Referrals are the name of the game in real estate. Whether you’re an agent, broker, investor, wholesaler, or property manager, building a strong referral network is crucial for success.
That’s where real estate referral networks come in. These platforms allow real estate professionals to network and exchange referrals to grow their client base and take their businesses to the next level.
But before joining a referral network, it’s important to understand how they work, the pros, and cons so you’re in the best position for success with your real estate business. We’ll also discuss the top three real estate referral networks you can use to grow your business this year.
What is a Real Estate Referral Network?
Real estate referral networks connect real estate professionals to refer clients or customers to one another.
These networks are typically used to help real estate professionals expand their reach and provide better service to their clients by connecting them with trusted colleagues in different geographic areas or niches of the real estate market.
Here’s how a real estate referral network typically works:
- Becoming a Member: Real estate professionals join a referral network through a formal organization or online platform. Some networks are only available in specific regions while others are national organizations.
- Referral Requests: When someone in the referral network has a client or business opportunity in an area outside their geographic location, they can submit a referral request to the network. This request includes details about the client’s needs and additional information about the referral opportunity.
- Matching and Referral: The network’s administrators or algorithms match the referral request with a member of the network who can meet the client’s needs. Some referral networks may contact multiple suitable candidates to handle the referral request on a first-come first-serve basis.
- Client Service: Next, the recipient of the referral will start working and communicating with the client. For example, real estate agents who connect with a new client will start to understand their needs and preferences when it comes to buying or selling a new home.
- Communication and Tracking: Effective communication between the referring and receiving parties is important for client satisfaction and increasing the chances for repeat business. Many of the top referral networks provide tools for tracking the progress of referrals and communication between members.
Benefits of Referral Networks
Real estate referral networks are popular for good reason. When used the right way, they can dramatically increase the success of your real estate business. Here are some additional ways that real estate referral networks can be beneficial:
Increased Lead Generation
Real estate referral networks are a reliable source for leads and referrals regardless of your specialty in real estate.
But what sets these leads apart is their source, as they often come from trusted colleagues or professionals within the referral network. With this trust comes a higher chance of working with a serious lead who is more likely to convert.
Real estate professionals are constantly looking for opportunities to expand their reach into new geographic areas or markets. Referral networks can help you do just this by connecting you with trusted real estate professionals in those regions.
Diverse Skill Sets
Real estate is an industry with various niches and specialties, and a referral network typically includes professionals with diverse skill sets and areas of expertise.
When clients have specific needs or require specialized services, agents can tap into their network to find the right colleague with the necessary expertise to receive the best possible service.
Joining a real estate referral network can be a cost-effective marketing strategy compared to traditional advertising or lead generation methods. Rather than spending money on marketing campaigns, agents invest those marketing dollars in relationship-building within the network.
This approach centers on trust, professionalism, and goodwill to generate business instead of running social media ads or using local print advertising. It not only saves on marketing costs but also yields higher conversion rates.
Drawbacks of Real Estate Referral Networks
While referral networks can be a powerful way to skyrocket your real estate business, there are also some drawbacks to consider before jumping in head first.
Dependence on Others
One of the primary drawbacks of relying on real estate referral networks is the dependence on others for business leads. While these networks can be a valuable source of leads, they are not entirely within your control.
If the network’s performance declines or referral quality starts to drop, it can impact the success of your business.
Competition within the Network
Referral networks typically have many members in direct competition with one another. This competitive network dynamic can create challenges when members compete for the same leads and referrals.
In order to beat the competition, you’ll need to be active and aggressive in the network by jumping on referral opportunities as quickly as possible.
Many referral networks require both membership fees and commissions to the referring party. While this compensation model can be fair and reasonable, it can also reduce your overall earnings from a transaction. These fees add up and will impact your bottom line if you primarily rely on referrals for business.
Joining Referral Networks
Joining a referral network isn’t difficult once you learn the steps involved. Here is a general overview of the process:
- Meet Eligibility Requirements: Most referral networks have specific criteria that members must meet. Common requirements include holding a valid real estate license, maintaining a certain level of experience, and a track record of following ethical standards.
- Application: Once you’ve found a network that is a good fit, it’s time to complete the membership application. You’ll need to submit your personal and professional information so the network can verify your credentials.
- Pay Membership Fees: Many referral networks charge annual, monthly, or one-time membership fees. Make sure you understand the cost structure and are prepared to pay the required fees before joining the network.
- Sign Agreements: Review and sign any membership agreements or contracts provided by the referral network. Pay close attention to terms related to referral fees, exclusivity agreements, and code of conduct.
- Access Network Resources: Once you’re accepted into the referral network, you’ll have access to all the resources of the group. This includes a network directory, marketing materials, and tools for tracking and communicating with referrals.
- Build a Referral Network: Start by being active and introducing yourself in the network. Let other members know where you’re located and the services you have to offer to start building connections in the group.
Best Real Estate Referral Networks
There’s so many referral networks available, which means choosing one can be a difficult process. Here’s our choices for the best real estate referral networks for this year.
Cloud is an innovative real estate referral network that operates on a pay-at-closing model, making it a great choice for brokers, teams, and solo agents. Cloud’s platform includes an in-house lead generation team as well as a minimal service fee when it comes time to close.
What sets Cloud apart is its ability to deliver high-quality PPC leads. They’ve invested substantial resources in extensive A/B testing to create, manage, and optimize Facebook and Google ads under your personal brand.
Cloud also provides a comprehensive CRM with integrated call, text, and email features. They not only qualify leads for you but also employ their in-house team to follow up with these leads so you can focus on the most promising opportunities.
While Cloud does require an advertising budget, it’s important to note that there are no upfront costs, so every penny you invest goes directly into lead generation. In addition to lead gen, Cloud offers ISA (Inside Sales Agent) services for a small percentage of the commission at closing.
Pros of Cloud:
- Pay at closing
- No setup or recurring fees
- In-house follow-up team
- Included CRM
- No long-term contract
Cons of Cloud:
- Ad spend required
- Service fee at closing
- Limited additional marketing solutions
ZillowFlex is offered by Zillow Premier Agent and has a unique set of features designed to benefit real estate agents. Here’s what you need to know about ZillowFlex:
Connections with No Upfront Costs
ZillowFlex connects agents with leads from Zillow Premier Agent without any upfront costs. Once the transaction is completed, the agent pays Zillow a commission based on their earnings from the sale.
How it Works
ZillowFlex works by initiating contact with a lead to confirm their interest in collaborating with an agent. After confirming with the client, a representative initiates a live phone call between the agent and the client.
The success of this connection is verified by the representative based on the outcome of the phone call.
How to Qualify
ZillowFlex is currently accessible by invitation only. The platform seeks out high-performing agents known for delivering outstanding customer service.
Maximizing the Flex Service
To make the most of ZillowFlex, agents should actively engage with the Zillow Premier Agent app at least once a week. Responding to client inquiries quickly makes it more likely to find success on the platform.
Pros of ZillowFlex:
- Earn a larger share of connections in your market as you convert more leads
- Strong lead flow using Zillow’s brand recognition
- No upfront costs
Cons of ZillowFlex:
- Limited availability in select markets
- Invitation-only platform
Sold.com aims to simplify the real estate transaction process for both buyers and sellers. They offer a partner center that allows real estate agents to apply to their exclusive network.
How it Works
Sold.com offers a range of services to its clients, with a focus on matching them with the best agent for their needs.
Agents can increase their chances of receiving referrals from Sold.com by providing exceptional customer service and showing a track record of successfully closing deals.
How to Join
Becoming part of Sold.com is a straightforward process and doesn’t require an invitation like ZillowFlex. Agents start by completing a sign-up form and agreeing to the terms of the Sold.com platform.
After signing up, you’ll have access to all the features of Sold.com and can start networking with other agents on the platform.
Pros of Sold.com
- Time-saving platform for both buyers and sellers
- Access to a mentor who can assist with the transaction process
- Potential for improved sales outcomes
- Free to join with no upfront costs
Cons of Sold.com
- The platform’s algorithm may be complex and confusing for some users
- Agents are ranked based on their performance, which can be challenging for new agents
- Limited integration with CRM systems
Do you want to start a real estate wholesaling business? Check out all the resources we have at CrushingREI.com to start crushing the real estate game this year!
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