Do you pay for leads? Is it worth it?

Asked by Stuart Schonwetter, Tarzana, CA Mon Jan 27, 2014

Realtors, I am preparing for a presentation about paid for leads, so I wanted to reach out to you and ask… and if you answer I will share my findings with you.
What pay for lead sources have you tried and was it worthwhile for you?
How big of an area do you cover and what is the cost?
Would you recommend any of the services that you use?
Is there a great lead source that is not on my list?
Boomtown ROI, irealty leads, Lead Nozzle, Market Leader, Movato, Qazzoo, Real Estate Pipeline,, Sales Genie, Smart Zip, TigerLead, Trulia, Zillow Premier Agent, Zurple
Please message me or comment.

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Bev West, Agent, Greeley, CO
Fri Jan 31, 2014
The best lead generation to do is still get out in front of people and let them know what you do. Leads don't come easy.
4 votes
I used for years and it started a little slow until I started getting my system down and then it took off. I was selling 35 to 50 houses a year and I felt pretty successful but I was working way to hard for that amount of sales. My friend told me about another agent that was using the internet with great results so I started looking more into what I wanted and after some time I came up with the concept which differs from other online advertising and lead generation services as it provides exclusive advertising without rotation or competition in the areas that I serviced. Getting leads that have not been called by other agents in my area proved to be the best method of generating leads and I increased my sales from the 35 to 50 to over 200 annually.
Flag Mon Apr 3, 2017
I agree that leads don't come easy but there are degrees in which leads seem to come with a lower ROI as our times is our only true inventory. I know of people that believe going door to door is the easiest way to get leads and I have actually had my door knocked on by a practitioner of this practice. That seems like a good idea until we add our time to the equation and then I believe we are coming out on the short end of the deal. For this reason I believe that we have to multiply our efforts and the best way to do that is online. This is exactly why I created in the late 90's. When I got the T's crossed and the I's dotted, I was able to close over 200 homes a year. The reasons are pretty clear. There are some problems I freely admit:
1. We cannot be afraid of making a semi cold call
2. We have to respond pretty darn quick or the home shopper will continue clicking and surfing
3. We have to find the right source to help us generate leads
Flag Sun Apr 2, 2017
Lance King, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Thu Jan 30, 2014
Don't pay for leads for one simple reason: I don't have time for them, because every "lead generation" model I've come across has the same program - we'll bury you in garbage but if you have time to sift through eventually you'll do a deal. I have better ways to spend my time.
4 votes
Annette Law…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Wed Jan 29, 2014
You bet I do!....Pay for leads.----
Was it worth it? Not in the way you would expect.
A few examples. Paying Trulia.
It took all of 3,211 nano-seconds to realize all advertising on Trulia benefits the listing agent. The listing agent soon realizes, they don't need to pay to benefit! It's a broken business model.
Yes, I have made money via Trulia
Market Leader: Observing consumer responses on ML revealed the REAL indicators to monitor. These indicators work in ANY marketing arena. Yet another marketing company spewing "Gotta respond to inquires in 3.1 nanoseconds." ReALLY? Just how does that work when you are taking care of the people who are ACTUALLY paying you?
Yes, I have made money via Market Leader.
- - Yep, paid them and stopped.
I truly don't recall the last time a buyer stated they are using as a home find resource...I always ask. A broken lead model whose only benefit is 'smoke and mirrors' to get listings.
No, never made money via
Lead Street - This has proven to be a more effective resource....if the right squeezes are in place.
Still in use, Yes, I continue to make money via Lead Street.
Hey, what about the real estate publications?
Moral to the story: It is worthwhile to purchase leads IF you know the trigger event AND have conformed your message specifically for the trigger event. When you know the trigger event, an agent WHO IS NOT ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL will have an 'Ahhh Hah' moment and understand they can do the same thing for 1/10th the cost and realize conversion in the upper 30s instead of in the 7% range. ALL of us already have those resources at our finger tips.
Sometimes you need to write a check or two to see what others are doing. Realtors would be well advised to scooch up close to SalesForce, SugarCRM or ListingGrabber to catch a glimpse of the pivot that well underway and will leave all those companies in Stuarts list, and the subscribing agents, orphaned on a remote island.
Since we are all right here on Trulia. focus on what TRULIA is doing to market themselves (not the agent) and the curtain will pull back a little, then visit those companies I mentioned. If you mention my name they will know what you are looking for.
4 votes
Your answers are so thorough, I appreciate that!
Flag Thu Mar 6, 2014
Beverley Gal…, Agent, Limerick, PA
Thu Mar 6, 2014
I presently pay for Zillow and will get only an occasional lead. A lot of them are not buyer ready yet. I was on Market Leader and all the leads from there were terrrible. I was actually told that anything they would send me would be possible clients way down the road. Very expensive too. I was on and never received any closing leads.
It's very frustrating as there are too many realtors on all the same sites.
3 votes
I Signed a contract with Trulia about one week ago and I don't receive a single Lead yet!!!!! I should be concern????
Flag Fri Sep 26, 2014
Thanks for sharing your experiences!
Flag Thu May 1, 2014
Closed google adwords lead in 30 days from first inquiry to closing. After 2 months and $120. About 500% return on investment.
Flag Sun Mar 9, 2014
Barry Stewart, Agent, Watertown, NY
Tue Jan 28, 2014
I have had many leads from both Zillow and Trulia but until I picked up some education in lead conversion, I converted very few. I have had real good success with What I appreciate with them is that they will send a lead to me only and if that same person queries their site on anther property, that will come to me as well. I cover about 400 square miles with a population of about 80,000 but we have a constant turnover due to a large Army base in my area.
3 votes
I agree has more serious buyers in my experience vs Zillow Group properties.
Flag Fri Oct 23, 2015
Ben Vorspan, Agent, Studio City, CA
Tue Jan 28, 2014
Im completing my first year as an agent. I asked around when I first started and was told that Trulia is the best and only place to pay for leads, so I do around $50/mo in my neighborhood.

So far, no success, but I have one buyer Im working with who found me on Trulia.

I could spend thousands a year on it, and if I just get 1 client/sale out of it per year, it pays for itself and then some.

Odds are that once I've been in the business for a while, I'll be able to work through word of mouth rather than paying for leads, but for now, it's worth the minimal investment to try to build up my list.
3 votes
Congrats for your decision to join this profession and stick with it the first year. I totally agree that spending such a trivial amount of money is well worth it. I spend much more per month and yes I get frustrated with the flow of crap leads, but within that crap you'll find diamonds. Quite an analogy, eh? All it takes, as you've said, is one sale to justify the expenditure. Hang in there. There is a huge learning curve with this business and you'll be over the hump soon.
Flag Wed Jan 29, 2014
Tom W, Agent, San Diego, CA
Sun Feb 2, 2014
Generate your own leads! It's not as hard or time consuming as you think. My old broker showed me the light, and I've never looked back since.
2 votes
Please share! I am a new agent in New York. I would be appreciative of any advice I can get! Thank you.
Flag Wed Jan 28, 2015
Please do share! I am a new agent in NY (Long Island)....could use all the expert advice I can get. Thanks!
Flag Wed Jan 28, 2015
I would love to hear what you do!
Flag Tue Jan 27, 2015
Hey Tom it's dark out here, please turn on the light for those of us that still don't know where to find it!
Flag Thu Jun 5, 2014
Show me the light Tom
Flag Fri Mar 7, 2014
Can you explain what you do?
Flag Mon Feb 3, 2014
Kawain Payne, Agent, Seal Beach, CA
Fri Jan 31, 2014
I do not use pay for leads programs.

There just seems to be too many out there that start off very aggressive promising the moon and the stars, then they get bought out by one of the other programs.

Kawain Payne, Realtor
2 votes
Elijah and M…, Agent, Laredo, TX
Tue Jan 28, 2014
Here, in the market I currently work in, it is prime for online advertisement. Trulia is widely used and has shown much promise.

Depending on your market, choosing the right "pipeline" would prove most beneficial in securing, and ultimately, activating leads into buyers/sellers.
2 votes
Amanda Chris…, Agent, Fort Wayne, IN
Tue Jan 28, 2014
No. I don't pay for leads. I tried it a few times, but had zero success. I'd rather focus on loyal clients that come from my sphere and my past clients.
2 votes
Christopher…, Agent, Mullica Hill, NJ
Sat Feb 7, 2015
I had Trulia for 6 months a few years ago. Never go a lead. I dumped them as soon as my contract was up. I went with the other guy, Z-----w. Was having very good luck with them until recently. 2013 and 2014 I closed 16 deals and 14 deal respectively. The last 6 months has been dead. Lots of rental leads, but that is about all. I am considering dumping them as well.
1 vote
Johnny James, Agent, Carson, CA
Sun Feb 2, 2014
I pay for enhancements on trulia, zillow,, google, and facebook. Did not like seeing other faces next to my listings. I get a few prospects every week that saw me on any of the above. I also try to answer the questions in my areas. I have 2 deals in escrow and 3 in back up right now from internet sources. When one of them closes I will update.
1 vote
Pacita Dimac…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Tue Jan 28, 2014
I don't pay for leads per se, but I do have a presence in the sites that people visit specifically, Trulia and Zillow.

The best way to get leads, it seems, is to have listings that one can post. When people contact you for information, every single inquiry is a lead.

For my second to the last sale last December, one of them was for a lead that came through via Trulia. I called the lady immediately, and we had a nice conversation. Less than a week later, after guiding her through the buying process, we got into contract. They closed just in time for Christmas. So the commission earned from that one sale has more than paid for itself in terms of advertising online.

But to pay by click, or per lead? No.
1 vote
Jill Murty, Agent, Mission Viejo, CA
Tue Jan 28, 2014
I'm not a fan of paying for leads. Maybe if you pay only upon the close of a transaction, but plunking down money in advance without knowing what is going to come your way is a little risky. But that may just be me.
1 vote
You're correct in that when I take buyers to see homes, there is no guarantee they're going to buy through me, but I'm not paying a third party for the introduction.
Flag Fri Jan 31, 2014
I agree that it is pretty scary to pay for something you don't know that you will actually receive. But in this business we deal with uncertainty every day. When you take a buyer out to see houses you really don't know if they'll ever buy a home or buy through you. It is uncertainty day in and day out. When it comes to paying for leads there will be some uncertainty, but you're doing the right thing by participating in this discussion in an effort to find the most lucrative lead sources. For me Trulia has paid off but if they raised their prices I'd drop out quickly.
Flag Wed Jan 29, 2014
UpNest, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Wed Apr 5, 2017
UpNest is an excellent platform for leads. Several home buyers and sellers sign up to daily because it's free. UpNest then matches the prospects with realtors within their database. The website has generated millions of dollars in sales. I would give it a shot!
0 votes
Michael, Other Pro, Annapolis, MD
Sun Apr 2, 2017
I realize I am late to the party here but I have to say that the problem with most lead sources or advertising sources is that there is no exclusivity. Print media allowed advertisers to get call ins based on the property advertised but this rarely happens now.
If you don't mind being advertised with 20 or more real estate agents in the same zip for the same properties than you have your pick of the Zillow, Trulia and Realtors of the world. If however you value exclusivity I would suggest There is never more than one real estate agent in any area and the leads are sent only to the local real estate agent for that area. As an advertiser on the site I was able to close over 200 homes in a 12 month period and I attribute much of my success to the exclusive nature of the site. I am a former agent now but it seems like the best way to generate leads is to not share the advertising area with 20 or more agents and dilute the pool of leads.
0 votes
Scott Godzyk, Agent, Manchester, NH
Thu Oct 13, 2016
Paying for leads is a WASTE OF TIME and MONEY. The leads are shared with too may people who can get very angry at the 2nd to 15th person who calls. The BEST LEADS are the ones you generate for your self. For my my best leads come from my Active Rain Blog.
0 votes
Horace Ridley, Agent, Douglasville, GA
Tue Oct 11, 2016
I use and have closed nearly a million dollars worth of sales spending under $100/month
0 votes
Middy Matthe…, Agent, Ann Arbor, MI
Wed Jun 15, 2016
Zbuyer is inexpensive but I don't have the energy to pursue these people (because they don't answer the phone or return emails)
0 votes
Vince Stark, Agent, Wellington, FL
Fri Nov 20, 2015
they all are scams DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY
0 votes
Mike Muhlbau…, Agent, Jacksonville Beach, FL
Sun Nov 8, 2015
Do not use!!! worst leads I have ever purchased and they will tell you that you can pay month to month with no contract but it is a lie! once you give them your credit card, you are locked in for 1 year no matter what. I had to cancel my credit card to get them to stop taking the $200 from my account each month. They still sent the leads though and then send you to a collection agency at the end of the year term. I have an attorney now handling this and it has been a nightmare!!!!!!
0 votes
Jason Hartley, Agent, Thornton, CO
Fri Oct 23, 2015
Don't waste your money on any of the Zillow Group properties. They are very good at spinning a great story, locking you into a contract, and providing disappointing results. There are so many better ways to invest a monthly budget in marketing with a much better return rate than with the Zillow Group.

I've done two separate campaigns with them and have been majorly disappointed both times. In my experience they have what I call a "tail light guarantee" in which they promise to follow up with you to teach you a better lead to client conversion method. Once the contract is agreed to you don't hear back unless you want to increase your spend. They definitely take the slash and burn approach to sales.
0 votes
Chris Webb, Agent, Fort Myers, FL
Sat Jan 24, 2015
The leads are not good and most are just wasting time. My broker and me decided to canceal
0 votes
Gene Krause, Renter, Davis, CA
Thu Oct 2, 2014
First, I'm not a real estate pro. What I am part of is a co founder of a referral and rewards application that will soon go to beta. While it's not designed specifically for real estate, we do feel it could be a valuable tool for real estate professionals, apartment leasing, etc. In short, you ask past clients to write a recommendation for you and they share to their friends via the globally searchable application and also social media. The business user (you) only pay if you get a sale/rental. Your referral reward is determined by you and can be based on sale type or amount. Both the referrer and the referee receive the same reward value, which is 100% of what you paid. In essence it's a pay per sale if you will, kind of like spinning a search engine 180 degrees where the consumers are rewarded for sharing business users that they value and trust.

Hit me back with any questions.
0 votes
Cindy Davis, Agent, San Diego, CA
Tue Jan 28, 2014
Whenever I've tried programs that are for paid leads, it's never worked out well. I am currently using zurple which I am doing well with. It is a pay-per-click program..and it is indeed doing what it's supposed to do.
0 votes
Laura Coffey, Agent, Santa Clarita, CA
Tue Jan 28, 2014
I pay for certain website yes. Some I have found worth it and others I have not.
I don't like to door knock or cold call. I like people calling me. I am closer. So if warm leads come to me I can close them.
One not on your list is Obviously it's not open to all but I do get leads from ReMax along with the other websites and I feel ReMax agents pay a bit more to be there but I find it worth it.
0 votes
I was a RE/MAX agent for the first 5 - 6 years of my real estate career and they do sell you on the idea of the "power of the balloon." In reality people hire me because of who I am and what I bring to the table, and not because of the national marketing campaign of the company for which I work. RE/MAX took about $8,000 from my income each year. They did NOT provide an equivalent amount of benefits. I'd suggest you explore other options.
Flag Wed Jan 29, 2014
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