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[Best of 2017] 65 Sources of Real Estate Referrals You May Have Overlooked

December 21 2017

We're continuing an annual tradition of counting down our top 10 articles of the year. The following article was originally published in January and is #7 in our countdown. See #8 here.

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Referrals are a crucial part of an agent's money-making engine. According to research, 35 percent of a Realtor's business comes from past client referrals, and even outbound referralsoutbound referrals to other agents make up 12.5 percent of an agent's annual transactions.

A studystudy from ReferralExchange and the Council of Residential Specialists reveals that referral leads have a higher close rate than average, too. About 50 percent of both inbound and outbound referrals result in a completed sale.

Clearly, referrals make up a significant amount of an agent's bottom line. So what can agents do to cultivate more referrals?

To start, it pays to know who to target and how. According to ReferralExchange, there are 65 major sources of referrals in eight different categories. You're probably working many of these sources already--but are working them all?

Our bet is that there's at least a few referral ideas here that you may have overlooked. Check out this comprehensive list of referral sources for inspiration on cultivating new business.

Group 1: Friends, Families, Acquaintances

Of all referral sources, this group includes your nearest and dearest. You can nurture the people in this group through more personal means, like holiday cards, social activities, sponsoring friends/family events, posting on social media, and more.

1. Friends
2. Relatives
3. Neighbors
4. Co-Workers
5. Spouse
6. Children

Group 2: Not-so-Chance Encounters

You never know where, or from whom, your next closed deal could come from. Just being out and about is an opportunity to cultivate new leads. To that end, try to come across as friendly and approachable--say hello to people in line at the grocery store, for example, or rely on clothing with you or your brokerage's logo on it to encourage conversation and curiosity in others. But be ready--practice some standard talking points so that your conversation flows freely and naturally, all while being beneficial to your business.

Here are some places and situations that can be conducive to finding potential referral sources:

7. Vacation
8. Business Travel
9. Shopping
10. General Activities/Errands
11. Garage and Estate Sales

Group 3: Professional Contacts

These next three groups, though distinct, all focus on professional and business contacts. To cultivate referral sources in these three groups, you can do simple things like exchange business cards, or offer them something refillable (like a candy dish) to place in their office or shop.

More advanced nurturing tactics include offering exclusive discounts or coupons from these contacts' businesses to your clients. You can also create flyers with their contact information to new homeowners. Homeowners, especially those new to the area or homeownership in general, will value recommendations for professionals like electricians, handymen, plumbers, etc.

12. Doctor
13. Dentist
14. Veterinarian
15. Attorney
16. Accountant
17. Financial Planner
18. Insurance Salesman

Group 4: Service Contacts

19. Hair Salon
20. Drycleaner
21. Nail Salon
22. Tailor
23. Coffee Shop
24. Restaurant
25. Florist
26. Packing Store
27. Alarm Company
28. Storage Company

Group 5: Business Focused

29. FSBOs
30. Builders
31. Ex-Agents
32. Appraisers
33. Seminar Leads
34. Moving Companies
35. Out-of-Area Buyers
36. Mortgage Consultants
37. Open House Prospects
38. Floor Repair/Carpet/Wood
39. Contractors/Roofers/Painters
40. Stagers
41. Sellers moving to another city or state
42. Past clients and their friends/family members

Group 6: Organizations, Associations, Groups

Want to efficiently cultivate new business sources? Target people en masse by working with organizations and associations. Consider holding a home buying/selling seminar for a local homeowner's association, or advertising in or writing an article for your alumni association's newsletter. From volunteering at or sponsoring key events, the possibilities are multitude!

43. Book Club
44. Charity Group
45. Union Group
46. Alumni Association
47. Sports Team/League
48. Church/Synagogue
49. Health/Country Club
50. Men's/Women's Clubs
51. Homeowners Association
52. Parent/Teacher/School Association

Group 7: Corporate Relocation/Partnership

Have a major employer or other organization in your area that frequently recruits non-local candidates? Consider partnering with them to help incoming candidates relocate in your town. You can also hold homeownership seminars or lunch-and-learns to generate multiple leads at one time. Here are a few partnership ideas to get you started:

53. Military Base
54. Boarding School
55. Regional Retailers
56. Local Sports Team
57. Universities/Colleges
58. Small-to-Mid-Sized Companies

Group 8: Advertising/Marketing

And, finally, let's not forget the leads that come from good, old fashioned advertising and marketing. A few tips to remember: narrow your marketing's focus to particular zip codes, neighborhoods, demographics, and more. Always follow-up with leads ASAP--within five minutes, if possible! Here are seven marketing methods that can help you build your referral business:

59. Social Media Channels
60. Web Advertising
61. Quarterly Mailings
62. Lead Purchase Programs
63. Local Paper/Website/Radio/TV
64. Just Sold/Just Listed postcards
65. Telemarketing