How to start building your client list

Client List

Building a client list is a vital component of succeeding in the real estate sales business.  Many real estate agents scurry along throughout their careers without bothering to put together a proper client list.  When they’re busy handling real estate transactions, they do okay.  But they quickly realize the value of having a client list when business slows to a halt.

What prevents successful real estate agents from putting together a client list?  And how can a new real estate agent virtually guarantee their success by building a strong client list right from the start?

Four key steps to get started

1. Make a plan

You should have an idea what methods you are going to use to build your client list (which we’ll discuss below) and what your goals are.  How much time will you spend building your client list on a daily basis?  And how many relationships do you want to start nourishing with each activity you undertake?

2. Choose a CRM

As you build a client list, you’ll need tools to keep information organized.  You can start using something as simple as a spreadsheet (Excel for PC or Numbers for Mac).  Or you can use free or low cost CRM’s such as Google Contacts and Insightly.  Your real estate office, company or franchise may also have a prescribed CRM.  And you certainly have the option of using real estate specific CRM’s as well.

3. Offer value

You have to provide value as an exchange for contacts.  Those who you want to be on your client list will want to receive something of value from you.  Coming from a mindset of contribution and offering value first will enable you to start building relationships quickly which will help you build your client list.

4. Ask permission

In exchange for providing value to start nurturing a relationship, you’ve got to ask permission from prospective clients to allow you to contact them.  Remember, people don’t want to hear sales pitches and get barraged with irrelevant offers or marketing messages.  When you ask for permission to contact someone, make sure you are constantly delivering value that will help them; not just begging them for business all the time.

Eleven ways to start getting clients

Partner with an experienced agent

Look for someone who is more experienced who may need help or is planning to retire in the near future.  Offer to work with them to further expand their business.  They may like the idea of working with a younger agent who is tech savvy and can leverage their existing business practices.  Eventually, they may thrive on earning referral income if they choose to retire and entrust their client list to you.


This is pretty much any activity you do to proactively gain contacts.  Cold calling and door knocking are two commonly used ways to prospect actively for real estate contacts.  Although seen as an old school approach, some real estate agents have become very successful at these two activities and have built a big client list by doing it.  Make sure you offer something of value when you do cold call or door knock.  Don’t just promote yourself.

Direct response marketing

This can also be referred to as inbound marketing — anything that makes prospects contact you.  To be effective at direct response marketing, you have to put together a campaign that encourages prospects to call you or email you.  By providing something of value to them (a report, a book, information) you can build a list of contacts that you can then build a relationship with.

Everyone you know

This is commonly referred to real estate as the “sphere of influence” or “circle of influence.”  It includes family and friends you already know.  Start by adding them to your client list and make sure what you send them further enhances your relationship.  Don’t just bombard them with marketing messages that promote you.  Give them something valuable that they will find useful and, in turn, share with people they know.

Professional referral network

Do you have a contact list of professionals you may have dealt with in the past or currently have a relationship with? You can use this to start building a referral network within your circle of professional contacts.  Get in touch with lawyers, accountants, home inspectors, insurance agents, contractors, doctors and any other professionals.  Provide value to them by giving them relevant information about real estate and how you can help out people they may know.

Local businesses

Associate yourself with local businesses to further build your referral network.  You can start a networking group or business association with local businesses.  Offer something valuable to them — marketing ideas, tips, strategies or you can work on promoting local businesses to your existing client list.


Do you have your own real estate blog?  Perhaps it’s time to start.  It’s a form of content marketing but for real estate agents, it’s a way to build a relationship by positioning yourself as an expert in your field.  Write about current issues and market trends.  Share them online, promote them organically or using paid advertising.  Have an offer on your blog pages where people can sign up to receive a valuable report or free book.


If you’ve ever wanted to host your own radio show, now you can.  Podcasting is a cost effective way to spread your message to anyone interested in hearing about what you have to say.  Make sure your show content is valuable.  Subscribers can tune in and listen to you.  You can build a listener base who you can inspire to connect with you.

Neighbourhood videos

If you work in a specific area, consider shooting videos in your neighbourhood.  Cover market updates, interesting places to go, local businesses and other venues.  Or you can turn this into a video blog promoting the neighbourhood.  If you publish this on You Tube or Facebook, you’ll build a subscriber base that you can form a relationship with.

Social media

Facebook is a popular way to build a client list, especially since family and friends are probably connected to you already.  It’s a great way to expand your relationships to the networks of people you know.  As always, make sure you add value when you form relationships.  Don’t get too caught up in shameless self promotion.  Explore other social media such as Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter and others.  Find out what works for you.

Community events

Nothing is more personal and face-to-face than holding a community event.  Whether it’s a charity fundraiser, entertainment event or anything else you can imagine, community events put you in front of those who live in the neighbourhood you focus on.  Hold a contest and request permission to provide something useful to those who sign up for it.  Be creative with your event ideas.

Start today

The most important thing is to start building your client database today.  The wealth of your business is in the relationships you build with your clients.  Procrastinating the act of building your client list will delay your success at real estate.  Don’t make excuses.  Pick a way to provide value in exchange for contacts and build up your client list so you can deliver exceptional service and have a thriving real estate business.

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