Generating listings in any market without spending a lot of money is possible, but it requires investing time. This compilation of tips from author and coach Darryl Davis will delight those who prioritize thriftiness and cost-effectiveness, regardless of their experience level in the industry.

There’s so much noise out there on how to navigate a challenging market. This April, let Inman help you cut through the clutter to make smart business decisions in real time. All month long, we’re taking it Back to Basics and finding out how real estate pros are evolving their systems and investing personally and professionally to drive growth. 

This article was last updated on Apr. 19, 2023.

If only we had a real estate Magic 8 Ball, then we could ask if more listings are coming to the market. Even though we don’t I’m fairly sure it would say, “all signs point to yes.”

There are a lot of ways to generate listings in any market for little investment other than time. That should make the thriftiest, most-budget conscious of you happy — whether you are brand new in this business or a seasoned and money-wise veteran. 

1. Call current FSBOs

I love FSBOs. They were the foundation for my business when I started in this industry way back at the ripe old age of 19. Some people think they are tough. And I’m not going to lie, I’ve met my fair share of grumpy FSBOs, especially making my bones in real estate in New York.

But once you understand that you can definitely help them get more for their home and better keep their family and investment safe — and then communicate that to them — you’ll want to call at least one of them a day. 

Click here for more on how to win over FSBOs.

2. Call expireds

Same thing here. Although some are a little rough around the edges because they have been disappointed by past experiences, you know that they are both motivated to sell and familiar with using an agent.

The secret here is to listen well and help them understand how you can help them reach their goals with a smoother transaction and more confidence than they had in the past. 

3. Ask your broker for ‘orphans’ 

Nope. Not small, parentless children. I call the client files from agents who have left your company “orphans” because no current representative of your organization is watching out for them.

Take up that mantle.

Call them and let them know that you are handling the files for agents who are no longer with your company and that you are happy to introduce yourself as their service representative. Let them know that the market is changing, and for a lot of people, that means questions about their home buying and selling power and that you are there to help answer those kinds of questions.    

4. Host public open houses for your listing

I believe open houses are one of the most underrated ways of generating now business. They are a treasure trove of leads and branding opportunities.

Got a listing? Host open houses as often as possible. It’s like holding “office hours” for the communities you want to serve. Win your next open house with these smart lead capture apps.

5. Host public open houses for another agent’s listing

New to the business and don’t have much of your own business yet? Volunteer to host open houses for top agents who are too busy or not interested in hosting their own.   

6. Host neighborhood open houses for your or your teammate’s listing 

Neighborhood open houses are an amazing way to weed out the lookers from the buyers. Send a fancy invitation to at least 50-100 neighbors around the listing, letting them know that you are hosting a special open house just for the neighbors and that the owner won’t be home.

Out come not just the nosy neighbors — but also the two or three (or more) who have been thinking about selling and wondering how much they can get for their own home.   

7. Door-knocking with a value piece

Don’t knock door-knocking. This “old school” farming method is bringing big-time results to a lot of agents. That adage that everything old is new again is on point.

Getting face-to-face again with the folks in neighborhood farms and offer them what we call a Neighborhood Market Report certificate, which is really just a certificate for a CMA or price evaluation.

People understandably want to know what their property is worth in a changing market. This is a great way to show them that you are the agent to help. 

8. SMILE Stops to past clients 

We are big fans of what we call SMILE stops (S-Service, M-Meet face-to-face, I-Invite a conversation, L-Leave behind a small gift of gratitude, E-Elevate the Relationship). Little drop-in opportunities with past clients with a fun and memorable gift.

It’s a great way to make a big impression, solidify relationships, spark conversations, and keep your name top-of-mind (in a time where that is more important than ever.)

Here are a few pop-by ideas: 

  • Pizza cutter with a note, “Any way you slice it, I’ve got the answers you need to get top dollar for your home.” 
  • Ice cream scoop with a note, “Want the scoop on what this market means to your home value? Call me.”  
  • Bottle of Simply Lemonade with a note, “You’re SIMPLY the BEST. Thank you for being a great client.”  

9. eNewsletter campaign

I’m a huge fan of direct mail — but I believe that it is only effective if done consistently, which can get expensive for agents who might be super budget conscious right now. That’s where having a weekly or monthly eNewsletter can come in handy.

Like its direct mail counterpart, you need to be consistent. It’s a great way to stay in touch with past clients and farm area folks without feeling too salesy or pushy. 

10. Tap into vendor relationships

Meet with vendors, and discuss sharing leads and marketing or advertising campaigns. This way, everyone expands their reach and their networks, and the cost is distributed.  

11. Handwritten notes to the people in your sphere, farm, or both

One of the most ah-ha inspiring strategies that our coaching members found to work for them over the past couple of crazy years is the power of a handwritten note.

It ranks among the top results-producing activities agents have found. So much so that many top producers make it a weekly habit to send at least five handwritten notes to past clients or people in their sphere per week. It’s a great way to reach out, elevate relationships, create connections and remind people that you are there for them.  

12. Call houses for rent to ask the owner if they would consider selling

There are a lot of landlords out there who are over being landlords and would love to cash in their investment and get top dollar for their properties before the market swings too much toward buyers. Let them know you can help. 

13. Become a business partner for your area’s PTA/PTSA

My good friend and the president of my company, Julie Escobar, always reminds me of this one. She ran many PTAs in her day, and she shares how agents who joined forces with their local schools got as much as they gave in terms of value and that makes total sense.

When you actively partner with parents, teachers and administrators to help improve area schools for kids, it’s easy to look like a hero. Now is a great time of year to reach out to school leadership in your market and learn how you can join forces. 

14. Start a community Facebook page

I love this strategy. In fact, we recently interviewed top agent Traci Palmero – this has been one of the go-to tools since she started in the business seven years ago and went from zero to six figures in her first full year. Here’s some insights on how to do it.  

15. Find an existing Facebook group in your community and actively contribute

Almost every neighborhood or community has a group or page dedicated to the residents these days where people can ask for recommendations, get information, tap into local news and get the latest scoop on the area.

Find the ones that represent the communities you serve — and start sharing. The best rule of thumb is for every six contributions, you can post something about real estate. In these communities, your posts should not be just listings, sales and open houses. They should be real estate tips, strategies and ideas. 

Know that you do not have to break the bank to get listings in this market, especially as a new agent. Think inside the box, outside the box, and tap into powerful resources that will help you earn more in less time with a whole lot more fun.

Darryl Davis is a speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of How to Become a Power Agent in Real Estate, as well as the CEO of Darryl Davis Seminars. He currently hosts weekly free webinars to help agents navigate market change and design careers worth smiling about. Learn more at his website or connect with him on Facebook or YouTube.

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