Leads For Real Estate Agents – Big Mistake Or Real Money Maker?

There are almost too many choices when it comes to buying leads for real estate agents. You can buy internet leads, phone verified leads, email leads; the list goes on and on. How do you know if the leads you buy are high quality or just data being re-sold a million times before you’re the next sucker who buys it? Let me tell you about my experience so you avoid some pitfalls…

Years ago, before I earned my real estate license in Seattle, WA, I was a mortgage broker for about 3 or 4 years. 99.9% of my business came from internet leads that I purchased from multiple online companies. The leads I purchased were from consumers filling out a request online for a refinance. I relied on these types of leads to make my living and it worked just dandy.

Some companies sold fantastic leads and other companies… well; let’s just say I couldn’t believe they were still in business. But all in all, when you averaged out the good and the bad, I was still able to make a great living solely on buying internet leads.

When I made the move to “real estate agent”, I decided to start off buying specific leads for real estate agents to jumpstart my business; just like I did as a mortgage broker. The problem was that the leads for real estate agents were nowhere near the quality of the leads for mortgage brokers.

It was like ordering a hamburger at Wendy’s and getting a pile of poop between two buns! I was expecting one thing and ended up getting useless junk that I couldn’t make me any money.

Now I’m not saying the mortgage leads were stellar, by any means, but I was able to generate business from them. At the time, it seemed like the right move. It saved me time from marketing myself and having to generate my own leads. Plus, I was making good money so why complain, right?

With the leads for real estate agents though, they were just horrible; the kind of horrible that makes you want to vomit. I kept trying different lead companies but the data was just insanely bad.

Most companies I bought leads from were simply reselling “lead data” over and over and over again. When I got the lead and made the phone call, the actual person who filled out the request would tell me, “that happened 2 years ago” or “we were signing up for some free baby care item” or “you’re the 70th agent to call.”

On top of having these consumers screaming at me to stop calling, “frustrating” didn’t begin to describe my feelings.

What really got me was that some of the companies, who sold me leads for real estate agents, wouldn’t give any kind of refund. At best, they’d give me another “pile of poop” lead, which was worthless to me. So you can guess the thousands of dollars I ended up losing!

This is when I said enough was enough and I really started digging into marketing and lead generation and how to do it like the “big boy” real estate agents did. I figured I could stop paying the $20-$70 per lead I was throwing down the toilet and set up my own real estate agent marketing program cheaper and at least on “semi”, if not “full” autopilot.

I don’t want to give you wrong idea though; there are good, solid, reputable companies who sell leads for real estate agents out there. The trick is spending your marketing dollars on trial and error to find them. It’s not easy or cheap because it’s almost impossible to tell the good from the bad until you actually buy the leads.

Of course, the benefit to finding a great company who generates leads for real estate agents is that you save yourself a ton of time. You’re only paying money “per lead” and all you need to do is make the follow up calls and emails. You don’t need to spend any time putting together a marketing plan either but that’s kind of an excuse because in reality it’s really a breeze to set up.

Knowing what I know now, I would definitely not go through the hassle, expense and frustration of dealing with internet, phone or email leads for real estate agents. Doing your own marketing and lead generation is a piece of cake. Most real estate agents just don’t know where to start, which is why they shake in their boots just thinking about it.

But if you’re patient and do a little “book learnin”, my opinion is that you’ll be far better off relying on your own marketing rather than a company who provides leads for real estate agents. Even if you find a good lead company, you’re relying on them for all your business just like I did way back at the beginning. (don’t underestimate diversification!)

If you’re still tempted to find some of these quality internet leads for real estate agents, go ahead but be careful. You know what to be prepared for now and the potential cost of it but you also know there can be a nice upside, if you find the right lead company.

Just do me a favor and don’t jump in head first. Take it slowly and test out these lead companies just like you’d test any marketing method you’d do yourself. At most, I suggest making these leads for real estate agents just a small part of your overall marketing plan.

Planning Your Retirement With Real Estate Investment

Most often, real estate investors are the ones who think ahead and have a vision for the long term that can recognize the importance of planning for their retirement. They also know that they cannot rely on Social Security for their retirement income. It simply is not sufficient and, by retirement age, who knows how that program will have altered?

Unless you have an superbly generous retirement program, you will need to plan for the long term. You will responsible for your financial freedom in your retirement years. It may turn out that real estate is one of the most excellent ways to plan, for 5 reasons:

1. Tax benefits encourage equity growth. The tax code encourages investors to use real estate to encourage equity growth. The like-kind exchange rule helps investors hold their capital invested and prefer cash flow over capital gains. None of your equity has to be relinquished in the form of taxes. Your rents are further sheltered by depreciation. In comparison with other retirement plans, such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and pensions, in which income is taxed as it is withdrawn, real estate is much more flexible, allowing you to borrow based on invested equity and enabling you to manage your capital without the rules of other plans restricting access.

2. You can time your debts. You have several control over the timing of mortgage debt. You can pay off a mortgage in coordination with a planned retirement date, and the longer you have to plan, the easier it is. With mortgage acceleration, you can calculate so far ahead that you can have your debts repaid in the exact year you want to retire. And you do not need to refinance. Simply calculate the payment you have to make each month to prepay your mortgage by the planned date.

3. Real estate values have surpassed inflation. With the exception of a few economic downturns, real estate surpasses inflation most of the time. On average, real estate is certainly ahead of the cost of living. The consistency of the long-term record is reassuring. The historical increase in prices, when compared to other popular ways to invest such as the stock market, has been predictable and stable. Inflation is a force that erodes an investment portfolio’s value, often producing losses in real spending power above and beyond after-tax profits. Real estate, with its combined solid market performance and annual tax benefits, overcomes this chronic problem faced by many investors.

4. Real estate is a secure investment. Buying real estate is one of the most secure ways to use and protect your capital. Market and investment risks are slight compared to other long-term investments. Cash flow risks can be mitigated with larger down payments, or through seeking properties that produce positive cash flow. And the higher your tax rate, the better your tax benefit, meaning that after-tax cash flow is affected directly. Real estate is also safe because it can be insured. Homeowner’s insurance is not only required, it is one of the ways that your investment is protected from risk.

5. Real estate can be used for retirement housing. Your investment can be maintained over the years with tenants paying your mortgage while you benefit from the annual tax advantages; and then, on retirement, with your mortgage paid off, the same property can be converted to a primary residence. Thus, you can live mortgage-free in your retirement.

You will probably not find any investments offering high safety and low risk that compare with all of the advantages of real estate. This point – valid comparisons of safety and risk – often is overlooked by investors and almost always ignored by financial planners. Whenever you hear the advice to forget about accelerating your mortgage and instead put the money in to some higher-yielding investment, always make sure the comparison is a fair one that includes relative risk levels. Make valid comparison before taking advice.