How to Get Your First Clients in Real Estate (The Complete Guide)

by | Oct 2, 2023

I’ve sold over 750 homes in my career as a real estate agent. But my gosh, I still remember what it was like when I first started and didn’t even have a single client yet. It was kind of nerve wracking. So, are you ready to learn about the top ten best tips to get your first real estate clients? And would it be okay if this advice also helped you get your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 10th, and 25th client? Okay, cool! Let’s go!


10. Present Yourself as a Professional

Ninety percent of real estate agents dress and act way too casually. The other 10% sell 90% of homes. If you want clients to trust you and choose you and recommend you, you have to look and act like a professional. That doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit, but you need to wear very nice clothes during business hours. If you don’t have nice clothes, you need to buy them. If you don’t know what clothes to buy, and this was me by the way, go to the right store and ask them for help. If you’re a guy, that’s Brooks Brothers, Jos. A. Bank or The Men’s Warehouse. Our high-producing female agents recommend Banana Republic, Anne Taylor or J. Crew. 

Also, speaking of being professional… be on time, check your spelling and grammar before you send an email, do what you say you are going to do, when you say you would do it. Sad to say, but doing these basic things will put you ahead of 75% of real estate agents. And that’s good for you, right?  

9. Know Something About Real Estate

You know by now that real estate pre-licensing classes don’t teach you anything about how to help buyers and sellers, and unfortunately neither do most brokerages. But you need to know the basics about how to advise buyers and sellers, so that when someone asks you a question, you know what to say, and so you’ll feel confident putting yourself out there as a real estate agent.

Luckily, we’ve got you covered for this. Go to our Real Estate Learning Center, and watch all the videos we made for our buyer and seller clients. In addition to that, learn how to look up data and market information in the MLS. Study those reports. Congratulations, you now know more than 80% of real estate agents. Go forth with confidence.


8. Go See People In Person and Drop Some Real Estate Knowledge on Them

Now, go see your closest friends and family in person and practice on them. Tell them the best of what you’ve learned. If they own a home, print out a basic CMA from MLS and show them the sale prices of the homes that have sold recently in their neighborhood. 

Tell them they are hereby your first clients, not necessarily to buy or sell a home, but to be kept up to date on what’s happening in the market. And, most importantly, ask them to refer you to anyone who is thinking about buying or selling a home.

Now that you’ve practiced with your most understanding people, go see everyone else you know, in person. Tell them you’re already off to a fast start in real estate and that you already have clients you are advising. If they own a home, bring them a CMA of their neighborhood and tell them your favorite tip about increasing the value of their home (you got that from the videos I told you about a minute ago). 

If they don’t own a home, tell them your favorite tip about getting ready to buy a home. Then ask them “Do you know of anyone who is currently thinking of buying or selling a home?” If they do, get the person’s name and phone number and set up a time to meet with them! If they don’t know anyone looking to buy, ask them to refer you to anyone they run into who is thinking about buying or selling a home.

See what we’re doing here? We’re not just asking people if they personally want to buy or sell. If they do, they’ll know you are there to help them. We’re asking them to refer us to anyone else they know of who is thinking about buying or selling a home. That gets you exposed to many more potential clients. And we’re only on the 3rd idea to get clients. You’re doing great so far!

7. Put Everyone You Meet Into a Database Management System

You need to keep track of the contact information of everyone you talk to about real estate, including their phone, email, and home address at a minimum along with a record of your interactions with them. I actually don’t know of any good database management systems for realtors. I don’t like any of them. If you have one you love, please share it in the comments below for everyone else.

At Relevate we actually programmed our own database system from scratch to do exactly what we want it to do, and we love it. But it’s only available to Relevate agents. 

At the very least you could use a spreadsheet for this.

Now here is the key… everyone you meet who has told you they’d recommend you needs to go into this system, and from now on, until the end of your ridiculously successful real estate career many years from now, you need to send everyone in that database something related to real estate every month, and call them follow up and ask them if they’ve run into anyone who is thinking about buying or selling a home. Otherwise they won’t remember to refer you. It’s your job to remind them, to keep yourself at the top of their mind. 

Next, while you’re out there talking to everyone you know, it’s super important that you also…


6. Talk To New People

Here’s the deal… half of the people who you knew before getting into real estate will support you and refer you… eventually. They all know tons of people who got into real estate and then quit after a few months. They also know you just started in real estate recently, so many of them will want to know you’ve gained some real world experience before recommending you. So for those reasons you’ll need to prove the real estate part of you before they trust you.

The other half of the people who knew you before you got into real estate will have a really hard time seeing you as a real estate professional at all. They knew you as what you were before real estate and that’s the picture they have in their mind about you, regardless of what you do. 

For these reasons, it’s very important for you to meet new people who didn’t know you before you got into real estate. These new people will know you only as a real estate agent, and that’s a big advantage. Three points here:

1.Do not attend traditional networking events. You won’t have anything in common with them except needing business. Those relationships are going nowhere. You need to think about what you enjoy doing, and go do it with other people who enjoy the same thing. Join a chess or ping pong club or volunteer at the museum or a political campaign. My best places to meet people were at church and crossfit.

2.Each time you attend an event, make it a goal to meet two or three new people. Ask them what they do for a living, then they’ll ask you, and you can ask them if they know a real estate agent they feel comfortable referring to friends and family, and if they don’t, tell them you’d like to earn their trust to be that person. And that leads to our third super important point…

3. Believe what I’m about to tell you because it’s TRUE. More people than you think will use you as a realtor, or refer to you as their friends, even if they just met you. My friend Wendy in Dallas, Texas started in real estate after a stellar 20 year career as a stay-at-home mom. 95% of the people she knew before real estate only knew her as a mom, and none of them sent her any business. Almost everyone who did, were people she didn’t know before she got into real estate. She sold 51 homes her first year.

You do not have to have helped a person buy or sell a home, for that person to recommend you. You just have to make a good impression and follow up. Which is why I recommend not carrying business cards with you because you’ll …


5. Send Handwritten Personal Notes in Hand-Addressed Envelopes

… with your business card inside it, which will give you a good excuse to ask the person for their home address, right? People just don’t receive handwritten personal notes anymore, and that will make you stand out as a special and thoughtful person who follows up as promised. And of course you’ll be smart and get nice heavy solid magnetic cards because it makes you seem more substantial and like you believe in yourself enough to invest 25 cents per card instead of 2 cents, and because people throw paper cards away, but they put magnetic cards on their fridge or filing cabinet where they’ll see it every day.

Make it a habit to send hand-written notes after each time to speak with anyone about real estate.

You’ll also have created Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn social media accounts, and friended everyone you meet,  because that’s how you’ll…

4. Show Everyone Evidence of You Being Busy Doing Real Estate

You might say “Mike, I have no clients, so how can I do this?” Here’s how…

First of all, get it into your head that “client” doesn’t necessarily mean a person who is buying or selling a home with you right this minute. A client is anyone who sees YOU as their source of real estate information and to whom you are regularly supplying real estate information. And you’re currently doing that for everyone you’ve put into your database, right? Yes, you definitely are.

Next, schedule previews of listings all over every part of the city or towns near you, and take pictures and video of you doing it. Post these images to everyone on social media, point out the homes you like the most for your clients and why, and talk and write about the advantages and features of each part of the city and each town. Also, volunteer to show homes and do open houses for other agents who are too busy to handle everything on their own, and take pictures and videos of you doing that too.

All this will show people how busy you are and you’ll get educated about the market more than many busy agents. The bottom line is that only 1 in 100 agents will actually do this advice. I don’t know why.  But you are a go-getter, and people will notice all this activity and begin to believe in you BIG TIME. Soon, you’ll be busy with people who want to buy and sell now.

Okay, we’ve arrived at our top three tips for getting your first clients in real estate, and tip #3 is…

What you need to know: Best real estate team for client service, cost, volume, and income!


3. Be a Leader and Organizer

When people choose a realtor, they want a leader. Someone to take charge and make things happen for them. So, you need to be seen as a leader in other parts of your life too. This will supercharge your efforts to get people to trust you and recommend you.

For example, in every group I was a part of, I put together a membership directory to help people get to know each other and what they did for a living and their hobbies and if they had a spouse and kids. Everyone loved it and appreciated me and I got to know them and got all their contact information. Almost all of them subsequently used me to buy or sell their home or recommended me to others.

One very powerful specific way to be a leader and be seen as a proactive value-adding person is to..

2. Knock on Every Door Around You and Build a Vendor List

Start with whatever neighborhood is nearest to you. Print out multiple copies of two things before you leave home: CMAs from MLS for that neighborhood, and a basic list of vendors who you feel confident recommending that homeowners normally need: HVAC services, lawn service, electrician, plumber, etc. If you don’t have a decent list, ask other agents in your office, they’ll have tons of recommendations.

Go out on a Saturday or after work and knock on each door and say something like,  “Hi, I’m Suzy Smith, I live around the corner, and I’m a real estate agent. I wanted to give you this analysis of our neighborhood, and also this list of vendors I recommend who you might need someday. And I wanted to ask you if you knew any really great vendors I should add to this list, like [and then name five or six categories you don’t have yet, like computer repair, carpenter, painter, countertop installer, hardwood floor refinisher, accountant, appliance repair, favorite restaurants, you get the idea].

Either they’ll engage with you or they won’t. If they do great. Add their suggestions to the list and ask them if they’ve run into anyone who is thinking about buying or selling a home. Add them to your database or spreadsheet, and mail them the updated and expanded vendor list. They’ll love it because they helped you make that list. They’re already on your team.

Again, most agents won’t do this type of thing. You will and you’ll get the business. People want to work with and recommend a leader, a go-getter. This is an outstanding example of what that looks like.

And finally, the #1 way to get your first client is to…



At this point, before even considering doing anything I’m recommending in this blog, I urge you to ask yourself the question that will define your career… “Do you care more about being respected, or liked?”

Here’s the deal, if you care most about being respected, you might still be nervous about doing what I’m recommending here, but you’ll do it because you care more about being successful, than about what people think of you. And people will notice you doing things to be successful that they themselves are afraid to do, and that will cause them to respect you, and that in turn will cause most of them to sincerely like you.

The number one thing you need to do to be successful in real estate is to ask for business. You need to ask and ask and ask and ask and ask. If you don’t ask, you won’t get it. And if you care more about being liked than you care about your own success … you won’t ask.

If you care most about being liked, you’ll be constantly worried about what people are thinking about you when you are doing the admittedly gutsy things I recommend in this video. You’ll have a stomach ache during every minute of it and you won’t ask for business like you need to. You’ll be so worried about bugging people that you’ll be apologizing all the time.

Successful real estate agents are leaders who make things happen. They understand the importance of being successful, not just for their own personal ambitions, but because the world needs leaders who are willing to put themselves out there to accomplish big goals for the benefit of everyone around them.

So, are your goals important enough not to care what other people think as you go after them? If so, everything I’ve recommended in this video will help you achieve those goals sooner rather than later.

How to Get Your Next 100 Clients

I’ve got one more powerful technique you should use. In addition to continuing all that I’ve explained in this video so far, this is the most important technique to get your next 100 or 1000 clients. 

When you’ve done a great job for a client, get a photo of them with the sold sign (and you can do that for buyers too). Interview them and write up their words of praise for you, and plaster that testimonial everywhere. This is called evidence of success. Many of your people will be waiting to see if you actually sell a house before they’ll go out on a limb to recommend you. So show them!

As I said earlier, you need to be consistent with sending real estate information out to your database and following up to ask for business. At Relevate Real Estate, we have tons of systems to make all this easier, smoother, and lower cost. If you’re in a city where we are and you’d like to come talk about working with us, click the link in the description below to set up a time to visit.

In the meantime, I highly recommend you reading this article about The Choice All Newer Agents Must Make. The choice you make will make a BIG difference for your future, so you may as well get the best information you can make the best possible decision.

If you felt this post was helpful, go ahead and subscribe to our email list and be notified whenever we publish more content like this. If you are an agent in the Triangle Area of North Carolina area and you’d like to visit with us to learn more about Relevate Real Estate, click HERE to set up a time to talk with us. I’m also interested in knowing what was going on inside your brain as you read this blog post. Write your thoughts or questions in the comment section below, and I’ll reply as soon as possible!