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

Best Places For Printing Real Estate Postcards

With so many online companies offering an array of real estate marketing products and services, there are a few important things that each Realtor should think about before placing an order for real estate postcards.

  1. What will be the size of your real estate farming postcards? The choices are: EDDM (
    Every Door Direct Mail
    ) compliant postcards sizes from 6.5”x 8.5” to 8.5”x11.5”, 4×6 regular postcards or 6×8 jumbo size ones.
  2. How many farming postcards are you planning to print?
  3. What will be your delivery method: EDDM, manual distribution, 1st class mailing or mail house?
  4. Are you going to use pre-made postcard templates in case of Just Sold postcards or design a custom card with your own message?
  5. If you have your own unique real estate farming postcards ideas will you need any help with design?

Things to consider:

1. With EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) compliant real estate postcards many marketers go with the largest size allowed because mailing cost is the same for all sizes. To offset the printing cost they include a few coupon ads from their local partner businesses. Some businesses have pre-designed ads with ready-to-print files available and some have nothing. This is where you may want to hire a designer for creating a professionally looking real estate marketing postcards that you will not be ashamed to distribute.

2. In most of the cases it doesn’t make any sense to print less than 1000 postcards for several reasons.
Price difference for printing 250, 500 or 1000 full color marketing postcards is very minimal. Prices for up to 1000 postcards reflect for most printers only the time spent on setting up and processing your order.
Considering 2% response rate, sending out less than 1000 postcards may not bring any results at all.

3. Many agents print large quantities of postcards and distribute them using mailing and hand-delivery throughout the year if the content is not time–sensitive, of course.
Some of the printing companies provide mailing services for an additional fee. They usually require your mailing addresses in one of the most common formats like CSV of Tab delimited text to be submitted to their mailing department for processing. This processing fee is charged for setting up a mail merge. If your cards are glossy on both sides the addresses will be printed with solvent based inks on a special printer. Laser printers or regular inkjet printer can’t print on glossy or semi-glossy postcards. Even if you are going to order your farming postcards on matte paper, always request a paper sample from the printing company to test if you can print on it using your printer.

4. Pre-made postcards templates are perfect for Just Listed or Just Sold postcards, for example. For other standard occasions most of the printing companies provide enough templates to choose from. The only time when Real Estate agents will really need custom design is when they advertise a special or unique event like community garage sale or if you are planning to use EDDM cards.

5. To hire a designer you need to choose your printing company first in order to have an idea about the printing cost for the size of the cards you’d like to print. Once the company is chosen, place an ad on one of the websites like elance.com or fiverr.com. Many of the designers on fiverr.com are surprisingly good, fast and not expensive – $5 for the basic project is the standard starting price. You just need to provide them with the specifications from the printing company that you chose along with some samples of the postcards that you like and what exactly should be written on both sides of the card.

Online companies for printing, designing and distributing real estate farming postcards:

farming postcards

printplace.com


the best overall printing and mailing company for your farming postcards, business cards and other marketing products
Services and products:
EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail), postcards, business cards, brochures, mailing service


PrintingForLess.com


Services and products:
EDDM, custom postcards design online, real estate business cards, mailing service


postcards - start saving

PsPrint.com


Services and products:
custom postcards design online, real estate business cards


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!