Like any other kind of marketing, to close more sales, real estate agents need to stand out. But with thousands of agents working in any given city, competition is fierce. Instead of competing with other agents across large cities and regions, agents need innovative ways to get the attention of local residents. Knocking on doors alone won’t cut it.
Agents need out-of-the-box real estate farming ideas. By focusing attention in specific neighborhoods, agents increase their chances of closing more sales.
Here’s what you need to know about becoming visible in local markets and positioning yourself as the go-to real estate agency in town.
What is real estate farming?
Real estate farming is a process where agents confine their marketing efforts to one geographic area. This area can include specific neighborhoods, towns, and counties.
The purpose of real estate farming is to help agents create local awareness of their services. In turn, this exposure helps agents build their client list.
It’s tempting for agents, especially new ones who want to grow their client list quickly, to cast a wide net to attract different types of buyers and sellers. After all, the more people who know about you, the better your chances of closing more sales, right? While this approach works sometimes, you’re only scratching the surface of your sales potential.
With real estate farming, you have the opportunity to become an expert in a specific niche. This allows you to
- develop a deep understanding of your target audience,
- create specialized marketing material that speaks to specific needs, and
- build a reputation as an agent who understands your chosen niche.
Real estate farming doesn’t stop with stuffing mailboxes with flyers and knocking on doors. The key to success includes the following:
- Research your chosen demographic. Let’s say you’re interested in helping millennials buy their first home. To be effective, you have to learn as much as possible about their wants and needs. For buyers, this knowledge will help you find the right properties, based on price, size, age, amenities, and more.
- Choose an area in which you’ve had previous success. If you’ve helped past clients buy or sell homes in your desired neighborhood, include this fact in your marketing material. Let potential clients know how long you’ve worked in the area and what connections you’ve established.
- Decide on a property specialization. If you’re working with millennials, and new developments interest you, for example, conduct real estate farming in city centers that have condos and townhouses. The more you know about these properties — like amenities, local transportation, HOA fees, and more — the easier it will be for you to understand pricing strategies that work in these neighborhoods.
To be successful and get to know your target audience, you need a way to connect with local audiences. Here are 14 real estate farming ideas to get you started.
1. Attend and participate in neighborhood events.
When you’ve chosen a geographic area to specialize in, and a target audience, do a Google search to find events taking place at local community centers, libraries, churches, etc.
Based on what you find, ask if you can attend as a vendor or a speaker. As a vendor, set up a table with promotional materials that explain who you are, what experience you have in the neighborhood, and what services you offer. As a speaker, share real estate tips, trends, and other insights specific to the neighborhood; the goal is to present yourself as a well-informed resource.
There are two main opportunities with this approach. First, by participating in local events, you’re able to speak with attendees and do basic market research. Asking questions such as “What are you looking for in your next home?” or “What frustrates you the most about the selling process?” help you understand residents’ needs and uncover their pain points.
Secondly, participation helps you explain the service you offer in more detail. Sending direct mail is great, but it doesn’t give people the option to ask immediate follow-up questions. Attending live events also lets you talk about your experience and reference specific recent events that show you’re paying attention to what happens in the neighborhood. Both of these opportunities help you begin to nurture your audience. They can trust you because you “get it.”
2. Run targeted Facebook ads.
Facebook ads are a powerful way to reach people you can’t connect with in person. With a few clicks in Ad Manager, you can reach thousands of people at the same time. To reach your farm area, change the location targeting specs during ad creation so that your ads are visible only to people who were either in a specific area recently or are currently in the area.
To further hone in on your specific audience, consider uploading a list of your contacts from your farm area. Some agents maintain a database of names, addresses and other contact info that can be used to create a custom audience. Facebook will attempt to match the records from your list to Facebook user accounts and reach them with your ad as part of your campaign. Make sure you adhere to Facebook’s special guidelines for housing-related ads.
Once you have their attention, you need a way to hold it. Make your ad content location-specific. For example, if a new community center just opened up or a local amenity was just renovated, add these details to the ad so audiences know you’ve actually spent time in the neighborhood and know what’s important to them.
3. Partner with local businesses.
Local businesses offer great partnership opportunities because of the connection they have with residents. Businesses like grocery stores, boutiques, salons, medical offices, and restaurants cater to the needs of neighborhood residents every day. With this real estate farming idea, partnerships help you get repeat exposure.
Here are some options:
- Share a short video or slides in businesses that play advertisements on TV screens. Introduce yourself, explain your services, and share your contact details.
- Ask to leave marketing material in a prominent place — for example, at the checkout.
- Create a “special promo” poster — such as, new clients gets a $200 VISA gift card — to stir up lead generation.
In exchange for these partnerships, offer to include these businesses as part of a community resource list you share in welcome baskets for new buyers.
To figure out which businesses to connect with, join the local chamber of commerce. This will give you access to the names of local businesses so you can conduct research when needed and reach out to businesses you feel will be a good fit.
4. Share advice in local neighborhood newspapers.
In addition to city-wide newspapers, many neighborhood households either receive or have access to local community newspapers. These publications aren’t long — typically, just a few pages in length — but they contain information such as details about upcoming events, coverage of past events, and short yet informative articles that residents find interesting.
Partner with these publications by offering to write a monthly column that features real estate tips and resources. The focus of these articles should be on providing value to your audience rather than trying to sell your services. Buying and selling real estate is a large transaction, so people have to feel they can trust you and that you understand their needs before they choose to work with you. Include a call to action (CTA) at the end of each article to turn readers into leads. Ask them to email or call you with questions, or invite them to an upcoming open house.
Depending on the demographic you work with — like retirees or empty nesters — this real estate farming idea gets you on this audience’s radar if they read the paper regularly.
5. Use mobile messaging to share updates.
Based on your current list of qualified leads — for example, people who visited an open house and filled out a lead form on Spacio — segment them to show who’s interested in your target neighborhood and who aims to buy or sell a home in the next six months.
Use a mobile messaging app to create and send SMS campaigns that remind these leads of upcoming open houses or scheduled appointments.
You can even use proximity marketing to target people who are within a few miles of your real estate office. The way this works is, when a lead is close by, they’ll receive either a text message or a rich media message (RMM) that invites them to an upcoming event or shares a special offer. The goal is to remind leads of your service and offer an incentive that encourages them to either visit your physical location or send you a follow-up message.
People spend a lot of time on their phones, so mobile messaging is a good opportunity to get your leads’ attention and remind them of how you can help them.
6. Create a location-specific Google My Business account
Part of preparing for real estate farming might include setting up a Google My Business account. That way, anyone who Google’s you will see everything they need to know in one place — your office’s location, your phone number and email address, your website, and more.
When you commit to focusing exclusively on a certain area, enhance your Google My Business account to share information specific to your target area:
- Share images of listings, local attractions, and more.
- Include contact details so leads can call, email, or message you.
- Encourage past clients to leave reviews.
You’ll notice that there’s also a section for people to ask questions. This is helpful for local residents because, as they research, they can ask questions to gauge an agent’s experience before booking an appointment.
This real estate farming idea helps increase your exposure because your listing will appear on the right panel of a Google search. Instead of being buried as part of other search results, it’s up front, where users can quickly find out more.
7. Sponsor a local sports team or event.
Real estate properties sell 18.5 days faster in the spring. Summer months are also a prime time to buy and sell homes. Use this time of year to increase your visibility by reaching out to local summer teams in need of sponsorship. With sponsorship, your agency logo and name can be printed on team uniforms. The players are like walking billboards for your real estate agency.
You can also print large banners that include your head shot, tag line, and contact details and then have them displayed around the area, field, or rink during games.
This type of exposure quickly shows your agency’s involvement and support within the community. Plus, when images of the team or sporting event are shared online, you get even more exposure to potential leads.
The main goal with this approach is to get the attention of every person attending the game, since many of them live in the neighborhood.
8. Use local display advertising.
We’ve covered using newspapers to target your local audience, but another real estate farming idea is to use display ads near transportation hubs. This approach can include outdoor hubs like bus shelters or indoor ads in subway, bus, and train stations and vehicles. Anyone who’s walking or driving by and traveling on public transit will see these ads.
For large poster display ads, include contact details, a head shot, and a catchy tagline. For smaller posters that appear in buses or trains, state a pain point your audience faces and a short tagline with how you help solve the problem.
To make these ads stand out:
- Use your brand colors.
- Use bold statements.
- Use fewer words.
- Include a QR code for transit riders to learn more.
In addition to using display ads for lead generation, the goal should be to get people to talk about your ads and share pictures of them on social media.
This approach to real estate farming also targets people who rely on public transit and might be thinking about how nice it would be to not commute so far for work and other activities. Regardless of the time or day people commute, your ads are visible 24/7.
9. Attend networking events.
As a real estate agent, networking is a must. It gets you in front of other agents, which helps you grow your professional contact list. If you subscribe to any real estate publications or receive emails about the latest trends and industry news, look for mentions of real estate conferences and events.
By attending these events, you’re able to promote yourself to other agents who may have more experience and can share tips on your real estate farming ideas.
Also, as you prepare for upcoming open houses, host an agent caravan, and invite the agents you’ve met at events. They may know people who are interested in buying in your chosen area. To strengthen your relationship with other agents, offer to send them referrals
10. Use pay-per-click advertising.
An alternative to Facebook ads is Google Ads. Once you sign up for a free Google Ads account, create campaigns that target local audiences. The benefit of using Google to run ads is that you can use the Keyword Planner tool to research which keywords to use in your ads. That way, when people search Google for listings or agents, your ads appear at the top of search results.
To make sure your ads appear in relevant searches, use keywords that have medium volume — between 1,000 and 4,000 searches per month — and low competition. This combination ensures that your ads receive a lot of traffic and have minimal competition from other ads.
Keep in mind that Google Ads use a pay-per-click (PPC) format, which means you pay only when someone clicks on your ad. This is a budget-friendly approach to advertising, especially when you’re just starting out with online ads. You don’t risk paying a fortune, only to have just a few people see your ad.
This approach is beneficial because it enables you to target local audiences who don’t encounter any of your “in-person” campaigns.
11. Post videos on social media.
Most adults are visual learners, so use this fact to share videos online. For example, share videos of events you’ve attended or hosted. Also use these videos to remind viewers of the services you offer. Let’s say you offer free home evaluations; share a video of you walking through a local home. Briefly explain how you appraise the home, and include details about the location and amenities to show viewers how much you know about the local market.
To make sure your target audience sees these videos, do some research to find relevant hashtags. Use three or four niche specific tags and up to six popular ones to make sure your posts are visible. Using hashtags that your audience is likely to follow makes it easier for your content to stand out.
Here are some tools that help with hashtag research:
- Track My Hashtag
“Ninety-nine percent of millennials and 90% of baby boomers start their real estate search online,” so use social media to make yourself visible to audience members who are ready to buy or sell a home.
12. Localize your website’s SEO.
Your website is one of the best ways to generate leads for your business — but people have to find it first. Use search engine optimization (SEO) to make sure your website contains the information your audience is searching for. That way, when Google indexes web content, your site is included and becomes easier for people to find.
Incorporate local keywords that relate to the amenities, attractions, and schools that are important to your audience. Use a paid tool, such as Ahrefs, or a free one, such as Google Keyword Planner, to find keywords, their search volume, and their competitiveness. When you have a list of keywords, do a Google search to see what sites appear on the first page of Google. Check to see what type of content they share, and aim to provide quality alternatives — this will help you rank higher over time.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you update your website:
- Don’t use the same keyword more than once. This applies to content you write on your blog, because you’ll end up competing with your own content. This will cause one or more of the posts to rank low in Google.
- Incorporate keywords in headlines. This helps Google find and index your site
- Add keywords to page URLs. This tells Google what’s on the page and helps the site rank for that keyword.
- Include keywords on images using alt text. Don’t just add the keyword; use it as part of a short summary describing the image.
- Use keywords in meta descriptions. A meta description is the short summary you see under a link in Google searches. By including a keyword, you make it easier for Google to determine how relevant the content is to user searches.
Paying attention to SEO helps make your site more visible online and makes it easier to attract people looking to buy a home in your target area.
13. Volunteer with local charities.
Another way to get involved with the community you serve is to participate in food drives at food banks, prepare and serve meals at local shelters, and more. These opportunities let you give back to your community while gaining exposure for your business.
Share where you and your team will be, and invite social media followers or email subscribers to join you. Take pictures and videos of the event to share on social media or on your website. Get food bank staff, shelter employees, and the people they serve involved. This tactic isn’t just about advertising your business, it shows that you care about the community and have an interest in its success.
Remember, real estate is as much about selling yourself as an agent as it is about selling houses. People want to know what type of person they’ll be working with when making the biggest purchase of their life.
14. Get creative with direct mail.
One of the most common marketing tactics in real estate is direct mail. On any day of the week, residents’ mailboxes are packed with flyers, promotional calendars and notepads, and more. The idea is to get the agency in front of local audiences, but people end up feeling overwhelmed and throw out these flyers without reading them.
Instead of a blanket approach to direct mail, use your mailing to send memorable material. For example, you can include
- coupons from local businesses along with your flyers,
- a creative map to your office on one side of your promotional cards, or
- props — such as a plastic key or mini “sold” sign — that represent how you’ll help clients.
Whatever you choose, the idea with this approach is to send creative mail to catch and hold the attention of local residents. These residents might even share an image of the mailer on social media, which would help boost your agency’s exposure.
Get started with real estate farming ideas today
There are a lot of ways to successfully farm your chosen neighborhood. Choose two or three options you can start using today, and then gradually add more. The more exposure you get over time, the better your chances of growing your business.