ReferralExchange, a new referral site for real estate professionals, wants your extra leads — and it’s willing to pay you every time another agent is able to close on one.
The company will take your excess leads, “scrub” them with the help of 45 full-time employees, and send the qualified leads to its pool of thousands of member agents across the U.S. for a cut of the referral fee when a lead results in a closed deal.
The new tool, launched by Flywheel Networks Inc. in March, allows agents to send personal referrals to the network as well.
So far, about 90 percent of the leads sent to the platform have been “raw” — containing information typically generated by websites that’s not yet been vetted — with traditional referrals making up the balance, said Lisa Fettner, vice president of marketing at Flywheel Networks.
The service gives agents an outlet for the leads they don’t have the time or interest to work. It will comb through information in a lead, pick out the most promising prospects and connect them with an agent. If a deal closes, the service collects a referral fee that it splits with the referring agent.
ReferralExchange charges agents who close a deal using the platform a referral fee equal to 35 percent of their commission. Most of that money (71 percent) goes to the referring agent, who’s paid 25 percent of the closing agent’s commission. ReferralExchange keeps 29 percent of the referral fee, or 10 percent of the closing agent’s commission.
San Francisco-based Flywheel Networks’ new venture is among a crop of real estate sites popping up looking to capitalize on the Internet’s growing presence in lead generation by turning online leads and referrals into lucrative referral fees.
Later this year, Realogy-owned brokerage giant NRT LLC will launch two sites designed to collect more online leads that it will scrub through regional call centers and send to a select group of its agents in return for a 35 percent referral fee on leads that generate closings.
Another site, Balcony, is set to launch in the coming months. Balcony will charge a referral fee of 30 percent, keeping one-third of that money and passing the rest along to referring agents.
Balcony will be a platform that enables agents to pick referral partners themselves, by browsing through agent’s ratings and reviews, transaction histories, their connections and other information posted on the site.
ReferralExchange lets agents choose referral partners, too, if they want to, but in a more limited fashion.
If they choose to be directly involved in the process, referring agents have the option of filtering their search for a referral partner by the potential partner’s brand or brokerage, and can see the up to three agents surfaced by the site’s algorithm as good matches.
The algorithm ranks agents using criteria property type, geography, price point and agent productivity, but users can request to see additional potential partners and speak to them before recommending one to their client.
Agents can also leave the matching process completely up to ReferralExchange.
Either way, ReferralExchange presents clients with the up to three Flywheel Networks member agents that the site’s algorithm suggests are good matches.
The ReferralExchange platform is open to any agent. There’s a one-time fee of $495 to begin submitting leads. After that, there are no additional fees to start feeding leads and referrals into the system.
While any agent can send leads or referrals, only Flywheel Networks member agents can receive referrals. The 10-year-old firm has built out its network of 12,800 agents over the years by hand-picking top-producing agents from around the country, said Flywheel Networks CEO Scott Olsen.
The platform’s invitation-only membership currently covers approximately 90 percent of the U.S., and the firm is not currently looking for new members to receive referrals, Olsen said. Before launching ReferralExchange, consumers were connected to the network via AgentMachine.com, he said.
Agents in the network have an average of eight years of real estate experience. To receive leads, members must have at least three years’ experience, and at least 20 transactions or a sales volume of $5 million in the last 12 months, Fettner said.
The firm attempts to qualify all leads sent to ReferralExchange with the help of its 45 full-time servicing staff, Fettner said. The firm employs what it calls a seven-seven-seven scrubbing method, meaning all leads receive seven calls and seven emails in seven days.
When leads are reached, ReferralExchange determines whether they are actually in the market for a home. If so, they are matched up with up to three agents in the Flywheel Networks network. If not, the lead is dismissed and forgotten.
So far, ReferralExchange has sent approximately 16,000 referrals to its member agents that have resulted in dozens of deals, Olsen said.
The firm currently doesn’t incubate the cold leads, but has plans to begin doing so, Olsen said.
The site features a customer relationship management platform that allows agents to track their deals through the site and to communicate with other agents and clients. A client-facing version of the CRM allows clients to see the three agents the platform recommends for them, access proposals from each and to choose one.