How to generate real estate leads: A Guide for finding high-quality tenants in 2021

Illustrated apartment building

Your best tenants just texted to tell you they’re moving out in a matter of weeks, and so begins the scramble to find new leads for your rental property.

Generating tenant real estate leads can be time-consuming if you don’t have a property management company handling your marketing. That time can be hard to come by, especially for busy real estate agents, so efficiency is crucial.

The most effective way to find high-quality tenants in 2021 and prevent your residential or commercial property from sitting empty is to advertise online.

Challenges of generating tenant real estate leads

Real estate lead generation comes with challenges, whether you’re looking for a renter or a buyer for your property. Most commonly, your leads either aren’t quite ready to make the move or can’t comfortably meet your price.

Both scenarios lead to unoccupied rentals, whether it’s because you’re waiting for your renter to move in or because they signed the lease only to quickly realize they can’t afford the rent (at which point, the cycle starts again). And low occupancy rates mean lost income — impacting cash flow.

You can target qualified tenant leads with direct mail or even cold calling, but if you’re going to them (this is called “outbound marketing”), odds are they’re not going to be ready to act anytime soon. You want real estate leads to come to you — when they are actively looking for a new place to live or office space to lease (this is known as “inbound marketing”).

Effective methods for attracting tenant real estate leads online

Posting fliers at the local laundromat is not an effective real estate marketing strategy in 2021. People looking for a rental property for their family or office space to lease are going to start their search online, and you want them to find you.

There are more than 1.7 billion websites on the internet, but a property owner or real estate agent only needs to focus on a handful of them. As of 2018, real estate websites overtook real estate agents as the most important source of information for people searching for property.

The leading site is Zillow (with more than 36 million unique visitors per month), followed by Trulia (23 million unique monthly visitors), Yahoo! Homes (20 million visitors), and (18 million visitors). On the commercial real estate front, you’ll want to consider listing on platforms like HotPads, LoopNet, CoStar, and Rofo.

The next place to turn your attention is to your website.

Your real estate website

Choosing a place to live or locate your business is one of the biggest decisions people make, and your website is your first chance to make a good impression on many of these prospective tenants. Make sure your website is easy to navigate, includes content that answers leads’ questions, and pepper testimonials throughout as proof points that speaks to your expertise and experience. In doing so, visitors see you as someone they want to do business with.

Just as important, your real estate website needs to be optimized for search engines like Google so when prospective tenants look for their next home or office space, your site appears in the results. (This is known as search engine optimization or SEO.) There are many components to SEO, but at a high level, it’s about using keywords your prospective tenants are searching for in the text of your website, like “office space for rent in [your city]” or “[your city] apartments.”

Office space for rent in Atlanta, GA

You can also optimize your website for search — and lead generation — with custom landing pages. These are standalone pages on your website specifically tailored to what renters are looking for (think keywords like “pet-friendly apartments” or “office with large conference room”) and include a contact form with form tracking, where leads can enter their email address and phone number for more information.

Most importantly, make sure your phone number is easy to find on every single page, so tenant leads can call you the second they’re ready.


Where SEO should apply to every website on the internet, local SEO is focused on businesses with physical locations that serve their communities face-to-face.

Google My Business (GMB) is a valuable tool for real estate brokers and property managers because it helps you improve your local SEO and makes it even easier for tenant leads to find you — sometimes without even clicking on your site!

GMB is a business listing on Google that shows important details about you and your real estate business directly within Google Search and Google Maps in what’s called the Local Pack:

Apartments For Rent South Tampa

When you show up in Google’s Local Pack, people can see your contact information without even clicking through to your site (the easier it is for leads to reach you, the better).

An up-to-date, robust Google My Business listing and good SEO practices on your real estate website increase your chances of showing up on the first page of Google Search results. Other search engines have similar features (and, by all means, you should use them), but with more than 87% of the search market, Google is by far the most important.

Social media sites

Networking is crucial in real estate, and today, most people do their networking online: More than 82% of the U.S. population has a social media profile. With more than 2.8 billion global monthly active users, Facebook is the biggest platform, providing a huge opportunity to grow your network and showcase your properties to an interested audience.

Share your listings with your followers and ask them to share your posts with their followers. Join Facebook groups for local businesses, neighborhoods, and interest groups to grow your network and find tenant real estate leads. You can also join realtor groups, so you and other members can refer clients to each other.

Join local business, neighborhood, or interest groups on Facebook to connect with more people in your area and expand your pool of rental leads.

Beyond posting “organic” (unpaid) listings, you can also buy targeted ads on Facebook and other social media sites to attract qualified tenants for your residential or commercial property.

Pro tip: Make sure wherever you advertise, you use dynamic number insertion, so you can track your calls to see where prospects are finding you (and can adjust your marketing budget, so you’re getting the most leads for the least money).

4 essential tips for real estate lead generation

It’s not enough just to be online — every other rental property in your area is, too. Here are some tips to help you maximize the impact of your online tenant real estate marketing and get people to contact you to set up a showing.

Invest in good photography

Whether you pay for a professional photographer or a good camera and photography classes, high-quality photos and videos of your residential or commercial property are a must for attracting tenant leads. Almost half of property buyers who search online say professional photos are “extremely or very important.” It stands to reason the same would be true for renters.

Advertise a lifestyle, not only the property

Location is just as important when renting as buying in both residential and commercial real estate. Make sure your listing plays up local amenities like restaurants, shopping, train stops, bodies of water, or dog parks to paint a picture for your future tenant of what their life would look like if they moved in. For commercial properties, be sure to include photos of office spaces, common areas, and on-site amenities, as well as available transportation. If local attractions are the biggest selling point of your rental listing, lead with them.

Set yourself up for social media success

The more engagement your posts get, the more people will see them. Ask your followers to “like” and “share” your posts with their networks to maximize your audience and find more tenant leads. This is the place to put your video tours front and center: videos get 10 times more engagement on Twitter and are the most engaging type of content on Instagram. And don’t be shy about reposting — social media posts tend to have a very short lifespan.

Be accessible

Since 32% of renters will move on to another listing if they don’t hear back from you in their anticipated time frame, it’s important to make yourself available and respond quickly to interested prospects. CallRail’s Lead Center is like having a virtual assistant that helps stay on top of incoming leads by organizing calls, texts, chats, and online forms — and even sends instant notifications when a lead contacts you, so you never miss an opportunity.

Facebook example

The biggest selling point of your rental property might not be the property itself but the location or local amenities. Be sure to showcase those.

Save time with unified business communications and analytics software

Owning rental properties can be lucrative, but keeping up with repairs and chasing down tenants for rent payments is frustrating and time-consuming, especially if you’re a busy realtor. It’s worth investing in software to automate as many tasks as possible — from prospecting to property management — so you can dedicate more energy to nurturing all those leads you worked so hard to attract.

With the right software and real estate lead generation practices, you can create a pipeline of high-quality tenants and keep your rentals occupied — and still have enough time to enjoy the benefits of your investment.