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Real Estate Leads: Qualified vs. Unqualified Leads

By: Rob Shapiro

March 28, 2024

After generating real estate leads, you must determine which can convert into clients and eventually sales. To do so, you must separate the qualified real estate leads from the unqualified, who may have value but need to be nurtured. The strategic approach for scaling your real estate business is to focus on your qualified leads while keeping an eye on the unqualified.

Keep reading if you’re an experienced or new real estate agent looking to generate ready-to-convert leads. This article looks at lead generation for real estate, how to qualify real estate leads and introduces you to the idea of working with a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. 

What is a Qualified Real Estate Lead?

Qualified real estate leads are those more likely to convert in a short time. They might be a motivated first-time buyer or someone who needs to downsize immediately. Whatever the reason, there is a quick path between being a lead and becoming a client.

Qualified leads in real estate can directly increase your close rate and sales volume.

resizeAt a table with a model of a house in the middle are three people. One is one their phone, another on a tablet and the other is only partially visible and their phone is on the table.d house on table

What is an Unqualified Real Estate Lead?

Unqualified real estate leads are those unlikely to convert soon or, in some cases, ever. They might be tire kickers (real estate has no shortage of these), already have an agent but are playing the field, don’t have the funds yet or are only dreaming of selling or buying a home.

Every realtor needs a high number of leads to build their client roster. Unqualified real estate leads can help fill your client pipeline but the qualified ones will grow your business from 10-12 sales a year to 20-30 and beyond.  



How to Qualify Real Estate Leads

These four factors can help you qualify real estate leads and de-prioritize, or even remove, those unlikely to convert:

Motivation for Buying or Selling Real Estate

A qualified lead has a legitimate reason for buying or selling a home. The more legitimate their motivation, the closer they are to becoming a client.

Strong motivations to need a real estate agent include:

  • Downsizing
  • Trying to break into the market
  • Upgrading to a larger home
  • Changing jobs
  • Relocating to a new city or town

Buyers or sellers unsure of their plans or unwilling to commit are for your nurture pile. Make sure you don't let them stay cold for too long. Have a strategy to develop a relationship with cold leads to nudge them closer to converting or help you stay top of mind when they're ready. 

Mortgage Situation

If a lead has been pre-approved for a mortgage or buying with cash, they are more qualified than those who don’t check either box.

A lead with pre-approval is also more motivated to buy as they’ve taken a necessary step before finding an agent. A lead who has not been pre-approved for a mortgage may not get approved at any point and will have trouble buying a home regardless of a real estate agent’s efforts.

TIPS FOR TOP REAL ESTATE AGENT: First-time homebuyers might not know the process but could still be worth nurturing even without pre-approval. These prospective clients are integral to real estate lead generation, just be prepared to put in more work.


If a lead lives far away, they might not be worth the time and effort. Meeting leads in person can help close the deal, so proximity to a prospect makes them a more qualified real estate lead.

TIPS FOR TOP REAL ESTATE AGENTS: A smart way to target leads in your area is by using Google Ads for real estate agents. This tactic gives you control over who to target based on location and keywords, among other factors.

A Buyer’s Budget

Most people house hunt with a loose budget in mind but some prospective buyers don’t know the price range they are working with.

Ask these questions to determine if someone is a qualified real estate lead or not:

  • Have you saved for a down payment?
  • What is your income?
  • What is your debt load?
  • What is your credit score?
  • Do you have a budget in mind?

These questions can help determine their likelihood of being approved by a lender if they haven’t been already and formulating a budget.

Is a Real Estate CRM Worth It?

Most real estate agents have hundreds of potential buyers and listings and a pile of leads begging to be nurtured.

A CRM helps realtors manage the activities associated with their leads and clients. Most systems are customizable and can organize contacts, streamline communication and retarget old clients. Ultimately, a CRM lets you manage your relationships quickly and professionally.

Some of the best CRMs for real estate are:

TIPS FOR TOP REAL ESTATE AGENTS: A CRM lets you automate your operations, so you can focus on personalizing the front end of your lead generation. Personalization can help convert leads into clients and is far more effective than AI and other tools. 

Watch this video to learn about the Best CRM for Real Estate in 2024:



How do I assess real estate leads?

Early in the process, assess your real estate leads by asking about their intentions, budget, location, mortgage situation, income, debt and credit history. You can do this via a form on your website, a phone call or an in-person meeting.

What is a qualified real estate lead?

A qualified real estate lead checks specific boxes that make them more likely to convert to being a client, and are closer to buying or selling a property. Some qualifications include location, budget, mortgage pre-approval and credit rating.

Should I use a top real estate CRM?

Every realtor should use a CRM to keep their leads and clients organized and create a process designed to nurture and convert while communicating with both groups. A CRM is an efficient and professional way to ensure you never miss an opportunity to convert a lead.