Real Estate Prospecting – Choose Your Area, Then Farm It
Some real estate agents try to serve an entire area – sending “shotgun blast” messages out in hopes of hitting that person who needs their services on the day they get the letter.
That, in effect is prospecting. You’re digging here and there, hoping to turn over a gold nugget.
A more effective practice is to select an area, and begin farming.
The initial step is to choose the area. Do some research first, because this step is important. Ideally, you’ll find an area with about 200 homes that is located not too far from your own home or office. If it happens to be your own neighborhood, all the better.
Next, it should be an area where homes sell in a reasonable amount of time. Generally, that will be an upper-middle class neighborhood. One that’s affordable for average working people. Unless you’re concentrating your efforts on retirees or singles, it should be a child-friendly neighborhood.
The homes should be well-tended, making the area attractive to new buyers.
If possible, choose a neighborhood that does not have a large percentage of bank owned properties, since these drag prices down and lend an air of despair. Unfortunately, in some cities there are no such neighborhoods right now.
Finally, choose a farm area that no one else is actively working. Chatting with a resident or two should give you that information.
Once you choose an area, plan your marketing. Remember that the reason they call it farming is that it is similar to planting a crop. Your farm area needs to be tended and nurtured just as growing crops need sun, rain, fertilizer, and cultivation.
You can start with a door-to-door introduction if you’re really ambitious, but starting with a well-written letter is more practical for most busy agents.
But don’t send just any letter – make it a letter that will actually interest the homeowners.
Instead of starting out with an introduction, begin immediately to focus on the homeowners – one at a time. That means you should never begin your letter with any form of “I” or “we” and you should never let your letter sound as if you’re addressing a group of people. One person will read that letter, so write to one person.
So what can you say? Address an issue that will interest them. Talk to them about the fact that real estate is local, not national, and mention how their neighborhood is like or unlike the real estate stories on the evening news. Offer to send them information on listings or sales in the neighborhood. Invite them to an open house if you have a listing in the area.
Give them a little bit of interesting information, then attempt to arouse their curiosity and get them to call you or to visit your website to request a free report.
After the first letter you can send postcards, newsletters, and of course cards announcing new listings or sales in the neighborhood.
But if you’re serious about claiming this neighborhood as your own, don’t stop with correspondence. Get out and get involved.
If there are stores or restaurants in the area, use them, and introduce yourself when you do. If there are neighborhood events such as giant yard sales, Easter Egg hunts or Halloween spook houses, volunteer to help out with them.
Walk around the neighborhood on days when residents are outdoors – and stop to chat.
And of course, stay abreast of everything that affects the neighborhood. Attend neighborhood meetings, and keep up with new businesses coming in and old businesses going out. Be able to answer if someone asks you what they’re building down there on the corner.
Become the expert who knows all about the schools and nearby recreational facilities. Be able to answer questions about the bus service and the mail delivery and garbage pick up. Know the property tax rates and what kind of Internet service is available.
In short, learn the neighborhood inside out, so that no matter what kind of question a buyer asks, you can answer. (Within legal boundaries, of course.)
Finally, promote the neighborhood by posting stories and photos on your personal blog, and your Active Rain posts.
It may take a few months of hard work, but with persistence, your crop will ripen. You will become the agent that residents turn to when they’re ready to list their homes.