Real estate farming is a lead generation strategy designed to position you as an area’s go-to agent using high-quality marketing targeted to homeowners in a specific neighborhood. Done successfully, you can capture 30%+ of all sales in your target area and establish a reliable source of annual income. Want to become your neighborhood’s go-to agent?
If so, farming is a must-have strategy for you. Its goal is to consistently deliver value and showcase your market expertise in your farm area. In this article, we’ll walk you through our detailed farming strategy, outline the tools you’ll need to get started, and make suggestions for where you’ll find the best marketing materials to dominate your farm area.
Looking to go even deeper? We created the Ultimate Real Estate Farming Strategy Guide for those who want to jump in headfirst. Download the guide today for your comprehensive, proven resource for all things farming.
Real Estate Farming 101: Basic Strategy + Cost to Get Started
1. Target the Right Neighborhood
In our Ultimate Real Estate Farming Strategy Guide, we’ve got all the tools you need to choose the right farm area. We’ll show you how to calculate absorption and turnover rates, and give you tips on conducting geographic, demographic, and property research.
2. Plan How & When to Deliver Value to Your Farm
Agents crushing the real estate farming game are delivering consistent value to homeowners in their farm areas. The key to this step is to plan the “what,” “when,” and “how” in advance. That way, you can reserve your precious face-time for client conversations that will move your prospects closer to a transaction.
Examples of successful real estate farming outreach include postcards, market updates, social media groups, and neighborhood websites. Create a calendar with each message you’re planning to send, and note what value it will provide to your audience. How does it contribute to your overall goals? Use our content calendar planning page in our Strategy Guide to help you map out your outreach.
If you don’t know where to get started with the neighborhood website, we suggest Parkbench. With a Parkbench website, you can create an online space where community members can get information about local events, news, neighborhood happenings, and of course, real estate—all brought to them by you, their go-to resource.
3. Make a Plan to Manage & Track Your Leads
Your real estate farming leads are distinct from the types of leads you get from Zillow Premier Agent or the home valuation landing page on your website. The contacts you make in your farm area result from your consistent effort to build relationships with people in your area. Those efforts are tied to the budget and time you allocate to farming.
To save you time, opt for a solid real estate customer relationship manager (CRM) that helps you tag farm contacts, automate digital communication like email or text messages, and create a record of the value you’ve delivered over the life of your farm. Plus, a CRM provides an easy system to track every reply and ensure you promptly follow up on every point of contact.
Our choice for the best real estate CRM for 2021 is LionDesk, but you can check out all our top picks in our guide: The Best Real Estate CRM for 2021: In-depth Reviews & Pricing.
4. Execute Your Plan: Start Delivering Value!
You’ve done all the prep work, and now it’s time to execute. You’ve chosen the right farm area, made a plan to deliver consistent, long-term value, and set up a system to help you manage and track your interactions. Now, it’s time to set your automated communication plans in motion and start the clock on the high-touch outreach you’ll do to follow up with your postcards, social posts, and market updates.
Successful real estate farming is a combination of long-term automated communication and smart, day-by-day, personal follow-up. If you treat farming as a set-it-and-forget-it strategy, you won’t be as effective. Be active in the communities you’re serving, and your clients (and your wallet!) will thank you!
Real Estate Farming: Cost to Get Started
You can expect upfront costs for effective real estate farming, but the returns will repay your investment many times over if you can stick with it.
Typical annual costs for a real estate farming operation with 250 homes would look like this:
Annual Real Estate Farm Cost: 250 Homes
|Regularly Scheduled Postcards (250 x 8 = 2,000)||$1,260|
|Property Status Update Postcards (200 / month x 12 months = 2,400)||$1,584|
|Regularly Scheduled Quarterly Letters (250 x 4 = 1,000)||$550|
|Door Hangers for Your Annual Door-knocking Session (250)||$100|
|Neighborhood Website (Try Parkbench)||$3,500|
|Farm-specific Content for Your Website||FREE|
|One Sponsored Event||$1,000|
While this is a sizable investment, don’t forget to look at the upside. If you’re farming a neighborhood where the typical home sells for $400,000, a single 3% commission is worth $12,000 in gross commission income (GCI).
A single property sale will likely recuperate all your investment and then some. If you’re turning over three or four transactions a year from your farm area, the positive return on investment (ROI) is clear.
Essential Real Estate Farming Tools You Need
Real estate farming requires a high level of organization, a solid plan for execution, and, of course, the tools you’ll need to consistently deliver value to your farm area. While these tools could include anything that will get your message to your audience, here are the approaches we’ve found work best for real estate farming.
Regularly Scheduled Real Estate Postcards & Flyers
Typical Annual Cost (250 homes): $1,260
Our Suggested Provider: LabCoat Agents
The Close Resource: Top 5 Real Estate Postcards Providers + Postcard Examples That Actually Work
Details: The backbone of your farming campaign is your real estate farming postcards and flyers. These are ideal tools to convey messages, statistics, and authority to your farm area. Use them to deliver a quarterly snapshot of the market, recipes, or sports schedules—ANYTHING that will provide value to your recipients.
On-demand Postcards, Prompted by Market Activity
Typical Annual Cost (250 homes): $1,584
Our Suggested Provider: Postcard Mania, LabCoat Agents, or ProspectsPLUS!
The Close Resource: Circle Prospecting Case Study
Details: If you think about your regularly scheduled postcards as a dependable, professional handshake, the on-demand postcards you send out when there’s market activity in your farm area is the unexpected high-five. Make homeowners aware of market activity in their community, especially after a property sells. Sending about 50 postcards to homes that are similar to active listings and sales in your area is a wake-up call to homeowners. You’ll be providing them with valuable information and insight into what their financial opportunity could be if they decide to sell, as well.
Look for spikes in your home valuation landing pages on your real estate website after these postcards go out.
Farm-specific Content on Your Website
Typical Annual Cost: Free (as long as you have a website)
Our Suggested Provider: Real Geeks or Placester
The Close Resource: Real Geeks Review, Placester Review
Details: Your farm area should have a dedicated section on your website where you can post weekly updates about the micro-neighborhood market, goings-on in the neighborhood, and even events of interest to community members in and around town. Your content can be short and sweet, with five or six sentences and a picture. It serves two purposes: to act as an online hub for your neighborhood to stop by and see what’s going on, and to show potential buyers interested in purchasing in your chosen area that you’re the go-to expert when they are ready to buy.
(Source: Page shown is from a Placester website template)
Complete Market Update Letters
Typical Annual Cost: $550
Our Suggested Provider: You!
The Close Resource: 17 Best Real Estate Prospecting Letter Templates of 2021
Details: The real estate letter is an ideal way share market deep-dives since you have more space for in-depth thought and analysis. Talk about what’s going on in your business or give shoutouts to those doing good works in the community. Share messages that communicate to your farm that you’re the expert when it comes to buying and selling homes and LIVING in your community. We’ve pulled together 17 real estate prospecting letter templates as a helpful resource for your prospecting venture. Check it out and start upping your prospecting game today.
Pro tip: Farming a high-end neighborhood? Consider handwriting those letters. Yes, it will be time-consuming, but the personal touch provided will pay off in spades with discerning sellers.
Parkbench Neighborhood Website
Typical Annual Cost: Starting at $3,500
Our Suggested Provider: Parkbench
The Close Resource: How Parkbench Helps Agents Drive Community Connections
Details: Collecting and communicating information that your farming community wants to know about is the best way to use a neighborhood-specific website. Detail local events and include interviews with local business owners, local news, coupons, and, of course, all the latest information about the real estate market. Some people won’t visit your personal website because they perceive it to be about you, but a website focused on their neighborhood is about them, making it more palatable. As mentioned earlier, our suggestion for this sort of platform is Parkbench. Power-users of Parkbench are posting weekly content (if not more often). However, posting once or twice a month is a great first effort for agents just getting started on the platform.
Door Hangers for Your Annual Door-knocking Session
Typical Annual Cost: $100
Our Suggested Provider: Vistaprint
The Close Resource: Door Knocking for Real Estate in 2021: Will It Still Work? (+ Tips & Scripts)
Details: Your farming efforts will be significantly more effective if you’re intentional about getting face-to-face with the people in your farm. Door-knocking isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but remember, you’re not going into these walks around the neighborhood cold. By the time you kick off your door-knocking weekend, neighborhood residents will have heard from you multiple times. They know you, even though they don’t know you yet, and they should be familiar with the value you’ve provided so far. Door-knocking takes practice, a little bit of courage, and most of all, consistent effort. Don’t call it quits until you get through your entire farm. We promise that the last 50 doors you knock on will be a lot easier than the first 50.
Materials for Your Annual Sponsored Event
Typical Annual Cost: $1,000
Our Suggested Provider: You!
Details: Whether you’re sponsoring the annual neighborhood garage sale or throwing a summer block party and BBQ, events are a fun way to meet and greet community members. People gravitate to fun events happening within walking distance of their homes. They’re also fantastic means of building on your authority in your community. Show your community you aren’t active just for business reasons—you’re a part of the happenings that your community connects with every year.
Start with something you know will be a hit if you’re new to event sponsorship, like a free pumpkin giveaway in October. Sponsor a neighborhood garage sale, a community fireworks display in July, or a Christmas tree giveaway in December.
Wait, What About Social Media for My Real Estate Farming?
Social media can be a powerful tool for real estate farming. Many local neighborhoods have their own Facebook groups, and homeowner associations (HOAs) have dedicated websites and social profiles. Of course, the members of your farming community are likely to be personally active on social platforms.
The Close contributor and real estate coach Sean Moudry of 16Strategies suggests connecting with members of your farm area using your personal social media profile. Then, create a custom audience for specific posts that include only the people in your farm. Sean’s strategy helps promote your Parkbench website and any neighborhood-specific web content you’ve created to your target audience more efficiently.
Real Estate Farming FAQs
Still got some questions? Don’t worry. We’ve got answers. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about real estate farming.
Why should my real estate farm be 500 homes or less?
When it comes to real estate farming, bigger is not always better. In fact, it rarely is. Real estate farming is an effective marketing strategy because you target a specific set of homes with a message that adds particular value. The bigger that selection of homes, the less likely you are to deliver messages that appeal to all of them. Keep your farm small so you can focus your message and deliver more value.
How much of my real estate farming message should be about the local real estate market?
Market conditions and specific statistics can be powerful conversation starters in your real estate farm. However, these types of messages can get boring pretty quickly for anyone who’s not actively ready to buy or sell. So, we suggest using the same rule you’d use for social media marketing: Make 30% of your message about the market and the rest about the community.
What kind of results should I expect from my real estate farm?
Successful real estate farms yield around 30% of the transactions from a particular area. Of course, every market is different. Your success depends on area-specific information, including the types of homes in the market, the sort of agent competition you’re facing in your particular farm, and how long you’ve been active in the area. The successful farming agents we’ve spoken to say they consistently capture between 20 and 30% of the transactions in their area annually.
How long does it take for a real estate farm to yield results?
Real estate farming is not an overnight success strategy. Though you may see some exciting immediate returns on your efforts, the leads you capture in the first three months from your farm are likely people who were ready to pull the trigger on buying or selling anyway. You just happened to get them the right message at the right time. True farming success takes time. Give yourself a year with this strategy before measuring your results.
Are there real estate farming companies that will execute my strategy for me?
Through our research, we’ve only found one reputable company specializing in farm strategy execution—a company called Geographic Farming. We don’t have direct experience with this firm, but their website demonstrates a good handle on the real estate farming approach.
Bringing It All Together
Real estate farming is an effective means of prospecting and developing a consistent source of seller and buyer leads. The best part about farming is that your rate of return on your investment improves over time—as your messaging gets sharper, as more people recognize you, and as your sales stats in the neighborhood improve.
Have a real estate farming idea we didn’t cover? Let us know in the comments!