the day, agents have to be proactive about creating inventory in their local markets. These eight lead generation tactics are a great start to generate business as we head into what is expected to be a busy spring. 

agent archetypes

Did you know real estate agents can be divided into 4 main categories or archetypes? Knowing your agent archetype may help you understand why certain types of prospecting and business practices resonate with you, while others just don’t seem to fit. Click the button above to learn more about the 4 archetypes, which one you are and what lead generation tactics work best for you.