Real estate farming, otherwise known as geo-farming, is a dependable lead generation method that can help to create a steady pipeline of real estate leads and clients in your area. Real estate farming is a slow-burn strategy where consistency and intentionality matter, but when it’s done right, your efforts can yield long-ranging results when guided by a community-first approach. If you want to add effective real estate farming tips, tools and tactics to your marketing arsenal, our guide will show you how it’s done.
What is real estate farming?
Real estate farming, or geo-farming, is a lead generation strategy in which the agent focuses on a specific geographic area. Common real estate farming ideas include direct outreach via mail, email or direct mailers, but you can also host neighborhood social events, sponsor seasonal events and provide helpful real estate information resources to your community.
The main idea is to put you, your team or brokerage in front of community members regularly, thereby establishing your brand and positioning yourself as a local expert and trusted resource. Real estate farming also includes traditional marketing methods like sending direct mailers, knocking on doors and nailing your locally relevant social media presence.
Why should I try real estate farming?
Real estate agents rarely use farming as their only marketing approach, but the ones who use it successfully credit real estate farming for the longevity of their business. Remember — most of the time, buyers and sellers may not be actively looking for your services, but when they are, real estate farming ensures you are always top of mind.
Like all marketing, real estate farming is psychological. The well-established rule of seven explains that consumers typically work with a brand or service only after repeated exposure to it. Clients are more likely to pick up the phone and call you after seeing your name on multiple mailers, business cards and signs. And after winning business in a small geographic area, your referral business begins to build upon your success.
Whether hosting open houses, first-time homebuyer workshops or seasonal neighborhood events, these tools will help you become a go-to local expert.
Starting price: Free (with a 5% platform fee on tickets along with Stripe processing fee)
Luma is an iOS app and event page manager that features SMS invites, QR code check-ins and even weather forecasts, helping you make event organization seamless. Create shareable calendar pages, track attendance analytics and finally, post themed updates to get your guests excited.
Starting price: Free
You might recognize this global ticketing platform, but it can also be a helpful marketing tool for real estate agents organizing live and online events.
Starting price: $300 per month
Parkbench is a platform that helps real estate agents host live, neighborhood-specific virtual events, thereby creating video content to post on social media and YouTube. The company aims to help agents become “Local Leaders” in their communities, giving them exclusive rights to their neighborhood website (there’s a one-agent-per-community rule) and setting them up to become the go-to expert on all hyperlocal topics. Use Parkbench to interview local business leaders, discuss community news, spotlight your neighbors and more.
Starting price: Inquire
Lofty is an all-inclusive AI-powered platform tailored specifically for real estate professionals. If you have a marketing need, it’s got the AI-assisted real estate marketing tool for you. Its tools for real estate agents include everything from team collaboration and productivity to lead generation and sales.
Starting price: $360 per month
Catalyze AI is a unique real estate marketing solution for the data-driven agent. The AI-driven tool uses predictive analytics and a dataset of over 400 million data points to identify promising leads who have recently inherited property. It also pulls from event data, historical trends, behavioral analytics and other information, then provides lead suggestions for you within a 50-mile radius.
Starting price: $12 per month
With a well-earned reputation, Constant Contact offers a robust CRM solution and its bread and butter of email marketing. The platform’s email editor is highly intuitive, with hundreds of templates to choose from. Its analytics-driven features help you track opens and clicks, plus it provides additional tools like sign-up forms, surveys, polls, and SMS integration to help build engagement.
Real estate farming: a step-by-step strategy
Every real estate agent has their own approach to real estate farming, but a few common parallels exist:
Step 1 — Choose your farm area carefully
Selecting your farm area comes down to combining your personal preferences and industry “green flags” that signal an area is worth investing resources into.
Start with an area with enough geographic proximity to where you live that you can drive and show there easily. For this reason, some agents start farming in their own communities, where convenience can’t be beat.
Secondly, look at the turnover rate. Industry pros suggest aiming for an area with a historical turnover rate of 6% to 8%. How do you find the turnover rate? Pull tax records and study the MLS listings to see how many homes sold in your desired farm area in the previous year. Then, divide it by the number of houses in that area. So, if you were looking at farming in an area with 350 homes and 25 homes sold in the previous year, the turnover rate is .0714, or about 7%.
Why does the turnover rate matter?
A good turnover rate shows that people are moving in and out of the neighborhood with enough regularity that there will be continued opportunities for business. Gorgeous communities with large estates and expansive, landscaped yards might not yield the best return on your time. Why? Because there are fewer homes per square acre and buyers typically tend to own their homes for more extended periods in such neighborhoods.
In contrast, starter-home neighborhoods might give you better results because there is more activity and a greater need for people to upsize once they’ve outgrown their house. But these rules aren’t written in stone — dig into your area and MLS data before making any decisions.
Size and accessibility
You also want to look for a “door-knockable” area, as Orange County-based agent Monica Carr described in a YouTube video. Urban areas or subdivisions fit this description, as homes tend to be closer together. However, you want to avoid zip codes with mostly rental buildings. Be aware that cities often have several luxury hotspots that require a different approach to lead generation (namely, more selective networking).
Community features and characteristics
Finally, understand what makes your farm area unique. Which companies and job sites are located nearby? How are the school districts? What attracts people to this area, and where do they want to live? Be able to name the best grocery stores, community recreation centers, places of worship, nature centers and shopping areas.
Also, know about specific local initiatives and incentives, like land trusts, environmental regulations, property developments, or upcoming renovation projects. For instance, are they expanding a local walking trail, building a new multi-use apartment complex, or adding a new redlight camera in a nearby intersection? These may seem like minor details, but they’ll matter considerably in future clients’ lives.
Step 2 — Understand your farm’s demographics
Now it’s time to learn about your customer. Research who lives in the area; are they families, retirees or young professionals? Identify who might be looking to move into the area and who might be planning to leave, including families needing larger homes or empty nesters looking to downsize.
Step 3 — Study the sales data
You’ve already studied data to select your farm area, but now is the time to zero in on more specifics. You should look at:
- Average price and days on the market (DOM): Know the area’s average listing and selling prices, plus how long properties typically sit on the market.
- Current inventory: Monitor the current homes available for sale, including the types of homes, price ranges and unique property features.
- Price trends: To understand market dynamics, consider how prices have changed over time for different property types like single-family homes or condos.
- Listing vs. sales price: Help your clients understand how much negotiation room they might have in upcoming transactions. A large gap between listing and selling prices (in either direction) can inform your understanding of supply and demand.
Step 4 — Plan your outreach
Now that you know who is in your area, their needs, and what the financial data shows, you can start planning and budgeting for your marketing strategy.
Plan for a mix of in-person, digital and physical outreach methods. Start with simple email and SMS (text) campaigns, utilizing lead nurturing software like Constant Contact and Real Geeks to organize and track every digital outreach attempt or “touch.”
Establishing early digital communication with your prospects establishes their expectation that they will hear from you throughout the year (with their consent and opt-in, of course). Maintaining an open line of digital communication through email and text will also be your method of reaching them when announcing Open Houses and other events.
Then comes the in-real-life (IRL) fun. Give new clients the chance to meet you in person at a community movie night, a seasonal holiday parade or a local sports game. If you want to be truly memorable, come up with a signature event you and your team host every year, quarter or month.
For example, Carr describes her company’s monthly ice cream social in the same YouTube interview. On the last Friday of every summer month, her brokerage rents an ice cream truck to host a pop-up event at a community park within her farming area. The experience is memorable, she says, reminiscent of the days an ice cream truck used to drive through her neighborhood as a kid.
If a nostalgic ice cream night isn’t your thing, send an annual gift like a holiday cookie tin, a yearly calendar, a summer beach towel or a back-to-school coffee mug tastefully featuring your brokerage’s branding. Postcards, door hangers, and other marketing collateral will require a smaller investment, allowing you to reach more community members. An informative community newsletter, Facebook group or community website can provide consistent value and become a go-to resource for nearby residents.
Most importantly, build predictability. Pick activities you know you can follow through on consistently. Try thinking of your outreach plan in terms of annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and ad-hoc initiatives that whet your prospects’ appetite for more interactions with you. It could look something like this:
Send a seasonal cookie tin or a yearly calendar featuring company branding to community members in your farm area.
Mail a newsletter rounding up every local home sale (specifically flag the ones you brokered). Share average data on price trends, time on the market, and current inventory. Host a signature quarterly event, such as outdoor movie nights during warm-weather months and indoor family-friendly films at a nearby arts theater with a fun, memorable vibe.
Host a summer movie night or neighborhood food truck party during the warm months. Send parents a seat cushion for back-to-school season to take to sports games. In winter, host an open house tour featuring all your listed homes decorated with twinkling holiday lights. Send handwritten holiday cards with candy, swag, or another fun surprise.
Send a short virtual newsletter with market data on interest rates and housing inventory.
Send a curated list of just-listed homes in your geographic area.
Post behind-the-scenes footage of your work day, along with videos of virtual home tours within your geo-farming area, on Instagram and Facebook., or to a dedicated Facebook group or community events website like those from Parkbench.
Mail “Just Sold” postcards to neighbors whenever you broker a successful sale or purchase.
Step 5 — Calculate your budget and expected ROI
Each of the above ideas comes with an investment of time, money, or both. For instance, Carr budgets between $5,000 to $8,000 for each of her brokerage’s quarterly events, totaling $32,000 annually.
Of course, you can deploy several free real estate marketing tools, including Facebook groups and cost-effective, lead-generating websites with community-focused content.
Bottom line: Know how much you’re willing to spend across all areas — digital marketing ads, marketing collateral, in-person events, novelty items, event rentals, etc. — and determine how many homes you’d need to sell to recoup a return on that investment.
Step 6 — Start farming
With your plan, budget and knowledge in hand, it’s time to start farming. Begin by introducing yourself to the community, attending local events and gradually rolling out your planned activities. Consistency is key. Be patient and persistent; your efforts will help cultivate a strong presence within your chosen real estate farming area.
Step 7 — Track and nurture leads
As you develop momentum and add leads to your database, set up a system for regularly tracking and nurturing your relationships. Remember — contacts within your farming area are distinct from others in your CRM; they live in a geographically distinct area (likely your neighborhood!), so your messaging should be more personalized and community-focused.
When nurturing leads, tailor your communication to meet your prospects’ needs. Just think, what would your neighbor want to hear? Find natural opportunities to mention market trends in the area, community announcements, events and helpful real estate advice. Keep a detailed record of your interaction with potential clients in your farm area. Include phone calls, emails, door-knocking visits and events, and their responses to your direct mail and email campaigns.
Over time, review your interaction records periodically to evaluate which methods are most successful in engaging potential clients. Notice how often people reply to your emails, what information resonates with them, and how many attend your events. Refine your approach based on what the data shows.
Real estate farming: Tips and best practices
Real estate farming isn’t the kind of marketing strategy that yields overnight results. Give yourself a year of consistent effort before throwing in the towel or trying a new farming area. Budget-wise, give yourself a year of runway. Evaluate your results monthly and quarterly, looking at the big picture after a year. Only then can you truly decide whether geo-farming gave you the desired results.
When you start real estate farming, sending a “Just Sold” postcard when you sell a new house can be a powerful way to debut your services to a new community. A simple postcard announcing new sales serves the community in two ways: 1) It updates them on their neighborhood’s latest average home value, and 2) It introduces them to a new agent (you) should they decide to sell their home soon.
There’s a difference between consistency and quantity. Don’t just “spray” your farming area with impersonal, generic postcards to try and reach a massive number of prospects. Similarly, don’t sacrifice quality simply to try and mail something once a week. Be intentional. Choose methods you can execute well and commit to a cadence you can sustainably maintain.
Maybe your sweet spot is a monthly or quarterly summary of every home you’ve sold in your targeted area rather than a postcard for every sale. Or perhaps you prefer mailing seasonal cards for holidays, school breaks and special community events instead of linking your mailers to sales. Whatever your strategy, pick something you know you can commit to — and become known for it.
According to recent National Association of Realtors data, only 26% of home buyers are first-timers. So, if you’re already offering first-time homebuyer workshops in your local community, broadening such events to include activities that all community members can participate in will help you reach a broader demographic of buyers and sellers.
Don’t limit yourself to the most expensive mailers or big-budget events. You can start real estate farming by simply introducing yourself to parents at your child’s school. One pair of realtors, Alissa and Katy of the Hustle Humbly Podcast, mention that simply serving as secretary of your local Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or another community group “counts” as farming since it provides natural, conversational opportunities to bring up your work and answer prospective clients’ questions.
Real Estate Farming FAQs
What does farming mean in real estate?
Farming in real estate refers to focusing your marketing and networking efforts on a specific geographic area or community (often the one you live in) to establish a brand presence and generate new leads.
How do I start real estate farming in my neighborhood, city or town?
Begin by selecting a suitable real estate farming area, first understanding its demographics and studying its sales data to inform your outreach. Next, plan annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly and ad-hoc outreach methods that you can do consistently every year. Make one or two ideas your “signature” events and become known for them. Plan your budget accordingly, knowing what kind of return on investment (ROI) you need to make your efforts worthwhile. Then, consistently engage with the community and roll out your plan.
What is demographic farming in real estate?
Demographic farming is like geo-farming but focuses more on factors like age, family size and income level. Geo-farming considers demographic factors, but demographic farming focuses primarily on such lifestyle conditions to target an ideal customer base. For instance, a luxury real estate agent focusing on unique, upscale homes might concentrate more on demographics because their target client — an independently wealthy entrepreneur — is motivated more by finding rare properties and less so by considerations like school districts and proximity to community centers.
What is a good turnover rate for real estate farming?
Generally speaking, real estate agents advise aiming for neighborhoods with at least a 6% turnover rate for the highest probability of success.