Geographic farming aka hyper-focusing on a specific area is in my opinion, THE best way for a real estate agent or broker to generate leads and build a sustainable business.
Especially now with all of the online portals, people want Realtors with local knowledge and the local neighborhood agent always has an advantage over the guy dropping thousands per month for the zip code on Zillow.
What Is Real Estate Farming?
Real estate farming is choosing to specialize or focus in on one demographic or geographic area in order to become a real estate authority for that particular market segment and eventually, the “go-to agent”.
Real estate farming isn't easy but it can be a very powerful and lucrative strategy when you start gaining market share (who doesn't like “come list me” calls).
Successfully farming is achieved through consistency, efficiency, expertise and having the right systems in place.
Consider every move you make within that farm area like planting a seed. Seeds take time and patience to be fruitful, but if you’re willing to just do the work, in the beginning, you’ll find that the payoff is well worth it.
Real Estate Farming Best Practices
1. Become a Neighborhood Expert
Know all the key landmarks, know about every home that has come on the market, expired and that has sold in the last year or so.
When it comes to active listings, don't just know what's on the market, actually set showings and personally go tour each property.
Touring each new listing in your geographic farm area achieves a few really great things, like:
- You will over time become intimately familiar with the properties.
- The sellers will see your name when you request your showing.
- Great video tour opportunity to post on Facebook and build your authority in the community.
2. Create a Facebook Page/Group
Everyone is on Facebook and a lot of people are looking for ways to get involved and communicate with their neighbors. Create a Facebook page that's specifically about your geographic farm area.
For example, if the area you wanted to farm is called CompleteOak Farms, then the Facebook page would be called ‘CompleteOak Farms Neighborhood' and the group would be called ‘CompleteOak Farms Neighborhood'.
If those names are taken, you should still create a Facebook business page for your farm area just get more creative. For example, you could use a name like ‘Live Love CompleteOak Farms'.
Now for the group, if the group is pretty big and active then I wouldn't suggest building the group up from the ground up. Instead, just start adding value to the group 2-3x per week.
DO NOT SPAM the group! I repeat, DO NOT SPAM the group. Every time you post anything spammy or even just a link to one of your listings, you'll run the risk of getting booted from the group by the admin.
3. Get a Neighborhood Website
Being listed as the ‘Neighborhood Specialist' on a beautifully designed, value-packed neighborhood website can give you an instant credibility boost and source of farm area leads.
These days it's easy to build yourself a good looking and mobile responsive website and there are plenty of options.
At the very least, you should have a basic neighborhood website with market data and neighborhood-specific information that any potential buyer or homeowner in that area would find helpful.
Want a beautiful neighborhood website branded with you as the expert? Click here to see our awesome community farming sites for agents.
4. Focus on Buyers
It might seem a little backwards to focus on buyers since the main goal of marketing to a geographic farm area is to get listings but hear me out.
If you've been with me for awhile, you know what buyers and sellers fundamentally want on the deepest level.
Here's a refresher on what buyers & sellers really want:
- Buyers want a house.
- Sellers want a buyer.
Ah, you see how that works. So by focusing on buyers for your farm area (which is pretty simple), you'll increase your leverage when marketing to potential sellers with the “I may have a buyer script”.
5. Send a Monthly Market Report
Direct mail is expensive but the one direct mail piece that is worth sending is a clean, thoughtfully designed monthly market report with the most some key data for that geographic farm area.
Your monthly market reports should include:
- Solds in last 30 days
- Currently pending listings
- Currently active listings
Every listing should include the days on market (DOM), sales price, # of bedrooms and bathrooms and at least one high-quality image.
6. Send “Just Solds” & “Just Listed” Postcards
In addition to sending a monthly market report, these are the milestones that trigger a specific postcard.
- Just Sold – Closed on a buyer or listing.
- Coming Soon – Listing agreement signed
- Just Listed – Listing active on market
- Under Contract – When listing goes under contract
7. Segment & Save
If your budget and productivity can justify the cost, you should be marketing to the whole neighborhood in order to cement your status as the neighborhood expert and “Go-To Agent”.
However, you can save money by only sending direct mail to homeowners who have owned their home for at least 2 or 3 years. Play around with the time owned and see how each year affects the number of owners in your database.
8. Always Include CTA's
Always include a call-to-action in your marketing pieces. This is a written rule of marketing yet I feel the need to have it in this list because I see agents forgetting all of the time.
Every piece of marketing you send should have a clear and relevant call-to-action.
For example, the #1 best CTA for homeowners is:
“_______ to request a FREE home valuation analysis and learn the value of your home”.
There are a ton of call-to-actions for every scenario but just make sure it's clear and doesn't ask them to do too much.
Also be sure to include a phone number AND a website URL, preferably with the domain of the farm area (ex: springwoodoaks.domain). You should do this because some people will always call and some people will always submit a form online.
9. Double Down During The Holidays
The holidays present a few amazing opportunities to really stand out in your farming area and position yourself as the neighborhood expert for the spring selling season.
Here are some holiday must-dos for your geographic farm area:
- Sponsor a Best Halloween Decorations Contest
- Hold a Thanksgiving Food Drive
- Hold a Christmas Toys for Tots Toy Drive
- Sponsor a Best Christmas Lights Contest
- Arrange a “Take Your Picture with Santa Day”
If you do even just a few of the things I mentioned above, you'll be head and shoulders above every other agent just sending a cheesy ‘Merry Xmas from your neighborhood expert' card.
10. Be Consistent
If you consistently send beautiful market reports on a monthly basis and each one has call-to-actions, you will start to see results after 3–6 months.
If you go hard in the paint (sorry, a basketball term) and do things like the holiday toy drives and go above and beyond to make a splash in your geographic farm area, then you'll actually start to see results much faster.
The reality is that the work you must put into your geographic farm won't get that much easier but the rewards will only get bigger after every listing you take and every buyer you close.
Eventually, you'll become the coveted “Go-To Agent” for your dream geographic farm area or neighborhood.
Bonus Tip: Start an Email Newsletter
Email newsletters when done right can be a powerful tool for any marketing strategy and the statistics on email blow every other marketing channel out of the water.
If people are receiving your email and not unsubscribing, that means they find value in what you have to say and are choosing to stay in touch.
Setting up an email newsletter service can be done in less than an hour (with the right program) and can be an amazing direct channel of communication for your geographic farm area.
All you have to do is convince them to give you their email…
PS: You can just use your current CRM (Contact Relationship Manager) to manage your newsletter don't think your newsletter has to be some fancy pants graphic design masterpiece. My favorite newsletters happen to all be just plain text emails, so don't make it hard on yourself. Just write.
These are the most important best practices that real estate agents must keep in mind when sending any direct mail pieces.
But if you want a more structured framework for dominating your geographic farm area, click the link below to check out our FREE email mini-course that sends you 4 email lessons broken down step-by-step, including all the checklists and worksheets you need to break into any farm area.
PS: If you haven't read our 2,500+ word guide Geographic Farming: The Top Producer’s Secret to Neighborhood Domination, be sure to check it out, as I break down the framework of successfully choosing, planning and executing a successful geographic farm strategy.
The email mini-course, however, breaks down that guide into 4 concise and actionable email lessons sent over 4 weeks to walk you through actually making moves and to provide some accountability.