We had an amazing brainstorming session at our brokers meeting last week about Real Estate Farming. We all gathered around to throw out ideas for the topic of the day, which was ideas for farming our neighborhood. In order to make it easy to follow through, we came up with a team plan of choosing a farm and then a 12 month plan to hit each house once a month. We brainstormed a bunch of great ideas and it went like this:
Everyone grabbed a glass of wine and a slice of pizza.
The group got together with a common idea and one person stood at the board with a marker (thanks Kelly@settledown!).
People shouted out ideas and the scribe wrote them all down.
Why brainstorm all together when you can just get on a group chat, text, or email?
The goal of brainstorming is to get ideas flowing within the group. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Every time someone shouts out an idea it has the potential to spark a new idea. This isn’t easy to achieve unless you’re all in a room together.
And thus the flow of wonderfulness begins. The number one rule during brainstorming is to not stop and analyze, criticize or elaborate. It is simply an exercise to get the ideas flowing.
Once the brainstorming session is over then and only then can you go back and start analyzing all of the different ideas.
We did this and it was fantastic.
We hung up four giant sheets of paper on the wall:
and then went back and read them all.
Real Estate Farming – It turns out we all want to help.
What amazed me the most about our session and our team is that almost every single idea on the board had a goal of helping people. None of them looked like business ideas. They all looked like ways to genuinely connect with the community. Our way of doing things around here is organic and community oriented.
Real Estate is a people business.
I say it all the time, real estate is a people business and we are in the business of people. So we came up with ideas such as block cleanup, budget planning classes and food drives. None of these have anything to do with Real Estate directly. They are all with a goal in mind to build community. By doing this; by being a part of your community, an actual contributing member, you meet the goal of building authentic relationships. You build real trust and do something useful for the planet.
I live in the city, what the Hell is real estate farming???
Farming is the time tested practice that real estate agents use to develop their area of business. The goal should be to develop relationships and introduce yourself to people in your farming area. Think of it like a field. Your job is to go out and plant seeds. You need to be consistent and tend to the field and nourish the seed so it turns into a plant.
It may sound corny, but if you think about it that way you will realize that the most important aspect of real estate farming is consistency. If you go out and you hit everyone in your neighborhood once or twice and then drop off the face of the earth, you will be ineffective and will have wasted your time and possibly money.
Why should I bother?
Remember, real estate is a people business, and you are in the business of people. Buying or selling a home is usually the largest financial transaction people make in their lifetime. It is also where they live, so it is oftentimes intimate and emotional. In order for a person to feel comfortable selling or buying their home, they need to trust the agent they are working with. That trust can’t be bought. It has to be earned.
By working your farm, you are building relationships and building trust. You are contributing to the community where you want to do business. You are reaching out to people, connecting with them and making a difference. You are being led first by something bigger than money. Do all of this and the money will come.
So how do I choose a Real Estate Farm?
Pick an area
that you do or want to do business in. Staying close to home or work is a safe bet. You probably already have connections there and know the area. However, this can also be a great opportunity to create the life you want to live.
Don’t be afraid to start farming your future. Where do you see yourself living and working? Are you looking to be upwardly mobile? Slow down your pace and enjoy life? Choose the place where you want your future self to be and go make it happen.
It should be the right size
so you can afford to reach out to everyone on at least a monthly basis. Some of your touches might be by mail or marketing materials that cost money. Think of your budget and make sure that your budget allows your ideas to be implemented. Need a number? Try for about 200 houses and see how that fits. Adjust up or down as necessary. You can always increase your farm size, so if you have doubts, start smaller to ensure you can be consistent.
Make sure it’s a place you will be comfortable in.
In order to be successful in real estate, (and in life) you need to be genuine. The area you choose must align with your values and goals. For example, one of my core values is to educate people on the value of homeownership and to do my part to correct wealth inequality.
Because of that, I often find myself in areas with lower income and large percentages of renters. Sure, I also sell a few million dollar homes to people I know, and I genuinely like most people no matter how much money they have, but I am more comfortable working in lower priced areas where I feel I can help people create financial security for themselves and their families. That is where I am comfortable and most genuine and true. I might not make as much money as I would working the million dollar zip codes, but my work is in line with my values, and people can tell.
I attribute my happiness and my success with being true to myself and my values. What are your values? Think about them and do a gut check to see if your farm is in line with your values.
Fine, I chose my farm, now what?
1. Print a map of all of the properties in your farm. Use this as a guide to make sure you touched every household every month. Without fail!
2. Brainstorm activities for the coming year. (See how we did it in “we had a brainstorming session”)
3. Choose 12 and come up with a schedule of events for the next 12 months. Plan to touch each household at least once per month.
4. If you need to, It is okay to divide your farm into four sections. Label them A-D and designate the weeks of the month A-D, then simply touch each section with the corresponding week.
5. Get prepared for months 1 and 2. Order any materials you need, like door hangers or flyers. Plan out all of the details if you are hosting an event. Set yourself up for success.
6. Pull the trigger. It’s go time.
7. As soon as you pull the trigger on month one, start preparing for month three. The goal is to always have at least one month’s activity waiting in the wings so you have no excuse to not get out and farm.
8. Incorporate a call to action in each activity, such as signing up for your email list. Try to get contact information and build a database of your farm. This will help you reach out to them when you have neighborhood news or a listing to promote. It will also let you know who is interested in you and your services as well as who isn’t so you can try harder to see how you can find a way to connect.
Do something bigger and the money will follow.
Staying in line with our philosophy of doing something bigger than money and the money will follow, these ideas implemented can cause positive changes in communities while building relationships. It’s organic and it’s natural that when you are working alongside your neighbors doing a food drive or clothing drive or budgeting class, you are going to end up having conversations with them and building trust and making true connections. That’s when neighbors become friends, and friends become clients.
What are your favorite real estate farming ideas? Join the conversation by scrolling down to the comment section below.
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