There’s just something about door knocking for real estate that strikes fear into the hearts of new agents. “What if they slam the door in my face?” “I don’t want to bother anybody.” “What if they don’t like me??!!!”
Waking up early on a Saturday and hitting the streets to go knock on people’s doors is kind of like bungee jumping. It looks absolutely terrifying, but once you do it a few times, you start to realize it’s actually pretty safe, and can even be fun.
That’s why we worked with 27-year real estate veteran Sean Moudry and our friends at Coldwell Banker to put together this list of tips for successful door knocking in 2021. After the tips, we have some great video examples of door knocking scripts and give our hot take on the state of door knocking in 2021.
1. Leverage Your Recently Closed Deals With Sean Moudry’s Door Knocking Script
Trying to come up with a value proposition to justify knocking on a stranger’s door on a Sunday is not easy. Sure, you think you’re a great listing agent, but does that really give you a reason to drag a homeowner away from their morning paper and coffee? Of course not.
When it comes to value, nothing succeeds like success. In real estate, that means one thing and one thing only: closed deals.
So if you have a recent listing that received multiple offers, print them out, black out the personal information, and put together a mini presentation you can use as a talking point.
Now that you have a reason to be there, use Sean’s script:
“Hello, sorry to bother you. My name is [your name] and I am the listing agent for the property down the street [point in the direction of the property]. We received multiple offers [waive the printed contracts in front of them] and, of course, we can only accept one. The home sold well above asking price and these other buyers are still looking for a home in [neighborhood]. Who do you know who would like to sell their home in this HOT MARKET?”
2. Don’t Forget to Bring Your Door Hangers
One of the best leave-behinds you can use when door knocking are door hangers. Simply put, they have one of the best return on investment (ROI) of anything you can print and put in front of your leads. Full stop.
Illinois Coldwell Banker Broker Danielle Procopio agrees:
“Never miss the opportunity to ‘touch’ a lead. If no one is home, we’ll leave a laminated door hanger with a personalized message and attempt to connect with the homeowners at least four times, and then mail them a Neighborhood Market Analysis. Always follow up with a letter, postcard, phone call, and so on. You want to be seen as the neighborhood expert.”
If you’re looking for a real estate-focused place to get door hangers quickly and cheaply online, check out ProspectsPLUS! They also offer tons of other printed marketing materials you can use to make a great impression on your leads. You can use your own designs, hire someone on Fiverr to design one, or use one of their hundreds of templates.
3. Don’t Try to Close the Deal on Their Doorstep
The cardinal rule of any real estate lead generation strategy is to only focus on moving relationships to the next step. In the case of door knocking, that next step is generally either a phone call, being added to a direct mail or drip campaign, or if you’re really lucky, a listing presentation.
While you may be eager to close deals, pushing too hard for goals that are unrealistic is a surefire way to get a door slammed in your face. Sure, you want to seem confident and maybe even a little bit hungry to close, but most people instantly turn off when presented with a “sales pitch,” no matter how good it is. This is especially true when you’re standing on their doorstep on a Sunday morning.
So do yourself a favor and save the hard sell for your listing presentation or better yet, when you’re finally writing an offer for your buyer. Instead, focus on just moving the ball down the field. What next step do you realistically want your homeowner to take with you? A phone call? A visit to your open house? Focus on that and you’ll have much better luck knocking doors.
4. A Small Compliment Can Go a Long Way in Building Rapport
A compliment, if it’s sincere, is one of those ice breakers that has probably worked since the last ice age and will continue to work for a thousand years. So the next time you’re out door knocking, try to find something genuine to compliment the homeowner on.
Cindy Trotier, a Coldwell Banker agent from Illinois, uses small compliments to break the ice with homeowners whenever she can.
“When prospecting, it’s important to find common ground with the potential client, and complimenting them on their home goes a long way. Start with: ‘Nice yard, you certainly have a green thumb,’ or ‘Those are beautiful flowers.’ Make the conversation about them, not you. Additionally, share something of value along with your business card (e.g., market area report). Ultimately, you want to build relationships, first.”
[Related Article: 15 Clever Real Estate Prospecting Ideas to Boost Your GCI]
5. Leverage Your Brokerage’s Success if You’re a Newer Agent
Another hard and fast rule of lead generation is that you need to have something on the table that your leads actually want. That can be something as abstract as a conversation or advice, or something as concrete as a well-researched comparative market analysis (CMA) or market report.
If you feel like you have nothing to offer, then you’re doing it wrong. Just by virtue of having access to your MLS, you have more information at your fingertips than the average homeowner.
It’s just a matter of packaging that data in creative and useful ways. Why not hire a virtual assistant to put together 20 CMAs for homes in a neighborhood you want to target?
Sure, that will cost you money, but how many other agents are going the extra mile like that? As Close Contributor Beverly Ruffner always says: You only need to be a little bit better than the competition.
But you don’t even need to go this far. Instead, you can just leverage your brokerage’s success. Many large brokerages like Douglas Elliman create market reports specifically for their agents to use as marketing pieces. A hot-off-the-press market report can be very useful for homeowners who may not be paying attention to the market … YET.
Just remember that data on its own is cheap these days. The real value comes from analyzing and packaging that data in ways that are useful to your potential customers.
6. Allow Yourself to Fail in Order to Get Better
If you’ve worked in real estate for more than 10 minutes or own a television, you’ve probably heard of Barbara Corcoran. What you may not know about Barbara is that she grew up poor, dyslexic, and was waiting tables before she decided to become a real estate agent.
Fast forward a few years and she ended up selling her innovative brokerage, The Corcoran Group, for more than $66 million. Like many entrepreneurs, she credits her amazing success to learning lessons from failure.
So now you may be sitting here thinking this is the sappiest cliche of all time, and why are you even reading this? Well, let’s just say that successful people didn’t get that way without breaking a few eggs.
So smile and laugh when someone slams a door in your face, learn to meditate, start a healthy morning routine, and always remember that you’re not a brain surgeon—you’re just trying to close some deals. So don’t be so hard on yourself. Things are going to work out, but you need to let yourself fail first. It won’t kill you. I promise. 😀
7. Don’t Forget Your Business Cards
Yes, we know it’s 2021 and yes, we know you can beam or tweet or insta-zap your contact information to anyone, any time, in any part of the world. We get it. We really do. We just have one question for you. How many other contacts are in your lead’s phone right now? 100? 300? 500? Now, how many business cards are in their jacket pocket? Are you starting to get the idea?
If you want to learn the ropes of designing a killer business card or just look at some pretty ones, check out our guide to the best and worst real estate business cards of 2021 here.
If you don’t have great business cards, check out Lab Coat Agents Marketing Center. They’re the first real estate-focused design app that has beautiful and easy-to-use templates for business cards, brochures, flyers, social media, and much, much more. Think of it like Canva on steroids.
8. Dress for Success, But Don’t Forget Comfort
One of the best kept secrets of success in any sales job shouldn’t be a secret at all.
Here it goes: People are going to judge you, harshly, based on your appearance. Yes, we know it’s not fair, and yes, we know you really think your leads won’t care if you show up in sweatpants and a T-shirt to show them houses. We’ve heard these arguments over and over again. Of course, that doesn’t make them right.
Far from it, actually. In reality, people, especially the older people who own the majority of the homes in this country, are going to judge you for what you wear, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
So now you have a choice. Are you going to stick it to the man and dress like you’re heading to the beach, or are you going to suck it up and try to impress the people you’re trying to sell your services to?
The only caveat here is that you actually need to be comfortable when you’re out in the heat or cold door knocking. So bend the rules a bit, but just keep in mind that there are rules. No, we didn’t make them, but we’ve worked with enough million- and billion-dollar producers to know what they are.
9. Make Some Fun Pop-by Gifts & Bring Them With You
Pop-by gifts are small gifts that you can leave with homeowners in order to get them to remember you. Things like candy, seeds, or any other small gift with your message and contact info will work. Cheesy jokes optional, but kind of encouraged.
Texas Coldwell Banker agent Andrea Smith swears by them:
“Create some fun, well-thought-out pop-bys that convey your message. Since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I attached my business cards to a small bag of chocolate hearts that say, ‘You’re the heart of my business.’ It’s a great way to help people remember me and begin a positive interaction as I’m out knocking doors. I feel like the addition of a special touch helps to open the door to a better opportunity to generate a lead or referral.”
10. Learn the Best Days & Times to Door Knock in Your Farm Area
Learning when to knock doors is like asking which baseball team is the best. No matter who you ask, you’re going to get a different answer. But there is a general consensus from people who use door knocking as their primary lead generation strategy:
Saturdays between 10 a.m. & 5 p.m.
Most people are home, but are more than likely still in get-stuff-done mode instead of full-on relax mode, like they are on Sundays. The only caveat here is neighborhoods where observant Jewish people live. In that case, you just might want to wait until Sunday, as Saturdays are days of rest in the Jewish religion.
8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. during the week
Another good time to door knock that most people skip is in the morning during the weekday. You’ll catch a lot of entrepreneurs, home workers, and retired people who are just getting their day together, and so may be more receptive to dealing with “work.”
11. Invite Them to the First Open House at a New Listing
I don’t know about you, but I’m always desperately curious to see how my neighbors live. What does that cool-looking brownstone with the cute little yard look like inside? I bet it’s nice …
In order to satiate their curiosity, always take the time to door knock in a circle around a new listing before you have that all-important first open house. It not only helps you look good to your homeowner (neighbors gossip), but might just help keep you top of mind with the neighbors as well.
Minnesota Sotheby’s Shawn Leetz takes advantage of the curiosity factor to help drive traffic to her open houses:
“Before the first open house at a new listing, I will door knock to hand out personal invitations to the neighbors, introducing myself and letting them know that it is always a good idea to know what is going on in their neighborhood. Also, I like to let them know that it’s OK to come and take a peek; some folks are shy about walking through their neighbor’s home. Not only does this engage the community, but this is another way to offer value to your client (the seller).”
Need some ideas to actually generate leads at your next open house? Check out our guide to open houses here.
12. Avoid Burnout: Don’t Try to Knock Too Many Doors in One Day
Contrary to popular belief, being physically and emotionally exhausted at noon is not a signal that you worked hard, and definitely not a signal that you were effective.
It’s a signal that you’re stressed, tired, and probably cranky to boot. Basically the exact opposite frame of mind you need for a successful door knocking campaign. Who wants to talk to a stressed-out stranger on their doorstep? The answer, of course, is literally no one.
So if you want to avoid burnout, set yourself a realistic goal of say, 20 doors to knock before you head to the office or start your open house this weekend. If you don’t believe us, just imagine knocking that super-lucky door where a millionaire who wants to sell lives and being too wiped out to build a rapport with her …
Again, you’re not a brain surgeon! Don’t beat yourself up for not working a billion hours a week. Trust us, it will help your career in the long run.
If you find yourself working 70-plus hours a week, then you need to stop reading this right now and read our article on time management for real estate agents here.
13. Track Your Progress: That Which Gets Measured, Gets Improved
One thing many agents forget when out door knocking is to track their progress. How many doors did you knock? How many doors got slammed in your face? Which doors should you absolutely avoid next time? Which seemed kind of promising? Who seems like a decent candidate for a direct mail campaign?
You don’t have to hire MIT to crunch the numbers for you here. Just keep a little log book or notepad app on your phone and take some notes when you’re out door knocking.
You also need to measure your performance if you want to get better. What went right? What went wrong? Does your script need tweaking? Are you getting less nervous or more nervous?
14. Ask Open-ended Questions: Avoid Yes or No Questions
Want to know a secret to not being boring? Get people to talk about themselves and then really listen to what they’re saying. That’s it. Easy, right? Well, yes and no. After all, you have a pretty clear agenda here, right? You’re not just walking your farm area at 8:30 a.m. on a Tuesday to chat about the weather.
Not only does the same rule apply to door knocking, but it’s actually crucial to your success. Think about it. You have maybe 15 seconds to get and keep their attention. Even if you’re super-charming, they’re probably looking for an easy excuse to get back to their newspaper and bagels. Answering a simple yes or no is one of those excuses.
So to avoid giving them an easy out, never ask questions that can be answered by a simple yes or no. Instead, try to get them engaged in a conversation by asking open-ended questions and actually listening to their answers instead of just waiting for your turn to talk.
15. Stay Safe: Knock With a Partner
Since safety should be one of your main concerns, you might want to think about finding a partner to door knock with. It could be a junior agent who needs to work on their pitching skills or an equal team member, but the facts are that pairing up is almost always safer than going it alone.
By the way, this applies just as much to “safe” neighborhoods as it does to neighborhoods with higher crime rates. The simple fact is you never know who is going to answer that door, so having a buddy across the street watching your back is always a good idea.
It could just be a creepy old man who gets too flirty, but a quick “Hey, would love to chat more but my partner is across the street” should be enough to throw cold water on most people.
While the odds of getting into trouble are pretty rare, you never know. As an added bonus, you’ll have a margarita partner if you decide to knock off early. 🍹🧉
16. Don’t Be Afraid of Luxury Neighborhoods
Can we talk about super-attractive people for a minute here? If there’s one thing they say over and over again, it’s that fewer, not more, people hit on them. While this might seem counterintuitive, it makes sense when you think about it. After all, most people assume they have no chance, so they don’t even bother.
Well, you can think about wealthy neighborhoods like that super-hot guy in your spin class. You might have a low chance of getting his digits, but if you don’t go talk to him, you have ZERO chance. Why not give it a shot?
The other good part of knocking on rich people’s doors is that they’re more likely to be entrepreneurs and maybe also more likely to be self-made entrepreneurs who appreciate a good hustle! Maybe some eccentric billionaire will take a shine to you and give you 10 listings to sell this year. Hey, you never know until you try, right?
17. Good Deeds Can Help Build Good Will in Your Farm Area
If you want to get in good with the locals, there’s nothing like doing something selfless and useful for the community. I don’t know about you, but whenever I see someone helping others in my neighborhood, I can’t help but like them.
Like a lot of successful agents, Texas Coldwell Banker agent Scott Bullard started out with empty pockets, but a deep desire to help his community:
“I started with no money, so I had to be creative. I had a T-shirt made with my real estate company in big letters, and walked my neighborhood at strategic times to come face to face with as many people as possible while I picked up any trash that I saw and disposed of it. I also went around collecting email addresses of my neighbors and started a weekly e-newsletter.”
Door Knocking Scripts for 2021: Video Examples
OK, so if you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably pretty excited to get started door knocking. Or, maybe you tried back in the day and want to try again. Either way, you’re probably thinking, “Yeah, thanks, but what the hell do I actually say to these people when I’m standing there like a dork on their porch??!”
Well, the answer is … you need to rehearse some good door knocking scripts well enough to improvise around them and not sound like a robot. That means listening to them and tweaking them to sound like you, not reading them. So to that end, here are some of the best door knocking scripts for 2021 that you can actually watch instead of just reading.
Tom Ferry’s Most Effective Script Ever
Coach Borino’s Door Knocking Script
Rachel Adams Lee Door Knocking Script
Brian Icenhower’s Door Knocking Script
Ricky Caruth’s Door Knocking Script
The 30,000-Foot View: Will Door Knocking Still Work in 2021?
If you had asked us this question in April 2020, we probably would have said no. There were just too many unknowns about the pandemic for us to even think about telling agents that knocking on strangers’ doors was a good idea.
Of course, now with multiple successful vaccines being distributed, we are once again bullish on door knocking for one simple reason: Agents have been relying on technology to generate leads way, way too much over the past few years.
These days, it seems like every agent is obsessed with perfecting custom audiences for Facebook ads, or trying (and failing) to go “viral” on Instagram, instead of honing the one skill they need to last in this industry: making a personal connection with another human being.
So, the more everyone in your office leans into technology, get up, go outside, and go knock some doors.
Over to You
Do you think door knocking will disappear or make a huge comeback in 2021? Let us know in the comments.