How Do Real Estate Agents Find Sellers?

As the scarcity of homes for sale rolls on, a seller’s agent with a few listings can be much more certain of closing deals than a buyer’s agent that has many eager buyers. We know the problem is obtaining listings but solving the problem is the difficult part. Especially for new agents and buyer’s agents with little or no experience obtaining new listings.


Let’s start at the beginning. Just having a license does not make you a successful real estate agent. Years of experience are helpful but not as much as you might think if you don’t stay current on both the broad market and your local market. You need to be reading and learning constantly and that includes networking. Networking alone has dozens of possibilities that include real estate associations, hosting open houses, subscribing to email/newsletter lists of real estate attorneys/CPAs, and social media platforms like Facebook. But before you even do that, your local market might mean specializing in single-family home resales, new developments, condos, or multifamily units. To be a successful listing agent, you must be the most knowledgeable agent that you can be.

The best thing you can do when talking to prospective leads is to listen to their needs. Most sellers want to sell for the highest price, in the shortest time, and with the fewest hassles. But not all of them. Some will be in a terrible financial situation that requires raising cash as soon as possible. Others need special handling to be able to sell their current home and buy their next home. There will be many unique needs that you only learn about by listening closely. When you talk without listening, you look like a commission hunter instead of the trusted selling agent that your client wants.

When you do talk, be sure your passion and knowledge about real estate shine brightly. Genuinely let them know how you can help with any challenges that they have. Let them know how it fits with the local market and the solutions that you have to offer. This is a chance to show a specific interest in them and share your current knowledge of the market.

Have a honed elevator pitch ready to go in situations when you’re talking to people that might not even be prospects. Have a short concise speech ready at every opportunity that clearly communicates what your business is about and what it does for clients. Don’t tell them what you do. Tell them what you do for them. It helps to have a unique selling proposition (USP). A USP is often a tagline such as Red Bull – “You get stimulation of body and mind.” Your elevator speech and USP need to answer two fundamental questions – What makes you stand out from the crowd? Why should they do business with you?

Open houses can be one of your best sources for listings. Many successful and experienced agents will let you host these events because they find them tedious. But for the agent needing leads, a lot of the people attending open houses are looking to move. They might just be browsing but they will have to sell the house they live in before they can move to another one. This is a time when you can use your elevator speech and follow up with a script that gets them to tell you what they are going to need to sell their home in the future. Be sure you have a highly effective way to collect their contact information electronically. Also, point them to your website to find plenty of suggestions for sellers and how you create unique marketing plans to meet their needs.

There are several general things that selling agents need to be doing:

  • Request referrals from past clients. These can be clients that bought through you or that you sold for. Word of mouth is still the best marketing that you pay zero for. Nothing is more effective than a happy client who knows, trusts, and values your work.
  • Have a current and well-designed website that includes past listings that you’ve sold, testimonials from past clients, and an example of a current market analysis (CMA) that you’ve produced.
  • Everyone wants to know the current value of their home. With your target neighborhoods in mind, maintain a current and generic CMA that helps keep people aware of how their home fares in comparison. Along with being on your website, the CMA can go out in direct mailings to targeted neighborhoods, email blasts, and newsletters.
  • Consider and research good lead generation software that generates, organizes, and nurtures seller leads.
  • Seek out For Sale by Owner and expired listings.

A good place to start is by showing a high level of activity in your community. This is a fantastic way to build a broad network that can spread your word further into the community. These do not need to be real estate focused networks. While being a volunteer at a food bank might not be productive, participating with community counsels can be as well as block watch groups, and police/firefighter public safety committees.

Partner with a well-established listing agent. Even if you must give a portion of your early commissions for the privilege, you want to tag along as a silent partner to learn the intricacies of how they make a sales presentation. When you are ready to go at it solo, you’ll have someone to look over your early presentations for errors or anything that was missed.

Work on building marketing plans even before you have a listing. This is the place to begin working on your unique selling proposition. Along with a basic four- or five-page document, you want a long list of bullet points (50 or more) that you can choose from when developing client-specific marketing plans.

Again, partner with a well-established listing agent to learn their insights. However, as a buyer’s agent, you already have several valuable advantages. Right from the beginning, you can talk to sellers about how many eager buyers you already have. Hopefully, you’ve kept a good database and relationship with those previous buyers because most of them will become sellers at some point – may be right about the time you transition from a buyer’s agent to a selling agent. That’s where you want to send your first email blast, newsletter, and/or direct mailings. Even follow up with old buyers that couldn’t complete a deal a few years ago because they were priced out of the market. They might have eventually bought a starter home and are now ready to sell to move up.

You’ve also dealt with a lot of listing agents in your career as a buyer’s agent. Create a checklist of techniques that you’ve learned from selling agents that you can now make part of your business plan. Before you start making cold calls, have your basic marketing plan in place with multiple bullets to suit unique seller needs, and your USP. Then go on as many listing appointments as possible.

Bonus tip: offer Broker Price Opinions to prospects that are on the fence about making an appointment with you or anyone showing a mild interest in selling their house.

There are hundreds of more tips to find listings. Please share by leaving your comments.

Also, our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all experience levels with residential real estate. Please email your questions, inquiries, or article ideas to [email protected].

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