Successfully building a farm is still a critical way to get more referrals, build relationships, and close more deals. Period.
So how do you attack this whole “farming” thing and actually WIN?
Answer: Shake a lot of hands and kiss a lot of babies…
…well, that may be taking it a bit too far, but the idea is that you want everyone in your from to think of YOU first when thinking about Real Estate.
Simply put, you want to become the unofficial “Mayor of Real Estate” in the area/market/neighborhood you want to build you farm in.
So what does it mean to become the unofficial Mayor of Real Estate in your farm?
Don’t just be the expert… Be a Friend. Be a resource. Be a thought leader. Be a developer. Be a community advocate…. and most importantly, get everyone to know you.
If you are serious about becoming the neighborhood expert in the area you are farming follow these strategies and watch your business grow.
75% of all real estate business comes from word of mouth and/or referrals… So Create A Lot Of Quality Relationships.
As a real estate professional, you need to be able to set yourself apart from your competition in a positive way. For most agents, this means strategically developing, growing, and humanizing their personal brand to become the “go-to” expert in an area.
If you want to be the real estate agent name coming from everyone’s lips, get out, get connected, and get creative about building your brand and community relationships.
Roll up your sleeves and start here…you need to know WHY farming is a good thing.
Let’s Get Started…
Why specialize in a Farm?
Specializing in an area means you essentially gain both the business, respect, and trust of its residents.
“Specializing in a particular neighborhood will give you a leg up on any other agents already working the market. Dominate your competition by becoming the go to expert and watch your business grow”
How do you find the best area to “Farm”?
When making a list of potential farm areas, there are three primary characteristics that you should focus on:
1. The Price of Homes
There are two main things that contribute to your earnings — the number of deals you close and the average sale price of each transaction.
Unless you’ve already gained a reputation for dealing with a particular range of home values, you might want to focus on neighborhoods whose properties are selling around the median or above range in your area.
2. The size of the neighborhood/area
It might be the latest hot spot but not a great place to farm for business if its too small in size.
Select a neighborhood that encompasses around 500 homes to start. You can expand as your business grows and choose an area you can really sink your teeth into without becoming overwhelmed.
3. How many sales are happening (turnover)
The average homeowner plans to move every 13 years. Younger first-time homebuyers relocating slightly more frequently. When it comes to turnover rates, select an area with a rate of 8 to 10 percent. (To calculate, add up all of the properties sold within the past 12 months and divide that by the total number of homes in the area. Viola!)
Now you know why farming is a must. Time to dominate your farm!
Top 3 Ways To TAKE OVER Farm Area
1) Dominate Your Farm Online
If you are not using social media and other avenues for online brand awareness, you are already behind the curve. Get on it right NOW.
How do you create an online presence in your chosen market?
You need to be promoting your real estate business online in these ways:
WEBSITE- Get a domain name that reflects the farm area (for example: NeighborhoodNameRealEstate.com or NeighborhoodNameHomesForSale.com). Potential clients need to be able to find you and get to know you. Be sure your website reflects your brand, your personality, and your expertise. Include a home search function so visitors can easily search homes on your site.
TARGETED SOCIAL MEDIA- You can grow your local following by searching #HashTags related to your farm area, and start engaging in conversations with local residents. Remember, social media is about being social… not “Buy my stuff, buy my stuff”. Go on an engage in meaningful dialogue with the local people and your following will grow over time. For Realtor’s, Facebook in particular is arguably the best social media platform to use as a resource for self-branding, finding highly targeted prospects, gaining clientele and encouraging an increased referral rate.
Instagram is a close second in terms of marketing online because it is the number one app for photo sharing in the world. Pictures of homes, videos of open houses, and interviews with happy clients are just a few ways to win!
LET’S BREAK THIS DOWN!
Like savvy prospective owners researching ways to capitalize on the current housing market, Realtor’s must take that same approach with Facebook. Creating a Facebook landing tab for your Page, having consistent Page activity and networking with clients via the social network are all well-known and yes, very effective Facebook tips– but they only scratch the surface. Being good with social media is one thing, but learning to be savvy, smart and differentiated is another.
Check out the below tips to learn how:
- Use #HashTags -Hashtags make it easy to find and follow discussions about neighborhoods, community events and local businesses. By getting to know the popular hashtags in your market, you can go engage in the conversations. Add value to the conversations and connect with local business owners and residents. Overtime as you continue to add value to the dialogue you will see you business and referrals grow.
- CAPTIVATING PHOTOS WITH CAPTIONS-People love good visuals, this cannot be stressed enough. If the photos posted on a Realtor’s Facebook Page are not appealing, they house they’re selling won’t be, either. What’s more, instead of simply posting photos of a home, use the caption portion of a photo to sell the home. Talk about the benefits and value of living there and sell the dream of the community.
- Don’t just SELL– If the aim is to bring something new to the table in a very standard-thumbed and mainstream industry– stray from being the same as everyone else and don’t just sell. As an agent, just posting what you’re selling is not what social media is about. Instead, show passion, be creative, have a little humor, create conversations, ask questions, be helpful and stand out.
- BE COMMUNITY FOCUSED– Try starting a facebook group or page entitled “I love ______ Neighborhood” or “Residents of ______ Area”. Dont make the page about buying real estate, make it about the community and become a resource. Sharing knowledge and relevant events about the community will help a real estate agent to develop deeper and more reliable connections with community members. Through being aware of the community’s surroundings and being tuned-in to what people are interested in, it’s another tactic for capturing the attention of prospective buyers and more importantly, it’s a way of becoming noticed as a community resource and well-rounded agent.
- INTEGRATE SOCIAL MEDIA TO ALL YOUR MARKETING – Nearly all real estate agents have a business card, and some even have ad placements in the yellow pages or online. For all self-promotional efforts that a realtor engages in, it is important to always include Facebook information. If using Facebook as a valid source is the goal, prospective clients should always be directed to the agent’s Facebook Page. There, ask clients to post a Review on the Page, follow up or ask questions. The more emphasis a realtor puts on their Page as being a contact and informational resource, the more integrated and second-nature that Facebook will become to the agent’s business.
Think relationship. Think referral.
If you are a real estate agent, then you should always be looking for new ways to promote the properties you’re currently listing on the market. While there are lots of ways to market your properties online, Instagram has become one of the best.
For new Instagram users, here is a perfect how to video:
Now that you know the basics…
…here is how to best utilize Instagram to promote your listings and sell more houses:
- PHOTOS-Learn how to take high-quality photos with your cell phone or tablet to post to Instagram. Make sure they are attention grabbing and use a free app to make collages like LiveCollage.
- HASHTAGS-Use relevant hashtags with your Instagram photos.Identify hashtags that those in your target market will be following, then add them to the photos that you share. Add hashtags to your posts that are relevant to your farm area as well as some of the top features of the homes that appear in your photos.
- GEOTAGS-Users of Instagram also have the choice to browse photos on the platform with the help of a map, so make sure to tag the location of your photos when you submit them. This is a perfect way to connect with people in your farm area who may be looking for homes or who know someone else who is.
- CROSS POSTING-Every Instagram post you create can automatically be shared on your Facebook and Twitter accounts as well. This cross-posting strategy has been shown to be extremely effective, as it allows more people to see your posts, and it builds up your social media followers across the board.
- ENGAGE– Answer any questions they have promptly and thank them for following. Follow their accounts so you can interact with them later on and build an even stronger relationship going forward.
People like to follow and do business with PEOPLE.
If you are confused about whether to use a personal twitter page or business, go with your own profile image and name for your Twitter account.
Why? It gets more engagement.
Twitter is constantly bombarding its users with tweets. There are over 300 billion tweets sent since it’s inception. And it’s statistically proven that even the top brands like Starbucks, Facebook and Twitter itself get less engagement than people.
Here are some key Twitter tips for real estate agents to tweet, engage, and get more leads:
- Always use an image if you want people to see it: Tweets with images or videos are have a 5 times higher engagement rate.
- Tweeting at people should be treated like talking to someone at a networking event. You don’t want to rush into the sale.
- It’s about engagement: Twitter can produce leads for you. In fact, Realtors on Twitter typically see twice the number of leads. But it’s more about engaging, re-Tweeting, replying, and exchanging information so that you start the sales process later.
- Make sure you have a complete profile on Twitter that includes a GREAT headshot.
- Remember hastags and geotags here too! Take picture and post on Twitter with local hashtags. People love to engage with material that is local.
Having your website and social media platforms live and active is great. But remember, content is king!
So how do you create good content? Take a look at the tips below.
Here are some ways you can beef up your online presence with great content:
- Videos – Interview local experts, do community tours and preview hot new listings. Another great way to use videos is to create a video blog on Youtube. Once a week or even once per month pick a topic and give tips and ideas to your audience. Then share on social media.
Make your videos quick and give good information.
Here is a great video blog that one agent, Jessica Riffle Edwards, creates to not only show her personality, but is engage, and inform her audience.
- Photos – Make sure you take photos that are sharp, interesting to look at, fun, or informative. This could be any hyper-local content like a local restaurant, with a rave from you included! Sprinkle in some snapshots of interesting local architecture, photos of historic homes, local sports teams and merchants.
- Written content – Write articles about people, the history of the area, great places to eat, the best happy hour, the best burger, the farmer’s market and street fairs or festivals, and so much more.
- Resource Inforgraphics– Put a list together that includes utility and cable company contact information, the local bus route, the location of the closest library, a map of schools, and information about parks (both human and dog) and nearby recreational facilities.
Create attention grabbing Real Estate Infographics:
- Market Report Snapshot – Put together a monthly market report snapshot i for both potential residents as well as those currently living in the area. This is a great free hand out at meet ups, chamber events, or when you have a booth at a street fair or farmers market.
- Neighborhood Facebook Page- As the neighborhood expert, you should definitely have one. Again, like we mentioned above, this is a great way to stay in contact with past clients, connect with new potential clients, create event pages for your happy hours targeted to your farm area, and so much more. Use it to post community events including garage sales,
- Get NEXTDOOR-Nextdoor is a super cool location-based social network meant to connect neighbors. You sign up by putting in a local address. You are then connected to everyone in that neighborhood. Now you can read and post everything from what’s on sale, when the next block party is, warn neighbors about recent crimes, and ask who has some extra butter. Get a local Postal Annex Box. Get the app. Join.
2) Dominate Your Farm with Great Marketing
Direct mail is still a necessary part of marketing if you want to become the neighborhood expert. It’s an inexpensive, quick way to keep your name in front of every single resident in the neighborhood. Here’s how:
- POSTCARDS-Just-listed and just-sold.
- MARKET REPORTS: Hyper-local neighborhood information like this one.
- Create A Local Email Newsletter: This is key. When people give you permission to send them an email, they just said yes to allowing you to be more personal. Now that you have their trust, send them what is relevant, entertaining, informative, and inspiring.
Check out this video by Molly Pittman of Digital Marketer showing you how to build your email list easily!
Okay, now that you have the online presence and marketing in check, it is time to get out there and be seen EVERYWHERE!
3) Dominate Your Farm by “Being Everywhere”
GOAL: Become as visible as possible.
- Hold real estate seminars – Invite members of the community to join you at a free seminar that is both educational and entertaining. Here is a great example of a flyer for a free neighborhood seminar.
- Weekly Lunch with Local Influencer. Building trust is a huge part of a real estate agents job. One on one conversation is the perfect way to do that. Try inviting a different local business owner to lunch once a week.
- Attend HOA Meetings. If you are seeking to become an expert in a community that is managed by an HOA, this is a great way for you to get involved and stay informed. Plus you can send out cliff notes on Next Door for anyone who missed it.
- Host Monthly Happy Hours. Showing the people in the neighborhood that you are capable of having a little fin is a good thing. Kick the old image of real estate agents being like stuffy used car sales people to the curb.
Get out and show people you can have a little fun. You can even throw a happy hour party once a month and the first 5-10 people to RSVP get their first drink on you. Whatever is in your farming budget for relationship building will be well worth this investment.
Be sure your flyer for your happy hour has your personal brand all over it, is simple, and has some POP!
- Join the neighborhood gym. Chat it up at the gym with locals who love to stay fit and healthy then share recipes via social media, emails, or Next Door.
- Join the Chamber of Commerce. This is a great way to promote your neighborhood expertise at mixers and other events. Bring printed marketing materials, not just your business card. Infographics are a great way to show you really are the expert.
- Sponsor a neighborhood youth sports team. Putting your logo on display is a great way to show you are invested in the community. But attending the games is what will put you in front of your potential clients during an activity with their kids. This is a great way to build relationships and trust.
- Join a Team Race. We all have a cause we are connected to in same way. What is yours? Find out about the community opportunities to join a local team that is racing for a cure, or walking or biking against MS or other disease. Maybe your passion is helping the homeless, feeding the hungry, or saving animals. Find out what is going on in that area that fits your passion for giving back and get involved.
- Host a Neighborhood Learning Tour. Invite those that are new to the neighborhood, and those thinking about buying there, on a learning tour. Talk about the history of the area, must see spots, great local eats, and so much more. Make this a 1-2 hour tour that is fun and super educational.
- Get a Booth at a Local Farmers Market. Farmers markets are the perfect place to get a booth, hand out free market reports and market updates, and a list that you have curated specific to your farming area of great farm to table, vegetarian, vegan, or other specialty organic hot spots to check out.
- Go to Local Meetups. Meet ups are a great way to meet local business owners, hiking or biking enthusiasts(or other activity you enjoy), and community leaders. Go to www.MeetUp.com and discover how you can get involved in the area you are farming.
Check out this video from a San Diego Real Estate Meetup:
- Dine in Local Restaurants. Take photos. Learn the history of the place. Ask to meet the owners or at least get ther names. Now go write a social media post or blog about it with hashtags and geotags.
- Go to Local Concerts in the Park. Get a lawn chair, invite a friend, and enjoy some great music while introducing yourself to others around you. Being in stealth real estate agent mode is fun and effective.
- Old Fashioned Pavement Pounding. No we are not saying be a door to door sales person. Just say hello and be sure you let them know you hope to see them around. Hey, you may even want to ask for a tip on where to eat, shop, or get your nails done.
- Throw a Neighborhood Block Party. Organize a way for the neighborhood to get together, dance, grub, laugh, and salute you for such a fantastic party! Cheers. Here is a handy check list to ensure your block party is rockin’.
- Do Your Research. Is interest in the community on the rise, or are quality homeowners moving away to more attractive, modern locations? You don’t want to put in tons of effort marketing to a community that’s on the decline.
- Check Community Calendars. This will keep you in the loop as to all that is going on in your selected neighborhood. Attend as many events as humanly possible and don’t forget to add your hosted events to the calendar as well.
- Write a Kick Ass Farm Letter. Do not lean on boring template letters. Use your words, your voice, your brand and reel them in with great content in your letter that says you really are the expert.
- Sponsor Something Cool for Kids & Animals. Anything positive to do with kids, or animals, is a win. People love kids and animals so be sure to think about what you can sponsor like a high end lemonade stand, bake sale, doggie day camp, ceramic painting & lunch, or anything else that gets kids, animals, and their parents/owners involved.
The idea is to be seen everywhere, to talk to everyone, and hand your business cards, infographic or flyer to everyone you meet.
Once you start implementing…Take Your Expertise to the Next Level!
Here are a few more extra little steps that will make a big difference in becoming entrenched in your farm area and have EXPERT written all over them:
Now that you are being seen and heard, here are some ways to beef up your neighborhood expertise:
- Tour every single home that comes on the market. Take notes of floor plans, measure every room with the VERT App, and any distinctive features. Nothing screams “expert” like an agent who can rattle off the features, drawbacks, and benefits of any address in the neighborhood.
- Attend city planning commission meetings. Keep up-to-date on zoning changes and any new developments in the works.
- Know the neighborhood’s amenities. Where are the parks and which ones are best for kids, dogs, skateboarders, concerts, or picnics? What about public pools or tennis courts (and the name of a local coach), when and where the farmer’s market is held, and the best streets to take the kids to look at holiday lights? Know the answer like it’s your job. Well, it is your job.
Now that you have the tools, some great ideas on how to get out there to be seen and heard, it is time to put it all into action.
That’s it for now. This list should get you started on your path to total farming domination.
To Your Success,
Sam, Spencer, and Oliver