Growing a successful real estate business takes time, effort and money. It can take agents decades to dominate a neighborhood or local area, but when they do, they become the go-to person if you want your house to sell.

These days, digital marketing lets you develop your real estate business faster — and often cheaper — than growing it through old-fashioned grunt work.

While face time at social events is still important, agents of all ages are leveraging technology and social media towards developing their business and increasing their client lists.

So how do you become the agent everyone thinks of when they decide to sell their house or purchase a new one? Follow these tips to become your local neighborhood expert in real estate.

Work Where You Live

Focus your efforts in the neighborhood around you. It makes the most sense: You know all about the neighborhood, its geography and what's it like in general because you live there.

Be a Numbers Insider

When it comes to selling houses, numbers matter, and they offer valuable information to real estate agents. Run all your brokerage reports and multiple listing services every month so you know exactly what's going on, including what's up for sale, what's recently sold, demographics and other important public data. Collect and document as much primary data as you can — which you can get from talking to neighbors — and use that knowledge to help you sell houses. People will begin to seek you out once they realize how informed you are about neighborhood specifics.

Be Helpful and Active on Social Media But Not Sales-y

Maintaining a Facebook page and community website is a great way to get your name out there and well-known. Always appear pleasant and available for questions. Act as a valuable resource, so that someone who's interested in buying or selling can seek you out for advice. The goal is to be helpful and full of answers but not too pushy with sales.

Visit Every Home You Can

When people call your office, you want to be able to say: “I know that house.” When you go to open houses, take notes on floor plans and other details. The more knowledgeable you are about standout features or major drawbacks, the more you'll be seen as an expert with an extra edge.

Hire a Virtual Assistant

It's well-known that missed calls are bad for business. This is where a virtual receptionist is useful for real estate agents, who are often out in the field, attending open houses, showing off homes to potential buyers and attending closings. A virtual receptionist can forward calls, take messages and ensure that any new or existing clients who contact you speak to a real, live person instead of voicemail.

When you put these tips for growing your real estate business into practice, you can help ensure your business is successful and become the most well-known agent in your neighborhood.