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7 real estate lead generation sites with no upfront costs

Updated: Dec 28, 2021

Whether you’re a seasoned agent or just starting in this industry, your ability to consistently generate leads will determine your future growth. Referral-based lead generation companies offer a great alternative that might be a perfect fit for your business. Here are a few to consider.

The ability to generate leads is fundamental for success in real estate — there’s no question about it. However, the cost of leads can be expensive depending on the lead generation company you choose to work with.

That said, there is another way to have a steady flow of leads without the upfront expense.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a surge in companies that generate and nurture leads, and then refer them to agents once the client is ready to begin seeing homes or find a listing agent.

These sites make their money through referral fees — ranging from 25 percent to 40 percent — from the agent at the time of closing. They are a great alternative for agents looking to generate a steady supply of leads without upfront costs.

So, if you’re looking for another lead generation strategy, the following seven companies might be just what you need.

Opcity is a no-upfront-fee lead source owned by It generates the leads and then begins the nurturing process. Opcity also assists the buyers they work with by connecting them with a lender for preapproval in most cases.

Once leads come to a point where they are either ready to see houses or interview potential listing agents, Opcity sends the lead information to a group of their approved agents. The first agent to respond is then connected with the lead via a three-way phone conversation introducing the agent to the prospect.

The referral fee ranges from 30 to 35 percent paid at the time of closing, but the screening process usually ensures referrals who have been qualified and nurtured to a certain level before the agent receives the referral.

This platform must come through a brokerage registering first, then recommending an agent from their brokerage to Opcity. Some of the sites below require a certain amount of experience, but Opcity has programs for both newer agents and seasoned veterans.

UpNest is a referral site that works with both buyer and seller leads. Once leads submit a request on the site, UpNest then has an adviser call to qualify them and gain additional information about what the lead is looking for in an agent.

The UpNest adviser then submits the information to three to five agents registered in the UpNest program. The agents submit proposals on what they are willing to do to gain the lead’s business.

Once leads receive the proposals, they choose which of the agents they would like to interview to identify if it’s a good fit.

UpNest requires at least three years of experience and a minimum of six transactions over the past 12 months to be considered for these referrals. UpNest also looks for agents who are somewhat tech-savvy with a strong social media presence. Its referral fee is 30 percent, paid at the time of closing. is a referral platform that focuses on leads who are looking for active adult 55-and-older communities. Their website shows the areas and communities they serve. This is a very specific type of lead for very specific communities.

They are looking for agents who are very familiar with these communities, the amenities offered, and the surrounding areas. They prefer agents who are familiar with the floor plans offered, home types, pricing, and market statistics. It’s a great lead source if these communities are one of the areas you service.

According to AgentHarvest’s website, more than 60 percent of the company’s leads are homeowners considering selling. AgentHarvest only chooses three agents to service an area. These three agents are chosen based on their experience level and past achievements.

Although the areas they serve are limited, becoming a referral partner there can create a steady flow of leads.

The company’s process involves sending the lead and referral agreement to the three agents servicing the area where the lead is generated. This is done simultaneously, allowing each agent to set an interview with the referral. They suggest the buyers or sellers interview all three agents. The referral fee is 25 percent at the time of closing.

Redfin has a referral partner program for agents looking for leads with a 30 percent referral fee at the time of closing. You can stay with your existing brokerage and receive Redfin referrals as long as you are in an area where it’s generating leads.

Redfin’s website states the requirements to join its referral partner program include “having a real estate license in good standing, your fair share of closed client transactions, and proven excellence based on their client surveys.”

This means newer agents do have an opportunity to participate in its referral program in some cases.

OJO actively nurtures the leads to a place where they are ready to take action, either in selling their home or buying a new one. At that point, they pass the lead to the agent receiving the referral.

This is a great lead source if you are a broker, team leader, or agent with a little more experience. Their preferred experience level requirements include three years in the business and 25 closed transactions in the past 12 months.

Once OJO nurtures the lead to a place where they are ready to see homes or list their home, OJO sends an email out to up to five agents in their network. The first agent to respond receives the introduction and referral.

Once the lead is assigned, they appoint a dedicated OJO Concierge who will stay in touch with the agent and the lead throughout the process to ensure all of their needs are met.

Estately looks for experienced agents with at least three years experience and preferably five years of experience. They also require letters of recommendation from past clients. They stay involved with the lead throughout the process, making sure the client they refer is handled professionally.

They select a small number of agents in each market, and they want top agents who focus on customer service. They survey every referral sent, and these surveys determine the referrals given in the future. Estately is another great option for experienced agents looking to add another lead source to their business.

Whether you are just getting started in real estate or you’re a seasoned agent, your ability to consistently generate leads will determine the future growth of your business. Referral-based lead generation companies, like the ones mentioned above, offer a great alternative that might be a perfect fit for your business.

By Jimmy Burgess

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