A real estate farmer's dream

A life of farming – real estate farming – has always been a hardscrabble existence.

Door knocking. Cold calling. Pressing the flesh. Talking the talk.

Turning the soil, over and over again, to create the conditions necessary for harvest.

A decade’s bounty of digitalia offers new implements, but the work has remained essentially the same.

But I think that’s going to change over the next year or two.

In plain sight


I say that because an interesting thing is now happening at the intersection of social, local and mobile.

We can look under the surface of our surroundings, and through the noise of the social graph, to see who happens to be around us at any given time, their possible connections to us and others we may know, and the preference signals they emit through their online activity.

In short, farming is getting a lot easier because we can now spot the best prospects and the most connected people without uncovering every rock in the neighborhood.

At the risk of giving you metaphorical whiplash, it’s kind of like X-Ray vision for sales people.


Better tools


Here are three apps you can try now that illustrate what I’m talking about:



Rapportive is a Gmail plug-in that shows you detailed information about the people in your inbox. You can see, for example, that a prospect who emailed you works at IBM, where your husband works, or that she has been tweeting about moving to a new neighborhood before the summer ends.

This is invaluable intelligence. If you use Gmail, get Rapportive. Period. If you use Outlook, you should try Xobni, a similar (though not quite as simple) alternative.



You walk into a coffee shop and can see, with a glance at your handset, profiles, connections and media associated with the people surrounding you. As an active Realtor working your farm, you’re probably inclined to strike up some casual conversations. But now you know who to approach and what you might say.

That’s the promise behind Sonar, at least. It was just released in the Apple App Store a couple weeks ago, so you’ll notice that activity is still very thin. But I don’t think that’s going to remain the case for long, and other apps in this vein are sure to follow.



Gootip – downloadable as either an iphone or Android app – is a just one in a phalanx of “Local Q&A” apps getting lots of buzz these days.

The idea behind all of them is that we can now connect people with question about a place, event or area to those who might have answers.

The real estate application is obvious. If you know your farm, you can deliver answers.

Gootip, like Sonar.me, is really new. So you’re unlikely to see a bunch of people in your farm with pressing real estate questions right now. But again, the larger trend at play here is undeniable.

You’re exposed, too


So this is all good news for the hardworking Realtor, who can now get a higher yield from their farming effort. But bear in mind, this works both ways. People can learn more about real estate professionals, too. Where they hang out. What they do with their free time. Whether or not they sound savvy or silly, knowledgeable or bone-headed.

We all have superpowers out there in this brand-new world.