Leads are crucial to finding real estate investment opportunities, but not all leads are created equally. When I started my real estate investing business, I tried every lead generation strategy I could get my hands on, but frequently found myself chasing deals that never materialized. I also ran into a lot of scam artists looking to take advantage of inexperienced real estate buyers and investors. Gaining legitimate real estate leads for investment opportunities was much more challenging than I expected.

legitimate real estate leads

How Investors Gain Legitimate Real Estate Leads

So, how do investors gain legitimate real estate leads? Let’s look at some common strategies.

Free Online Tools

Some real estate investors use free websites like Zillow and Craigslist to browse houses for sale. It doesn’t cost anything to browse the listings, plus you can find a lot of “For Sale by Owner” properties on these sites that you may not come across on the MLS. The userbase for these sites can be enormous, which is both a blessing and a curse: on the one hand, you’re guaranteed to see plenty of listings in your area; on the other hand, you’ll be competing with every other investor in your area to snap up the best deals.

Another issue with free online tools is that anyone can post listings on them, including scam artists. Sometimes a scammer will copy the photos and details from a genuine listing, and then pose as the owner or real estate agent. They’ll claim to live out of state and want to conduct all business over email or phone calls—maybe they’ll set up an appointment to meet you and show the property, but cancel at the last minute because of a flight delay or other bogus excuse. Most investors recognize the scam at this point, and all they’ve lost is some of their valuable time. Sometimes, though, the scammer is able to convince an inexperienced buyer to complete the deal, sight-unseen, and it’s only after the down payment check is cashed that the investor realizes the home belongs to someone else.

Overall, using free online tools for legitimate real estate leads is frequently a waste of time. It’s worth browsing free listing websites as a small part of your lead generation strategy, but you should focus most of your attention elsewhere.

Lead Lists

Many real estate investors use lead lists to find homeowners who are motivated to sell because of financial or personal circumstances (such as a divorce or impending foreclosure) but haven’t listed their property on the market yet. You have to cold call these leads and pitch yourself, which can be daunting, but if you catch the homeowner at the right time you may find that they’re very motivated to sell to you. However, the circumstances that cause homeowners to end up on lead lists are often painful and private, so they may not react kindly to finding out a stranger is aware of their personal turmoil. Also, every other investor in your area is likely using the same lead lists as you, which means you may not be the first (or second, or third…) investor to call that homeowner.

In addition, not every real estate lead list is legitimate. Many investors have wasted money on lead lists full of inaccurate or outdated information. Some lead lists are entirely fabricated and don’t contain any legitimate information at all. If you’re going to purchase a lead list, you should stick with reputable providers, preferably ones recommended to you by other professionals in the field.

Paid Advertising

Advertising is another way real estate investors gain legitimate leads. By paying to advertise your business, you’re increasing the chances that motivated home sellers come to you. Advertising builds name recognition as well, so even if a homeowner doesn’t choose to sell to you, they may recommend you to a friend who’s looking to make a quick deal. If you then back up your name recognition by doing good work, your reputation will keep spreading via word-of-mouth, earning you more business in the future.

Advertising does cost more than other legitimate lead generation methods, however, and you’ll need to use multiple mediums (like billboards, radio spots, and social media ads) if you want to stand out from the competition. Without a well-planned, targeted advertising and marketing strategy, you could end up spending a lot of your hard-earned cash without seeing much ROI. In addition, advertisement scams are a risk—if you ever receive an unsolicited email from a supposed local ad agency or news company offering you a deal that seems too good to be true, it’s likely a scam that you should avoid.

Advertising is a very effective way to gain legitimate real estate leads, but due to the cost, you really need to know what you’re doing if you want to see a positive ROI.

Gain Legitimate Real Estate Leads for Investment Opportunities

Early in my real estate investing career, I struggled to gain legitimate real estate leads on my own, even using tried-and-true methods like lead lists and paid advertising. I wasted a lot of money on ineffective marketing and spent way too much time chasing down dead-ends and scams. Then one day I drove past a We Buy Ugly Houses® billboard, and I realized what I was missing: the support and expertise of the HomeVestors® network of independent real estate investment franchises.

As a HomeVestors® franchisee, legitimate real estate leads will come to you, thanks to the nationally known and trusted marketing campaign. Plus, you’ll gain the one-on-one guidance of a HomeVestors® Development Agent to help you gain more leads, make more deals, and grow your investing business.

Are you ready to gain more legitimate real estate leads with the HomeVestors® marketing campaign? Contact us to learn how to become a HomeVestors® franchisee.



Each franchise office is independently owned and operated.


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