Agents and brokers have a HUGE advantage.
They have accurate data at their fingertips that can show them where to market and farm for listings and buyers. You can accurately predict what your annual commissions can be with that data. You can predict how long it takes to get paid with one listing. You can predict how many listings you’ll have (depending on the consistent work you put in).
Choosing the right real estate farming area is a crucial first step for any agent.
Not just for consistent commissions… but also for scalability. Because if you master the art of “farming”, you can then take that knowledge and add another farm area to your business.
So today you’ll learn 2 important skills sets:
- Choosing the right area for you
- How to dominate that market
But before we dive into that, here at Ballpoint Marketing (Direct Mail Marketing vendors who specialize in handwritten direct mail for real estate), we want to give you a gift to help you farm and win your market… It’s an interview with a TOP broker who manages several agents and has farming plans for each of them.
His agents produce on average 5 listings EVERY month, each (that’s each agent; Not total). And in this interview, he shows you the systems he has in place to market and farm for buyers and sellers. Check it below, by subscribing to the Ballpoint Marketing Newsletter:
Choosing your real estate farming area
Let’s dive right into properly choosing your real estate farming area. And we’ll list off everything you have to consider when choosing. You’ll obtain all these data points by using the handy dandy, MLS…
- Number of homes
To choose, you’ll need to narrow down on an area/neighborhood. First, we’ll take a look at several and compare their data. You’ll want to list off areas that have 500 homes or fewer.
- Turn over rate
The first “metric” to consider is how many homes sell on average in an area. You want to aim for a 5% turnover rate. This means that for every 500 homes, you have 25 selling in that market. That’s a good “market” for you to capitalize on. Even if you only took 25% of that market, that’s 6-7 homes each year for you — and that’s not including the buyers.To figure out the turnover rate, take the number of homes sold in the last year, and divided it by the number of homes.For example:25 homes sold last year/500 homes in the area = 5% turnover rate. A 5% turnover rate is a good starting point. Higher is always better, however, if it’s too high (like 10%+) and you might want to consider why it’s so high (sometimes when people move into a bad area, they blame their agent).
- Absorption rate
While turnover rate is how many homes sell on average in your farming area, absorption rate considers how fast homes sell or stay on market (AKA: how long does it take for you to get paid when you list a house). A high rate (above 20%) means it’s a seller’s market (homes are selling quickly); there are a lot more BUYERS than inventory. A rate below 15% means it’s a buyer’s market; a lot more inventory than buyers. To calculate the absorption rate, take the number of sales each month, and divide it by the total number of available listed properties.
5 sold properties each month/200 listed properties = 25%
In this example, it’s a seller’s market, and it means that it takes 3 months for all the current inventory to be sold.
How did I figure out that “4 month” number?
Just do the equation backward but with the TOTAL amount of sold homes that year:
200/60 = 3 months
Use this metric to compare areas with areas.
- Potential commission
If choosing a real estate farming area, it would be wise to also predict what your commission per transaction will be. In this case, take the average listing price in that area, and calculate your commission.
“Soft” data for choosing your farm
The above metrics are “hard data sets”. Those give you concrete numbers. Bu there are other factors that sometimes are directly measurable that give you an “holistic feel” of the market and it’s long-term viability for you as well the type of client you’d rather deal with. Consider all these for choosing a market (however DON’T get stuck on analysis paralysis).
- Schools (Buyers are ALWAYS taking this into affect for their decision. Better schools mean better desirability)
- Employment (are there plenty of jobs in a short commute)
- Average income (Is it a blue-collar neighborhood? Or White collar?)
- Average price (Do you want to be in the “luxury real estate” market? There big pays offs in it, but a lot of cons as well — like competition, slower market, the amount of work/time to win a client, the amount of time to farm build a brand)
- Average Age (Certain age groups sell more frequently than others. What type of age group do you want to deal with)
- Commuter area (how close is it to highways? Too close? This affects desirabitly
- Local Amenities (How close (or too close) is to shops?)
- Type of home (is it a “starter” home neighborhood? Or a “step up” (where families are sellign their starter homes to get into larger homes))
When choosing your market area take ALL these into account because they not only tell you what buyers prefer, but also what YOU prefer. Not all real estate transactions are created equal and not all sellers are equal in how they treat you. So make sure you take into account your own preferences, not just buyers.
Winning a real estate “farm”
Once you got your preferred area you’d like to dive into, the next step is the marketing and branding in that farming area.
Tools and Material
You’ll first need to create and order marketing/branding material. What lots of people get tied up in, is what to say in their business cards, flyers, and mail. And there are 2 ways go out about this…
- The traditional way: This is what everyone does; they get a professional profile photo, and have a simple message like: “Homes sold Fast”, “For all your real estate needs”, “Buy and sell we do it all”. If you don’t really know where to start, look at the top agents in non-competing markets, and just take some aspects of that.
- The direct response way: Craig Proctor (who learned directly from the direct response king, Dan Kennedy) was made famous in teaching agents direct response marketing (and later below, we’ll have some direct response techniques you can utilize). The most “stand out” element of this was having a message with a guarantee. Here’s a famous (but real) example:
“We guarantee we’ll sell your house in 60 days or we’ll BUY it ourselves”
This is the “offer” for sellers: the listing agent will sell it in 60 days guaranteed. Obviously, this might not be attainable for you and the current market… but it’s an example of crafting an “irresistible offer” that can get lots of attention and listings.
Ok, so you’ll need your photo and your messages. Now here’s a list of materials you’ll need:
Tools you’ll need
- Some sort of CRM
- Local phone number
- Website page (for credibility)
- A print shop like us (to print up marketing material)
Marketing Methods for farming
Leads can be grouped into 2 types: inbound and outbound. If you’re starting in a new real estate farming area, we’re going to do tasks to “farm” both types of leads every week. Some of the tasks you’ll be doing will be around the idea of “branding”. The other will be direct response type of marketing.
First, let’s list off the marketing methods (proven real estate marketing ideas)… then we’ll dive into a weekly plan to farm your new real estate farming area:
- Event Marketing:
Just like how open houses are great for building buyer’s lists, events are great “gold mines” for creating a list of both sellers and buyers. Examples of events: Offering free Holiday photo shoot to the community, then advertise it; you can hire a professional photographer (let them know about what you’re doing and ask for a special rate as this not only brings the photographer a payday, but also potential clients in the future). Then meet and greet people who arrive, collect information and give your marketing material.Other examples of events:
- Hosting/sponsoring charity events
- Hosting a block party during the 4th of July (and buy all the fireworks)
- Community events (rent a bounce house and bring food for the community). This is rarely done by realtors, mainly because 95% of agents don’t want to do the work. But it’s no coincidence that only 1-5% of agents are actually producing anything. Event marketing is a branding technique but depending on the volume of people that show up, you can win a listing/buyer or 2 on the same day. Getting started right away on creating an event to get your name known in your farm area.
- Relationship marketing:
Again, another overlooked marketing technique but this would be classified under “branding”. Relationships are key in any business in any industry. There are many vendors that deal directly with buyers and sellers (and vendors/stores that have lots of traffic you can still capitalize on). If it’s a directly relatable vendor (for example remodeling contractors, landscape, Junk removal, carpet cleaners, electricians/HVAC/plumbers, interior designers, staging companies, etc)… they can play a key role in referring new clients.Just work something out with them, either a referral/marketing fee (if you’re allowed legally to do so) or an agreement to exchange leads (“You send me referrals, I’ll send you referrals”).
- Event Marketing:
You can also leave marketing material in high-traffic areas if stores allow it. Like the local coffee shop. Granted you’ll have to speak with them about this, AND you’ll be competing with others, AND you might have to be consistent with this if you expect any results.
- Door hangers:
Every week we’ll have a set goal of how many hangers to hang in your farm area. If you didn’t know, here at Ballpoint Marketing, we have the worlds first handwritten door hanger.
- Door knocking
Every week you’ll have a set number of doors to knock on. You can knock on every door in your farm area and leave marketing material (hangers, a business card, and a flyer)… Yes, this is HARD work, but so not having listings or being broke is a WORSE feeling. When you’re starting in a new farm area, remember you’re not the only agent on the block. It takes a lot of work to farm and establish yourself. But once you do the hard work upfront, you’ll be doing very little of this hard outbound stuff.
- Cold calling
Another technique people despise. But to cut the amount of time spent on the phone, and to cut the amount of time spent with tire kickers… the best way to use this technique in real estate is to only cold call MLS expired lists and FSBO lists; (there are a number of real estate cold calling guides online, the best approach is to be conversational and only use scripts as guides). Just make sure you don’t call someone on the “Do not call list”.Also… if your farm area is only 500 people… you can cold call that list in less than a week.
- Direct Mail
A “bread and butter” marketing technique used by many agents. But if not done consistently, it’ll be a wash and you’ll just be burning money. We’ll instead, below, give you a plan for using direct mail, using our famous “Golden letter” made for realtors.You can also listen to an interview with a top agent and how to use direct mail to find both buyers and sellers. Just sign up to our newsletter below:
A consistent marketing plan for your farm area
Consistency is key.
The best way to do this is to create a “marketing schedule”. Or else you’re left with a “market when I feel like it” plan, and that usually is on “fire” the first week or two, and then falls off the earth.
So instead of being a like a pinball machine, where your “marketing” is more of a reaction… let’s create a plan you do every month (even week). Here’s our real estate marketing plan in a nutshell:
When you first choose your real estate farming area
- Gather your marketing material
- Advertise your event … (this could be a simple ad in the community paper or word of mouth — if you don’t know what I’m talking about with an “event” read the section above on “event marketing”)
- Mail your entire farm area… (use these)
- Door knock/cold call/or both the entire farm area
- Visit and reach out to related vendors and start a conversation about referrals… (Relationship marketing, as we talked about above. This is very important to do early on — From now on you’ll be calling this your “relationship marketing list”, and you’ll be nurturing this list as time goes by).
- Go to storefronts in your farm area and leave marketing material … (brochures or cards. Talk to the manager — maybe you can even create an event with the store or some sort of relationship that brings referrals)
- Pay a visit to some of the storefronts… (Replenish marketing material See if you need to mend a relationship with the manager)
- Pay a visit to your “relationship marketing list”… (either via mail, phone call, or face-to-face. You don’t have to do ALL of them. Just a portion of them but keep track of who you spoke to and when; Bottom line: Take CARE of this list. They can be a gold mine. For those that send you referrals, I would also THANK them with something very nice (like a fine bottle of wine, fine dining, or tickets to an event — this is key to being a superstar in your field).
- Mail your farm area, buyers, and past clients (optional)… (Some brokers don’t mail their farm area every month, but rather every quarter or every year. But every month, think about at least mailing your past clients to build a referral network.
- Build relationships with other agents … (Agents outside of your farm area can be a source of buyers. Establish a relationship with them using the same techniques described above)
- Cold call (optional) … If you need listings/buyers immediately, then start smiling and dialing.
- Leave hangers… (if you have a farm area of 500 homes, it’s quick and easy to leave these handwritten door hangers in less than a week.
Not only should you be consistently growing your brand and looking for inventory you control, you should also be GROWING your buyer’s list.
A lot of the techniques described above work for growing a buyers list (make sure you have a place to keep their contact info that you actually USE). For example, events will get you into contact with potential buyers as well as relationship marketing.
A good buyers list that you’ve grown a good relationship with, can mean you quickly offload inventory or just collect on an easy commission if they buy another agent’s listing.
You should also be mending relationships with agents working in different farm areas. By first establishing a relationship, nurturing them, creating friends, etc… they can be a source of buyers.
Consistency is key in your farm area
As you can see… the methods of farming are nothing sexy or fancy. It’s a lot of networking and a little outbound marketing.
The key however IS consistency. Without it, you’ll live in “reactionary” mode 24/7 always stressed, never BUILDING a business.