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.
Why I don’t farm.
Blame my clients. When I started out in this business, I had only a few local connections. Many of my buying clients moved here from other parts of the country or from overseas. Later, when they sold their homes they called on me.
Eventually, my business grew mostly by referral. For some clients, I became the family agent.
I helped a young family who had moved here from Chicago with the purchase of a home south of Seattle. After we sold that one, I assisted with the purchase and sale of a home in the Maple Leaf neighborhood. Recently I helped the growing family with the purchase of a Bothell home that has enough acreage for the now seven children.
I get around and I like that. On Camano Island, I found a Bellevue family their vacation home. About the same time I helped an older lady to move closer to her children by selling her Camano home. This year, I helped another client for the same reason to sell their charming Camano cottage.
On the Olympic Peninsula, I assisted a German gentleman with the purchase of five acres near Quilcene. Four years ago I listed and sold a real farm near Port Angeles. The latter is still one of my favorites. More than 2,300 YouTube viewers agree. (Click on the picture to see the video.)
Selling and buying homes in so many different areas have produced more than income. It has taught me about local market conditions, geography, climate, business, schools, natural resources, people and their history. For example, I learned that the Fryelands neighborhood in Monroe was once a large lettuce farm owned by the Frye family. That’s the same Frye family that founded the Frye Museum in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood.
You could call me a knowledge farmer.
You can also call me Grandpa. Margaret Jane Ade, September 30, 2016.
This post appeared first as the 68th issue of Gerhard Ade’s monthly newsletter, The View from the Street.