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Should You Buy the Farm?

May 31, 2014

Posted by

Kenneth Edwards

Ken Edwards became a top-producing real estate professional after a distinguished Air Force career, enlisting as a Private and retiring as a Colonel. His assignments included tours as Director of Rese Read more

A fact of real estate career life is that it’s a profession in which one must generate leads. The standard guidance is that “people do business with those whom they know and like.” Since it’s impossible for people to like you if they don’t know you, it’s imperative to have a system of getting exposure. Here’s one approach.

The prospecting technique known as “farming” is covered in almost all real estate training programs. In its classic form, it involves an agent deciding on a specific area of town (typically a section with 200 to 300 homes in a homogeneous, contiguous neighborhood) and “farming it” for listings. The tactic most usually advocated is a series of personal visits to each home on the farm, spaced throughout the year. The objective is to become so well known to the home owners that they will automatically think of you when it is time to sell.

Suggested farming procedures include leaving gifts (calendars, pens, pot holders, memo pads—all with your name and phone number on them), writing a newsletter (including neighborhood information, such as who baby-sits, who is moving out or in, and so on), and organizing neighborhood activities (get-togethers for newcomers, block parties). The recommended initial contact is through a door-to-door “cold call” (no previous contact), using a rehearsed, introductory speech.

Some agents have gotten rich farming and stay rich by doing it faithfully. Others are not comfortable with the door-to-door solicitation approach (in some places there are laws against it) and remain unconvinced that it is a wise expenditure of time. Others farm, but use techniques such as phone calls, printed newsletters, and e-mail contacts.

If you decide to farm, do your homework. We’ve owned a modest condominium that we’ve rented out for a decade or so. Several years ago, an eager real estate agent decided to farm that neighborhood. He never bothered to check to see who owned the property. Our tenant was delighted to keep receiving the gifts, but the potential payoff for the agent was nonexistent.

Let’s assume you do decide to homestead a nice little farm. What information do you think would be of most interest to those in your area? Hands down, it’s the price of homes that have sold. A college friend of my wife’s lived with her husband in Austin, Texas, for many years. She informed me that for the entire time they were there the agent who sold them their home originally sent out a monthly newsletter to all the neighbors. In addition to general real estate information, the selling price of every home that ever sold in the area was always included. When they moved from Austin to Dripping Springs, Texas, (really, there is such a place) they listed with that agent.

Focused Fandango Farming

Here’s a suggestion. When you get your first listing (after the celebration party is over) use that as a vehicle to develop a well defined, focused farm. You will have printed flyers promoting the property, there will be a For Sale sign in the front yard (hopefully with your name on it), and you’ll schedule an open house early in the listing. What better justification for knocking on every door in the neighborhood and introducing yourself?

Your first step will be to define the geographic area precisely and get information on each household, including naturally the names of the owners. Make it a manageable farm. Believe me, they will all be interested in how much their neighbors are asking for their property. They will also be paying close attention to how you handle the listing. And when that “sold” sign appears on the sign what do you think their reaction will be? Right, in addition to being impressed with you, they will really want to know how much it sold for. In this situation every time you contact the people in your nice little focused farm, you’ll have a legitimate reason. From that point on you’ll keep in contact with printed or e-mail newsletters and perhaps an occasional phone call and maybe even a personal visit. Let’s move down the path a couple of years. You’ve had a dozen or so sold listings. Think of the incredible number of contacts you will have. You know them. They know you. Keep it personal and keep it informative. As with all your projects, you’ll want to coordinate with this one with your broker.

A Variation on that Theme

Here’s a variation of Focused Fandango Farming. As soon as you license is activated, get a list of names and addresses of all your neighbors. Send them personalized letters announcing your entry into the profession. Include your business card. Also include information on sales within the neighborhood (you’ll need to define the territory you want to cover) for the past year or so. Let them know that as soon as any other sales occur in your neighborhood you will keep them informed. Don’t be shy. Ask for their business and their referrals. A monthly newsletter would be a good vehicle to get this done.

And why Focused “Fandango” Farming? Because you will be dancing all the way to the bank.

Excerpted with permission from Your Successful Real Estate Career, 5th Edition © 2007 Kenneth W. Edwards  All rights reserved.  Published by AMACOM Books www.amacombooks.org Division of American Management Association, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.

Your Successful Real Estate Career may be purchased at www.amazon.com or www.bn.com, or www.amacombooks.org.

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