Why I’m Not Farming.
The first time I heard about real estate farms was some 15 years ago. A farm, I was told, was a neighborhood that is dominated by one real estate agent. Thanks to a regular trickle of direct mail and other cultivation of the local homeowners, the farming agent would get a listing. Follow-ups with “just-sold” flyers and “what’s-your-home-worth” door knob hangers would lead to listing presentation and more listings. Eventually, the agent’s ubiquitous for-sale signs told everybody who was boss in the neighborhood.
There are still farmers.
Farms do still exist but, based on my observations, there are fewer now than 10 years ago. Curious, I researched how well homeowners were being served by a particular farming agent. Not as well as I thought and not as well when compared to the total of the occasional listing agents in the same neighborhood.
How many days did it take to sell (from listing to contract)? For how much did the homes sell versus the listing price? On both measures, the occasional listing agents did better for their sellers than the farming agent. Admittedly, this was a small sampling, but I believe that eventually the farming agent no longer had to work as hard as the occasional listing agent who had more to prove. So much for real estate farms.
Why are there fewer real estate farms?
In a word, accessibility. The Internet has opened eyes and invites comparisons. It is a breeze for buyers to search for homes on the Web. There is plentiful online neighborhood data and blogs to get informed. For the same reason, it is much easier for a real estate agent to list homes in different cities and zip codes. However, driving the neighborhood, chatting up the neighbor in the driveway, and learning from the seller are still prerequisites for a successful listing.