Whenever someone new to investing asks me if it is hard to get real estate leads with no upfront cost, they’re surprised when I tell them that it’s not hard at all. You can get tons of leads without putting any money down. However, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be quality leads.

Everyone wants to know a way to get “qualified” real estate leads without having to put down any money. It’s understandable but short-sighted. You’ll likely be spending a lot of time hustling for very few leads—and even fewer good ones. I’ve found that having no leads at all is better than having a bad lead. I’d rather not waste the time and resources chasing what turned out to be a flop.

Looking at the ways people try to get real estate leads with no upfront costs is a good way to understand why it’s tempting. Luckily, there are better ways to get leads that aren’t a waste of time.

real estate leads with no upfront cost

Quality Leads vs. Bad Leads

Leads are what make your real estate investment business work, so you want to make them count. A quality lead, one that has the potential to turn into a sale, has three major components:

  1. The homeowner reached out to you (indicating seriousness of intent)
  2. The information about the house was freely given (demonstrating trust and respect)
  3. No one else has access to the lead (eliminating competition)

A bad lead, on the other hand, is one filled with competition, which drives up prices and lowers your odds of converting the sale. You’ll know it’s a bad lead when you have to start pestering the owner. If the homeowner isn’t motivated to sell, you’re likely wasting your time.

Knowing the difference between a quality lead and a bad one can help ensure you don’t waste time or money.

Ways To Get Real Estate Leads With No Upfront Costs

No matter how you try to get leads, you must be persistent. In addition to following lead acquisition and nurturing best practices, you’ll likely have to put forth a bit more effort since you aren’t paying upfront. Here are a few ways to get real estate leads with no upfront costs.

Tapping Into Your Social Networks

I don’t just mean Facebook and Twitter (though, those work as well). Remind people that you are a real estate investor. Tell family and friends. Connect with people from high school to let them know that if they are looking to sell, or if they know someone who is, you’re the person they should talk to.

Pro Con
It’s free, and if you get enough people to spread the word, it might get you leads. It brings people to you. You have to be really persistent to get people to remember you, and it can get pretty awkward.

Using Free Online Tools

I know a lot of people who go on Craigslist every day looking for leads. I know people who advertise that they are investors on Craigslist and hope that someone will see it and call them. It’s still a huge marketplace.

Pro Con
A lot of people use Craigslist to list houses for sale. It’s mostly noise. It’s hard to be heard if you are buying, and hard to find a good house. There’s the potential that a listing is a scam or will waste your time. And, there’s also the chance that there’s a ton of competition.

Becoming a Real Estate Influencer

Real estate investing YouTube channels have become huge. You can post videos about your real estate business and have the chance to become well-known in the field. Hopefully, you can draw in enough engagement that people will come to you when they’re looking to sell their home.


Pro Con
It can be fun to do, and if it works, you can actually use that to make some good money. It can be really hard to gain attention and engagement—there is a lot of competition.

Search Hashtags

We all know how much people reveal on social media, whether that is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok. If you search specific hashtags (e.g., #homeseller, #foreclosure, etc.) they could reveal a potential seller who could turn into a lead.

Pro Con
Essentially, it’s the same as cold-calling—which sometimes works. It can be time-consuming. You are reaching out to people, not having them reach out to you. There’s the chance that other investors are doing the same, creating more competition.

Pounding the Pavement

Seasoned real estate investors know this method all too well. It involves canvassing a neighborhood where there is a higher rate of distressed homes, knocking on doors, and asking people if they are interested in selling. Maybe you’ll get lucky.

Pro Con
If it works, there probably isn’t much competition. You can spend time going around with your only reward being doors slammed in your face.

These are just a few ways I’ve seen investors get real estate leads with no upfront costs. I can’t tell you that they always pan out but they may be worth a try. If you’re looking for a better way to get quality leads, I can tell what I’ve done.

A Better Way To Get Quality Leads and Motivated Sellers

In my more than 20 years of real estate investing, you can bet that I’ve tried to get real estate leads with no upfront costs. But, the truth is, the best leads that I’ve come across have been ones that involved costs. I considered it an investment into my business. And, the best investment I made was in an independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchise.

HomeVestors® has an unmatched lead generation strategy—the nationally-known We Buy Ugly Houses® campaign. When someone is looking to sell, they contact HomeVestors® and I can get the lead. It’s a lead that came to me, the seller is motivated, they give me information freely, and there’s not much (if any) competition.

It’s not free. But unlike other paid leads, these are leads that are given just to me. My time is respected and my investment is protected.

If you are looking for the best way to get quality leads, request information about becoming a franchisee today



Each franchise office is independently owned and operated.


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