When it comes to marketing and real estate lead generation, most businesses are obsessed with digital. And for a good reason. Everyone is online, and many online strategies offer a high ROI with little effort.
But there’s no doubt that a personal touch is necessary. Nothing can replace face-to-face contact. It proves a person is taking that extra step in trying to generate leads, build their business, and make you happy. To be successful in real estate, a mix of personal and digital marketing is necessary.
Door-knocking real estate agents may only be received well by some homeowners, but the practice can yield tremendous benefits when done strategically. Often, door-knocking is combined with a well-rounded marketing campaign that includes direct mail marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and more.
With so many marketing opportunities available to you as a real estate agent, you may wonder why you should spend your valuable and limited professional time knocking on doors. After all, your presence will not be well-received at all houses. Why do so many successful real estate agents continue to risk having door after door slammed in their faces?
There are a few essential benefits of door-knocking efforts that you should pay attention to.
Low Cost: Door-knocking is a low-cost option that helps you generate leads.
Builds More Personal Rapport and You Control the Situation: Barring having a door slammed in your face, door knocking leaves you very much in control of the situation. You are prepared with a script that tells you exactly what to say. You have backups for most responses. And you are ready to put your best foot forward.
Provides Value In-Person & Helps You Stand Out from the Competition: Door knocking isn’t a commonly used marketing strategy, but the few agents that include it in their campaigns will stand out from the competition.
Boosts Branding Identity: When you knock on doors, you make your brand identity clear. You show your face, deliver your message, and leave behind your marketing materials. Even if you don’t produce a conversion, you will get your name out there, which can benefit you in the future.
Increases Lead Capture: Your script gives you the words to say in various situations. As a result, you will get your message across, increasing your chances of boosting leads and conversions.
Unfortunately, with so many solicitors knocking on doors today, there is far more hesitancy to open a door than a few decades ago. The reality is that you may knock on five or more doors before you find a resident interested in opening it. You may have to knock on 20 doors before you find someone who will take the time to hear what you have to say.
Do Your Research
Before door-knocking, agents should research to ensure they are targeting the right areas and find potential clients buying or selling. If you examine to figure out your best door-knocking approach, you will have better success when you hit the streets. When cold calling, you should know everything about the neighborhood. The more knowledgeable you are, the easier you will find it to answer their questions.
Research the Community before you start door-knocking
Property data analysis: Agents should analyze the properties in the area they plan to door-knock, including the number of homes, property values, property types, and recent sales data. This information can help agents to identify potential clients who may be interested in selling their homes.
Home Values: What are the average home values on the street? In the neighborhood? Are they rising or falling? What details about pricing might incentivize someone to sell with you or refer someone to you? Look for homes that are currently rising in value. That way, you can entice homeowners by telling them how much their property is worth.
Let's say you have an open house in the area. You might think door-knocking is useless because it's a lower-income, tenant-based area. Actually, that's the best. Going door to door could introduce you to people already renting in the area and are excited to buy.
On the other hand, what if you're looking for listings? If you're looking for a homeowner who wants to sell their house, you want to concentrate on properties with a high homeowner ratio.
Selling History: How long ago were homes in the neighborhood purchased? If homes were purchased 5-10+ years prior, the owners might be interested in selling sometime soon. It's best to target homes that have sold for a premium in the past. They will likely sell at a premium again. It's best to act like you present these strangers with a comparative market analysis (CMA).
School Districts: How are the school districts and individual school quality in the area? This information could help you market and sell homes to young families. The most valuable homes are located in good school districts. You may also find good values in legacy homes that have been passed down through generations. Targeting retirees is another intelligent strategy, as seniors may be desperate to sell to the right families.
Safety Ratings: Is there a low rate of crime in the neighborhood? Use that information as part of your sales pitch.
Neighborhood Dining, Arts, Entertainment, and Transportation: Are coffee shops, restaurants, public transportation routes, and bars within walking distance of the neighborhood? Use those features and amenities to help sell a home for you. You can always upgrade your home, but you can't change its location. Certain neighborhood qualities, such as walkability and proximity to parks and emergency services, ensure high home values. You are best off door-knocking in these areas.
Competition analysis: Agents should research their competition in the area they plan to door-knock, including information on other real estate agents, agencies, and brokerages. This information can identify market gaps and differentiate the agent's services from the competition.
Market trends analysis: Agents should stay up-to-date on market trends in the area they plan to door-knock, including factors such as interest rates, inventory levels, and demand. This information can help agents better understand the market and to tailor their services to meet the needs of potential clients.
Social media analysis: Agents can use social media to research potential clients in the area they plan to door-knock, including information on their interests, hobbies, and social media activity. This information can be used to tailor the agent's approach and to establish a connection with potential clients.
Consider targeting specific homes.
You don't need to door-knock throughout the entire neighborhood. Consider checking on an expired listing or an FSBO listing instead.
That way, you're providing a service that you're pretty sure is needed rather than connecting with everyone in the local market. Someone with an expired listing likely needs a real estate professional to help, especially if their expired listing was also FSBO.
If you only have a little time, it's better to door-knock on homes that you know are open to you. Take a look at property tax rolls to see which properties are distressed. The homeowner may be eager to sell and get rid of their existing debts.
Coordinate door-knocking with open houses.
Open houses can be an excellent opportunity to secure applicants and offers on homes you're selling -- but they can also be an opportunity to generate new leads.
Once you've prepared for your open house with a head-to-toe deep cleaning, furniture staging, and (hopefully) some freshly-baked cookies, carve out time to do some door-knocking at homes nearby. You can invite neighbors to check out the open house, even if to say hi and grab a flyer or a snack, to get to know new potential leads. If they come to the open house, great -- you can chat with them more then. But, if they can't make it, they'll still appreciate the polite invitation and be more likely to take a business card or flyer and think of you in the future if they or someone they know is looking to sell or buy.
Starting Your Door Knocking Campaign
So, how do you get started? Begin by looking at the neighborhoods that you most want to be in. Next, purchase doorknob hangers and flyers, then get out there. Consider bringing someone else with you, too — just for safety and security.
As you continue door-knocking, you'll become better-practiced at it. You'll learn the types of questions people ask and the best responses. You'll feel more confident about your pitch, and that confidence will rub off on the people you're talking to.
Above all, remember to be a human when you're on a door-knocking campaign. It can be easy to get laser-focused on results, but that ends up giving you a bad reputation for being impersonal.
Take the time to get to know people. You never know which lead will actually turn into a buyer or seller.
What should you know about a house before you knock? Take a moment to look at a house online before you knock.
First, you want to know the home value at a minimum.
You should also look up the property's sales history and what it last sold for. Finally, look up the property taxes. They are more likely to be distressed if they're behind on their taxes. Luckily, all these things can be found online very quickly if you know your area.
When you approach people, you want them to provide information on how much their home is worth and how quickly it may sell. It's essential to give them accurate information that has been carefully researched. Not doing so can hurt your credibility!
How much time should you spend door-knocking in real estate?
Like any type of lead generation, you have to diversify. You probably don't want to spend ALL your time knocking on doors. However, setting aside one evening every couple of weeks can be beneficial. At the very least, it'll spread your sphere of influence.
What's the best season for door-knocking?
The best season for door knocking in real estate is often just after a long-dead season, such as the winter holidays. Most people don't want to sell their homes during the winter holidays. However, they may be interested in doing so afterward. If you catch them just as the season is beginning to turn, they may not have been able to find anyone yet.
Where is the best place to find door-knocking leads?
To target door-knocking, consider looking at Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for FSBO homes. You can also drive through your local neighborhoods to scan for FSBO signs. Distressed homes may come up as pre-foreclosures or pre-tax sales. Always be delicate when dealing with these homes. The homeowners are going through enough!
Plan Your Session
Avoid Formal Dress
Your appearance makes a bold statement about your professionalism and success in your field. Because of this, you should make an effort to present yourself attractively. At the same time, however, arriving on someone’s doorstep on a weekend or evening dressed to the nines in formal business attire can be an immediate turn-off.
Make a good impression by wearing an outfit that makes you look professional. But keep in mind that you will also want to stay comfortable when walking from door to door. Therefore, the right shoes are a must.
Body language matters. Don’t stand directly in the doorway, as this can be intimidating. Stand a couple of feet back and a few steps from the center. And whatever you do, never cross your arms.
Tell them you only have a minute. This clears up any anxiety that they will get locked into a 4-hour sales pitch.
Test out times. Generally, the best time to door-knock is between 5 and 6 pm on weekdays and Saturday mornings. Start here and adjust based on your findings.
Choose the Best Time
The best time to knock on someone’s door is when they are most likely to be relaxed and not busy with other things. Therefore, the late morning or afternoon on the weekend often works well in many communities. First, however, you should be aware of the religious practices of the majority of the population in a community, and you should time your efforts around those practices.
You may also knock on doors mid or late mornings during the week. Many people are home now and may not be as occupied with meal prep, kids’ activities, and other responsibilities as they may be during the early evening hours.
You may feel that door knocking will be most effective at night as that’s when most people are home. But many individuals will be looking to relax with their families in the evening and may see your visit as an unpleasant interruption. That’s why it’s best to limit door-knocking to daytime.
Time your door knocking correctly.
The best time to go door-knocking is after 4 pm and before 6 pm.
It’s pretty simple. People come home from work at 4 pm. They relax and unwind. And then they eat dinner at 6 pm.
You don’t want to waste time knocking on doors when people aren’t home.
Likewise, you also don’t want to interrupt their dinner. But, again, that won’t be conducive to a friendly meeting!
There are exceptions, of course. For example, if you’re going through a retirement community, it’s more likely they’ll be home. And if you’re in an upscale area, more people will have flexible hours or stay-at-home parents.
Most people are at home on Sundays but often don’t want to be bothered during their weekends. But, again, use discretion and gauge tone.
Have a small gift to smooth things over.
What’s your value proposition? Well, you could help them buy or sell a home. But that’s a bit distant.
To smooth over the social interactions, consider giving each potential client a small gift to remember your real estate business.
For instance, consider giving out calendars with your name and number in the early months of the year. Then, when they need a Realtor, your name will be close by.
You could also give out local gifts like samples of local honey or jam, but make sure to put your social media and contact information on them.
A gift will go a long way toward making sure that they’re actually receptive to what you’re saying.
Use Proven Scripts
Do you know what you will say when someone opens their door to you? The good news is that you do not need to recreate the wheel. A variety of scripts have worked well for other real estate agents, and you can adopt these as your own. However, it would be best if you spoke naturally and personally. It often involves using a script of just a few sentences that allows you to get to the point and tell the person what you are all about.
While following a script is a good idea, giving someone the feeling that you are giving a rehearsed speech will not yield the best results. Instead, the script should serve as an outline, and it should be delivered in a conversational way that encourages both speaking and listening from both parties.
(hint: downloadable scripts are below, but keep reading!!!)
Be friendly and personable
When you're door-knocking, it's important to be friendly and personable. You want to make a good impression on potential clients, and the best way to do that is by being approachable and engaging. Smile, introduce yourself, and be courteous and respectful.
Keep conversations short, positive, and on their terms.
It's important not to be too pushy, creepy, or take up too much of people's valuable personal time. For example, some people may not want to answer the door for someone they don't know, and others might think you're a door-to-door salesperson and slam the door in your face.
It's important not to take rudeness or abruptness personally -- it's just human instinct and safety. But if people do answer the door and listen to your pitch, make sure the conversation is lighthearted, short, and sweet. You can always give them your card or a flier of the listing that they can read on their own time -- don't overstay your welcome on somebody's doorstep, so they remember the interaction as a positive one.
Practice your door-knocking script.
A door-knocking script is an elevator pitch. So before you even start your door-knocking campaign, you need this.
In a few sentences, what can you offer a homeowner?
The people you are talking to might be friendly and polite, but they don't care about who you are or what you do.
You don't want to introduce yourself with, "Hi, I've been in the real estate industry for 14 years and would like to…"
Instead, you want to say something like, "Hi, I was wondering if you're interested in selling your home?"
When someone opens the door to you, they want to know what you want from them and what you can do for them.
Be specific about what you want and what you can offer.
Begin each conversation by asking if the person you're talking to is the decision-maker or owner. You don't want to waste your time talking to someone who can't help you.
Tell them you're a real estate agent interested in helping them sell their home or buy a home (if you have open houses in the area).
Be clear. Today, most homeowners are inundated by companies looking to buy their homes for cheap.
It's very easy for them to assume that a door-to-door real estate salesperson is trying to sell one of these services.
Your real estate script should address this; be clear that you're a professional real estate agent hoping to get them the most value for their property.
Lead generation has been somewhat complicated by companies sending out large numbers of flyers, letters, and mailers, describing a "fast cash home buying process."
Make it clear that you and your real estate team aren't involved in this.
Don't be afraid to take "no" for an answer.
Let's say someone isn't the decision-maker, or they just aren't interested.
Offer something valuable to them.
If you want a complete stranger to listen to you while you're standing in their doorway, you need to get to the point quickly and make sure you're offering something helpful and valuable to them.
For example, if you want to engage people in a conversation about a house you're selling down the street from them, tell them the house's price point. If they're not considering selling their home, they might be interested in passing along the information to a friend or family member who's buying.
Based on the research you did earlier, you could also tell them about the average home price in the neighborhood, or the ratings of the schools within walking distance, to get their wheels turning about their home-buying and selling prospects. Even if they're not ready to decide today, they'll have your contact information and appreciate you providing them with valuable details about their own opportunities.
It's always best to take "no" for an answer.
"No" is still progress.
You might get a qualified "no." They may say they aren't ready to sell their house today but might be tomorrow. Put them on the list for direct mail later. They may be interested in real estate sales but aren't in a position to buy. You can take their email address or give them a card.
But you're not a door-to-door salesperson. Nothing in your marketing strategy will convince someone to sell their home or buy a home if they aren't even in the market. A successful real estate agent doesn't have to convert. Instead, an excellent real estate agent or broker concentrates on the potential buyer who is already ready to commit.
If someone opens their door, listens to your pitch, and says they're not interested in talking, respect their wishes and their time -- but leave the door open for future interaction. If they're already closing the door in your face, let it be. But if they say they can't talk due to time constraints but are otherwise polite, you could ask them if they'd like a business card or flier to reach out to you in the future. If they say yes, give them your contact information, and they could reach out again.
There are various scripts to use depending on who opens the door.
Your script can vary, and it should not sound too forced or improvised. Look for social cues regarding how much time the person seems willing to share, and don’t overstay your welcome. Avoid pressuring them and thank them for their time.
Here are some examples.
The Decision Maker: The decision maker is the person in charge of whether the family buys or sells. If you are speaking to the decision maker, you should use a slightly aggressive script. Start by complementing their home and find out if they would consider selling. You can further entice them with numbers and stats, but it’s essential to keep it brief.
Non-Decision Maker: If a non-decision maker answers the door, you’ll want to ask them if the decision maker is home. If so, prepare to deliver your speech when they come to the door. If not, leave politely, making sure to give the person you spoke to a business card and a small gift.
If No One Answers the Door: If no one answers the door, you should still leave behind your gift, a business card, and a written version of your speech. If someone didn’t answer, this is a great chance to leave a flyer, buyer or seller guide, door hanger, or business card. Some agents even recommend a handwritten note as a more personal touch.
Have a plan for when they don’t answer.
A lot of people don’t answer. So whether they’re not at home or they are at home, but they think you’re trying to sell them a telecom service, they may not come to the door.
You should be prepared with door hangers and flyers.
Your real estate door hanger should have your website, email address, phone number, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and your call to action.
You may also include references from past clients and highlights of your real estate career on your flyer. Again, it shouldn’t be too long but shouldn’t be too generic.
Encourage them to call you for a free, no-obligation consultation on the value of their home. Many people are interested in knowing the value of their property, even if they’re not looking at selling soon.
Others may be interested in knowing there’s an open house in their area and may have leads for purchasing.
Find Something in Common
A surefire way to get more doors slammed in your face is to start delivering a sales pitch as soon as the door opens. A better idea is to break the ice by establishing dialogue. Consider making a complimentary comment, such as mentioning how nice the spring flowers look or how you love the fall decorations. Then, go a step further to engage the resident by asking what type of flowers they are or other open-ended, relevant questions which can transition to the natural delivery of your scripted conversation.
When a door opens and you have the opportunity to speak with a potential client for the first time, you understandably want to leave a positive, lasting impression. Unfortunately, after the door closes, there is a good chance that the potential client will not remember your name. They may also want to delve deeper into what you discussed. To address these concerns, you should come to each door armed with various materials to leave with interested parties.
When you're door knocking, you should be prepared to answer questions from potential clients. They may ask about your background, your experience, or your agency. You should be able to confidently and concisely answer any questions they have, and be prepared to provide additional information if necessary.
A business card is the bare minimum. Ideally, you will also have a brochure, details on listings in the area, and even comparative market data. These materials help you to showcase yourself as an expert in the community. They also give the potential client something to review and hang onto until they are ready to proceed.
If your door-knocking sessions are one sales pitch followed by another, you are not maximizing the full benefits of this type of marketing effort. This is your chance to showcase your value and present your expertise to the potential client.
By asking questions, you can better tailor the delivery of your script to meet their needs. For example, you may ask questions about the home’s square footage, how long they have lived in the home, and if they have plans to upgrade or downsize soon.
A two-way dialogue could provide relevant, helpful information about a person’s interests, needs and concerns. Of course, addressing those factors directly is essential, but do not feel you need to secure a listing on the spot. Instead, by listening aptly, you can better understand where the person is coming from.
You do not want to push someone into taking action before they are ready. However, you want to offer tailored information that helps them make decisions that are right for them. Consider taking notes after a great conversation so that you can follow up soon in a personal way, such as with a handwritten note.
It’s essential to come across as a person first and a real estate agent second. Be kind and understanding, and use emotional intelligence to guide your words and actions. Thank the people you speak to for their time, even if they don’t want to hear your pitch.
Leave Something Behind
When someone is not home or chooses not to answer the door, you may assume it is a missed opportunity. However, you can touch a potential client even if you do not speak to them by leaving a hanger or brochure on the door.
While some real estate agents may simply slide a business card into the door jamb, a hanger or brochure may be more effective. It may be filled with teaser details that lead to a phone call, email, or meeting request. Even if the individual does not take immediate action, you are taking one additional step to build name recognition and establish your brand in the community. Therefore, it’s important to leave something behind whether you have spoken to someone or not. This can come in the form of a branded item such as a keychain or bottle opener. A business card or flier should be included as well.
The Fortune is in the Follow-Up
After you've finished door-knocking, it's important to follow up with the potential clients you spoke with. Send them a follow-up email or letter thanking them for their time and reiterating the services you offer. This can help to establish a relationship with the client and keep you top of mind when they're ready to buy or sell their home.
In conclusion, door-knocking can be an effective way for agents to generate leads in the real estate industry. By planning your route, dressing professionally, bringing marketing materials, being prepared to answer questions, being friendly and personable, listening to the client, and following up, you can maximize your efforts and establish connections with potential clients. With time and effort, door-knocking can become an important part of your lead generation strategy, helping you to grow your business and establish yourself as a trusted and knowledgeable agent.
Door-knocking should be part of a more extensive and comprehensive marketing campaign. It may be combined with emails, postcards, and other efforts. Postcard templates in software like eXp Marketing Center or Canva make it easy to follow up with contacts shortly after your first visit. You can also send postcards out at regular intervals in the future to stay in touch with hot leads or with your entire farm.
Keep a complete list for re-targeting.
Lead generation takes time. A single door knock isn't going to give you everything you need. But you can start to build a foundation.
In your door-knocking script, ask if it's okay to include the residents in emails. For example, they may want to know when there's an open house in the area or get updated information about the market. If they seem interested, write down their address. You can also send postcards and mailers.
Lead generation doesn't happen overnight; it happens throughout an entire career. It may be that someone you talk to today will call you tomorrow, in a week, or even in three years. But, even if they're not helpful in the near future, they will improve your market visibility.
Focus on Geographic Farming
The goal of geographic farming is to position yourself as the go-to real estate source in a specific community. When effective, this marketing strategy can make you the real estate agent that neighbors talk about at backyard barbecues, and it can increase the number of new and referral leads you receive.
Geographic farming requires you to touch residents in the same community regularly. You can include door-to-door canvassing in your efforts, but you do not necessarily have to. With enough repeated touches from postcards and other efforts, the community will begin to see you as a local expert.
Host Neighborhood Events
Are you interested in finding a different way to make a live introduction with potential clients? Hosting neighborhood events is a great way to get community members to come to you. One idea is to host an open house.
Some neighbors may drop by to get a feel for the market out of curiosity, or they may be actively scoping out the competition before they list their homes. You can also host neighborhood events like the community Fourth of July event, family night outs, and more.
Send Your Neighborhood Realtor Postcards
As your real estate business picks up, time management increasingly becomes a concern. You must provide the highest level of service to active clients. At the same time, you must keep new leads and clients entering the pipeline.
When time is limited, spending hours each week knocking on doors may be impractical. So instead, a great way to contact residents is by sending out postcards. If you live near or in your real estate farm, one of the best postcards to send out "Your Neighborhood Realtor" postcards.
These postcard templates introduce you as the expert real estate agent in the area and act as an excellent catalyst for your marketing campaign.
Dealing with Rejection
The hardest part of door-knocking is rejection. Admittedly, most people who open their doors will not be interested in selling. But those few that are will make it all worthwhile.
Some agents have claimed to bring in 5 leads for every hour of door-knocking. And being that you are going door to door in high-value neighborhoods if even one of those leads turns into a sale, it will be well worth the time you invested.
The doors closing in your face can be disheartening, but it will be easier to deal with if you brace yourself for it.
You must also keep in mind that most people will politely close the door. They won’t act aggressively or yell. It won’t damage your reputation. You can accept their answer and move on.
One agent describes the process as going to the gym. You get out there and do it, and the rest is easy.
Door knocking is an old-fashioned strategy that is still proving effective today. It doesn’t take a significant investment, and if just one hour of your time turns into a sale, it will be worth the effort.