January 19, 2022
“I’ve been to real estate school. I got my New Jersey real estate license. Now how can I find listing opportunities?”
It’s a great question we hear from many agents who just graduated from Garden State Real Estate Academy. There are many suggestions. Today, we’ll look at one: farming.
Oh, and you won’t need a combine harvester to harvest rich rewards from real estate farming.
What is farming?
Farming is where you pick a geographic area and then focus your marketing efforts on developing the reputation as the neighborhood real estate expert to the residents in that area. Imagine meeting a person who moved into town and asked you whom you recommended as a hairdresser, babysitter, car wash, etc. You could probably provide people or vendors from your own experience who come to the top of your mind when you were asked to recommend the best person in that category. Your goal in farming is to have the residents of that neighborhood to have you come to the top of their minds as the best real estate agent.
Picking your farm.
The most obvious choice of farm is the neighborhood where you live. But you are going to invest time and money developing your brand image there, so you should do research before deciding where it will be. For example:
- Is another REALTOR® already prominent in that neighborhood? Could you be launching an uphill battle if a competitor had spent years developing the very reputation you aspire to create? It might be easier for you to pick an untapped area.
- How many homes are in the area you are considering? Real estate is a numbers game, so the chances are not high that you will see many homes going up for sale in a neighborhood that only has 35 houses. On the other hand, a subdivision with 1,000 homes could be too large to manage and too expensive to send your monthly marketing pieces to.
- Is there enough turnover in that area to be worthwhile? If you live in a neighborhood which is so stable that people rarely move, there is not much point farming for sellers. Using the MLS, define the area you are considering, count how many homes are there, then count how many sold in the previous 12 months. If there was a turnover of 7% or more, it could be a good farm area. Anything less would not be.
See and be Seen.
It is important to get to know the residents in your farm personally, and not just by sending them mailings. Walk the neighborhood, with your dog or your children. Join the homeowners association and volunteer to help with activities where others will come to know you. An excellent such opportunity is to agree to serve the HOA as secretary. Gather the names and contact details of each resident. You could do this from the HOA membership directory, if there is one, or from public records, which you can access through the MLS.
Show you care about the neighbors.
Plan to do special little things for the residents throughout the year. Have a monthly newsletter. If the neighborhood doesn’t have their own community newsletter, let everybody know to contact you to put special events in yours. You would be amazed at how many people will want to have their wedding anniversaries or children’s birthdays shown in print so all their neighbors can see. You can mix in these announcements for yard sales and lost kittens with your own news, such as recent home sales, new listings, open houses, and tips for preparing their homes for sale or making simple improvements.
I used to take my toddler son around in his red wagon giving out small pumpkins in October, American flags just before July 4th, and packets of seeds imprinted with my name and contact details in the spring. I had yard sale signs made up inexpensively (with my name and brokerage affiliation in small letters) and would offer free signs to anybody who asked.
On other occasions, I staged kids’ art contests using such themes as “What I did this summer” (right after Labor Day) and “What Thanksgiving means to me” in November. I separated the submissions into four age groups and asked the parents to drop the artwork off to my office. That familiarized them with where I did business and gave me a chance to greet them in person. I had a mortgage company and title company cosponsor the contests and provide the prizes, so the entire event cost me less than $100. After picking the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in each category, we invited the entire neighborhood to come to the office for refreshments and to see all the artwork pasted down the walls and into the training room. As you can imagine, it attracted the kids, their parents and in some cases, even their grandparents and it solidified my personal branding as the go-to real estate guy for my farm.
You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on advertising to create an image of being the neighborhood real estate resource. Start with a farm, learn everything about every model home and the price homes have sold for in the past year, and then reach out to those who live there.
Want to get your real estate license?
Garden State Real Estate Academy offers live pre-licensing, broker licensing and Continuing Education classes for aspiring and existing New Jersey real estate agents. We also provide the “Supplemental Course” for out-of-state licensees wishing to earn their NJ license and our popular “Across the River” class to prepare NJ agents to pass the Pennsylvania real estate licensing exam. These are all delivered by live instructors via Zoom.
We also offer online self-study real estate licensing classes in 21 states through our partnership with The CE Shop. New Jersey does NOT allow self-study pre-licensing classes.
For information on the real estate school’s upcoming New Jersey licensing classes, click here: https://gsreacademy.com/pre-licensing-courses/
For real estate licensing classes in all other states, click here: https://gsreacademy.theceshop.com/pre-licensing
David C. Forward is a licensed real estate broker and instructor and was first licensed as a Realtor® 33 years ago. During his career, David and his business partner sold more than 500 homes in South Jersey. He is now School Director of Garden Real Estate Academy, has won numerous awards for real estate sales, is a much-requested public speaker who has addressed audiences on six continents and is the author of 19 books.