Real estate leads are everything to a real estate professional. Without leads, you don’t get clients, without clients, you don’t get paid. When it comes down to it, a real estate agent’s base job is to gather and work his or her real estate leads. These real estate leads go into what professionals call a pipeline or sphere of influence. Your pipeline should NEVER be empty, because if it is, it means you have no way of getting a steady income. An agent spends their time converting these real estate leads into buyers and sellers in order to make their paycheck. For every client that buys or sells a home, you get a commission. If you’ve got no clients, you’ve got no income. It’s a very basic fact.So the questions remains, where do you get real estate leads from? Well, to be honest, a successful agent is ALWAYS gathering leads. You gather real estate leads from referrals of past clients, from sending out newsletters, postcards, emails, etc. You hold open houses for your listings, you talk to anyone and everyone you can wherever you are: at a party, at dinner, shopping. The average person moves every 5-7 years, so the odds are pretty good that someone you meet today will be selling their home within five years. Seems an awful long time to wait for a listing, but not if you’ve got plenty of prospects to work in the meantime and you continue to follow up with said lead until they ARE moving and need a real estate agent. The bottom line is, a successful agent will getting real estate leads for themselves everywhere they go.Then of course there are the various services out there that SELL real estate leads, most of them generated online. Companies such as GetMyHomesValue, HouseValues, and even RE/MAX will sell prospective real estate leads to agents for a fee. These companies are a great source of prospects, but are often called into question for the “quality” of their leads. Often agents will sign up for a company that generates real estate leads and then be infuriated that they did not get a listing the first month. What should really be called into question is what exactly constitutes a real estate lead?Many agents will say “someone who is looking to buy or sell within the next six months to a year.” That seems like a very narrow definition of the term, and to be honest, agents who use that definition are probably not getting tons of commission checks a month. Successful agents understand that a real estate lead is just about anyone who may be able to use their service anytime in the next 5 years. It’s easy to get the listing of someone who just has to sell their home within the next 3 months – they’re desperate and will usually use the first agent they come across- the true test of skill comes when trying to convert a client to your service when they may not be looking to go anywhere for another year or two. If you can convert a client that way, you are likely to have success with your real estate leads and real estate in general for years to come.The sad fact is that 20% of the real estate professionals out there are doing 80% of the business and the other 80% of agents out there are failing miserably and getting out of the business within a few years. They are not willing to build up a pipeline of real estate leads, no matter how far along the selling/buying process they may be, and they’re not willing to do what it takes to convert these leads to clients.Real estate is a sales and service industry. If you’re not willing to help your real estate leads even before they become clients, they’re not likely to become clients at all. Why should they? There’s always another real estate professional who is more than willing to go the extra mile to get their business.To be successful in real estate, you’ve got to see potential real estate leads in everything you do and everywhere you go. And then you’ve got to be willing to do everything in your power to show those leads that you’re the best agent for the job, or else they’ll be moving on to the next one. Really, you should just treat your real estate leads like they’re already a client of yours, because with confidence and some extra work, they certainly will be.