Real Estate Farming

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Real Estate Farming

How to Choose and Dominate a Farm Area


By J Gurner on May 30, 2018 

Real estate farming is the act of focusing the bulk of your marketing efforts on a specific area (geographic farming) or certain types of clients (demographic farming) as an expert in that area. Real estate farming equates your marketing efforts to sowing seeds on a farm.

One of the easiest ways to get the word out about your services is to send information straight to the potential clients in your farm area. Urbaprint has teamed up with the United States Postal Service to enable you to send beautiful, full-color, personalized flyers to every home in a neighborhood–without requiring you to walk door-to-door and hope that someone answers your knock. 

How to Choose the Right Real Estate Farm Area

Since it can take a significant amount of time to see a decent return from your farm area, your choice is very important. Here are five tips to selecting a lucrative real estate farm area.

1. Stay Close to Home for Your Real Estate Farm Area

If you’re just getting started, then farming your own neighborhood is probably your best course of action. There are so many benefits of geographic farming in your own neighborhood.

You’re Already a Local Expert

Setting up your farm area in a place you already know and love is just the best possible combination. You know the streets, many of the residents, and have insights it would be difficult for others to establish. For example, you may know that your neighbor’s friend will be transitioning to a nursing home and selling soon. Not only can you provide a great service, but you often have a heads-up in the market.

Many people may already know you, so establishing trust and business in an area where you’re known will be easier than for a newcomer. Saying that, even if you’re new to the neighborhood yourself, it is far easier to network in the area where you already live. Establishing yourself as an expert comes in many forms. One of our top 47 real estate lead generation tips is to host local educational events on buying, selling or renting in the area.

You’ve Already Got the Connections

As a local resident, you likely already have solid connections in your real estate farm area. Your circle of influence (family, friends, people they know) is probably concentrated nearby, you probably know local business owners, and best of all, you can wholeheartedly recommend the neighborhood because you live there.

The perks of geographic farming in your own neighborhood are many. This is like catnip for both sellers and buyers, especially relocation clients. Think about it. If you were moving to a new city, would you rather work with an agent who lives two hours away, or one who has lived in the neighborhood for years?

I know for myself, when relocating to a new area, using a local agent has been invaluable. Not only did he know my neighborhood like the back of his hand, he knew reputable contractors I could use right off the top of his head. His recommendations kept a close relationship between us, and set him up to be an expert that I later recommended to friends moving to the area.

You’re More Available for Clients

When you live in the area you farm, there are opportunities to meet prospective clients wherever you shop and visit on a day-to-day basis. Places like the local gym, grocery stores, coffee shop, and hardware stores are all opportunities to network during ordinary conversation in your daily routine.

So often, ordinary conversations at the check-out counter can turn into inside information about a home coming on the market or a local person looking for a solid realtor. If you don’t already have a great CRM to store those contacts you meet, we love Pipedrive, which allows you to keep in touch in ways that seem organic and thoughtful.

Another reason to stay close to home when geographic farming is that you’ll have greater ability to offer last minute showings and previews. It is far easier for you to be available to show clients a great new listing that just came on the market if it’s just a quick walk or ride from where you live. It’s also easier managing your life and far better on the budget. Car maintenance and gasoline costs can be one of the largest expenses a realtor has, but it can certainly be minimized if your geographic farming is close to home.

2. Do Research on Your Real Estate Farm Area

When deciding on the right area for your real estate farming, being close to home isn’t the only criteria for choosing well. Another important element to choosing a farm area is local demographics. Before you start demographic farming, you need to know as much as you can about the area so you can make sure it’s someplace you’ll be happy working in, and can give you the income you’ll need to meet the goals in your real estate business plan. Ultimately, demographic components is one area of many that you’ll want to research in your farm area.

Here are some things to research for your farm area:

  • Average income
  • Average age
  • Is it a commuter area?
  • Large employers – Software companies, hospitals, factories, etc.
  • Types of homes in the area (Victorian, Mid-Century, new developments, etc.)
  • Local amenities – Beaches, parks, nightlife, etc.
  • Transportation options
  • Recent changes or coming changes – Gentrification, construction, etc.

While most of this data will be a Google search away, you may have to use Census data to get incomes and age. This data can be useful in directing you to the kinds of commission checks you can expect, what type of homes people might be looking for, and amenities they may be interested in.

While you’re doing your research, try and focus on aspects of the neighborhood you personally respond to. For example, if you love vintage homes, it will be much easier to sell them than new developments. Since purchasing a home is largely an emotional decision, buyers will respond to your enthusiasm and personal knowledge on the topic.

Once you choose a geographic farm, if it’s in a larger area, you may also try to narrow down a specific demographic that you want to work with within that area, often referred to as demographic farming. For example, you might want to focus on homes worth over $1 million or senior communities. Researching the neighborhood and local demographics will help you make the choice of what works best for you.

 

3. Choose a Real Estate Farm Area with Well-Defined Boundaries

Whenever possible, try and pick a neighborhood with well-defined boundaries to help market your listings. Having well-defined boundaries when real estate farming helps you to market your listings more easily, because the geographic area you work in is clear to yourself and others. Even in large metro areas like NYC, there are well-defined boundaries.

In Manhattan, for example, the Upper East Side starts at 59th Street, from 5th Avenue to York Avenue, then extends up to 96th street. In the past few years, gentrification may have pushed the boundaries of the neighborhood a bit, with some agents calling listings up to 103rd Street the Upper East Side. Still, when you tell most clients you’re taking them to the Upper East Side, the boundaries are generally understood.

People envision a certain type of home and a certain lifestyle with designated neighborhoods. Almost all neighborhoods in any area have certain reputations, and capitalizing on these can help you market your listings. Our ultimate guide to real estate branding will help you leave a lasting impression on your customers by creating a brand that matches your target audience.

4. Make Sure Your Real Estate Farm Area Is the Right Size

In geographic farming, size matters. You need to make sure the area is large enough to ensure a decent turnover, but small enough that you can build a name for yourself there without draining your retirement fund.

A great example of this could be Manhattan. While the Upper East Side is a great place to work, it’s also home to a few hundred thousand people. Staying top of mind with the whole neighborhood would cost you tens of thousands of dollars per month. Instead, most agents who work on the Upper East Side focus on micro-neighborhoods like Yorkville, Lenox Hill, or The Gold Coast.

No matter where you live, consider the size of your neighborhood when real estate farming. The planning done up front will save you time, money, and ensure a nice pipeline of clients for years to come.

5. Run the Numbers in Your Real Estate Farm Area

Once you find an area you want to work in, the next step is to run the numbers to make sure the area has enough sales activity to make real estate farming worthwhile. In an ideal world, you want to find a farm area that has high sales prices, high turnover, and low competition. In reality, however, neighborhoods like this are extremely rare. To hedge your bets, you may consider looking at several farm areas and picking the one with the best balance of price, turnover, and competition. Here’s how to do it.

Average Sales Price

It’s easier than you might think to get an average sales price in your anticipated farm area, and takes just a few steps to complete. First, fire up your MLS program or a program like Realtors Property Resource (RPR) and choose the zip code of the area. RPR and many MLS systems offer the ability to draw an area on the map.

To get the average sales price of your anticipated real estate farm area, you’ll then draw your anticipated real estate farm area on the map, and pull all sold listings for the past two or three years. The average sale price will be the average price of the sold homes.

Once you have the average price, you can figure out what your commission will be per transaction. Once you know this, you can determine how many listings you will need to close in your farm area to make a profit and meet the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Just a note: if you haven’t used RPR before, it’s free with your NAR membership dues and offers an incredible amount of information in one centralized place that usually saves you time.

Turnover Rate

In order to figure out the turnover rate in your potential farm area, simply divide the number of homes in your farm area by the number of homes sold in the last two years. If you want to keep your lights on, make sure the area you want to farm has a relatively high turnover rate. Tom Ferry, a noted real estate coach, recommends only considering areas with a six percent or higher turnover rate.

Competition

Once you’ve determined the area has enough sales activity to sustain you, the next step is to figure out what your competition looks like. Be sure to take particular note of the top closing agents for the past few years. If you see that one agent already dominates the area, getting a piece of the pie might be an uphill battle. Chances are that agent has been working the area for years and is very well established.

However, if you see there are a variety of agents closing in the area, and there is high enough turnover to justify working there, then there is more than likely room for you as well.

Putting It All Together

Now that you know all about the demographics of the area, the kinds of homes and amenities that are there, and the numbers around sales activity, turnover, and competition, you need to pull all your information together to choose a farm area.

Over at The Lones Group, they put together a table you can create in order to pick your farm area. It should look something like this:

Choosing Your Farm Area – Example

Graph.PNG

Based on this example chart, Farm Area One will probably be your best bet. While income potential may be a bit lower, it has a much higher turnover rate and more current listings on the market. That means more room for you to gain a foothold.

When analyzing your real estate farm area, let the data make your decisions. Using a formula to lay out the numbers clearly can give you confidence that investing in this area won’t simply be wasting your money. It can be easy to get emotionally invested in an area only to find out there is nowhere for you to grow in your business, and analyzing clearly avoids that costly mistake.

How to Build Authority in Your Real Estate Farm Area

Once you’ve chosen a farm area that makes sense for you, the next step is to begin making a name for yourself there. Your goal is to establish yourself as the go-to real estate professional for the entire community.

Since you’ve already done the research, you should know your audience like the back of your hand. This makes choosing your marketing strategy much easier than it would be otherwise.


Here are eight ways to start building your presence in your farm area.

1. Direct Mail

Direct mail is one of the oldest and most effective methods to spread your message to a specific community. By using the Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) service from the United States Postal Service, you can send mailers to everyone in your farm area even if you don’t have a mailing list. If you haven’t taken advantage of it before, EDDM is a cost-effective, targeted direct mail service from the USPS. EDDM lets you choose a mail delivery route via their maps, and you can then send your direct mail to every house along that route.

Another option would be to use an automated direct mail service like what urbaprint has. The great thing about urbaprint is that they will set up your system so that they mail out on a monthly schedule. This set-up of monthly mailings can be done within a few minutes, taking a task off your plate every 30 days. 

The key to staying top of mind is touching everyone in your farm area multiple times. You should plan for at least two or three mailings before expecting a return.

2. Door Hangers

Door hangers are another tried and true way to reach homeowners in your farm area. The reason door hangers work so well is that unlike a postcard, which can easily get ignored in a shuffle of mail, homeowners have to physically remove your door hanger to get into their home.

3. Door Knocking

Definitely not for the faint of heart, door knocking is still a great way to get to know homeowners in your farm area. It’s also 100% free. All you need are comfortable shoes and a desire to connect with people.

One of the things about door knocking is that you never know where the conversation will lead, and in the age of so much tech, it’s a great way to get face time with real people. Most people are doing their advertising online, and for the right kind of person, a personal campaign can really stand out.

Door knocking can be pretty intimidating, but it’s a great strategy for being top of mind. 

4. Zillow Premier Agent

Since Zillow Premier Agent lets you advertise to one specific zip code, it’s a great way to reach leads in your farm area online. It is estimated that for every $1 you spend on Zillow, you get $2.50 back in commissions.

More leads give you more closed deals at the end of the day, and Zillow offers you targeted leads in your farm area. 

5. Facebook Advertising

Outside of real estate specific advertising platforms, Facebook advertising is likely the most effective method you have. Using Facebook allows you to not only target by zip code, but by dozens of other criteria as well. You can target by age, income, interests, recent job, and much more.

The amount of information you can use to find your target audience on Facebook is pretty astonishing. Facebook even has a category called “ready to move,” which is made up of people whose online behavior is consistent with people who are ready to move. 

6. Participating in Online Local Forums

Another great way to build trust in your farm area is to participate in online forums dedicated to your farm area. Sometimes the best way to develop trust is to participate as an ordinary citizen who also happens to be a realtor.

Find where your farm area gathers online and join the conversation. Look for neighborhood Facebook groups, Patch sites, Nextdoor sites, city data forums, or area subreddits. Contribute to the conversation, throw in a listing every now and again, and remember that whenever you interact, you represent your business as well.

7. Local Events and Meetup Groups

Probably one of the best ways to connect with people in your farm area is through local events and meetup groups. Focus on being social first, business second. Enjoy a rowing group, or help raise money for your local pet rescue organization.

Participate in the community you love with honesty, and often the rewards come back in spades. Once they get to know you, they’ll seek out your services. Be sure to take photos you love and post them to Instagram, and use the moments of connecting with the community to show your true self. Look for things you’d enjoy being a part of – fairs, charity events, bake sales, or anywhere else the community gathers.

8. Get Your Website to Rank on Google for Local Search Terms

If you’re new to real estate, you will definitely need a website and be able to get that website seen by those in your farm area. Realtors who do not have a presence online are becoming less and less relevant as we become a more digital society, so be sure to be where your customers are looking.

If you’re fairly tech savvy, you can often put aside a day and throw together an IDX-integrated website on your own. We give you all the tools to put together a fantastic site here, and take you step-by-step through the process. You can even get Canva to design a professional logo for you. However, having a nice site isn’t going to help you if no one is able to find it.

Google is an incredibly powerful tool to help you stay top of mind with your farm area. For example, let’s say your farm area is Turtle Bay in Manhattan. If you use the words “turtle bay” somewhere in your website’s URL, you will come up higher in Google searches for the area. Something like “turtlebayhomes.com” will get you one step closer to the first page of the search results. If you want to know how to rank on Google once you have a site, we offer tips and tricks for businesses to rank using local, organic, and paid traffic.

The Bottom Line

Real estate farming is a tried-and-true method to become a local expert and close more deals. Taking the time to research your farm area thoroughly before spending any marketing dollars will pay off handsomely down the road.

While it can initially seem like a lot to undertake, you can dominate a farm area using the tips above, and if you want even more ways to reach out to your target group, make sure you schedule a meeting with urbaprint TODAY!

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9 Ways to Turn Your Desk Into the Ideal Workspace (Infographic)

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9 Ways to Turn Your Desk Into the Ideal Workspace (Infographic)

“Your workstation should fit you like a tailored shirt,” says University of California ergonomist David Rempel. “If I come to your workstation and you’re six inches taller than me, it shouldn’t fit me.”

If your workstation doesn’t fit you, you’re in trouble. That is why our team here at Urbaprint thought it might be interesting four our clients to get some of this info. Typing speed goes down with discomfort, and error rates go up. If you ignore that tension in your shoulders, neck, or wrist, it can turn into injury -- like carpal tunnel syndrome, where a pinched nerve in your wrist causes tingling, pain, and numbness. and of course, we do not want that! do we?

But if your workstation does fit you, then your performance will go up. Studies show that if you’re comfortable, your performance increases by 10% to 15%. and trust us, we are here to prove it!

But ergonomics, the study of how workspaces affect our work, is left out of many workplace conversations. In his Bay Area practice, Rempel often sees new hires trying to make a mark -- and getting themselves injured in the process.

“Right away they’re working 50, 60, 70, 80 hours a week at a computer,” he says. “Those are people getting into trouble early, and they haven’t had training in setting up their workplaces."

"Their minds are totally in the task at hand, and they don't think about their body until it starts to hurt," says Rempel. "They'll ignore the pain in their body and work through that in order to finish the task. Then, two months later, their arm is in agony, and they can't use the mouse. Their shoulder hurts. They have to take time off, and if they don't and they keep working, they could end up with a permanent injury. That's a common story."

To prevent that from becoming your story, here's a quick guide to setting up your workspace for optimal health and productivity.

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Transform ordinary walls into art gallery walls

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Transform ordinary walls into art gallery walls

Creating an art gallery wall in your home to transform it into a stylish place to live is an ambitious and achievable design project, all you need to know is where to start. Surround your home with large collections of art and photographs that will add style and color to your walls.  It always makes a big impact visually and can be accomplished even on a small budget, if you’re creative and smart enough to print with urbaprint.  If you don’t have any art collections for a gallery wall, try picking up some unique finds at flea markets, auctions, yard sales, craigslist and mix them with a few key pieces that you have purchased from a store or from travels or simply print your best pictures with us and get the best quality prints at the best price in town. You can also use old calendars and magazine photos and frame them, or pictures that you have taken and increase their size and have them framed. If you don’t want to pay for expensive framing, there are plenty of inexpensive options such as using an old window to frame objects, check out one of our articles on Creative Decorating Ideas for Old Windows for some ideas. Have a look through our extensive collection of images for inspiration and tips on different ways that you can create your own art gallery wall. Don’t forget to let us know which one most inspires you and tell us why!

In the above picture, the art grouping helps to balance the tall photograph and help bridge the distance between the furniture and the ceiling in what is obviously a tall space.

Rules of Thumb for Hanging Art Work

  • For a single piece of art, the center of the image should be at 56″ – 60″ from the floor, which places it at eye level. The larger the piece of art, the closer to 56″ it should be.
  • When hanging two pieces of artwork, one above another, treat them as one large picture – find the center point between them and use the 56″ – 60″ rule.
  • For larger pieces of art hung on the same wall, use a spacing of about 2″ between them. Smaller pieces can be hung a little closer together.
  • When hanging art pieces above a sofa or other piece of furniture, the grouping should ideally be about 2/3 the width of the furniture below it. (For example, if an art grouping is being hung over a 60″ sofa, the ideal grouping would about 40″ in length.)
  • When hanging artwork over a sofa or other piece of furniture, leave 4″- 8″ of space between the top of the sofa/furniture and the bottom of the art. No higher!

 

This art gallery wall was designed by Emma from the blog “A Beautiful Mess“. Her tip for designing an art gallery wall is the following:

Choose Art You Love.  If you are planning to hang a gallery wall in your home, don’t feel like you have to make it look like anyone else’s. You can include original art, art prints, kiddo art, family photos, personal photo projects or even found objects that get framed in shadow boxes (if needed). Hang what you love and what has meaning to you. If it helps you to get choosing with your color scheme then pick your color story before you start purchasing art or printing photos. You can use the color of the photo frames to help tie everything together if needed (like how I used all black frames).

Here is another clever idea that Emma had to plan out her art gallery wall. She cut out the shapes out of each frame with poster board and taped them to the wall. This way they can be moved around for placement to get the arrangement that you are looking for before hanging your art and creating unnecessary holes in your wall. Here is her sources for where she found her artwork with the excepting of personal photos and Polaroids: a pug portrait made by Hope (Katie’s sweet daughter), prints from UO, Pretty Little ThievesClare ElsaesserLisa CongdonVivienne StraussHands WorkshopAshley Goldberg and United Thread.

Create a Theme. Themed walls can be appropriate in certain contexts. A nautical inspired art wall in a beach house incorporates found objects such as oars and decorative fish hangings in a blue and white color scheme.

Create an Eclectic Mix. Most gallery walls feature an eclectic mix of modern art, old photographs, small prints and random items. Our personalities are so multi-faceted that the gallery wall becomes a reflection of everything we like and want to share with our visitors. Anything and everything can make the cut in a colorful and mixed collection of interesting images and objects.

This photo grouping works well with high ceilings, bringing down the ceiling height as well as adding visual interest. When choosing a mat for photographs, go with a wider mat (more than three inches wide) in white or off-white for a crisp look. It will look sleek and contemporary in a gallery-like grouping.

Picture Rail Displays. Picture rails are a great way to display collections of small images or photos. You get the effect of the gallery wall without committing to one composition and many nail holes. You can easily rotate images by swapping out the frames only.

Create a Personal Space. A combination of picture rails, mirrors, and typography make for a nice arrangement that feels very personal to this family.

The living room is a great space for a wall art gallery. It’s usually the largest room in the house so it has big walls. So you can even cover an entire wall if you have enough materials. You can combine frames portraits with painted artwork.

A gallery wall looks great above a sofa. The horizontal furniture piece begs for large horizontal art above. A gallery wall allows you to create a large display out of smaller images for a fraction of the cost of one giant and expensive piece. Note the clean horizontal edge along the bottom that unifies and contains the collection.

You could also use more than just one wall. You can two adjacent walls from the living room for example. Create a cozy sitting corner and delineate the space with the help of wall art. It’s a nice idea especially if you also have a sectional that goes along those walls.

Draw Inspiration from your Gallery Wall. Gallery walls do inspire. You can start one above a desk/work area and center it around a framed memo board. The memo board becomes a constantly changing mini-gallery that fits in with the larger composition.

Have a Showcase Wall. A good gallery wall should be able to grow and grow without anyone being able to tell where it started. If you are keen on starting one, make sure you picked a large wall so you aren’t limited in your search for small and beautiful framed images.

You can mix and combine all sorts of various artwork. For example, you can display painting along with framed photos, DIY pieces and even posters. This is an example of an eclectic wall art gallery with a casual look and a mix of colors, textures, styles and designs

The homeowner filled a gallery wall on the second floor by the staircase landing with vintage prints, Etsy finds and a skull.

Symmetrical Art. Achieve a controlled look with horizontal rows of identically sized frames. This approach is less organic and more architecturally minded.

Black and white family photos makes for a beautiful art gallery collection in the hallway and keeps memories alive.

By displaying artwork on a white wall you allow the elements showcased to stand out more. There are no distractions of any kind and the eye only focuses on what’s displayed on the wall. If you want you can also accessorize that part of the room with matching white furniture.

Larger Art Mixed with Smaller Prints. It turns out you actually do have one large-format piece of art to display above your sofa, but you still yearn for a gallery wall for some of your smaller images. Here is a nice example of how that can be achieved with a balanced and symmetrical arrangement.

The use of crisp white mats unifies a colorful gallery of framed pieces of art. The consistent band of color will also add height and width to each piece, allowing your eye to focus on each individual piece of art.

We saved this eclectic media room for last; it’s an impressive gallery wall that showcases memories of the family who lives here. What do you think, do you love the idea or do you find it cluttered and chaotic?

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