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

Top Reasons Why Marketing with Real Estate Postcards Fails For Some…


In our 20+ years in real estate marketing we often come across real estate agents who claim that marketing doesn’t work for them. Often it is not just particular kind of marketing, such as real estate newsletters or postcards – usually they will come of with a blanket statement such as “None of the usual marketing techniques work for my market niche.” Though it can be true for some luxury real estate in 10 million+ price range which requires a whole new approach to marketing, the statement that “real estate postcards don’t work for me” can’t be true because of the nature of farming postcards. It can only be true if you don’t use them right. Marketing postcards work fine for millions of small business owners, professionals, and real estate agents. If you realized that they don’t work for you, stop and analyze what are you doing wrong.

Marketing may not bring results you are hoping for because of many reasons. To summarize all kinds of objections and pitfalls on the way, the main categories will be “not now”, “no money”, “no trust”. When on a first glance all these obstacles have nothing to do with you, an agent, as they reflect the circumstances of your potential clients. Though if you look closer, you’ll see that they are under your control.

If you are sending your postcards to people who just purchased a new home or dealt with foreclosure, your rate of response will be low and you’ll probably hear “not now” if you contact these clients directly.

So, why are you targeting the segments of population that have no need in your services? Be careful when you are choosing an area to mail to: analyze how often people move, don’t target areas that are too new, or retirement communities were people plan to stay for the rest of their lives. If you mail to a regular neighborhood with an average turn around time, you’ll probably hear a lot of “not now” too, but it will be “not now … yet” if you listen closely. Your task will be to educate, form and strengthen trust, explain and stay in touch, provide service such as special offers from local lawn moving and pest control companies, so you can turn that “not now” into “probably, in 3 months” and then “now we are ready.” Be patient and persistent and you will see results.

Many agents mail postcards once into an area and when they don’t see immediate results, say, “Real estate farming postcard marketing doesn’t work.” In reality, YOUR postcard marketing didn’t work because you gave up instead of repeating your mailing many times on a regular basis. It is a proven truth in marketing that targeted repeated mailings are the cost-effective way to create big results. If you do regular mailings of your real estate postcards every 30 days you will increase your business dramatically through gaining listings in that area and referrals through new and past clients. We’ve seen agents turning their business around completely by just sending JUST LISTED and JUST SOLD postcards in the area every month. You’ll most likely start seeing results in 3-4 months. More business you get, more money you’ll be able to invest in your marketing which will bring even more results. It doesn’t take a CPA certification to see that with volume pricing for real estate farming postcards it makes sense to print 2,000-3,000 postcards for repeated mailings instead of 10 orders of 200-300.

You’ve probably heard an objection “we can’t afford to move” from your clients when in reality they can’t afford to stay. It is your job to analyze their particular situation and come up with solutions. The best real estate agents are educators at heart and very patient ones. If you concentrate all your marketing efforts on pushy sales tactics and boasting your achievements, you’ll see less results than an agent who puts his clients needs first and it is reflected in his/her marketing. Try to be a problem solver rather than a bragger, and you will slowly earns your clients’ trust. Volunteer in your community and advertise community events through your postcards. Offer free maintenance tips and staging consultations. Print coupons for local coffee shop instead of promoting your latest sales award. Show your clients that a small increase in interest rates may price them out of the market for good if they don’t act now. Basically, “show them the money” when they don’t even know where to look and be their best advocate.

One of the other common causes that your marketing with real estate postcards doesn’t work is that you loose your clients’ trust when you don’t communicate clearly. While a guide to creating postcard advertising that works is a whole new topic in itself, we should mention that it all starts with a clear message. You only have a fraction of a second to grasp and keep your prospect’s attention. If your farming postcard is cluttered with multiple competing messages, images and information, you will most likely loose them without delivering your main idea or offer. Examine your postcard closely. Ideally, there should be only one clear message that should occupy 20% of the space and be short and bold. Anything that slows down your reader, clutters the postcard with unnecessary details should be taken out. You are better providing these details on your website through the QR code printed on the postcard – it will serve dual purpose of keeping your message clear and bringing additional traffic to your website.


Buyer’s remorse or seller’s cold feet is more than buzz-word – it is a reality that you, as a real estate agent, have to deal with on day-to-day basis. People are afraid of loosing (money or family home that holds so many memories of happy days) and that feeling may be stronger then desire to buy a new home that will benefit them in the years to come. You’ve been in their shoes too, even when it involves a much lesser purchase than real estate. Your job is to understand and help them overcome their fears by clearly communicating the process and all its pitfalls without sugar-coating the truth. Trust is strengthened when you help them avoid and solve the problems, not mask them and pretend that they don’t exist. You can’t build trust out of thin air.

Your postcard marketing should be those drops of earned trust that fill the ocean over the years, with one good advice and deed after another. Your community involvement and volunteer work, help when its needed, and desire to answer questions are the building blocks of trust that make you “their friend in real estate” over the years. You can’t achieve that with just 1-2 mailings in the neighborhood, but only with significant presence in the farm over a long period of time. So the agents that try to persuade you that “postcard marketing doesn’t work” during the break near the company’s cooler or coffee maker, haven’t tried it long enough.
They gave up too soon.
You shouldn’t.

Real Estate Newsletter Content And Ideas

If you are really passionate about writing your own content then consider creating something that will provide solutions to some of the common homeowners’ problems in your farm.
For example, if your real estate farm is in the region with humid climate, then you may know that many of home owners have a mold problem.


  • Do a research and find out the best ways to deal with this problem.
  • Find out if there are inexpensive ways like ozone shocking device, for example, to prevent mold or destroy it without hiring a contractor.
  • Write a detailed article on that subject and post it on your website but not include absolutely all information on the subject.
  • In addition to that compile a comparison list of local companies that deal with mold problems.
  • For this you may get a subscription for AngiesList.com and make 3-4 calls to companies from Yellow Pages.
  • Make a PDF ebook with ALL information on the subject, your comparison chart and offer it as a FREE download in exchange for email address and opting-in for your future emails.

Now, order a custom real estate newsletter where you will feature a short version of the article on dealing with mold problems. In 1-2 places of this short version of the article and at the very end of it post links to the full web version of the same article with the words like “For a comparison list of local specialists with quality ratings go to: www.mywebsite.com/get-rid-of-mold/.”
Provide QR code for people to go there without typing web link.
Once clients will go to your website page to read the article they will be compelled to download a free ebook.

In this case you will gain a few things:

  • Client’s email address;
  • A visitor to your website (Search Engines will notice that);
  • A chance that some visitors will bookmark your web page;
  • A chance that some homeowners will share this link with friends, neighbors and relatives;
  • Clients will remember your name if this information is genuinely helpful;
  • Your “neighborhood expert” status will improve;
  • You may get leads;

Of course, you should not limit your real estate newsletter content to the subjects that deal only with home problems.
Besides that you may offer fun and educational articles on remodeling, gardening, or buying vacation properties etc.
By following the exact steps mentioned above some top real estate producers in 2-3 years build solid expert reputation and huge email lists in completely new farms.

The secret ingredient in this real estate marketing method is CUSTOM newsletter connected with the content on your website.
The biggest mistake that most the real estate agents do is going with cheaper generic versions where the only customizable area is the basic agent’s contact information.

This is why you hear from a great number of these agents that newsletters don’t work.

Of course, they don’t!
All of them go straight to the trash.
They have no relevancy to the problems and interests of local communities.
They are not designed to be working closely with your website for collecting emails, providing value to local residents and establishing agent’s reputation as a local expert!
They lack personal touch and are printed in full color on glossy paper which is associated with junk mail.

On the other hand many marketing experts regard custom real estate marketing newsletters and other custom materials as the only way to stand out of the crowd and establishing yourself as a local real estate expert.

During the last 10 years focus of Real Estate farming has changed dramatically from just getting direct leads and referrals from your printed marketing materials to engaging in different ways and levels of interaction with potential clients benefiting both sides.

Don’t be trapped in the old ways of marketing; don’t spend thousands of dollars on billboards or marketing specialists guaranteeing top search engine positions for your website!

The answer is rather simple and it is in front of you – follow Real estate market leaders, learn from their experience and replicate their systems!

Please, follow this link to get more information about customizable real estate newsletters for clients.

Please, don’t forget though that this is up to you what kind of content your newsletter will provide for your clients. Try to identify the most common needs and problems in your farm.

If you are too busy and don’t have time to create real estate newsletter with custom content relevant to your local farm, you may hire professional writers on several freelance websites like textbroker, elance of fiverr who will research those subjects and write articles and ebooks.

Examples of real estate newsletter content:


  • Local Just Listed and Just Sold properties.
  • Every home owner needs a reliable and affordable handyman.
  • Find out several businesses in your farm and write about their services.
  • Do the same about local plumbers (with AngiesList’s rating).
  • Do the same about local air conditioner and heating specialists.
  • Do the same about gardeners and lawn services.
  • Do the same about local babysitters.
  • Do the same about remodeling contractors etc.
  • Write about the most affordable and exotic places for vacation.
  • Write about unusual and unique homes.
  • Write about the best places to buy the second home.

Almost all of the above, besides Just Listed and Just Sold listings, requires research, time and effort.
Remember that if you’d like to take advantage of collecting email addresses from new clients, then work on your website and ebooks first!