Free Sources of Real Estate Investing Leads and How to Find Them

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“Word of mouth” is one method of generating leads. It’s crucial that all of your contacts know that you’re in the real estate business. They know you as the homebuyer in the group. The source of your next lucrative opportunity is anyone’s guess. We put in a lot of time and energy trying to find new leads, yet sometimes they stare us in the face the whole time. I remember being anxious and reticent before making major agreements when I was first starting in the industry. You attract more of what you focus on, so be careful what you say. Spread the word that you are a real estate investor on the lookout for opportunities among your social circle. You don’t have to be specific, but you should let them know you’re interested in buying homes and finding good deals on real estate. People who know you well and trust your judgment will likely recommend you to others when they come across offers or hear of others selling homes. Letting them know that referrals are rewarded is also a good idea. If you give me a house to sell, I’ll give you either $200 or $250, as stated on the back of my business card. If we decide to acquire it, we will pay you $200.

Second, be sure to have plenty of business cards. Please don’t get rid of them. My business cards come in two varieties. We buy houses, cash reward paid, find me a home, we pay $200, etc., are all advertised on my business card. Those are the ones I toss around in a bar or gas station, propping up the pump or squishing them into the sign. I’ll leave a couple on the counter at the bank if I go there. I hand them out at will and let folks know I am in the market to purchase homes. I also have a business card with my name, company name, and logo, which is a little more formal. That one goes out to borrowers, depositors, and lessees. Leave the brightly colored ones at petrol stations and restaurants. Another variety, folded like a hundred-dollar bill, is easy to pick up from the floor without drawing attention to yourself. The source of your next business opportunity may surprise you. The majority of our sales come through cold calling, but our direct marketing is still the main driver of new accounts.

Putting a sign on your vehicle is another low-cost option. This is subject to your Spouse’s permission. My business card was a magnet that read “I Buy Houses” and featured my phone number for quite some time. Occasionally, but not often, I would get a call there. They are also inexpensive. I think I spent around $30 on the pair. I’ll never forget the day I put these on my car for the first time. I’ll never forget the call I got from a potential buyer the very first day I put that on my car. Obviously, I didn’t get a call every day, but keep in mind that even a small profit from a single trade is significant.

Bandit signs are another low-cost advertising option. Some people use only bandit signs in their operations. A bandit sign is merely a “We Buy Houses” sign that also includes a contact number. That’s all it says; nevertheless, you should experiment to determine if certain variations improve performance in certain settings. We buy houses in any price range, location, or condition, as stated by some. They typically install around fifty at a time. With the current state of the market, you may be receiving numerous calls. Put out twenty or so of these, and I promise you’ll start getting calls. Bandit signs are prohibited by local ordinances in several communities. A phone call to city hall will be time well spent. It is sometimes prohibited inside the city limits but legal on the outskirts. It is often safe to place them in areas where you have seen similar items for some time. Simple is best. Place them at stop signs or parking lots, where drivers will likely slow down. Just use your brain. Do not try to jot down a phone number while driving on a highway where the average speed is 55 miles per hour. Close to where I live, I often see them by highway exit ramps. That’s nice there as well. You should probably include your URL there as well. Another common tactic is to direct potential purchasers to a recording instead of answering the phone, with the words “Free Recorded Message” prominently displayed on the sign. Many folks may be reluctant to call for fear of being pressured to purchase. Place “Free Recorded Message” or an 800 number and a message explaining who you are and what you do, along with your contact information on the card. Or, you might have them leave a voicemail.

Using classified websites is another low-cost or no-cost option to generate leads. Put out the word that you are in the market for a home. There are dedicated areas for real estate and services. You can test the market by placing advertising in various locations, which could read “We Buy Houses, Any Price, Area, or Condition” (or you could include more specifics). You don’t have to be a skilled writer to close a deal with a motivated seller. Publish your advertising already.

You may also find services that will deliver your message to Apple iPhone users. Not exactly free, but at $.03 per message delivered to an iPhone, it’s not too expensive.

Bird dogs can also be hired through an online platform. I utilize my website to find potential bird dogs to hire. I don’t get a ton of hits when I set up a webpage asking for people to bring me houses, but I do get some. Some of them actually do work, and they’ve uncovered a wealth of bargains for me. Don’t be shy about spreading the news this way.

Feel free to spread the message online by creating a website or blog at no cost. Just get the word out there with an image; no need to go too creative. You can get a blog up and running in about two hours. Incredibly simple. It’s adequate for making some folks want to call you. Best of luck!

Nick Cifonie has been an investor, lecturer, and mentor in the real estate industry for many years. Nick has spent millions on real estate transactions, including bird-dogging, wholesaling, lease options, subject-to transactions, buy and holds, seller financing, retail flips, assignments, options, auctions, and even eBay. Nick currently hosts the fun and informative series “Real Estate Investor TV” (available at

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