Cultivating a specific geographic area consistently and over time to develop listings and sales.
In fact, some now refer to this practice as Geo-Farming, although I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s more hip or something.
No matter what you call it, farming is a tried and true marketing technique that continues to work. I believe that the reason it works is because farming is all about building relationships with the people you interact with as you farm.
Although much is said about advertising, websites, blogs, etc. a truth about the successful real estate agent is they build relationships with their clients. Farming, by it’s very nature, gets you out of the office and in front of people, most of whom will eventually be involved in some sort of real estate transaction. Those are the folks you want to get to know.
There’s nothing particularly esoteric about farming – you pick an area of homes and, on a regular schedule walk the area and knock on doors. Your goal is to speak to the adults in the home.
When someone comes to the door you simply introduce yourself as a real estate agent who is working in the area. You can hand them a business card, or a flyer of a property nearby for sale or of a community event. When no one is home you leave whatever you would have handed them if they’d been there.
The first few times you actually reach the person living in the home they will probably brush you off pretty quickly. But as you reappear every month or so, you will become a familiar figure, known to be pleasant and willing to give them information about their community they may appreciate. It won’t be long before you’re getting information like, “you know, Emily, in the yellow house on the corner, mentioned her husband is getting transferred. You may find tenants who are ready to buy, home owners who need to sell, others who want to start investing in real estate – it’s truly worth doing.
A couple of times or so a year you mail your farm something. Perhaps info on property that’s sold in the area, maybe coupled with a coupon to a local pizza store. Adding a post card mailing every once in a while can be a good idea too.
Face-to-face contact is always best because that’s how the home owners in the area will get to know you.
Obviously choosing your farm is important. One approach is to choose the area where you live. You already know the area, and have a sense of how active it is in terms of buying and selling. Another approach is to pick an area of homes you love – maybe an area you’d like to live in some day.
Keep in mind that you’ll be working your farm as long as you’re in real estate so you want it to be an area you like and are comfortable in.
Do some research first. Run comps in the neighborhood you’re thinking about farming. You want to be sure there is a decent amount of activity. If you run into an area that doesn’t seem to be active, you might want to move on, or include only part of that area adjoining another more active area. On average homes seem to sell about every seven years – but averages don’t tell you much about the number of deals in any specific neighborhood.
This is what I call a “how long is a piece of string” question because there’s no one, or even two, answers for everyone. You want enough homes so you have a good chance of developing a listing every month or so, but no so many you can’t be consistent.
Since it’s probably better to expand a farm than cut it down in size, you may want to mark off about 250-300 homes on a map and work that area once which will tell you a great deal about the correctness of the size.
Keep in mind that in major metropolitan areas you may be running a vertical farm, or the 4th floor of X number of condos while in more rural areas it may take you a long day to reach even 200 hundred homes because of the distance between them.
You also want to consider the cost of mailing and other expenses when you’re choosing your farm area.
Got questions about farming? Ask ’em here and we’ll get answers for you.
Before Anne Wayman became a writer she sold real estate in Southern California. She worked with her father who learned the business from his father. Not surprisingly she learned a few things along the way. Since then, she has been freelance writing for over 30 years – she is a grandmother, loves cats and writes about a wide variety of topics including real estate.