5 common mistakes agents make when farming & how to avoid making them

Real Estate Technology with SmartZip

When it comes to farming a local market area, are you doing everything you can to drive in real estate seller leads? Here are five common mistakes real estate agents make when farming.

Mistake #1: Agents tend to “stick to what they know”

It takes time to build a brand via farming techniques, and agents are often unlikely to select a new farm outside their usual market area. Sometimes, this means that agents stick to areas with homes that earn them smaller commissions, even though nearby areas may have higher turnover or more expensive homes (or both).

Advice: If you’re already farming a local market area and you’re not seeing great results, don’t start over. Do some research and find a small pocket of high turnover or high commission homes. Expand your farming efforts to that mini-farm to see if you can land your first listing there. Then, use a “Just Listed/Just sold campaign” to entice additional homeowners to hire you based on your local market success.

Mistake #2: Agents don’t include calls to action on their mailers and campaigns

When asked if they have a call to action on their recipe cards, refrigerator magnets or postcards, agents often point to their phone number and email. Offering your contact information is different than offering a specific service -- and consumers won’t always make the jump on their own.

Advice: Before you design or send any campaign, ask yourself how you can tie the marketing piece back to one of your specialties or services. Then, add a specific call to action to everything you send out. Ask your targets to fill out a short form on your website or affiliated marketing site in exchange for something they get in return. For sellers, offer an automated CMA, a market update report or a staging and selling guide. For buyers, offer an online pre-approval with an affiliated lender. Track your follow-up success, and change your CTAs if you’re not seeing any results.

Remember, you should never send your contacts to a general “contact me” form.

Mistake #3: Agents retarget people who just bought or sold from them

Most agents hope for referrals after they have worked with a buyer or seller but many times, they don’t have separate campaigns for this segment of their sphere. The result? Some agents without targeted marketing may send postcards saying “It’s a great time to sell!” to a homeowner who just closed with them six weeks ago.

Think of how much time you spend reviewing marketing pieces before you toss them in the garbage. It’s very unlikely that a past client will see a seller-targeted piece and think about referring their friends as a result.

Advice: If you want referrals, it’s better to ask for them outright. Send a quick note (after the closing and any potential issues have been resolved) saying that you enjoyed working with them, and that you’d be thrilled if they would keep you in mind when their friends/family are in need of a real estate agent.

You’ll save money on mailers that aren’t getting you any results, and you’ll know for certain that your past clients understand you would be grateful for any referrals sent your way.

Mistake #4: Sending the same postcard or campaign to everyone

Does the couple in the rambler on the main drag just have their third child? Did the single woman in the condo development just get engaged? Did the retirement-age couple in the McMansion send their last kid off to college? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, then you can’t possibly be targeting each homeowner with messages and campaigns that resonate.

We live in a world where Facebook can target you with concerts or products you’ll love, and Amazon’s “People also bought” carousel drives in a reported 30% of their total sales. Consumers are too smart for one-size-fits-all marketing campaigns, and that goes double for your real estate seller leads.

Advice: To get the response you’re looking for, you need to segment homeowners in your farm by their propensity to move up or down, and target them with marketing campaigns that resonate deeply and have a clear call to action.

Mistake #5: Not being ready with a response -- whether it be an 8 x 8 campaign or a door knocking script!

Most agents spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to drive in new real estate sellers leads through their farming efforts. And when those leads arrive, they realize they don’t have a coordinated follow-up plan ready. Yikes!

Advice: Unless you already have a follow-up plan that works, we recommend following up in kind to any leads. If you get a real estate seller lead via email, follow up via email. If you miss a phone call, return it as soon as you can. You can also drop off a small Wow Package that offers a peek into you and your business. If you want to doorknock or door drop but don’t have a full Wow Package, here are three outside the box ideas you can implement.

Remember, the key is to plan your follow-up even before you get an inbound lead. When you use the same techniques, you’ll be able to measure how well your plan is converting your real estate seller leads and tweak your follow-up to get the best results possible.

Want to avoid common farming mistakes?

Consider SmartTargeting, a smart real estate farming solution that:

  • identifies the best market area (territory) by turnover and commission potential
  • uses proven algorithms to predict the homes most likely to sell in your optimized territory
  • sends automated, targeted marketing campaigns to drive in qualified seller leads
  • helps you follow up with the right people at the right time to land more listings

Reach out today to check listing predictions in your area. You have nothing to lose but more business.


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Sharon Ofori

Thank you, I found this post most informative. Thanks again

Jan 17, 2018 12:03 PM #12
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Great post.  I've often wondered how my farming is doing in terms of reach, but I know not as good as it could be.  

Jan 17, 2018 07:34 PM #13
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

A very informative and creative post. It always pays to surf the AR community on a daily basis whenever possible for the possibility to learn and earn. Great post.

Jan 21, 2018 02:07 AM #14
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Great tips on farming. Focus and followup are essential to make it work.

I agree that too often we do not include a clear call to action.


Jan 22, 2018 11:42 AM #15
Shirley Coomer
Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living - Phoenix, AZ
Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az

Thanks for the great tips.  I especially like the 3 farming techniques.  Consistency is the key!

Jan 24, 2018 05:44 AM #16
Terrie Leighton
Ferrari-Lund Real Estate - Reno, NV
Reno Real Estate Agent ~ Selling Homes in Reno

Guilty of all five! Thanks for the advice on how to change my farming techniques. 

Jan 24, 2018 11:26 AM #17
Anthea Adair
Ebby Halliday Realtors - Frisco, TX
14 years of real estate experience | TX, CA, HI

Thank you.   All of these tips are great and I'll bookmark your post for future reference.  

Jan 24, 2018 12:00 PM #18
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Retargeting can be an issue for a lot of people. I’m lucky to have you managed to stay away from that and develop some good habits just from experience

Jan 24, 2018 10:55 PM #19
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Definitely bookmark! I’ve been saved a lot of trouble by go to vice about an on this site,

Anthea Adair

Jan 24, 2018 10:58 PM #20
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

Wonderful Post! Lots of really useful information... bookmarked!!

Jan 25, 2018 12:31 AM #21
Muhammad Mushtaq
Weichert, Realtors® - SBA Group - Fall River, MA

Well written and a quick consolidated guide to start our day. Thanks for sharing.

Feb 06, 2018 03:44 AM #22
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

This is a timely post for me. I am thinking of starting to farm once again. 

Feb 06, 2018 03:56 AM #23
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA,

This is a very timely piece - I am putting together my 33 touch for the year - thanks

Feb 06, 2018 05:53 AM #24
Sarah Lynn Jaskowski
Williamsville, NY
House. Home. Today.

Great advice! I'm working with my mega on better farming. not just set it and forget it. Off to check out the WOW package now =)

Feb 06, 2018 06:14 AM #25
Sybil Campbell
Long and Foster REALTORS® 5234 Monticello Ave Williamsburg, Virginia - Williamsburg, VA
REALTOR® ABR, SFR, SRES Williamsburg, Virginia

Thanks for the advice. There is an art to farming, it is not a one size fits all.

Feb 06, 2018 08:05 AM #26
Corey Martin
Martin Presence Group - Ruston, LA
Real Estate and Management Solutions

Excellent advice for farming. Thank you for sharing.

Feb 06, 2018 08:01 PM #27
Richard Bazinet /MBA, CRS, ABR
AZuRE Team - Realty ONE Group - Scottsdale, AZ
Phoenix Scottsdale. Sellers, Buyers & Relocations

Great post from our SmartZip friends. Appreciate the advice and a great how-to approach.

Feb 06, 2018 08:35 PM #28
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

 Before one consistently farm one needs to get to know who lives there and what they do. Most alert realtors who live there that you are barking at wrong people. Target renters to sell, putting fliers in front of signs that says no solicitation.... I straiten out one agent who consistently sent notepads, news letter since 1980s thinking I will use her service.   You need to know who will sell not those just bought their home to be efficient.  

Feb 16, 2018 06:56 AM #29
Raymond Denton
Resolute Federal Savings Bank - Laguna Niguel, CA

I appreciated your hyperlink to the Wow Packages, Adam.

Feb 16, 2018 08:44 AM #30
Chris Griffith
Downing-Frye Realty, Bonita Springs, FL - Bonita Springs, FL
Bonita Springs Listing Agent

I clicked through and watched the smart target ad. Intriguing.  Clever ad, too.

Feb 16, 2018 11:51 AM #31
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