It is a good time to examine the state of real estate lead generation as we end one of the most dynamic periods of real estate lead generation ever — and see where you can benefit under new market conditions.
The market has stabilized after experiencing wild shifts in lead prices during the last two years caused by the pandemic.
At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, real estate search traffic plummeted, which caused lead prices to increase briefly. (Search traffic is a primary factor in lead prices. More traffic causes lead prices to go down.) This initial panic was followed by a big spike in search traffic, which then prompted lead prices to improve dramatically for the remainder of 2020 and the first part of 2021. The cost per lead of the CINC portfolio from the 2nd quarter of 2020 to the 1st quarter of 2021 was the lowest in CINC’s 10-year history.
Since then, prices for leads on the search and social platforms have increased consistently and are approaching — but not matching — pre-pandemic lead prices.
The recent increases in lead prices have not been uniform. Many areas such as Tampa, Houston, and Atlanta still have very low lead prices. Other markets, such as the major California cities and Seattle, have had large increases in lead price. (CINC is a leader in real estate lead generation with more than 3,000 clients with an annual ad portfolio exceeding $30 million. You can see where your market lands in the new CINC 3Q Market Report.)
Lead prices are now steadying. What should you do for 2022?
Continue to advertise. The average lead price is higher than it was last year, but it is still lower than it was two years ago. And when you factor in that home prices have increased significantly since 2019, the ratio of home price to lead price remains at historically high levels, making leads a good value.
Seller lead generation remains hot. Seller leads typically have a higher price than buyer leads and we have seen the price of seller leads increase during the last quarter. But if you want to get new listings, you should consider seller leads if you are not already doing so.
Bump your ad budget through year-end to maintain your pipeline. We are entering the softest part of the year for real estate lead generation – both on search marketing and social media. The lead price typically begins to increase in the middle of August and continues to increase slowly until the end of the year.
Revisit and refine your market areas. If you already use a lead generation service, the fourth quarter is a great time to examine your account performance and make any changes for the coming year. Are you looking to grow your business? You should consider expanding your budget. Has your geographic focus changed or do you expect it will change? If so, let your advertising manager know of your plans to reconfigure for the coming year.
At CINC, we anticipate that real estate costs per lead in 2022 will mirror those of 2021. Lead costs will remain low when compared to historic levels, but will be higher than they were during the peak of the pandemic. Although restrictions are being lifted, it will be a while before people return entirely to their pre-pandemic ways. This will help keep search and social traffic up and lead prices down.