Thoughts about real estate, referrals, technology and big data.

In real estate – referrals are the name of the game. Sometimes, however, determining the best way to market to your personal sphere can be challenging.

Our VP of Marketing Lisa Fettner recently hosted a webinar with social media strategist and author, Katie Lance to discuss tips, tools and strategies for how to effectively leverage your personal sphere of influence to increase your referral business.

Here are some key takeaways from the webinar.

Do’s and Don’ts of working with your sphere. DO: be helpful, thoughtful, and treat your sphere how you would like to be treated. DON’T: send canned marketing, be a spammer, or be a nuisance.

Get creative with these top ways to market and expand your sphere:

  1. Use social media – post about a property on your old street or let your former colleagues know you’re an agent now.
  2. Holiday messages – send holiday messages from your work email with your business signature and information.
  3. Sponsor events – consider sponsoring friend/family events or activities (e.g., baseball game, charity run).
  4. Network – use family events and community activities to let your sphere of influence know you can be their real estate resource. Ask them what their real estate goals are for 2019.
  5. Lead a project that requires engagement from others (e.g., a family tree, have family members share their holiday decorations).
  6. Be the GO-TO real estate advisor for you sphere. Offer a 5-minute favor such as recommending a good landscaper or pulling some market data about their area.
  7. Be the hero of your sphere – have a network in place to help anyone, anywhere. We live in a global, extended market place – consumers expect you to give them information no matter where they live.

You don’t always have to say yes. Although you may want to work every referral that comes your way, it may not always make sense to. Lisa emphasizes that it’s critical to be consistent with who you do and don’t work with – doing so will save on “hurt feelings” or confusion in the future. Below are some scripts Lisa shared to help you navigate the situation.

  • I’d be happy to tour/look at/do an analysis of your property at any time. We can either work together, or I can find you someone who would be a perfect fit.
  • I’d love to help you, but I’m not an expert in your area/price point/property type. I’m a member of a network that works with agents who specialize in [xyz] and can help find the best fit for you.
  • I actually make it a policy not to work directly with friends or family members, but I’m part of a nationwide network of top agents, and I can find the perfect one for you.

The power of staying in touch with your sphere. Staying in touch with your network could be the difference between them calling you or someone else when they have a real estate need or question. Stay top-of-mind by choosing your social channels based on what your clients and future clients are using. Katie emphasized the importance of creating content that attracts who you want to work with (e.g., video, Facebook Live). You only have so many hours in a day, so focusing on quality over quantity is key – remember, you don’t have to be all things to all people.

Use LinkedIn and Facebook to stay in touch with your sphere. Lisa shared a few easy tips on how to make the most of LinkedIn: update your bio, let people know that you’re in real estate, publish and share new content and reach out to 5-10 people in your sphere once a month on the platform.

On Facebook, Katie suggests creating different lists to organize your sphere and interactions (e.g., friend/connect with them, interact with them, add them to your “see first” notifications). Use Facebook messenger to start a private conversation or use the FB voice feature to send them a personal message.  If you’re creating one piece of content, make sure you distribute it in multiple ways, on multiple channels (e.g., videos, social media posts, blogs, newsletters).

Are you making the most out of your personal sphere of influence? Watch the full webinar recording here.

Q4 tends to be the the quietest season of the year business-wise, but it’s probably the most important one when it comes to relationships – because you have the opportunity to finish the year strong and to fill your pipeline for the upcoming year.

Our VP of Marketing Lisa Fettner recently held a webinar with Dan Smith, a former top-producing agent and now a coach, consultant and speaker. They discussed how to make the most of your Q4 to ensure that you hit the ground running in Q1.


Q4 is filled with both industry and community events – all of which represent great referral opportunities. Dan encourages agents to use these events to prospect for 2019, “Plant those seeds today and harvest them in the next year.”

The key is to act strategically and have a plan. While you might simply want to go to an event to learn and/or mingle with your friends – you can’t afford to NOT take advantage of making new connections.  Be sure to think about who you want to meet and what you want to get out of every event and conference that you attend.

Real Estate Events:

  • Introduce yourself to new people and make referral connections – everyone is there to do the same thing, so they’ll be relieved when you make the first move.
  • Try to sit with people you don’t know and strike up a conversation.
  • Email people you want to meet prior to the show – if you know someone who’s coming from a different market, make plans to meet up – and bring a friend along with.

Community Events:

  • Set yourself a goal of speaking with a specific number of people during each event.
  • Always wear a piece of logo-wear that immediately identifies you as an agent. Bonus points for creating an “ugly-logo-wear sweater!” during the holidays.
  • Once people know you’re an agent or a broker, they’ll naturally ask you about the state of the real estate market because people love to talk about real estate! Dan suggests asking them what their real estate plans are for the coming year – it’s less salesy than simply asking if they’re planning to buy or sell property.
  • Try to provide a 5-minute favor (providing someone with a small item of value that only takes 5 minutes). Offer to send recent sales prices in a specific neighborhood or the name of a good mortgage consultant.


Q4 provides agents with great opportunities to reach out to past clients in a “non salesy” way.  Think about different and fun ways to expand your personal professional sphere.

  • Identify your raving fans – Dan reminded us that 90% of an agent’s referrals come from 10% of their friends/family members/past clients, etc. Agents absolutely MUST follow-up with those folks the most frequently and not take them for granted.
  • Consider creating Facebook Lists of people you know. Bonus points for creating different lists for different types of contacts.
  • Use the information you learn on social media to a make a personal connection with people when you see them at events.
  • Dan emphasizes effective social media usage is about engaging with other people’s posts – by “inserting” yourself into the sphere of other’s lives, you make a more authentic connection.
  • If you are going to post – make it engaging. Consider holding a holiday decorating or fun family photo contest.
  • Don’t forget the holiday cards – which can be sent any time in Q4. Try to make them as customized as possible – either with an insert, short note, or unique image.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for testimonials during this time as well. People aren’t as busy, and they have time to write or record (video!) a short testimonial for you.


Q4 is also a great time to update your photos, online information/profiles and marketing materials.

  • Create a Google doc containing all sites and locations where you have a profile or listing. Make sure that all posted information is current and consistent.
  • Create a document of client testimonials and stories – and add to them throughout the year.
  • Take a new professional headshot. You want to be sure that if someone is meeting you at a coffee shop, they will recognize you based on your photo.
  • Update your lists and feeds – add new clients and prospects as needed.
  • Dan suggests sending yourself a calendar invite for the first Monday of the month. Take some time to update your information on a regular basis. Doing so makes the process much less time consuming and overwhelming.

Trying to prepare for the coming year can be overwhelming, but Dan suggests doing at least the following 3 activities during Q4:

  • Identify your raving fans and make contact.
  • Organize your database.
  • Engage with people on Facebook or Instagram on a regular basis – but limit yourself to a short amount of time. At the end of the day – and especially in Q4 – being a successful agent is about taking advantage of those in-person connections!

Watch the full webinar recording here and learn more at

“Kickbutt leadership is when mindfulness meets vision, opportunity and engagement.”

Having strong leadership skills can make all the difference when growing and cultivating your team. During our latest webinar, Author, coach and speaker Coni Meyers joined our VP of Marketing Lisa Fettner to share how agents can become more resilient, identify new ways to collaborate, improve problem solving, decision-making and managing stress.

Whether you’re a new or experienced agent, these leadership practices will help you become a better, more empathetic, and effective leader.

Using mindfulness as a leader will help you attract your tribe. Mindfulness can help you build your team and increase your bottom line, so you have more time to focus on the things you want to do. Coni explained that great leadership is about supporting others, so they go beyond ourselves.

Happiness vs. Success. “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” –Albert Schweitzer. The first tool you need to have as a leader is to come from a place of happiness and passion. This will determine the type of people and team members you attract. Scientific studies have shown that people who come from a true place of happiness are 31% more productive and 37% better at sales. Additionally, 10% of our happiness comes from external influences and 90% is caused by your mindset – meaning YOU can change your own reality and mindfulness.

Coni shared five exercises you can do to increase your positivity:

  1. Showing gratitude
  2. Journaling
  3. Exercising
  4. Meditating
  5. Performing “Acts of kindness”

Emotional Intelligence (EQ). The first step to achieving emotional intelligence is self-awareness. It’s the ability to understand our own emotions and understand the emotions of others and manage it. Emotional Intelligence author Daniel Goleman found that EQ accounts for 67% of the skills we need to be a top leader. Once we become aware of our emotions, we must learn to manage them and our team accordingly.

Empathy (cognitive and emotional) and engagement are another crucial piece of emotional intelligence. Cognitive empathy is when we can see the world through others’ eyes. As an agent, that might be seeing your client’s dream home through their own eyes and understanding what they want it to look like. Emotional empathy includes understanding and empathizing how emotional (both happy or sad) the purchase or sale of a home could be for your clients. Having both cognitive and emotional empathy will impact the engagement and communication you will have when working with them.

Having emotional intelligence will allow you to attain a higher level of financial success, develop a better organization culture and create a more productive workforce. Emotional intelligence distinguishes great leaders from average ones. It is learned, versus IQ which is genetic.

Self-management. There are five different areas of self-management:

  1. Stress – Using mindfulness practices to reduce your stress can make a big difference.
  2. Organization – The more organized we are, the better off we will be in managing ourselves.
  3. Decision making – Reduced stress and increased organization will help you make better decisions and allow you to help others (e.g., your clients and team members) do the same.
  4. Problem solving – A key component of problem solving is having a key vision of our desired outcome.
  5. Time management – When it comes to time management, it’s about how to incorporate the things we need to do into the time we have, that will help us move forward. Another key component of self-management is listening.

Coni shared five simple mindfulness practices which included:

  • Taking 10 minutes to yourself in the morning.
  • Every 1-2 hours take 1-2 minutes to breathe.
  • Before a meeting or taking a phone call, take a few minutes to prepare.
  • Start meetings discussing something personal to help clear everyone’s minds.
  • Take five minutes to yourself to breath and reflect at the end of the day before racing out of the office.

By improving your mindfulness, you will become a more effective leader, improve your bottom line and save time for you and your team.

Watch the full webinar here and download Coni’s workbook to improve your leadership skills.

We’re in the throes of prime networking season. Summer parties and industry events all provide real estate agents with opportunities to make connections and generate more business. Just like anything else, networking is a skill — one that many of us are uncomfortable practicing.

Below are 10 tips to help you network and garner more referral business like a pro.

  1. Have a plan. Whether it’s committing to make three new connections or to meet one specific person, it’s important to decide what you want to get out of each event you attend. If you can get a list of attendees in advance, identify who you want to connect with and if you know someone who can introduce you (and of course, vice versa).
  2. Figure out your icebreaker/elevator pitch in advance. Think of a way to introduce yourself or your company in a fun, interesting way. Develop a few-sentence description that describes you or your company. Rather than simply saying you’re an agent or broker, include something that sets you apart. Perhaps you focus on a specific neighborhood or type of buyer/seller, or you sold a unique property that everyone knows about. A description that receives a smile or positive reaction makes people more receptive to starting a conversation.

Be sure to tailor your pitch to your audience. If you’re meeting with other agents, you might want to emphasize your market knowledge and area expertise. If you’re meeting with prospective homebuyers or sellers, your pitch should reflect that.

  1. Make your name memorable. Remembering who you met after an event can be challenging, even if you collect a business card. Try to come up with a way to make your name memorable. Consider if your name is often misspelled or mispronounced and offer clarification. Does your company name have a fun or interesting meaning or story behind it that you can share?
  2. Make yourself memorable. While you want to be dressed appropriately for any event, try to wear something that can help start a conversation. Logo-wear is a great way to immediately identify yourself as an agent or broker and orchestrate a dialogue about your company or business. Or, wear a fun accent piece (bonus points if it ties in with your company’s colors) like jewelry, socks, shoes or a tie that are easy for someone to comment on as a way to break the ice.
  3. Divide and conquer. If you attend an event with a group or another person, try to split up — at least for part of the time. Try not to sit together, or at least leave an open chair between you. That way, if the table or row fills up, you’ll have the opportunity to make a new connection.

If you’ve reviewed the attendees in advance, divide up the list of people with whom you want to connect. At a large event, you’ll have a better chance of speaking with more people. It’s okay to reconnect with your partner if you both need to speak with someone. Send each other a text or let the person you’re speaking with know you’ll find your colleague and circle back at some point during the event.

  1. Listen and learn. Interactions at networking events can sometimes last only a few minutes, so it’s important to listen intently and ask open-ended questions to make them as productive as possible. Try to identify an opportunity where you have common ground, can solve a problem or can fulfill a direct need. Mention if you’ve handled a referral from their area or have sold/found buyers for properties in a specific area. Do you have friends, colleagues or experiences in common that can help you make a deeper connection?
  2. Follow up and be a giver. Look for ways to provide a “five-minute favor” — e.g., finding a small way to add value to someone’s life in a few minutes. Think of a question you can ask to spark a conversation. Ask about a current market or neighborhood, or if there’s a question/information that you could provide help with. Sending an article, making an introduction or providing information is an easy way to follow up and keep a dialogue going.
  3. Keep your body language open and welcoming. You’re at an event to mingle, so you want people to feel comfortable approaching you as well. Smiling, nodding and making eye contact shows that you’re engaged and interested. Include a new person who joins the conversation with an introduction — both of yourself and who you’re speaking with. Doing so will also help you remember names.
  4. Say goodbye graciously. Determining how to end a conversation can sometimes be challenging, but it’s expected at a networking event. Some ways to “extricate” yourself from a conversation include:
  • Tell the person you’re speaking with that you enjoyed your conversation, but you need to “keep mingling.”
  • Let them know that you’re getting a drink/something to eat and offer to get them one.
  • Thank them for chatting with you and let them know you’ll be following up with the information you offered during your conversation.
  • Invite them to lunch or coffee, or to visit your office the next time they are in your city.
  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for the business, if it’s appropriate. Sometimes it does make sense to ask for a referral/business opportunity — if the person you’re speaking with specifically asks. When that does occur, it’s critical to follow up as quickly as possible. Send an email or call within 24 hours, offering to set up an appointment. Provide some options that work for your schedule. Find out if anyone else needs to be included in the conversation or appointment and get contact information for everyone who needs to be involved.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

Re-posted from Giveback Homes

ReferralExchange brought out 80 employees to volunteer over the span of four days to help transform the home of a local Veteran and his wife.

Glenn is a navy veteran who fought in Vietnam, and Joanne is a retired nurse practitioner who is gearing up for her 23rd surgery, this time to replace her knee. The couple has lived in this house (that Joanne’s grandfather built) for 5 generations. Joanne grew up next door and would tell us stories of when she was a kid living on the property. From square dancing, to Christmas pageants, it all went down here for their family. The Claghorn’s are getting a new roof and a fresh paint job on the home that’s housed so many memories for them.

The volunteers helped tear off the old roof, and repair dry rot before replacing the shingles and giving the home some fresh paint. These repairs will allow Glenn and Joanne to stay in their home and solve their leaking roof problem, so they can focus on their health.

Both Fox40 and Good Day Sacramento stopped by the build site to check on the progess.

Thanks to ReferralExchange’s generous donation and army of volunteers, the Claghorn’s are ready for the rain with their new and improved roof.

Want to support impactful projects like this? Check out the Giveback Homes build page to donate to an affordable housing project benefiting families in need both here in the U.S. and around the world.

As a top performing agent, you don’t need to be convinced that relationships are your most important asset. Yet, creating a day-to-day strategy to develop and maintain those relationships can be a real challenge.

Zvi Band, CEO/founder of the intelligent customer relationship management (CRM) platform, Contactually, recently joined us for a webinar to share the key steps of the CAPITAL strategy for relationship building, unique ways to add value and gain intelligence, and how to effectively leverage a database as your launchpad for growing and nurturing your sphere of influence.

Relationships still rule, but much has changed. Relationships in real estate have always been important. But information and local expertise used to be a competitive advantage; today buyers and sellers have more access to information than ever before.

Technology and data has also changed the way agents and consumers communicate and do business. Additional tech tools, gadgets, and data learnings are available, yet nothing can replace the human side of the business – that’s YOU. From Contactually’s perspective, technology is helping to increase productivity and production – helping the best agents be even better.

The relationships we are building are actively decaying. Between emails, newsletters, push notifications and marketing drip campaigns, we have created a world of information overload. If you can’t remember what you had for breakfast two weeks ago, how would someone remember the details from meeting you weeks, months or years later?

If you want to stay top-of-mind or be the first person a potential client thinks of, you must have a strategic plan. Zvi explains that it’s about having a clear goal, building a process and strategy to execute your goal and then executing it repeatedly.

Key steps of the CAPITAL strategy include:

  • Consistency – one of the most important things you can practice. Consistency is all about building and maintaining a habit. Zvi shared the habit loop which includes the cue (what kicks the brain into automatic mode and tells it which habit to use), routine (your physical, mental or emotional response) and reward (the prize telling your brain “this loop is worth remembering in the future”).
  • Aggregate – many people struggle to build and maintain a database, but every professional needs to have one. Start simple with a stack of business cards or excel spreadsheet. Collect your contacts into one centralized location where your entire network can be accessed.
  • Prioritize – the people in your database matter in different ways, which is why you need to prioritize the relationships that are most important. Consider grouping your database based on the type of relationship (i.e. past clients or new leads) or tiering your database based on known level of priority (i.e. high v. low) so you can focus your time efficiently.
  • Intelligence – what do you know about the people in your database? Intelligence is about collecting and capturing useful data. Do this by writing everything down, looking for social objects (i.e., shared resources or experiences) and embracing small talk. Often remembering the smallest detail can make the biggest impact. Zvi suggests including a few points for each contact such as the state of your relationship/their business, notes and next steps from the interaction, and any personal details you remember.
  • Timely engagement – so when do you reach out? There isn’t a correct answer for how often you reach out, but what matters is that you are completing consistent points of communication. Set reminder timers that are frequent enough to stay top of mind, while keeping the number of reminders to a manageable amount.
  • Adding value – even saying hello is adding value. Every interaction should be meaningful, relevant or valuable in some way. You can deliver value by acknowledging someone with a thoughtful message, solving their problems, making connections and creating experiences.
  • Leverage – make your routine as seamless as possible. This could be programming email templates in your CRM or hiring a virtual assistant to outsource mundane, time-consuming tasks. Use automation where appropriate, so you can spend time being authentic with the people who matter most.

Apply these key steps to your marketing efforts and remember these takeaways: our relationships are our most important asset, preach to your own choir, build a strategy and execute consistently.

Watch the full webinar here and learn more at

As an agent, referrals you receive are a key barometer of your success, and the number of referrals you send and receive can turn a good year into a great year. Unfortunately, many agents don’t track their referral sources — nor do they actively include generating more referrals into their regular business and marketing planning.

Based on our proven track record at ReferralExchange, below are five ways to identify and grow your referral business.

1. Identify three to five friends or family members who know a lot of people. We all have friends, family members or current/past clients who seem to have a huge social network, and these individuals can be a great source of referral business for you. I was recently invited to a “shopping party” at one such friend’s house, and I always try to do some “gentle networking” at these types of events. By the end of the afternoon, I’d made several great connections to follow up with.

How to get business: If they’re a past or current client, ask for a testimonial. If they’re a friend or family member, let them know that you can help them — or their friends — with any of their real estate needs. Make sure they’re on your holiday card/email list so your real estate expertise stays top of mind.

2. Take advantage of not-so-chance encounters. People you meet seemingly at random can be a great source of business as well, but it’s important to plan for them in advance. One agent in our network commits to handing out five business cards per day. She won’t allow herself to come home until she’s handed out those business cards.

How to get business: Have your ice-breaking opening lines ready to go to initiate a conversation. At that recent shopping party, I made my connections by simply saying, “I can be casually dressed at work, but when I speak or attend conferences, I have to dress up.” This prompted people ask what I did for a living. Make sure you wear a logo-branded item when you’re out and about, so that someone can see it and ask, “Are you in real estate?” Offer them your business card if they have questions or want to keep in touch.

3. Maximize your professional, business or service contacts. These types of contacts are indispensable to our work and personal lives — and they can all significantly help your business, as they have a good read on the community and know just about everyone. When we moved to our first home in Northern California with our newborn daughter, our agent gave us a list of local pediatricians, dentists, kid-friendly restaurants, etc. That list stayed on our refrigerator for the entire year, until she sent us an updated version with her holiday card.

How to get business: Ask these contacts for coupons or discount opportunities to distribute with your listing or buyer presentations, client gifts or open houses. Regularly ask them for business, and be sure to refer back in kind. Consider placing a candy jar in their offices, and then periodically drop in to refill it and stay top of mind.

4. Get more involved with the associations, groups or organizations that you are a member of. People like to work with people like themselves, and will always try to find common ground. Garnering referral business from associations or groups that you’re a member of provides you with a “warm entry.” I once coached an agent who loved to surf, and we made that the core of his local business development efforts. He placed ads in his club’s newsletter, sponsored surf events and gave away free surf wax branded with his contact information.

How to get business: Find relevant ways to get involved that showcase your expertise. Host real estate seminars targeted to your group’s interest. For example, if you’re a member of a wine group, host a tasting alongside a seminar on the value of remodeling a kitchen. Or if there are vineyards located nearby, host a seminar on second homes/vacation properties. You can even consider making a donation to your preferred charity/organization for every closed transaction.

5. Identify three friends/family members/former colleagues who live in different cities or states. Your sphere of influence is a great source of referral business, but consider expanding it to cover outside of your market or beyond your immediate contacts. Most referral networks, mine included, provide you with a pool of colleagues and connections in different areas so that you can help anyone anywhere. We have an agent who gets referrals from friends of friends and family members simply because she let them know she’s part of a nationwide referral network and can help them find an agent no matter where they’re located

How to get business: Make sure everyone in your sphere — and expanded sphere — knows what you do. Post fun real estate stories on your social channels. If you have to send an extended family email (perhaps you’re coordinating a family reunion), be sure to do it from your work email, with your work signature. Make sure you include what your occupation is in your social profiles. And, be sure to let them know that you’re part of a nationwide network and can help them even if they aren’t local.

Making a commitment to grow your referral business doesn’t have to be hard or overwhelming. You simply need to look to your extended life and activities and then take action. Be sure to track any of the activities that you do so that you can determine which ones are the most effective. Start with one or two to see how they work and add more as time and resources permit.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

Without a strategy, you’re just throwing something against a wall and hoping that it sticks.” –Katie Lance

Real estate is filled with lead and referral opportunities but finding the right ones that work for your business can be challenging. Social media expert Katie Lance and our VP of Marketing Lisa Fettner recently hosted a webinar to discuss how to track your lead gen, focus your referral efforts and create content that attracts the clients you want to work with.

Follow these simple steps to identify referral sources that will help you create and sustain a business you love.

Track and manage your lead generation. It’s important to implement a CRM or system that helps track who you’ve worked with, who you want to work with, what you’re going to say to them, where that business is coming from and how you are going to connect and keep in touch with them. As an agent, you’re often working with a variety of different people at the same time – so it’s critical to stay organized and track everything.

Reflect on last year. Take a look back at 2017 and ask yourself:

  • Who was your favorite closing? Why?
  • What was your best source of business?
  • What was one “great idea” a trusted colleague had?
  • What were your total number of referrals?

Assessing your previous year of business will help you understand what worked, what didn’t and where you should focus your time. Think about what messaging and topics you talked about that had the best response and resonated with your network. Lisa advised to make a 30-day plan of active communication, take a rest and then follow-up in 60 days, and then follow-up with another touch point in 120 days if you don’t hear from them. Your most active conversations will likely be with those who you connect with in those initial 30 days. The home buying and selling process can take a while, however, so it’s important to continue to touch base for several months after the initial contact.

When marketing yourself, make sure to communicate and highlight your expertise and experience to your clients and prospects in a way that make it about them. If you specialize in single family homes in the suburbs, you could share that you’ve helped five families move into their target neighborhood.

Choose your channels wisely. Today, social media gives us endless opportunities to communicate and connect with clients and prospects. It’s important to choose your social media channels based on what your clients and future clients are using and create content that attracts who you want to work with. Katie suggested asking or surveying your database to find out their preferred platforms and what they like to see when putting together a social media strategy. With all the competing noise on social media, it’s about quality over quantity.

LinkedIn for example, is a great way to connect with new and old contacts. Katie recommended keeping an updated bio, publishing new content and giving/asking for recommendations to generate new business.

Take the referral challenge. Think about how many referrals you did in the past year, and then increase that number by 50% to set your new goal. Download and fill out our Referral Planner to help determine where you can generate that new business – i.e., through friends/family, associations, partnerships, etc. Mapping out these different, everyday contacts you interact with, will open the door for new referral business.

Create the right content. The specific type of content you create and share, will inevitably attract a specific group of people/person. Katie shared a content grid that can help you get started and brainstorm 30+ ideas of what to post – e.g., local real estate info, local & community news, personal interest, home and design.

Good content = good referrals and leads. When you put content out on a consistent basis that has your voice, opinion and personality, people start to recognize and remember you. Video is a great way to help you achieve that given most people retain 95% of the message in a video vs. 10% of what they read in a text. Additionally, people spend 5x more time with video than any other type of content on Facebook – even more reason to Facebook Live your open house tour!

Lisa emphasized how powerful storytelling, being relevant and adapting content through customizable templates can be when attracting new clients. For example, if you’re known for your “best restaurants list,” considering creating one for families with kids and one for empty nesters looking for a perfect date night spot. Don’t be afraid to repurpose content and share it everywhere.

Watch the full webinar here and download our free Referral Planner.

“A lead is simply an inquiry on a property. A referral is a lead that’s been qualified: The person giving the referral has taken time to ask specific questions that qualify that lead.” — agent quoted in the 2018 Agent-to-Agent Economy study by ReferralExchange

For newer agents entering the industry, leads are an important part of how they grow their business. However, for more established agents, referrals represent a real opportunity not just in business coming in but in creating a network where they can refer clients out. Many clients may need an agent outside their main agent’s geographic area or service parameters. When that occurs, some clients may feel they have to go it alone, however having a referral system that supports their sphere doesn’t just provide the agent with additional income, it delivers peace of mind for agents and their clients.

What does a strong referral business look like and how can this be a potential “side hustle” for agents, providing a secondary income stream?

ReferralExchange recently published its second referral report, and the data continues to show that doing more referral business just makes sense – both personally and financially. In fact, this year’s data showed that the value of referrals is increasing along with real estate prices.

The report surveyed over 1,800 top-performing agents who are members of the ReferralExchange Network. The majority of agents participating agents had over 14 years of industry experience and had done more than $5 million and/or 20 transactions in the past year.

The full report can be found here, but highlights of the report include:

Referrals can have significant impact on your bottom line.  While the amount of referral business varied due to average price point and location, over 40 % of the agents surveyed earned $10,000 – $50,000/year in referral fees.

  • 25% earn $10-$20K
  • 17% earn $20-$50K
  • 8% earn $50K+

Most agents are part of at least one referral network.  And, over half of them are members of 2 or more networks.  Over one third of them report that 20% of their inbound referrals come from these network(s).

Most of the agents don’t purchase leads, and for those who do, many don’t track the annual income that they earn from them

  • 66% purchase no leads
  • 16% purchase up to 50 leads/year
  • 16% purchase +50/year
  • 27% of agents did not know how much income they earned from their leads

Agents generally receive more referrals than they send out. Most agents who send out referrals are more concerned with a positive client experience and maintaining their reputation vs. the income they end up earning.  Research shows that sending out a greater number of referrals can definitely impact their annual revenue.

Timing is everything – Agents define “referrals” as prospects who are ready to act:  We asked what they think the difference is between a lead and a referral. Most felt that a referral is a person who’s made contact with the intent to sell or buy. Whereas referrals are considered “warm” and “vetted,” leads are described as “cold” and “unqualified.”

Take advantage of ways to increase your referral business

Many referral networks allow agents to submit referrals in addition to receiving them. By actively generating and submitting more referral business, agents can counter local lack of inventory. Ways to generate referrals include:

Expand your sphere of influence to include friends, colleagues and family members. You need to let everyone they know they can support their real estate needs – no matter where they’re located.

Always ask for both sides of the business if you have a client who is moving into/out of the area. For buyers, offer to help them find an agent wherever they’re moving from. For sellers, continue the relationship by finding an agent wherever they’re locating.

Work your local connections with local vendors such as nail/hair salons, dry cleaners, doctors, etc. Many of them know who’s moving in/out of town so let them know you can help provide connections anywhere in the country.

Take advantage of chance encounters when you’re out-and-about. People love talking about real estate and any conversation – even when you’re on vacation – can be a referral opportunity.

Become the local relocation contact for small to midsize local companies or organizations who might not have an in-house relocation contractor. You can provide this service for employees moving into – and out of – your area.

Improve the ROI on your marketing and advertising efforts by monetizing every lead – even those outside or your preferred price point or property type.  Consider referring out those leads. While you won’t earn a full commission, a referral can provide you with additional marketing funds.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

The IRS allows IRAs and 401(k)s to purchase investment real estate, but most people don’t know where to start or how to do so.

Clay Malcolm from New Direction IRA – a self-directed IRA service, recently joined us for a webinar to share how to generate more commissions from your existing client base via IRA investment. As a real estate expert, you can also use this IRS rule to invest your own SEP IRA or Solo 401(k).

Two benefits of self-directed IRAs benefits for you and your business. The first benefit is to be aware that by putting your real estate expertise to work within your own traditional/ROTH IRA, SEP IRA, SOLO 401(k), or HSA, you may be able to retire with more savings and/or sooner. Secondly, by working with IRAs, you are opening up a new source of business. As a real estate professional, this knowledge base can allow you to create more business out of the same relationships you already have. Your existing clients and contacts may have IRA money that is sitting on the sidelines, and you can help them put that to work.

Tax-deferred/free plans eligible for self-direction. Traditional IRA, ROTH IRA and HSA (Health Savings Accounts) are the three individual plans that can be used for a real estate investment — although they all have different contribution and distribution rules and different tax advantages.

Employer plans. Simplified Employee Pension (SEP IRA), Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees of Small Employers (SIMPLE IRA) and a 401(k) Plan, as long as the plan document allows for it, can also be used. If you’re self-employed, a SEP IRA or individual 401(k) may be a good option as it gives you a higher annual contribution limit than individual plans.

Due diligence lies with the account holder. The IRS does not endorse or approve investments (nor does the IRA provider). It’s important to remember that the due diligence of these investments lies with the account holder (you or your client) and their team.

While these types of accounts can invest in real estate, they cannot invest in life insurance or collectibles – i.e., any work of art, rug or antique, alcoholic beverage, stamp or coin, or any other tangible personal property specified by the IRS for purposes of this subsection. Possible assets include precious metals, public or private entities, lending and real estate. One of the key set of rules that the IRS does engage in is the self-dealing concept. A personal benefit derived from your plan that does not come to you as a distribution is not permitted.

Prohibited transactions include selling something you own to or buying from IRA, personal use of plan assets, use or assets by fiduciary or providing services for IRA.

Real estate investment choices are varied:

  • Single family and multi-unit homes, apartments, condominiums and commercial property
  • Improved or unimproved land, mortgages, lease/options, foreign property investments, trust deeds and leveraged and un-leveraged property
  • Fix and hold, fix and flip or redevelop, hold for appreciation, short sales and foreclosures

Setting up an account takes just three easy steps. You can download an application online, fund your account and acquire assets so you are ready to make your first purchase. You can fund your account by doing a transfer, distribution/rollover, former employer 401 (k) rollover or annual IRA contribution. Those procedures are not taxed or penalized.

Whichever IRA provider you or your client use, it’s important to select an IRA provider who understands these types of investments, since they’re a bit different from the standard IRA. In addition, make sure they offer free educational and technological, ongoing support services. You want to have an expert in your corner to make sure that you never end up in a bad situation.

Watch the full webinar here and learn more at