What is it about your offering that makes you stand out among the hundreds -- even thousands -- of agents you compete with in your market for mind share and opportunity?
Very often agents can't articulate their unique value proposition, and the reason is clear. Rather than focusing on a specialization, agents are casting a very broad net, hoping to earn ANY business from ANY source.
While this may seem smart in the short term, it hurts them in the long run. Let's look at the benefits of specialization, talk about a few specialties to consider, and what you’ll need to do in order to maximize your potential in terms of production and earnings.
So why specialize or choose a real estate niche? By doing so you’ll be better able to:
- Promote your expertise. Just like physicians, agents who promote themselves as specialists within a segment of the market are more highly regarded and valued for the knowledge and experience they possess. The result? You’ll earn more money. That’s a fact.
- Target your specific message to a more specific audience. Once you are clear on the “what” and “who” you can focus on the “where.” Whether it’s online, in print, or in person, look to place, promote and push to the places where your intended clients are likely to be found.
- Earn more referrals. We have seen business referred to agents who specialize in equine farms, waterfront property, and working with investors. Why? Because it wasn’t in the client’s best interests for just any agent to “practice” on them and these were segments of the market the referring agent had no intention of focusing on. Smart agents will seek other specialists to refer to, so promote yourself well and build that network.
Before you choose your niche or “pick a lane”, consider:
- Who is my ideal client? Set aside any limiting beliefs and imagine that you will absolutely be successful within your chosen specialization. Get super specific. Let’s assume you say sellers. What kind of sellers? First time who will move up? Downsizers who will move away? What are they selling? Condos, single family homes? Where are these homes located? What is the price point? Prospecting, social media and marketing activities will be determined by WHO it is you want to attract and work with, so the more specific you are, the better off you will be.
- What are my interests? What do I care about? We know dozens of agents who have built their very successful businesses around the things they love to do and the things they care deeply about. Some are boaters and some ride Harleys; they are the go-to agents among their crowd. Some are investors and rehabbers themselves and they understand what others want and need. I also know of an agent who felt compelled to help low-income inner city families realize their dream of home ownership, and she made this a mission within her church and community. The point is this: your authentic enthusiasm will be apparent and will make it easy for you to gain validity and trust among those you share common interests with.
- What opportunities exist in my market? Can I find a fill a void? Every smart, strategic business owner seeks to understand what other are -- and AREN’T doing. What can you offer as a specialization that others may be overlooking? What are the changes you are seeing in your marketplace? An aging population? More new construction? New businesses and industries moving in? Each may clue you into where your efforts should be directed in order to stand out among others.
- What is sustainable? What can I build upon? Remember when the bubble burst and agents were clamoring to become distressed property and short sale experts? For a while it was lucrative, but when the economy improved there was less opportunity for listings and fewer buyers searching. Those who put all of their eggs in that basket needed to quickly adjust their sails and reinvent themselves. Think long-term with your specialization and make it a piece of what you do, perhaps not the only thing you do.
A few specializations to consider and tips to maximize your opportunity:
- Exclusive Buyer Specialist. Some agents simply prefer to work with buyers; digital prospecting and social media marketing is now making it easy for them to promote this specialization and their local market expertise. Who needs to rely upon sign calls when you can target thousands of potential home buyers on Facebook and by leveraging Relola? A few tips and ideas that can help you:
- Consider the type of buyer you are looking for, and offer a unique solution to what they may be experiencing as a barrier to purchasing. Financing? Little inventory? Let them know you'll help.
- Make sure you are always including a compelling call to action in your posts, emails, and in print. You want them to call, text or write as a result of the message you share.
- Preview as much of the inventory you’d like to sell every week and publish your insights at Relola. Then boost and promote to your target audience!
- Make yourself available to listing specialists who don’t have teams but need a great agent to refer to. The fact is, many don’t want to work with buyers and will happily provide you with leads in exchange for a referral fee.
- Luxury Home Marketing and Sales. “Luxury” indicates that a home is offered at a price and with amenities that far exceed what is typical in a market. Many agents are attracted to this specialization because of what they stand to earn from the transaction, but there are several things you must consider:
- Are there enough sellers and buyers in your area for this niche to make financial sense? A recent review of trends in a Midwest market showed that median priced single family homes were literally flying off the shelves but there was 26 months of luxury inventory available! Do you want to list homes, or sell them?
- Are you ready, willing and able to provide the expected level of marketing and promotion this specialization will require? What’s typical for the average home won’t cut it here. Consider the costs associated with aerial/drone photography, high quality video, special events, print media and more. Get aligned with the right people and service providers now -- before you need to call upon them. Plan to invest in professionally created materials and presentations that show exactly what you intend to do for the luxury clients you intend to attract.
- Seniors, Boomers, 55+ - Times have changed. The needs and wants of this demographic of sellers and buyers are unique. Agents who successfully work within this specialization commit to providing additional services and benefits to make transitions and transactions easier. Is this niche sustainable? You bet! Here are a few tips:
- Earn a designation that will allow for greater competency as well as more agent to agent referral opportunities.
- Study their behavior. NAR’s 2016 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report is a great place to start, and it’s free. Download it here.
- Get into relationship with the right people. Elder law and estate attorneys. Admissions counselors at assisted living centers. Sales people at 55+ communities. Other small business owners who specialize in working within this demographic. Each is in the position to refer!
- Form your own networking group with the folks listed above - you’re all looking to provide services to the same group of people!
- Your prospecting and marketing may require a more personal “belly to belly” approach; consider your social media and digital prospecting carefully.
Specialization allows for a target audience, a targeted message, and the promotion of your unique value proposition. The beauty of this business is that you get to define who you want to be and how you want to work. Be strategic in your plan and think long term. You’re certain to develop greater clarity and work more purposefully.