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What differentiates lead providers?

If you enter "Internet mortgage leads" on Google, you will literally find hundreds of lead generation companies touting their services. As most brokers have discovered, finding a company that meets your needs can be challenging. This guide will help you figure what to look for in a lead provider so you can make sure you are spending your money wisely.


Brokers should understand what they're getting into when purchasing online leads. An online lead will never be as good as a referral from a friend or a past client. The closing rate for a successful online lead campaign is about 5%. Therefore, if you invest $3000 for 100 leads, you should hope to close five loans, and see a very respectable ROI.


There are very few companies that offer exclusive leads today. The industry standard is four to five sales per lead. But make sure you realize that even the most popular lead companies don’t sell every lead up to four times. No matter what company you deal with, they have more clients in certain states than others. Therefore, a lead in Louisiana may be sold fewer times than a lead in California—the demand is not close. That Louisiana lead will also be cheaper.

Tip: If you are looking for leads that are more exclusive to you, ask about the states where you may have less competition. With a loan amount filter in place, the leads may work better for you even in states that don’t typically have those higher loan amounts. A $200,000 loan in Oklahoma can net the same as a $200,000 loan in California, there are just fewer of them.

Credit/Return Policy

No matter what lead provider you deal with, there will be bad leads. One crucial differentiator between lead companies is what the provider will do about those bad leads. The goal of the provider should be to keep bad leads to a minimum, but to also give credit or reimbursement when they do occur. Another issue with credits is the time frame that a credit is given. You want a provider that will get you the credits within a day of the request. All leads should give you a fair shot at closing a loan.

Tip: If lead providers make you jump through hoops to get a credit or wait two weeks for a response, you may want to look elsewhere. Also, ask providers if they can build in a specific return rate. If they average a 10% return rate, some companies provide 10% extra leads and you don’t return any leads. This can save time on your end. In this instance, be sure to stay on top of the lead quality.

Customer service

Many clients of mine tell horror stories of customer service with lead generators. Unfortunately this is a big concern in the industry. Make sure that your sales representative can handle all of your needs. Are you going out of town? You should have your leads suspended until you’re ready to work them. Some companies will continue to deliver leads while you don’t have anybody to work them, and thus you’re paying for old data upon your return.

Tip: Getting a sales rep on the phone is not a given in the industry. If they don’t answer the phones and don’t treat you like a client, they don’t deserve your business.

Closing Rates/ROI/Cost-Per-Fund

One of the biggest misconceptions among mortgage brokers is the closing rate. Some feel that the closing rate is the only number that counts. However, if the price per lead from company A is $20 per lead with a closing rate of 5% while company B has $40 leads and a closing rate of 8%. The cost-per-fund is significantly higher from company A despite the lower closing rate. The important figure is cost-per-fund.

Tip: The lower the price of leads, the better the cost-per-fund; however for prime leads (the leads that are more popular from brokers) you may need to pay a higher price. Be prepared to pay more for leads in California or leads with a higher minimum loan amount since more people will be competing for those leads.

Lead Pricing

When choosing a lead provider, too many people simply choose the cheapest price. Internet leads come at a price. If it takes $40 to generate a lead, and the average lead is sold 3 times for $25 per lead, that’s $75 to the lead company. Those people who think that a $5 lead is a viable lead are kidding themselves. If that lead was generated legitimately, they must sell that lead eight times to break even on the cost of the lead.

Tip: Some things are too good to be true. Too often people settle for the lowest price and get disappointed in Internet leads as a whole. There are quality lead providers out there -- don’t give up on trying to find them. Ask for references. The large lead buying companies have purchased leads from almost every provider out there. They have learned who is legitimate. It works for them it can work for you. Leads do work as long as your expectations are in check.

Daily Caps

There are a couple of different ways to look at the quantity of leads from a lead provider. You may need 20 leads per day, every day, to keep your loan officers busy. That may come at a price. Ask your lead provider if getting leads a bit cheaper can still provide you with leads, even if it’s below that 20 per day cap you desire. Depending on workloads outside of Internet leads (e.g. referrals), it is very reasonable for a loan officer to handle five leads per day.

Tip: A loan officer should be able to handle five new Internet leads per day. You do not want to drown your loan officers with leads, since they can pile up on them week to week.


If it is in your budget, try to use different lead providers at the same time. Why put all your eggs in one basket? If you can take 30 leads a day, try ten leads a day from three lead providers. After 100 leads from each, you should have a feel of the lead quality and make decisions from there.

Tip: If one outshines the rest, up their daily cap and eliminate or lower the leads from other providers.

Follow these tips and you’re sure to find a best-fit lead provider to help you fill your pipeline with potential business. Look for top lead providers, including, in the Encompass® Lead Center.

Scott Hoffman is the Director of Sales for He has been with the company for over four years.

Founded in 2002, delivers thousands of fresh leads each month to mortgage lenders across the country. Leads are generated via a network of websites, including and is a registered dba of The Wisdom Companies, LLC.
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