What Is Real Estate Farming?
Real estate farming is a marketing strategy that allows you to plant your “leads” in a specific location, feed them the attention they need to prosper, and, hopefully, cultivate future business, especially when you first become an agent. Farming in a specific location can be a powerful lead-generating strategy for agents because they reinforce their image as local experts, inviting even more leads to pursue their expertise. This guide to real estate farming will cover how to farm real estate, the costs involved, and how to become a real estate farming expert.
Geographic Vs. Demographic Real Estate Farming
To get an idea of the type of real estate farm you want, you need to know the two categories of farming — demographic and geographic — and how they differ.
As the name implies, real estate geographic farming focuses on marketing to a specific geographic area. Your geo-farm might target an area as small as a neighborhood or encompass an entire city. An ideal geo-farm would be close by so that you can flex your local expertise for a home-field advantage.
Real estate demographic farming is a little more complex and targeted, focusing on groups of people rather than geographic areas. Examples of niche groups you could target include first-time homebuyers, investors, or move-up buyers. For example, if you have a property near a golf course, you could narrow your demographic farm to market to golfers.
When pursuing demographic real estate farming, agents need to have a clear understanding of and make sure they comply with the Fair Housing laws that are in place to protect people against discrimination based on their race, religion, sex, gender identity, disability, or familial status.
Knowing how to farm real estate and the type of farm to use is an important first step to maximizing your real estate marketing strategy. Next, you’ll want to hone in on your real estate farm area.
How to Choose a Real Estate Farm Area
When choosing your real estate farm area, consider what makes the most sense for your area of expertise — what will give you the most real estate business? As you craft a business plan and begin researching where to build your real estate farm, focus your search on one specific area. Start small so that you have room to build your real estate lead generation empire rather than jumping into the biggest farm area, which could quickly become overwhelming. In other words, cultivate a real estate farm area you can take advantage of and become an expert in, and you'll successfully grow your brand.
Narrow In on Areas You Already Have Knowledge About
The purpose of real estate farming is to allow you to plant seeds and watch them grow from leads to clients. Your path to a successful crop (i.e., real estate lead generation) is better paved when you’re the neighborhood expert. Farming in your neighborhood, subdivision, or within a suburb gives you an automatic advantage, given that you’re deeply familiar with this specific area.
Choose a Real Estate Farm Area Where You Have a Network
For those who have been in the real estate industry for some time, you may have already built a network. However big or small, this network is your land, and it’s primed and ready to farm. In other words, people know who you are and the levels of service that you provide. Take advantage of this familiarity and develop a real estate farm around your network. You’ve already put in the work to develop your real estate network — there’s no need to reinvent the wheel and do it again.
Narrow Down Your Audience
Remember the demographic vs. geographic real estate farming strategies mentioned earlier? At this point, you’ll want to choose between those real estate farming ideas. The last thing you want to do is focus on everyone from first-time buyers to investors to move-up buyers to downsizing sellers; you won’t be successful if you try to take on too many marketing strategies at once and split your focus. For your real estate farming, it’s best to narrow down those target audiences to two or fewer, freeing up the attention and focus you need to harvest good quality leads. That allows you to put the attention and focus you need to harvest those real estate farming crops.
Analyze the Housing Market In Various Areas
The success of your real estate farm is the result of your expertise and knowledge of the areas you want to manage. As you work within your local real estate market, regularly draw up market reports to have an idea of the number of homes that may come available soon, how many have just listed vs. just sold, the turnover rate of homeowners in the neighborhood, and any other market updates that define your locale.
As a good rule of thumb, if someone has asked you a specific question about your market, say at an open house, you should consider monitoring that metric moving forward to maintain your status as the local expert. Take every chance available to dig into the housing market of various areas by diving into the data and analyzing it as much as you can. You never know what may turn into the fertilizer to make your crops flourish.
Consider connecting with local real estate agents in the area in which you’re interested to learn more about that market. Get a feel for the land, so to speak, in order to decide if you want to set up your real estate farm there. This strategy will allow you to learn more about the market, potentially co-list properties with other agents, and discover new areas to grow as a real estate professional.
Real Estate Farming Techniques
Once you've narrowed in on a geographical area or the demographic that you want to farm, you can use the following tips and techniques to get listings in your market of choice.
- Door knocking is one of the most common farming ideas for those who live in the neighborhood upon which they focus their marketing efforts. Getting out in the community makes connecting with potential leads easier, allowing your farm to prosper. It’s also a great way to spread awareness of your services through ever-important human-to-human contact.
- Direct mail is one of the most effective real estate farming marketing materials out there. People regularly check their mail, so you know that they will see your mailer at some point. The key is to make your branding and messaging effective and impactful. If you have knocked on their door before, direct mail is a great way to follow up and remind homeowners of who you are and what you do. It’s also a great way to make yourself known as a neighborhood expert.
- Real estate farming postcards are the snail-mail version of an email newsletter. With this method, you target the mailboxes of potential clients who live in the area where you’re a neighborhood expert. You could even zero in on neighborhoods with high turnover rates or those that are not dominated by another agent. One especially smart tactic to consider including in your design is a custom message — for instance, if the prospects in the area live near a major hospital, your message could be, “My client list includes physicians and nurses who are looking for homes near ABC Hospital.”
- Sending newsletters via email is another great way to grow your real estate farm. As you sit down to write this piece of marketing material, consider the following question: Does this information serve a specific purpose, such as breaking down current market updates? Does it benefit the person receiving it? Newsletters are a great opportunity to share the data you’ve collected on a specific real estate market, but they need to serve their readers. If you include information about the area in which the people who receive your newsletter live, they’re less likely to mark it as “spam.”
- Sponsor a local sports team or event. This strategy doesn’t require you to become the owner of a professional sports team or even a major university team unless you have the money and desire. But sponsoring a minor league baseball team or the county fair in a specific area gets your name and branding in front of many eyes, which can boost your real estate farming efforts.
- Share your work on social media. Growing your social media channels, such as your professional Facebook page or Twitter account, is a long-term marketing play, but it can really pay dividends. Social media is a powerful tool for real estate professionals to connect with new clients and potentially younger clients. If you share relevant and useful posts that are engaging, humorous, and enlightening, your following — and your number of potential leads — will grow.
- Join hyperlocal social media networks. A hyperlocal social media group is highly targeted based on location, allowing members to find more specific services that fit their needs and can be accessed locally. Joining such a group provides another way to grow your farm by getting in front of even more people. Consider joining Nextdoor, Facebook Groups, and Meetups, and watch your hyperlocal market flourish.
- Create blogs about your real estate farming area. Not only will blogs expand your reach if the quality is high enough, but they can also increase the search engine optimization rankings for your real estate website. Again, this methodology is more of a marathon than a sprint, but if you create blog posts that people want to read and come back to your site to find, you’ll strike marketing gold. One way to grow your site is to utilize local influencers who write for you. Also, consider writing or recording podcasts with other professionals in the industry as a way to get your name out there.
No matter which real estate farming strategy you try, remember that long-term lead generation comes from making thoughtful choices that set you and your business up for success. Don’t be afraid to try new marketing strategies, but give them ample time to take root. Eventually, you’ll have a healthy crop of leads to harvest.