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Don’t Ever Ask for Real Estate Referrals.

I bet you think I am crazy, right?

No matter what the “experts” told you, you do not need to ask people for real estate referrals in order to get business.

In fact, I am telling you that you never should ask for a real estate referral.


Asking people to feed you business implies that they are doing you a favor by “giving” you business.

The conventional wisdom tells you to state how great you are and then do something heroic to convince people to work with you, and then swallow the rising vomit in the back of your throat as you ask if you have earned their business and they can refer their friends.

This sets the expectation that you owe them something and that their business is up for grabs. It creates the gateway to begging, reducing your fee or increasing your level of service to undercut the competition. 

The greatest compliment I can receive is a referral from you!

Who the fu*k talks like that?!? 

For real.

Since when is it cool to go around asking for compliments?

What Do I Have to Do to Earn Your Referrals?

What a dumb question.

Why would you ask this?

Does your doctor ask this? Does she call you and ask if you have any sick friends that you could send her way?  It seems ridiculous, right? 

When you picture your doctor, don’t you see her in a white coat saving lives and being all smart and doctory? 

How would you feel if the person you put your trust in to keep you healthy had so much time on her hands that she had nothing better to do than to call you and ask you to help pay her mortgage? 

Wouldn’t it indicate that she kind of sucks at being a doctor?

Think about it.

Really think how silly this sounds, yet agents are told to do this all the time!

We might not be saving lives, but we sure are affecting them. We assist people through what is often the most expensive and complex transaction of their lives. 

Don’t show up in your underwear with your bills and insecurities exposed and your desperation due to lack of business. How will people have faith in you if you are calling them asking for help finding your next clients?

Yet, asking for real estate referrals is so embedded in the conventional advice given to real estate agents that a quick google search resulted in these scripted suggestions:

Script: “By the way, the majority of my business comes by word-of-mouth from past clients.  It’s how I prefer to run my business.  So if you know anyone that is looking to buy or sell a home this year, would you mind referring them to me?” 

My reaction: Of course it’s how you prefer to run your business. You want me to get your clients for you for free. I understand why you prefer it this way, but what’s in it for me?

Script: “I want to work with more clients like you, and I find that people looking to move know others in the same position. How would you feel about referring my services to them?”

My reply: Honestly, I would feel a little creepy about it. You sound like a desperate robot. 

Script: “It’s been really great working with you thus far, and I feel really grateful to Jane for introducing you to me.  If it wasn’t for her, I would’ve never met you. So I just wanted to take the time to ask you if you know anyone else that is looking to buy or sell a home, and if you would feel comfortable introducing them to me?”

My reaction: Jane introduced me to you, and now I know why! You probably asked her the same question that you are asking me. I do not feel connected to you. Maybe I will give you a name now, but only because you put me on the spot. You seem like a salesperson first, I cannot find the human there. Kindly go away.

Script: “Who else do you know that needs to move right now?”

My reply: Why should I tell you?  Seriously? Why should I tell you? What’s in it for me? FU. Click.

Script: “You are so great to work with, and I find that people typically hang around similar people.  I would love to work with more people like you, so do you know anyone looking to move in the near future?”

My reply: You mean work with more people like me who are going to buy a $400,000 house?  Or people like me that volunteer at the homeless shelter. Because if you really want to work with people like me, we need the Thursday evening and Saturday morning shift covered in the dining room. Which day is better for you?

Script: “Because you are in the process of moving right now, you will overhear a lot of conversations from different people looking to move when you are out and about.  When you do, would you mind giving them my phone number and asking them to call me?”

My reply: Let me get this straight. You want ME to keep YOUR phone number handy so when I hear someone talking about moving I can jump into the conversation to promote your business, just so you can sell them a house, and have them work for you for free too?  Must be nice to have your racket of a business model. No thanks.

Does this Seem Harsh? It’s Meant to.

There will be agents who swear that this scripted method works for them, and although they might not be lying, they aren’t talking about the big picture and the impression it leaves on people.

Because even if people don’t outwardly reply the way I do here, most of them are probably thinking something similar. 

Instead of sounding like a desperate and creepy sales agent who has to  beg for business,  I am telling you that it is better to turn it around and just talk to people.

Stop Begging for Real Estate Referrals. It’s Gross and it’s Beneath You.

No matter how great the script is, it is still just a disguised way of begging people for their business. 

No matter how much you practice your script, it still sounds like a script. 

And scripts are creepy. 

Every. Single. Time.

Let’s Reframe This. Please.

Sales is service. 

Sales is problem solving.

So why do people tell you to ask your clients for real estate referrals???  How awkward is that conversation?


Awkward AF

Hi Ms. Buyer who bought a house from me a year ago. I am really great at what I do, so I happen to be reaching out to you today to see if you can take time out of your day to think of all the people you know. Then think of anyone you know who might be buying or selling. 

I know you are busy, but I really want to pay down my credit card debt and go get some Botox. It has been 8 months- partly due to quarantine, and partly because I have a shoe habit….but you get the point.

Anyway, back to the reason I called.  You seemed pretty happy with the house I sold you, and I thought since I needed some cash, I would call you to see if you could hand me a buyer.

Easy Breezy.

How about instead if you called Ms. Buyer to see how she is? Just ask her a question about her life and then actually listen. 

What if you called her to see how she is and to see if there was a way that you could help her? Or texted her to just check in?

What if you reached out to make a human connection and simply used your  human-being-energy to converse with another human being, and you also happened to create curiosity to remind Ms. Buyer that you are  in real estate?

And then Ms. Buyer would have you on top of mind so that if someone she knew was in the market she would think of you and refer to you  because she wanted to, rather than because you begged her.

That feels so much better to me, and I am sure it feels so much better to Ms. Buyer.  Doesn’t it feel better to you?

Touch 5 People a Day, and Not in the Creepy Way

So how about killing 2 birds with one stone and touching your 5 people each day (not in the creepy way)? While you are on the call, see if you can find a way to be of service. Get your head on straight before you pick up the phone so you are clear on your goal.

When you approach the call with a clear goal in site to help the person you are calling, you stand a much better chance of actually making a connection. Of helping them solve a problem. Their problem might involve a friend, and then you can become the agent. It is a win win, right?

And then no one feels creepy or begs for business.  

How to Ask for Non Creepy Real Estate Referrals. 

There are two types of real estate referrals. From AGENTS and from CLIENTS/FRIENDS

Agent Referrals 

When you are dealing with agents it is fine to talk about real estate referrals. You are either developing relationships with agents so you can send them buyers and sellers and collect a real estate referral fee, or you are working the client and paying the agent a fee for sending you the business. 

Either one is ok to ask for!

Let’s break it down.

Most agents go online and scout for real estate referrals. They are asking agents to hand them business and will gladly give up a chunk of their income as a real estate referral fee.

And while I will gladly take a real estate referral from an agent, I do not spend my time looking for them. It takes about the same amount of energy to get an agent to give me a lead as it does to go get the lead myself, but I am giving up about 25% of my income when the agent gives me the lead.  

I would rather concentrate on getting as many leads as I can, work the ones I am interested in and simply refer out the ones that I don’t want to, or cannot work with because they aren’t in my market. 

That way I am scaling and collecting fees while other agents are out doing the work.

The verdict: Go for it! It can be time consuming, but well worth it if you develop a relationship with an agent.

Client Referrals 

With buyers and sellers it is a different story. These are my direct clients. These are the people I serve. These are the people I help solve problems.

The key to getting a person to become my client is to ask questions to see what they need.

Do they have a problem I can solve?

A situation I can fix?

A question I can answer?

This is when I put on my cape and come to the rescue. I grab a tool from my tool belt and fix what needs fixing. 

  1. Ask a question.
  2. Listen to the answer.
  3. Do they need something?
  4. How can you help?

This is sales. 

Sales is service.

Sales is problem solving.

By practicing your conversation skills and checking in with the intention of a true connection, you are coming from a place of service. You are offering to solve a problem.

And when you are truly of value to your clients, they will refer you to their friends. You simply need to stay on top of mind by reaching out to them and connecting with them, and creating curiosity in the conversation.


The Verdict: Get your client real estate referrals organically and you will have a pipeline full of buyers and sellers without ever sounding creepy.

Join my next LIVE training and learn the easy way to Convert Your Contacts into Clients.



Asking for referrals is just one of the so many old school ways that agents are taught to build their business. What’s the creepiest business advice that someone has given you? Please share in comments below.

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