As a commercial real estate broker, consistently dedicating yourself to canvassing real estate is key to your success.
Every successful commercial real estate broker has a solid canvassing plan in place to ensure that they’re always generating real estate leads, and therefore a steady stream of work, no matter the season.
Below are our canvassing tips to ensure that you’re winning new business all year long—including how you can
Canvassing Real Estate
“Canvassing” has two high-level meanings.
In one sense, it is a verb that means literally covering a physical surface with a canvas.
At a less-literal level, it means engaging a group of people directly to extract something from them in return.
Most commonly, we see canvassing in politics.
Politicians running for office look to gather opinions and information from voters to inform campaign strategies. Others look to gather money for fundraising purposes. Some might simply solicit general feedback from residents.
Canvassing is also very prominent in real estate—notably for residential and commercial brokers.
What is canvassing in real estate?
Again, consider the idea of both “covering an area” and soliciting information.
For brokers, “canvassing” means focusing on a specific market and engaging with property owners to discover where potential new business lies.
Similar terms that you’ll see in the industry are “real estate farming,” and more holistically, of course, “real estate prospecting.”
Real estate canvassing is simply a specific type of broker prospecting, focused more on proactive lead generation.
For residential agents, that usually means hitting the streets and knocking on doors.
In commercial real estate, however, the idea of canvassing is quite different.
Why? Because knocking on a door will almost never get you to the property owner (unless you happen to be at an owner-occupied business property).
Still, canvassing properties—and connecting with owners off-market—can be a gold mine for commercial brokers.
Below, we’ll show you why that’s the case, with some tips to help you ensure you’re crushing your prospecting efforts all year long.
Canvassing Tips for Commercial Brokers
Canvassing real estate successfully starts with acquiring a list of high-quality leads in your market.
In the digital era, undertaking research on new leads is far more efficient than it was for the old-school commercial real estate broker.
Even if you did plan to take your outreach to the streets and knock on doors, your means of generating a leads list should not also rely on you physically traveling to county recorders or anywhere else to gather information on property owners.
You can use property intelligence platforms like Reonomy to connect directly with owners likely to sell off-market, or use listings websites like LoopNet to find properties actively for sale—or listings on the verge of expiring.
Tip #1: Pick your niche.
As a broker, picking a niche will supercharge your canvassing techniques.
Co-working spaces, for example, are an up-and-coming commercial real estate trend that many new brokers are turning to.
Alternatively, you might like to focus on the world of retail as other agents continue to shy away from it.
Multifamily and industrial properties remain the stronghold of many markets nationwide.
Whatever the case may be, “niching” is one of the most effective canvassing tips when it comes to securing business quickly and regularly.
It helps streamline your canvassing and marketing efforts, and helps establish you as an expert in a particular asset type or geography (or both)—so you can be known as the “go-to warehouse broker in North Philadelphia,” for example.
Using listings platforms, you can search for properties across a number of different markets and asset types, though you’ll only be able to see properties currently listed for sale.
As a commercial real estate broker, you will be up against strong competition as every broker will be targeting the same lucrative leads on the market.
In contrast, the Reonomy Platform allows you to search for off-market properties based on asset type, location, sales history, debt history, ownership, and more.
This is why we recommend brokers always go beyond the standard listings platforms, which only list current properties for lease or sale on the market.
By using off-market tools like Reonomy, you can source off-market properties hidden from the competition.
You can also use Reonomy to find out more about the property market and promising seller leads for cold canvassing.
You can use our platform to run searches based on how long someone has held a property. The longer the property has been held, the more likely they will be to sell.
Tip #2: Call Owners Before Meeting Them
As a broker, one of the best ways to find new listings is by building your connections with local companies and people in your area of business by cold calling.
Forming personal connections with people will open you up to new clients immediately.
Meeting prospects face to face helps you to establish a feeling of warmth far more easily than a brochure or email.
So, why not just call property owners directly, with a well-built, insight-laden pitch that’s very specific to that owner’s portfolio.
You can quickly build trust and rapport with prospects by showing a genuine interest in them and their needs, and by providing clear value to them.
Use your initial meetings to establish yourself as a friendly and reliable expert concerned with meeting their needs.
In your first encounters, focus on finding out more about them and their business.
To do this, use open-ended questions that help you find out more about their business, commercial real estate pain points, and how you may be able to help them.
For example, you may ask them how their current property is meeting their business needs.
If you have any relevant material, such as e-newsletters or blog posts that tackle any issues they mention, provide value by directing them towards your content.
Tip #3: Always follow up.
Successful canvassing techniques are all about the follow up, because it’s imperative to nurture relationships with owners—especially when considering off-market owners that might be on the fence about selling their asset(s).
After your initial meeting, continue to nurture relationships with prospects by showing an interest in their business and providing them with clear value.
Take the time to develop a relationship with potential prospects before you offer your services to them.
You can keep yourself at the forefront of your prospects minds by continuing to visit them in person, sending them your newsletter regularly, and helping them to address any pain points through email, or in person.
Tip #4: Have allotted time for canvassing.
If one thing is for sure with regards to canvassing and outreach, it’s that persistence is key.
The commercial real estate market is always rich with potential opportunities for brokers.
However, the best canvassing tips will be wasted without persistence.
The successful canvassing of real estate requires you to weave your chosen canvassing techniques into your daily efforts.
But it’s absolutely crucial to allot specific chunks of time out for canvassing.
With a persistent approach, you can ensure that new business is always just around the corner.
You should set aside time every week to canvas the area. Take a look at your schedule and carve out a set number of hours each week when you can canvas the area you’ve mapped out.
Hop into Reonomy and run a quick map area search to find prospects.
Mark your cold canvassing time clearly on your weekly calendar and commit to working the pavement every week to quickly build business in your target neighborhoods.
From there, it’s also helpful to allot time for following-up. The more structure, the better, when it comes to reaching out to owners.
Fool-Proof Canvassing Techniques
The temperamental commercial real estate market can be mastered by weaving effective canvassing techniques into your weekly schedule.
Using our canvassing tips, you can build up a steady stream of work to ensure you have a steady stream of business all year round.
You can use Reonomy and online commercial real estate listings sites to help you compile a list of promising leads to transform into listings.
Interested in sourcing new leads for cold canvassing with a free trial of Reonomy? Begin today.