What is geographic farming? Why are we using the term “farming‿ from agriculture in real estate? It’s because the basic principle is the same for both. Farmers plant the seeds, irrigate their farm, fertilize the land, remove the weeds and toil for months in order to get good crops. Agents are farmers of the real estate industry who plant “seeds‿ in their farm and then nurture them.

Geographic real estate farming refers to the selection of a certain area and then nurturing all the potential customers, just like a farmer. It refers to heavily specializing in one or more geographical area to get qualified leads in the future. Unlike prospecting, in which an agent might want to get in front of as many people as possible in shortest amount of time, a niche is focused on in real estate farming and nurtured over a longer period of time. This is much like a farmer who sweats for his crops for months so he can reap the benefits in future. Every agent wants to win more listings and close more transactions, and geographic real estate farming is one of the best ways to do that. By delivering value and consistently reaching out to a niche, you can establish yourself as a real estate specialist which people can depend on when the time comes for important decisions; buying or selling a house.

Real-Estate-Farming-Ideas

Benefits of Geographic Farming

Real estate is a pretty oversaturated industry. People often can’t differentiate the services offered by one agent from another. Whether you want to survive in the market as a new agent, or grow your business as a veteran, farming is one of the best ways to go about getting qualified leads. Following are the main reasons to invest time and money in growing your real estate farm:

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Who Should Be In Your Farm?

So who exactly do you want to focus on? It can be anyone in the area you have selected as a farm. Any leads that you get from your prospecting efforts which aren’t ready to buy or sell yet but might do so in future should be part of your farm. Your past customers are a great source of referrals and should also be included in any marketing you are doing. Your family, friends and their friends should be your ambassadors in the market so if anyone in their circles wants to sell a house, buy one or invest in property, they can refer them to you.

What are the steps involved in geo-farming?

1. Having the Right Mindset

If you are expecting to see results from farming in a week or a month, get out. It’s not a short-term game. It’s like growing sugar canes. It can take anytime between 6 months to 2 years to grow before you can harvest it. If you can’t fully commit to real estate farming for at least a year, don’t do it. If you don’t have the budget or time for investing in your farm, stop. The most crucial thing here is commitment and consistency. Fully understanding what you are getting into and having a proper mindset will determine your success in winning listings from your farming efforts.

2. Picking the Right Farming Area:

The first step is to pick up an area for farming. In order to pick the right area for yourself, you have to weigh your options keeping following factors in mind:

  • What is the turnover rate in that area? How many homes are turned over? Would you be able to win enough listings in that area keeping competition in mind? Pick an area with decent turnover rate. 
  • What are the demographics of that area and do you have experience in working with them?
  • What kind of property is dominant in that area? Is it luxury homes, condominiums, vacation home or single houses? Is that the kind of property you specialize in?
  • Do you believe in the area? Do you think it’s worth living in? Do you think it’s great to live in? Do you believe enough in your farm that you can get on a stage and sell it?
  • What is the average sales price of a house in that area? Is it worth the effort?
  • What is the proximity of that area from your residence to keep an eye on and deliver level of services to its community?
  • How much “area‿ can you effectively farm with the time and resources you have? For someone building a farm, we recommend to start with a 1000 houses and sow the seeds.
  • How well do you know the area? Do you know more than any other human being about that particular area? Do you know its history, people, interesting facts about the are, marketing trends, house values, etc. More extensive knowledge of an area will give YOU a competitive edge, through which you can win more listings.

Picking the right locality and area to farm, depending on time and your budget, will determine how successful your efforts are going to be in future. Keeping Turnover rate and average sales price will basically define the opportunity that area presents to you in monetary terms. Rest of factors like specialization in buying or selling a certain type of property, working with a certain demographics like millennials or seniors, or how easy it is for you to dominate that area represent your competitive advantages over all other agents who want to pull clients from your farm to theirs.

3. Create the right marketing strategy for your farm

Now that you have selected an area for farming, you need a marketing strategy that you can apply consistently to generate results. Here you have to remember Pareto’s Principle of the 80 / 20 Rule, which says that 20% of your efforts will account for 80% of results you get. Therefore it’s important to tweak your marketing strategy by doing more of what’s working and less of what’s not. However, keep in mind that geographic real estate farming is a long-term plan and you probably will start seeing results after 4-6 months.

1- Direct Mailer Campaigns

2- Emails & Newsletters

3- Market Updates

4- Events

5- Networking

Important Questions to Answer:

While devising your marketing strategy, you have to answer a few critical questions which would define how successful your marketing has been like:

  1. Do you want to do the hard work yourself in terms of generating marketing collateral or hire a freelancer to do it for you? (sweat equity vs check equity)
  2. Can you execute the marketing activities consistently?
  3. Which tools would you need to execute these activities?
  4. How are you going to manage all the leads and timely follow up with them? Which CRM are you going to use?

It’s important to make sure that your marketing strategy:

  1. is effective for that area
  2. can be consistently executed
  3. is within your budget range

4. Create enough marketing collateral

Whether you are designing your marketing collateral yourself or have outsourced it to someone, make sure that you have enough material to last you for a couple of months. Real estate is driven by building connections in-person and requires a lot of time and effort. Therefore, it’s better to finalize your marketing message, value propositions and design work before you start working in your farm. In real estate, you won’t be remembered if you are not seen and you won’t be seen by people who matter if you have to work to create more marketing materials.

5. Create and optimize your online presence

In today’s real estate, having a strong online presence is a must. The chances are pretty high that your potential customers might have searched you online even before you take a step into their house for listing presentation. If you are found online with your marketing message, professional pictures and testimonials, that will improve your chances of winning more listing presentations.

Checklist:

Do you have account on:

  • Brokerage Website
  • Your Personal Website
  • Zillow
  • Trulia
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest

Do your accounts have:

  • Your professional picture
  • Correct marketing message
  • Contact number
  • Email address

Has your website got:

  • Lead capturing forms (for website)
  • Current listings (for website)
  • Past listings (for website)
  • Client testimonials (for website)
  • Content that is optimized for search engines

Pro Tip:

Use a free keywords tool like Google Keyword Tracker to get real estate related queries that prospects in your farm use to find information online and optimize your website with those keywords to get found at right time.

6. Automate some marketing

Social media, emails and blogging are more important than ever before, especially for real estate agents. It’s important to write blog posts, promote them on social media and send out emails regularly to stay on top of mind of your potential customers. It can be on anything related to your farm. Schools, health care, crime rate, local news, review of restaurants in the area and upcoming events or past events, are few things which you can write about in your blogs.

But one thing agents don’t have is a schedule. There are no holidays.  However, today you can do all this in a more streamlined manner rather than struggling to keep up with it. You can schedule an entire month’s worth of blog posts, emails and social updates through the automation tools available today. Here are some of the tools you can use to automate some of your marketing:

Email

Social Media Automation Platforms

Through automating some of the marketing activities, you will be able to spend more time on doing what you need to be doing: closing more transactions in your farm.

Pro Tip:

You can automate your blog posts to get automatically posted on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social accounts through RSS feeds on Hootsuite or BufferApp.

7. Execute your marketing plan

Once you have everything ready, it’s time to get to work. You have to be in front of the people in your farm at least 24-30 times a year. Start sending direct mailer campaigns to people in your farm, keep them updated with what is going on in the area; is there a shopping mall being built nearby, what direction are house prices going, which properties just got listed, which ones just sold, etc. Once a quarter, send them a newsletter with a recap. Nothing beats in-person meetings so meet & greet people at events. Connect with your prospects through plain old door-knocking and let them know who you are and what you can do for them. Tell them about houses you sold recently and to talk to you for a free value appraisal of their home if they ever consider selling it. Truly establish yourself as a specialist in your farm so when someone wants to buy or sell home, they call you and not your competitor. Being consistent in connecting and marketing to these prospects will determine how many transactions you can close in your farm.

8. Follow-up

Leads are the lifeblood of real estate agents. Most agents spend enormous amount of time on daily basis in prospecting. However, what they often fail at is following up with their existing leads and customers which is crucial not only in generating new business but is the cornerstone of building a referral-based business and can help them save enormous amount of time spent on prospecting.
Agents should follow up with their database frequently so they stay on top of their mind as an real estate expert agent which was delivering value even before anyone hired him or her as a representative. Favorable perception would help you get more interested leads as well as referrals out of your farm. There are a number of follow-up tips in the next section which you can utilize to develop your business.

Real Estate Farming Strategies & Tactics

1. Direct Marketing:

As an agent, you success depends on how many people know you as a real estate expert. Use direct marketing channels to connect with your target audience and make them aware of your services. One of the best ways to do that is send out direct mailer campaigns. It can be postcards (which you can align with some of the most important days of year) with a message, your picture, value proposition and contact information. You can also create a newsletter and brand it according to your community. This newsletter can be sent digitally as well as in hard copy.

Here are a few ideas for postcards and newsletters that you can send out:

  1. Valuable Information like Buying vs Renting, How to Increase House Value, Home Maintenance Tips,
  2. Postcards with testimonials from past clients
  3. Market Analysis with past 10 year projections and future projections
  4. Postcards with homes you just listed
  5. Postcards with homes you just sold
  6. Postcards with free home appraisal offer

You might get a call from a buyer or seller in a week or you might have to wait months. However, this is a time taking process and for it to be effective you need to be consistent in your marketing efforts.

2. Community Updates

To position yourself as a community expert, you have to start delivering value to community even before they approach you to buy or sell a house. This can be house maintenance tips or other information that people would be interested in and would appreciate your giving it away for free. The best way to go about is to send out regular updates through emails or direct mailers about what is happening in the town or city, and how it is going to impact real estate. You sell someone’s house and you can bet the neighbors would be interested in knowing how much value their house would fetch if they put it on market. Free appraisals are something you can offer to build your relationships with homeowners who might decide to sell in future.

Another thing you can do is set up a Community Page with detailed information about a particular area (your farm). This page is meant to provide crucial information to both buyers and sellers which can help them make informed decision. It can contain information like:

  1. Area demographics
  2. School, colleges & universities
  3. Healthcare facilities
  4. Access to highways or other major routes
  5. Crime rate
  6. Appreciation or depreciation of housing values

Anyone looking on this page would be able to tell that you have a decent grasp of the area and know what you are doing.

2. Community Updates

To position yourself as a community expert, you have to start delivering value to community even before they approach you to buy or sell a house. This can be house maintenance tips or other information that people would be interested in and would appreciate your giving it away for free. The best way to go about is to send out regular updates through emails or direct mailers about what is happening in the town or city, and how it is going to impact real estate. You sell someone’s house and you can bet the neighbors would be interested in knowing how much value their house would fetch if they put it on market. Free appraisals are something you can offer to build your relationships with homeowners who might decide to sell in future.

Another thing you can do is set up a Community Page with detailed information about a particular area (your farm). This page is meant to provide crucial information to both buyers and sellers which can help them make informed decision. It can contain information like:

  1. Area demographics
  2. School, colleges & universities
  3. Healthcare facilities
  4. Access to highways or other major routes
  5. Crime rate
  6. Appreciation or depreciation of housing values

Anyone looking on this page would be able to tell that you have a decent grasp of the area and know what you are doing.

In real estate the formula for success is “value plus presentation‿.

3. Paid Campaigns

Today the name of the game in real estate is to be there when the customer is ready to make a decision. One of the ways to constantly stay visible to your leads is through highly targeted Facebook paid campaigns. For example you can show your ads or promote listings you are representing to engaged, just married or couples who are going to or just had a child and need more room now through Facebook custom audience building. Here are the steps to do it:

  1. Go to Facebook Ads Manager (https://www.facebook.com/ads/manager)
  2. Provide as specific location as possible of your farm
  3. Specify demographics through Life Events
  4. Run ads for impressions
  5. Finalize your ads and profit

4. Market Updates – CMA

Real estate agents are powerful with direct impact on growth and development of neighborhoods, towns, cities and states. As a real estate agent, YOU define value houses in a particular area have right now and in future. If you believe in your area and think it’s great to live in, educate people. Tell them what they are most interested in. House prices and future projections. Create Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) for the block or area that represents your farm and send it to them. This is you giving value to people for free. You can use newsletters or direct mail to send out past 10-year projects for the area, future projections, are house values increasing or decreasing and why it’s happening. Also offer them a free home appraisal on your website or through the collateral that you are sending them.

5. Just Listed Properties & Open Houses

Once you win a listing, let everyone know it’s You who won it. Call people, tweet about it, share pictures or videos of the house on YouTube and Facebook, include it in newsletters that you send out, and create a buzz. Leverage the sign in front of the house and market yourself. Organize kick-ass open houses and invite people. Tell everyone you know that you have a house for sale. Invite everyone in 3-4 streets to the open house.  Engagement is key to success, ask them if they know someone who might be interested in buying that particular house. Neighbors are going to be interested because they want to see what that house has and how much is it going to sell for. Then they would want to see how much their house can sell for. Why do all that? Because you have to position yourself as community expert. Even if you are starting a new farm and there is competition, this will help you carve your place in it.

6. Just Sold Properties

Congratulations. You just sold a home successfully. Now what? Back to prospecting?

Hold on. A property you just sold is an excellent opportunity to network with your future buyers or sellers. Have the sellers organize a farewell party, tell them you will bring the wine and cheese for it. Invite the neighbors so they can say goodbye. Here are some of the questions that are guaranteed to be asked during party:

  • How much the house sold for?
  • To whom did you sell?
  • Where are you going now?
  • What was the experience like?
  • Who are our new neighbors?

Go crazy. Market your success. Ask the client for their feedback. Use their positive feedback as a success story on your website, your social media, your farm newsletters and direct mailers. Let them know to give you a shout out if they need help with anything in future. Let someone else promote your services.

“The sales process doesn’t stop at buying or selling a house, it stops when your customer becomes your brand ambassador.‿

7. Door Knocking

You will sell as many homes in a neighborhood as you average door knock a day. If you average in a month 30 door knocks, on a 6 day calendar, you will sell 30 homes in a year. Seeing is believing. It’s the face-to-face meetings which will help you truly connect with the homeowners in your farm and get that call when they want to sell their house. First meeting, you introduce yourself and give them something to remember you by which can be:

  1. a coffee mug with a link to your website
  2. a flower pot with their house number and year on it
  3. a magnet for fridge with important numbers on it
  4. or simply your business card.

In follow up meetings, you can tell them about the developments in that particular area of city, any upcoming events, house values, your listed houses or the one you just sold. The objective is to keep in touch with people in your farm.

8. Networking

The role networking plays in careers of real estate agents is akin to oxygen. You just can’t survive without it. Some of the networking opportunities will present themselves. These can be the local events that you can participate in. At other times, it will depend on your effort as you might have to leverage certain opportunities to network even more like when you organize open houses or throw a farewell party for sellers. There was one crazy agent who brought petting zoo to his farm and invited children and their parents to it. It costed him $650 and he generated $45k+ in earning through 4 leads that came from the event. You can organize a small event at Christmas in partnership with a photographer. Book a small community hall and bring some food for the event. You can dress up as Santa Claus and invite people from your farm and their kids to the event. Networking opportunities are only limited by your own mind. You have to participate in at least 2 large events and 1-2 smaller ones in a year.

One thing agents sometimes fail in, is looking at the bigger picture. It’s not just the potential buyers and sellers in your farm area that matter. Everyone you get in touch with in your everyday life is networking opportunity. It can be your hairdresser or your tailor. Make sure they know what you do. Then what about politicians who move things? Other businesses which are running the area?

You have to analyze your area and list down following:

  1. Top 10 Most Important Businesses
  2. Top 10 Most Important Individuals
  3. 5 Best Groups to align yourself with

Once this is done, then it’s time to start working on a plan to network with them. You have to know which businesses are running in your area, who owns them and what they do. Then you can network with them for mutual success. This is part of advanced farming techniques which we will cover in another blog along with Store Front Promotions.

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