Q8. Successful Canvassing

To reap the rewards of the industry you need to continuously market yourself in your area of choice which will result in listings.

Two-thirds of your time should be spent working for listings.

What is canvassing?

The purpose of canvassing is simply to contact prospective sellers of a property with the prime purpose of listing their property to sell. They will want to …

  • Know about you.
  • Know your ethics and values.
  • Know you are a professional and that you work for a professional Agency.
  • Know that you are successful / or that you have the potential to be successful.

If you achieve the above, you will undoubtedly be their first choice!

Note of interest:  Nationally, homeowners buy and sell property every SEVEN years. Therefore, depending on the area, an average of 20% of all properties will be sold in a year.

Therefore, if you work an area of 1000 homes, taking this into account, potentially 200 properties will sell in the year.

However, having said that, the magnitude of the task of farming an area can leave an Agent feeling despondent. This despondency can lead to a fall in motivation, which in turn results in failure.

Solution? Start with a small area, farm it consistently till you see results, then consider enlarging your area.

A ‘farming area”

“Farming” is an active method of concentrating your efforts to obtain listings from a group of homes or geographical area. The basic steps for setting up and working a successful listing farm are listed below.

Select the area you wish to farm & look for the following:

  • a group of 300 – 500 homes.
  • similar properties.
  • a high turnover rate.
  • an area within your home.
  • an area you enjoy working in.

Listing farms do not have to be restricted to a geographical area. Other ways to organise your farm might include:

  • your 52 favourite homes.
  • owners in the social clubs or professional groups you belong to.
  • simples, duplexes, flats.
  • townhouses.
  • lifestyles.

Frequent contact with everyone in your listing farm is the main stimulus to increased listings. To ensure your time invested and to develop a steady stream of new listings, make steady and repeated personal contact and the more you can personalise your act, the more effective it will be.

Listing is basically a “contact sport” so get out and talk to people, develop an interest in them and their area, and they will reward you with listing on a regular basis.

How to analyse your area

It is important to be knowledgeable about your area. To achieve this, start off as follows:

  • obtain a detailed map showing all erf/plots in the area (obtainable from the deeds office or local municipality)
  • mark each erf with as much sales history as possible i.e.
  • date of the last sale.
  • purchase price.
  • owner details.
  • home details (beds, bath etc).

Ideally, you would like to contact each homeowner 24 times per year. Seem impossible? Remember if you break this down it will not seem so daunting. Much of this information can be obtained from the deeds office, statistics from your local network system, property24, SAPTG, Lightstone, etc.

From here, you can get a good picture of the activity in the area.

To find information about homes and areas that you are going to farm, use sources such as friends, walking the area, etc.  Normally you will only be able to obtain this information from repeated contacts.

Sources of Business

  • Expire Listings

If only 60% of homes in average markets sell during the listing period, 40% expire unsold. This concept opens an unbelievable window of opportunity to go out to talk to and assist many sellers who are likely to feel let down or dissatisfied by the process.

  • Private Sellers

The most misunderstood category of homeowners is those attempting to sell their homes privately. The main reason they choose to do so is to save agents fees. Most are uneducated about our services and the difficulties that exist in selling privately. Some have had a previous bad experience with estate agents, and some are just hostile towards agents. The process of working with private sellers is extensive and ongoing.

  • Going over Boards

Many homes may be on the open market. If not, it is an ideal opportunity to find out when the mandate expires. This then allows you to keep in contact with the seller during this time so that when the mandate expires, you already have your ‘foot in the door!’ It is always best to approach the seller directly and confirm that the property is still on the market and offer to assist in marketing it.

  • Door to Door

This means what it says: visiting each property in your area and establishing contact.

  • Show Days

Plan them well! Ideally, you want to always prioritise show houses in an area where you will gain the most exposure. Avoid showing overpriced properties too frequently.

  • Show House Invites

Before every show house, you should distribute show house invitation cards to the neighbouring residents – even if they don’t take up the invitation, you will at least have made indirect contact with them.

  • For Sale boards

Constantly drive through your area checking for sale boards of competing agencies. Personally, visit homes which have been advertised, with the intention of meeting the owners. Do not just drop a card and disappear!

  • Sphere of Influence

Anyone you personally know that can potentially give you business or refer you to someone who might give you business falls into the category of ‘sphere of influence.’ Friends, relatives, social contacts, sports associates etc. Begin with your personal telephone directory – people whom you know well, and who know you, are always an excellent source of referral business.

Top salespeople rely heavily on their spheres of influence to produce a steady stream of listings and sales. They do it with hard work, discipline, and regular routing of contact, and MORE contact. You can share in that success and you can use the same techniques that are used by top producers.

  • Social Media

Social media has become the most successful canvassing tools available to you as an agent. Learning how to navigate social media to canvass and market your properties effectively will give you a great advantage over your competitors.

It takes focus and consistency to build up a social media following but if you are diligent it will bring you the rewards you are looking for.

  • The 7x7x12

This is one of the most powerful canvassing strategies you can do as an agent. It is simply dropping a just listed, just sold, free valuation card etc., into the mailbox of the 7 homes on either side of the house and 12 directly opposite from the house.

The reason it is so powerful is that when a home is listed or sold in a neighbourhood and the word is out on the streets, very often a neighbouring property is also placed on the market within a few days. This is because often then second homeowners are amazed at the price listed or sold and are keen to sell their home for a similar or market-related price.

To really reinforce this concept a three-card system over an 8-10-day period is very effective. i.e. Day 1 – just listed/sold, Day 4/5 – area specialist card, Day 8/10 – thinking of selling card or free market analysis.

If you regularly do this in your area of specialisation, every time you list or sell a home the message of your dominance becomes very apparent and the calls soon start to flow in.

  • Welcoming Visits

Use your knowledge of your area: lookout for a new arrival and welcome the new property owners to your community.

  • Flyers

Although this is the least successful method, do not ignore it. It does produce results (although not as many as you would like), and if you receive 1 response for every 10 000 flyers distributed, you can consider the effort worthwhile.

(A flyer means an easily recognisable leaflet with a consistent layout, colour, logo, catchphrase and message by which the recipient will remember you and your name. This is all you are aiming to achieve, even if it’s just for the time it takes for him to remove it from his post-box and place it in the bin! After the third flyer, your name will be synonymous with real estate.

  • Thank you, letters,

Use every opportunity you have to send people to thank you letters. Make sure that they are in your own handwriting and on Golden Homes Stationery.

  • Passive Canvasing

This refers to always looking out for opportunities – i.e. wear your name tag everywhere, place car magnets on your car, owners ‘upgrading’ may be an indication of ‘about to sell’, overgrown garden indicates neglect and a possible potential home for sale etc.

Never be ‘off’ duty – always be alive to opportunity!!

Putting the above into action:

  • Establish a record system for each contact/potential seller in your area

The best way to keep track of your contact list is to use a computer system with the following information for each person.

Name, address, phone number, occupation, source of contact, personal data i.e. family names, ages, birthdays, hobbies, pets etc + methods of contact, referrals given and results.

There are many ways to make this information work for you. Basically, you should establish a system to ensure repeated, consistent contact with everyone.

To be completely effective, your system should also remind you when it is time to make another contact.

When selecting sources to develop, be realistic, make a commitment that you know you can keep, and select as many sources as you will and can work.

  • Rate your Contacts

When you start your contact list, and as it grows, you will need some system for identifying sources that have a high potential for giving or sending you business. You might label high potential sources as “A” contacts and those with lesser potential as “B” contacts. You should contact the A list persons twice per month, the “B” list at least six times per year.

  • Make Contact every day

To make your contacts produce listings, remind people that you are in the real estate business and that you want their help through business referrals.

Ask for them and you will get them.

Set up a system of daily contact and set aside a specific time each day, say one-half to one hour, to make contact in some way with people in your personal sphere of influence. Do it every day. Just 5 contacts a day will add up to 100 per month, 1200 per year.

That kind of systematic routine will pay off handsomely. Always keep your contact file handy so that you can use it whenever you have a few spare moments.

Contacts include drops, birthday greetings, WhatsApp’s, SMS’s, Facebook post, your business card, etc.

  • Make initial contact with each owner using the following sequence

Out of sight, out of mind: it’s the frequency of contact that will pay off with people in your sphere of influence.

Write a letter of introduction – short and to the point, state you are specializing in the area. Offer them a market analysis of their home.

Visit each owner (introduce yourself and your company).

Send a thank-you note after each visit.

  • Take Action
  1. Follow up on leads immediately.
  2. Send a thank-you note to your source.
  3. Let your source know how things turn out.
  4. Send another thank you note upon closing, or whatever the outcome of the lead.
  5. Ask for more referrals.
  6. Rate your Success.
  7. If your list is not providing as many listings as you would like, ask yourself these questions.
  8. Am I making contact often enough?
  9. Am I working with too many people?
  10. Is my contact list up to date?
  11. Am I asking for leads?
  12. Am I only asking for listings?
  13. Am I following through on leads?
  14. Have I thanked those who have provided leads?
  15. Am I negative about myself or the real estate business?


As you work your farm, refer to these guidelines.

  • be consistent, repeated contact is the key to success.
  • eliminate negative contacts from your farm.
  • follow up all visits or referrals with a thank you note.
  • attend area functions and get involved in the community.
  • make personal contact with everyone at least four to six times a year.


To succeed in finding new sources of marketable listings, you need three basic ingredients:

  • goals for making contact and getting new listings
  • the appropriate materials and tools for developing an ongoing system of contact with several sources
  • a commitment to take action and follow-through
  1. Set some goals for making regular contact with potential sources.

____________ per day.

____________ per week.

____________ per month.

Follow through. Set time aside every day and develop a contact routine that becomes a regular part of your schedule.

Set some goals for obtaining listing appointments (current & future).

____________ per day.

____________ per week.

____________ per month.

  • Set monthly goals for the following:

____________ R-value income.

____________ Mandates.

____________ Showhouses.

____________ Other.

Determine the tools and resources that you will need to keep succeeding.

(boards, stationery, colleagues, etc.)

  1. Continuously remind yourself of the things you need to do that will help you succeed.
  2. Write down your affirmations and say them daily.

(i.e. I am a successful Estate Agent and I sell houses, lots of them. Sellers LIKE doing business with me. I will always remain ethical in this industry and I will walk away from anything that will jeopardise my future. I will earn _____ per month etc.).

Important Listing Notes:

  • People rarely call in or drop in to say they would like to list their home. Successful salespeople land most of their new listings by initiating and repeating contact with various sources of listings.
  • Obtaining listings involves a good deal of preparation, repeated contact, record keeping and persistence. This work usually pays long-term dividends in increased listings and more stable income.
  • People like to recommend good things to others. If you are a capable salesperson, you will obtain most of your new listings by reminding people you know through repeated personal contact that you are in the real estate business.
  • If you want their referrals or business, people must be reminded more often than twice per year. Those with high potential for giving you business should be contacted once a month and others at least 4 x a year.
  • Do not assume that people will send you their business or referrals just because they know you are in the real estate business. If you want leads for listings, ask for them. Then always be sure to follow up and thank people for the lead if you want to cultivate that source for future listing leads.
  • A For Sale by Owner is often a strong-willed person who believes he can sell himself. He often does not believe agents can help him and wants to save the commission.
  • Although some approaches are more successful than others, you will need to pay several visits to the For Sale by Owner before he has confidence in you, and you are able to gain a listing appointment. Persistence however usually pays off with private sales.
  • Do not sell your services on the phone or at the door when working the private sales. He does not like sales pitches and has probably already heard several before your call. Your first goal with the private sale is simply to introduce yourself, begin to develop a positive relationship and offer your assistance. Depending on the circumstances you may also attempt to see the home or get a later appointment.
  • The expired listing seller is probably more frustrated, anxious, and looking for a place to vent his emotions. If you demonstrate an understanding of his problem and a willingness to listen, you will more easily establish a receptive frame of mind when you talk about how you can help.
  • Although the percentages vary across the country, the average home is sold about every 7 years. That is a substantial turnover every year and presents a tremendous opportunity for new listings.
  • It usually takes 6-12 months for the listing farm to pay regular dividends in the form of listings. However, if worked persistently the farm territory will provide one of the most steady, dependable sources of listings in the long run.
  • An overpriced home will stay on the market much longer than if the price was set at fair market value. However, the owner usually feels his home did not sell because of an inept agent or the agency.
  • When you have a buyer with specific interests, you can often find a listing by locating the homes that fit your buyer’s needs, contacting the owners, and asking them if they might be interested in selling or if they know of someone who would be interested in selling.
  • Almost anyone can be a listing prospect, so it is imperative to maintain a regular system of contacting people from different sources and always keeping your name before many people. This will increase the odds that you will be called when someone does need the help of an agent.
  • The five most important sources of listings are: referrals, canvassing over boards, expired listings, targeted canvassing, farming, private/open property.
  • After failing to sell his home during the listing term, the owner is usually quite embarrassed and frustrated. Because he may be in danger of double mortgage payments or delays in moving, he is quite worried and anxious to sell.
  • When selecting an area of homes to become a real estate specialist in, 100-300 properties will provide enough potential for a regular stream of listings, which will translate into a regular stream of income.

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