Starting a Career in Real Estate on a Shoestring Budget


Starting a career in real estate on a low budget is not an easy task as with almost any other business. There are no secret magic tricks can bring a flood of listings and home buyers overnight. Your social connections, friends and relatives may give you positive signals before you start but when the time comes they will not be able to provide a stable stream of leads at best or any leads as it happens in most of cases. All of this means that even before starting a real estate career future agents should do some ground work for their future business activities and save as much as they can to have a decent marketing budget and enough money to cover at least 6-9 months of living expenses.

A less risky way of testing the waters and at the same time learning how to be successful in real estate is to find an assistant job for one of the top real estate producers. As a rule, assistants get paid a salary, which reliefs some financial stress. At the same time the work load can be heavy in addition to other preparations you will be doing for starting your own career in real estate after getting a license and learning enough from the best real estate professionals.

What kind of preparations you should be doing considering a very limited budget?

Select your geographical real estate farm (area or areas where you would like to conduct your real estate prospecting).
Get familiar with most common problems that home owners might have in that area then search for solutions to these problems.
Create educational materials, help guides and a directory of the best reliable professionals that may help to solve these problems. This usually takes time and you may have to do a lot of research to come up with really useful information relevant to your particular farm. Many real estate agents have a practice of establishing partnerships with local businesses which cuts the cost of advertising and helps with referrals to both sides.

Before establishing partnerships with these businesses make sure that they have a good reputation among locals and provide quality service to their customers.
Get your own website with a domain name related to your area (not to your name) and start putting information about all aspects of living in that area online.
Learn how to write SEO-optimized articles. Write as much content as you can for all demographic groups. Your goal is to become the most useful and complete source of information for existing and future residents. To achieve this goal you will need to get some feedback from the residents. Think of creating a neighborhood problems paper survey and hand-deliver it on weekends at least to a portion of your future farm. It should be very short – just a few questions about the most common problems they experienced with their property and their rating of contractors who were fixing them.

It all may seem like an outdated door–knocking but without personal interaction you may never figure out what kind of common problems residents are struggling within this particular area.
It could be anything: rotten decks or fences, leaking faucets or toilets, pest infestation, or poor internet connection, etc.
If some of the problems are common you will need to find effective solutions for them because very soon it will be your farm. By providing these solutions to people you’ll be earning their trust and they will remember you.

Starting a real estate career requires a lot of leg work in addition to mastering all digital methods of marketing.

This leg work is a bit different from the old style real estate farming and door knocking. Nowadays realtors don’t need to walk their neighborhood as sales people. Many top producers don’t even talk about real estate at all with people they meet during these walks. Instead, they focus on residents and their problems offering advice and help.

When they are asked by potential clients: “What makes you uniquely qualified to handle my specific problems?” they answer: “Many of the solutions to your problems are already listed on my website which means that I know very well how to solve them”.

This is the most important fundamental secret most new real estate agents miss: your marketing should not be about you, your achievements or all the things you are going do for you client if you will get the listing. It is all about offering solutions to clients’ problems in every piece of marketing material you send, email or personally deliver to them.
Your website must become an educational center and each real estate farming postcard or email newsletter with real estate market updates must contain links or QR codes pointing to these pages.

All of it looks like a lot of work, research and learning and it is, indeed.
Too often new agents completely overlook this preparation stage and go in the battle armed only with business cards, newspaper ad and a few poorly memorized Mike Ferry’s scripts.

This is why close to 80% of them never see any success even after spending tremendous amount of time and money.
Trying to get listings from FSBOs is another popular low budget real estate trick that a few agents have mastered. Starting a real estate career concentrating on FSBOs can be very discouraging for new agents who lack experience and skills to convince potential clients, although it certainly doesn’t hurt to try.

Real estate prospecting postcards could be exactly what new agents need for starting a real estate career with a limited budget. Printing cost for high quality full color postcards is pretty low and the main expense would be mailing the cards although with the latest EDDM option it can be reduced to only 16 cents per card regardless the size.
There are many real estate farming postcards ideas that can be used for multiple purposes like driving traffic to the main website, collecting email addresses, distributing coupons from agent’s partners, informing residents about community events sponsored by Realtor and participating partners and many more. The trick is distribute not only the traditional Just Sold postcards that the vast majority of real estate agents do but use your cards as a bait for residents who are interested in topics related to home ownership but have no intention for listing their properties for sale at this moment. But they will in the future and they have to know you personally and trust you, so at the right moment your name comes.


These topics may include remodeling, different types of structural repairs, decorating, fixing appliances, landscaping, buying a vacation property or dealing with pests, finding a local babysitter, house-sitter or pet-sitter, and others that may depend on specifics of each community.

When people sell their house, hiring a moving company can be a huge problem for many people who do not like reading a fine print. Create a series of very detailed guides and articles about everything related to the process of selling the house including preparation and moving out and advertise those through your real estate prospecting postcards. This will help you in gaining trust and a reputation of an expert among the residents. Helping people always pays off.

Starting a career in real estate without a big budget requires a lot of planning and tedious work. At the same time having a large budget often leads to a failure because of lack of planning. Shelling out thousands of dollars on magazine ads and signing up real estate internet marketing companies is a very poor business model. You have to start building your real estate business yourself and then outsource some time-consuming tasks.

To summarize, when starting a real estate career you need:

  1. Find solutions to the most common problems in your future real estate farm
  2. Create educational materials and articles based on these solutions
  3. Build an automated website with email-collecting capabilities
  4. Create an amazingly detailed and SEO-optimized content for the website about all the aspects of local communities
  5. Find local business partners
  6. Print farming postcards with QR links to different sections of your website
  7. Start collecting emails via website and your real estate farming postcards

New Life of Real Estate Marketing Postcards

Most of new agents may think that real estate marketing postcards are a thing of the past, but we can assure you that this is simply not true. Savvy marketers realize that postcards for real estate farming are still very effective because people get the message immediately without having to read a lengthy newsletter or flip through the pages of a magazine to see your advertisement. Each 6″x8″ or 6.5″x9″ EDDM compliant postcard is an enormous ad that is placed alone directly into your prospect’s hands. just-sold-1It easily beats newspaper or magazine ads, where one’s attention is divided between other competing ads and offers. It also beats email marketing in terms of deliverability. With so many spam and image filters, it has become almost impossible to guarantee that your message will be seen by its recipient.

Prospecting through real estate marketing postcards is a science more than it is an art. If done correctly, it will give your business a tremendous advantage over your competition that relies on email and social media only.

What are the advantages of real estate farming postcards comparing with email marketing?

First is the limitations of an email list. It will only reach those subscribers who explicitly agreed to receive promotional emails from you. An average Realtor with 10 years of experience will only have 150 to 250 clients in their email data base. Any professional marketer will say that is not enough to market anything in any industry.

On the other hand, with real estate marketing postcards you can reach a much larger mailing list without the fear of breaking anti-spam laws. There are many high quality printing companies like printplace.com that specialize in printing postcards for Realtors at very reasonable prices.

Available delivery methods:
USPS EDDM will deliver your real estate marketing postcards to every house in a specific geographical area that you chose. You may print cards and then hire local teenagers to hand-deliver postcards to certain neighborhoods, or resort to the traditional method of sending postcards to your prospects using a mailing list.

One important point should be made about postcards for real estate farming. Real estate marketing has a lower conversion rate than less expensive products and services. You should not expect more than a 2% conversion rate on sales with mail-in postcards. In our case, real estate post cards serve as reminders of your service and should provide valuable community information.
Bragging about your achievements, number of sales or awards will not develop trust in potential clients. Recommending a reliable and affordable handy man, contractor, gardener, providing free notary public service, organizing community garage sale or offering free golf lessons will get people to remember you. Other real estate farming postcard ides may come to you after identifying the most common problems for the home owners in your farming area.

Of course, there are Just Listed and Just Sold postcards that Realtors love to mail but they are not the only cards that you should be sending out on regular basis. There are a few real estate marketing postcards ideas that may help agents with collecting new email addresses, generating website traffic and referrals.

Three components of postcards for real estate farming.

Textual components:

  1. Headline
  2. Message (2-3 sentences)
  3. Call to action

Here is an example of the front of the postcard using the above outline.

3 Things You Must Do To Increase The Value Of Your Home

Thinking of selling your house? Read about 3 must-do home improvements that will help to increase the value of your property up to $15,000!
To get your free report visit:

www.myRealEstateWebsite.com/3-things/
[QR code and SMS text ID for the above address]

Your contact information and photo should go on the back side of the card with the same URL that is on the front. The URL is designed to have a special and unique ending for tracking purpose. Your website should have a script for redirecting visitors that type in the above URL to the opt-in page where visitors are presented with the first paragraph of the report and are asked to enter their email in order to be able access the full version of the report. This way you will be getting new email addresses for your emailing campaigns, creating some targeted traffic to different pages of your website which Google will see as a sign of importance and popularity, measuring interest of your clients to various topics. As you can see there is some custom automation required for your website. This is why you should not even consider having a standard cookie-cutter website offered by some companies or brokerages. When you look at the best real estate websites, you will see that they are always custom designed and automated. These websites always have a wide selection of automated tools for collecting visitors’ information and analyzing marketing campaigns.

Here is another example of one of the Real Estate marketing postcards ideas for collecting email addresses and introducing yourself to the community:

September 15th Community Garage Sale!

It is time to clean up your garage!

Go to this page: www.myRealEstateWebsite.com/garage-sale/ and register if you’d like to participate!
We’ll put signs directing traffic to your house!
First 3 registered households will get FREE Starbucks coffee and donuts for breakfast!

For more information visit:
www.myRealEstateWebsite.com/garage-sale/
[QR code and SMS text ID for the above address]

As you can see, real estate farming postcards serve as an excellent ice-breaker for you especially if you are starting your Real Estate career or just trying to expend your “farming” territory.


Let’s compare Real Estate marketing postcards with a few other traditional marketing products starting with marketing Newsletter.
To be effective, marketing newsletter needs fresh content for each new issue. Designing postcards for real estate farming is less complicated. You need just 1 or 2 pictures and a headline.
Newsletters take longer to design and compile than postcards.
Newsletters ship folded with content and offers often hidden inside. Marketing postcards are always “open” & deliver their messages instantly.
Only a few people read articles inside marketing newsletters. Real Estate marketing postcards have much shorter but “to the point” message that is read and understood right away.
Newsletters’ mailing cost is higher comparing to postcards.

Marketing brochures or fliers can combine elements of farming postcards and newsletters.
They can be designed to promote a product or a service the same way as postcards but with more textual content. It usually costs more to print brochures or even fliers than Real Estate marketing postcards and with tremendous advances of smart phones, e-book readers and small tablets multi-page brochures and newsletters are being substituted with their digital versions online.

Although there are older people that prefer to read things on paper, you must consider including elements of virtual marketing into your printed materials: QR codes and SMS text IDs. For example, on Just Sold real estate postcards, many Realtors print both of these codes for people who are not good at typing long web addresses on their smart phones or tablets. Both SMS text ID and QR codes can be set up in advance by companies like www.homecellers.com for each property listing or in fact any web page that you’d like people to go to. All clients will have to do in order to get instant listing information is to send a text or scan QR code. If you don’t already know, QR means Quick Response and this is exactly what you should aim for when using any of your marketing methods!

Real Estate Postcards That Work

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Should you use some of the oldest real estate promotional products?

Real estate postcards are used by a wide array of small and medium size businesses, including real estate agents, as one of the most cost-effective ways of advertising. There are other advantages of using real estate marketing postcards over catalogs, fliers, brochures, farming letters, or newsletters. The main advantage is that your promotional message reaches the customer right away with more visibility than even most of the huge billboards along the busy highways. Drivers cannot dedicate considerable amount of time to billboards as they have to pay attention to the traffic. They also cannot write down contact information from billboards while driving and they have very limited time window to read the message before billboard is passed.

Real estate postcards on the other hand, while servicing the same general purpose of catching immediate attention, may contain more detailed information about your listings, neighborhood values, and your services and are already in the hands of prospects. It is true that that vast majority of potential customers don’t even look at junk mail. If you compare a full-color postcard on a glossy card stock with a 4-page newsletter, it is obvious that direct mail postcards have much better chance to deliver the message even if they have a split-second attention span of targeted audience.


Real estate postcards are surviving pretty well in the era of online advertising. Most of the online banner ads now are being completely ignored or blocked by users. The cost of such advertising campaigns on high-traffic websites or among Google paid ads is simply not affordable for small businesses or real estate agents that have to pay out of pocket for advertising before the sale closes while direct mail farming postcards printing and mailing costs remain relatively low. Just having your business website or social media page is not going to bring any traffic and sales to you. Online promoting and marketing takes professional knowledge and a lot of time and money. Even if you will manage to get you website on the first page of Google search results there is no guarantee that it will not be pushed to the bottom by competitors after the next Google search algorithm update.

Farming postcards, on the other hand, are one of the fastest and cheapest ways of marketing. In addition, besides promoting your services and listings, they give you a perfect chance of advertising your website or a particular web page via QR code printed on the card. Keep in mind that nicely designed glossy full-color postcards may contain significantly more information than online banners giving you better chance of convincing prospects to use your services or to draw attention to the house you just listed.

How agents should use real estate postcards?

  • Run repeat marketing campaigns to get new clients by sending your farming postcards to the same address at least 3 times with several weeks interval. Repetition is the key to any marketing campaign. If you are familiar with real estate farming concept (read about it here) then you know that you may expect results only after 6 months of your farming efforts which means mailing or distributing postcards, newsletters, emailing or talking  to the same prospects 3-4 times a month.
  • Plan on sending 1000s of postcards, not just 100 or 200 of them (it is much cheaper per card to print bigger quantities).
  • Promote your website, section of your website or a dedicated listing page by printing QR code on postcards. Smart phone owners will be able scan it using QR code reader app and instantly go to the advertised web page without having to type anything.
  • Rotate your message. Don’t just send farming postcards with generic real estate slogans all the time. Try to appeal to different demographics and interests.
    The majority of people in your farm are not that interested in general real estate topics or want to know how to prepare a home for sale but they might be interested in subjects like:
    – home remodeling,

    – finding affordable handyman for small projects,
    – local babysitters and pet-sitters,
    – landscaping,
    – finding amazing or cheap vacation properties,
    – local businesses success stories, etc.
    (Of course, these are not the only real estate postcard ideas that can be used).

    By providing some this information on the pages of your website you can make them to give up their email addresses in exchange for complete versions in PDF format.
    This way you are killing several birds with the same stone:
    you will be driving traffic to your website because people would want to read about amazing deals for vacation properties or they need an affordable handyman,
    some will bookmark your website or mention it on their Facebook page,
    some will give their emails in exchange for downloadable PDF guides.
    “Postcards-to-Website Marketing” is one of the most effective real estate marketing postcards ideas.

All of the above will be creating a positive impression of you, somewhat opposite to of a pushy sales person.

Read more about different marketing techniques that can work well with real estate postcard prospecting.

Design real estate postcards that work!

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Before starting with postcards for real estate farming you should weigh your options first. The most common mistake that real estate agents make is to under- print postcards and send them to potential clients only once. Even if your mailing list is only 200 or so addresses long it would be wiser to print postcards in larger quantities for two reasons:
1. Your printing costs for 200 or 1000 postcards will be almost the same because modern print shops charge for time spent on a print job and not for the materials and ink – which makes 1000 the most cost-efficient quantity to print postcards.
2. In order to get any significant number of people to respond you need to deliver your real estate farming postcards at least 3 to 7 times to the same recipient.
Different delivery methods may also give you different results depending on the specifics of your marketing “farm”. The traditional mailing is not always the best way of distributing all of your printed marketing materials. For a geographical farm where many of you clients live within a walking distance, hiring a local teenager to deliver 300-400 marketing postcards for $20 would be a more economical way of distribution, plus, postcard that is delivered by itself will get more attention. If you are targeting a gated community, EDDM or traditional mail may be your only methods of delivery.

Again, the important thing to remember here is that you should print real estate prospecting postcards with links to your website’s community information sources. Providing a standard home page URL, email and phone number is not enough. Always design your marketing postcards with some teaser or promise to provide more detailed information on your website. For example, if you print postcards with an announcement of community garage sale or Just Sold postcard always include a line “to register go to ”www.mywebsite.com/spring-garage-sale” or “for more details go to: www.mywebsite.com/just-listed-properties.” This way you will bring traffic to your website by providing a service for your prospects which will help you establish or continue productive relations with potential clients.

You probably heard from some other frustrated real estate agents that you shouldn’t waste money on postcards for real estate farming as this marketing method doesn’t work. On the other hand, if you follow closely real estate marketing plans of top-selling agents, you would see that their business often is heavily dependent on regular real estate farming with postcards, real estate magnets and newsletters. What’s the difference in these two approaches? Why does it work for some and fails for others? As any other sphere, real estate post cards would work for you if you manage to avoid common mistakes and do it correctly.

Real Estate postcards mistake #1: targeting the wrong clientele.

Before you print postcards for real estate farming, you would need to determine your target market which would require some research. Let’s say you want to concentrate on clients that have enough equity in their homes to afford to sell and want to mail them some postcards. It would be wise to invest in a targeted mailing list that will address the certain segment of demographics based on purchase date, age, income, etc. If you specialize in short sales or first-time buyers, you would have different criteria for your mailing list.

Real Estate farming postcards mistake #2: your message is not clear.

When you are choosing the best real estate marketing postcard ideas to your “farm”, keep in mind that you have only few seconds to capture the attention of your audience. Spend extra time on “cleaning up” your message so that nothing distracts from your point and concentrate on how you can help your clients to solve a specific problem—not on listing all your sales awards and designations. The images that you use in your marketing postcards should support your message and be interesting and captivating.

Real Estate postcards mistake #3: your message is not consistent.


When you are committing to long-term marketing, you can’t just contact your prospective clients once and expect the avalanche of business referrals. The same as with great television commercials, your message should be seen several times to be remembered. Repeating yourself is the key to establishing relationship with your clients—here your investment in 1000 postcards for real estate farming will pay for itself. Mail 200 postcards five times to the same list and your efforts would bring results. Mail 200 postcards ten times a year after you print 2000 postcards, and your marketing will bring even more results. It’s the numbers game, as everything in real estate, – remember that when you decide on the quantity of your real estate postcards!

Real Estate farming postcards are proven, cost-effective marketing tool when used with a clear message, easy-to-read contact information and smart call-to-action. Postcards work the best when you send them on regular basis using the same mailing list. Your recipients should see your contact information and QR code right away. They easily can go directly to your website via smart phone app, call or email you without spending additional time and effort. New large format EDDM-compliant Just Listed and Just Sold real estate postcards can be effectively used for targeting surrounding neighborhoods for a fracture of the cost of the traditional mailed postcards. Learn how to use this money-saving line of real estate promotional products to move ahead of your competition!