Why Specialize in Real Estate Niches?
Focusing on real estate niches is one of the easiest and cheapest ways for a real estate professional to be found online. The main topics this article covers:
- Statistics that support focusing on ONLINE Real Estate Niches
- Real Estate Niches Examples (Step by Step analysis of how a niche realtor spent a few dollars to get the same exposure as realtors spending thousands)
- The SECRET advantage Google gives to Real Estate professionals that have a niche.
- The top 50 Real Estate Niches
It’s hard to imagine a realtor that doesn’t consider real estate niches as a viable real estate ONLINE marketingoption. But they exist. I’ve talked to them. For those of you that might not believe that getting online OR focusing on real estate niches is worth your time, take 10 minutes and follow along with an online case study.
REAL ESTATE SEARCH: ( All Data Supplied by a 2015 article on The Real Daily)
- In 2015 only 14% of home buyers contacted a Real Estate agent at the beginning of their home shopping experience
- 86% Started their search online looking at twice as many homes as those homebuyers pursuing a more “traditional” approach(this group also spent TWO WEEKS performing online searches before attempting to contact an agent)
- According to NAR, 65% of people walking through a home have already viewed it online.
I need to repeat an important statistic. 86% of ALL homebuyers do TWO WEEKS OF ONLINE RESEARCH BEFORE SELECTING A REAL ESTATE AGENT.
In that timeframe, they will use Google, Trulia, and Zillow to do the majority of their research. I did the same and here is what I found.
ZILLOW agents will get about 50% of those the internet real estate shoppers. Trulia 10-15%. They earned them. They are ALL spending between $500-1500 per month minimum. Those Sherman Oaks Real Estate Agent Google search results? BOTH non-broker search results are cheap out of the box websites with NO SEO. Elizabeth Sells has a single YouTube Video optimized for the keyword SHERMAN OAKS REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST. This video is ONE minute in length and constitutes the only marketing or SEO of any kind on her website.
Everyone else spends a TON of money each month to be on this page. Why does Elizabeths out of the box website with ONE video give her some of the same exposure as agents spending THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS?
The Secret Advantage Google offers to real estate professionals who focus on niches
Google is smarter than you realize. Here is what it ALREADY knows about most Real Estate agents.
- Location both office and home.
- How many times your NAME has appeared on ANY web based platform.
- Google has read every review posted anyplace on the internet, and if the platforms were discussing use a ranking system(1-5 stars as an example), then Google will have an understanding of your reputation.
- Google understands in a very broad way what you CLAIM to be an expert in.
It’s simply NOT possible to be an expert in Los Angeles Real Estate as an agent. A broker with a large office maybe. Los Angeles County is huge. Google understands that. For these very broad searches, Google will send searchers to a place that will allow them to identify what they need or want in greater detail. Typical examples: Real Estate search engines like Realtor, Trulia or Zillow.
Once you have decided WHAT you want beyond a house in Sherman Oaks as an example, you stop using BROAD searches.
Sticking with Sherman Oaks Ca, as our example:
Real Estate transactions haven’t declined. Using the internet to search for real estate has DOUBLED since 2004. Most of these searchers are using highly specific search terms.
Sherman Oaks Real Estate Expert
Best Rated Sherman Oaks Realtor
Best Reviewed Sherman Oaks Realtor
For a FRACTION of what you would spend using paid marketing, you can target a REAL ESTATE NICHE and get better more qualified leads much further down the “buying” cycle. This online marketing strategy costs less and delivers more than most real estate agents spend or have spent to be “generalists.”
The TOP 50 Real Estate Niches broken into sub-categories
- Types of housing
- Types of Houses(Architecture)
- Geospecific (Location)
- Types of Buyers and Sellers
- Special Skills, Relationships, and Licenses
TYPES OF HOUSING REAL ESTATE NICHES
- Subdivisionsor tract homes. An excellent example of a real estate team leveraging subdivision niche marketing is Team Jay Michelle. The team website doesn’t have any blog posts or social connectivity. They concentrate on subdivisions in Agoura Hills Ca, Oak Park Ca, Thousand Oaks and Westlake Ca. It’s a 20-mile square area with 74 sub-divisions. This is a perfect example of a team focusing on a sub-division niche instead of focusing on “Thousand Oaks homes for sale.”
2. Condos | High Rises To be a highrise the building needs to be 35-100 meters tall. Marketing luxury high rise units is a niche every real estate professional in a major city should research. Jeffery Hyland, the co-founder of Hilton Hyland, has focused on Luxury Highrise listings for the last six years I have been following his career. In Feb 2017 when I wrote this post he has THREE listings in highrises for 18% of the total inventory he represents. Mauricio Umansky, one of the wealthiest Luxury real estate agents in the business, listed and SOLD 4-5 units in the Ritz-Carlton residences for a total of 12-15 million dollars over a 13 month period. He did the same for another luxury high rise in the same period. Umansky has sold 2 BILLION in residential sales and has been in the top 10 real estate agents in the country 7 years in a row. He was number five in 2016 with $422 MILLION in residential sales.
3. Townhomes or townhouses. are terraced housing. The term and type of real estate historically reference a time when wealthy families would escape to a luxury unit that had many levels but a small “land” footprint. Today you’ll find townhomes including “stacked” and rowhouses in suburban locations throughout North America. An excellent example of a brokerage building a team around the townhome real estate niche in North Carolina. They have 48 agents listed on their website.
4. Luxury Homes, This is a price point specialization with many brokerages offering training and certification to indicate to prospective clients that a realtor is ready to serve the upper 1% of the real estate market. A luxury home is around 2 million across all markets with Beverly Hills defining luxury as a home that is 8 million +. California has 30% of the top producing Luxury Real Estate agents according to real trends. The Luxury Real Estate agent that topped ONE BILLION in residential sales decades before anyone else did is Joyce Rey. She recently sold Robin Williams Napa Valley estate for 18.1 million and had been targeting the luxury real estate niche for 40+ years.
5.Lake Homesis a community surrounding a lake. The housing itself isn’t a style in many cases, but the amenities such as water sports is where the specialized knowledge is needed and thus defining “lake homes” as a real estate niche. This team in Lake Conroe is a good example. Full disclosure I have worked with this team in one of my past sales management roles. At the time in 2014, they were a two person team now they are a seven person team all focused on the lake homes real estate niche.
6. Ski Homesreferred to as chalets in Europe have evolved to include everything from cabins to stately mountainside holiday manors. If you’re a Realtor that loves skiing and has a mountain community with long winters close by this real estate niche should be seriously considered. Julie Olsen has a clear focus on ski properties. She has made an investment in her website, and it paid off. Julie is on the first page for hundreds of SEO keywords almost all are mountain or ski related. She doesn’t own her website, though. See my post on common realtor mistakes. She’s locked into this website. She cannot switch providers or build her website without significant cost/loss, so she is at the mercy of Real Estate Webmasters. They are a good company, and they have done a good job in this case, but Julie is not in control of her lead generation.
7. Golf Course Homes some of the most exclusive homes in the world have proximity or access to a golf course. In the United States, there are over 2000 golf courses with surrounding residential properties. Pheonix Arizona has some of the best examples of luxury golf courses with homes for sale. One broker has been targeting Luxury Golf Courses in Pheonix Az for at least ten years(that’s how long I have been tracking his website azgolfhomes.com) Thier website claims they are one of the top residential sales teams in Arizona. I believe them.
8. Ranches|Farms| Horse Properties I’ve combined what could TECHNICALLY be three separate niches. Equine properties is a highly robust niche in and of itself. These properties board, raise, train horses and available land for riding. Ranches raise livestock. Farms often the same thing but additionally growing crops as well. All three types of property or niches are highly specialized considering the size and complexities of land transactions. Another term sometimes used to lump ALL of these property types together is Acreage properties. Again full disclosure the team I am using as an example is one I worked with in a past real estate technology leadership role. Dutch and Cheryl focus mainly on a ranch home real estate niche and for as long as I worked with them their business was growing.
9. Ocean Front The dictionary defines this as “the land along the shore of an ocean.” Oceanfront communities include Malibu in California and The Hamptons in Long Island. Oceanfront property falls into the “luxury” category regardless of location. The perfect example of a realtor targeting the Oceanfront Real Estate niche is Brian Merrick. Google “Malibu realtors” or “realtor Malibu” and you’ll find Brian on the first page.
GEOSPECIFC NICHES (LOCATION)
10. (Name of) County. The only time you should designate an entire county as a specialization is if the population is low or the property type within the whole county is distinct. If you live in a county that contains more than 100,000 people, you should NOT be specializing by county.
11. (Name of) city. Many of the top Real Estate professionals specialize in a single city. One of my favorites is Greg Noonan who specializes in La Jolla California Real Estate. His team produced $146 million in 2016 making them #103 in the country.
12. Neighborhoods – Throughout the U.S some areas carry an excellent repute that makes them a good real estate target market. Denver has the “The Highlands.” New York has Harlem. San Francisco the Haight-Ashbury. Los Angeles has Silver Lake.
13. Gated Community is a form of the residential community behind walls, gates, and other security measures. Often these communities have their set of rules or bylaws and occasionally even need special permissions to represent buyers and sellers of real estate that reside within that community. Requirements are high but rewards can be as well, and many luxury estate representatives have spent years cultivating relationships within these exclusive enclaves.
14. Urban Districts. In Los Angeles, the “Wilshire Corridor” or the “Sunset Strip” would define an urban location that mixes commercial real estate and residential housing.
15. Downtown (city name). Used primarily in North America this usually refers to a central business district of a major It is convenient terminology for a real estate professional looking to specialize as there is often a great deal of online activity associated with the term “downtown city name.”
16. Subdivisions A tract of land that has been divided into smaller pieces and developed (typically) into single family residences. I grew up in Morrison Ranch Estates which is a sub-division in Agoura Hills Ca.
17. Retirement Communities known as senior communities or active adult communities these communities frequently have specific rules governing listing and selling property making them a great possibility for a “real estate niche.” Keli McCall is a good example of a Real Estate professional that specializes in South Orange County, Ca retirement communities.
Types of Buyers and Sellers
18. First Time Buyers. This real estate niche is viable in big cities or small. I am linking to a regional broker that has successfully targeted this niche (READ beat Zillow and Trulia in the search results) in Albuquerque NM with a single page dedicated to first time home buyers. In larger cities, more effort is required.
19. Second Home Buyers is a highly general definition and can include many of the niches already listed. A favorite type of second home is beachfront property especially on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. An example of small brokerage that once again beats out EVERY large company for most search results is http://www.beachrealtycapecod.com/. This is both an oceanfront and second home specialist.
20. Investors. This is a broad category but an important niche. In the major cities, you can specialize in specific types of real estate investors. Here is a short list:
- Apartment Buildings
- Condo’s | Duplex’s | Multi-Family Dwellings
- Store Front Multi-Family Dwellings
21. Distressed Properties This is a broad classification. I’ve divided it into subsections.
- REO’s bank owned homes that went to auction and DIDN” T sell. The banks employ individual Real Estate Agents that list and sell these homes.
- Short sales
- Foreclosure – Mortgage holders find themselves underwater, and the bank starts a process called foreclosure. It’s common for the homeowner to attempt to sell their home especially if they have or feel they have equity in the property.
22. Divorcee’s With 40% of marriages in the U.S ending in divorce and the primary residence often being liquidated (sold) this is a delicate but growing niche. So much so that there is a website dedicated to training agents interested in this niche. http://divorcethishouse.com/
23. Eco-Friendly meaning “earth friendly.” There are now certifications galore that can indicate a home is green or earth friendly.
24. Nationality – In a diverse country, many neighborhoods get classified by the nationality of the people living there. Korean, Armenian, Chinese these neighborhoods cannot be found by zip code or city name. The difficulty in pinpointing the dimensions of these niche communities is why they can be a viable area of specialization.
25. Family Structure – Here is a list of household types all of which can be areas of expertise:
- Young (25-35)
- Elder (55-75)
- Growing Families
- Children caring for aging parents
- Multigenerational homes
- Gay | Bisexual | Transgender | Alternative
26. Foreign Transplants | Investors – Certainly one of the growing niches in luxury real estate is foreign investors. Here is a short list of International Real Estate Niches
- Foreign Investors in (Area Specific) properties
- Overseas buyers of second homes
- Relocating workers on temporary visa’s
- International students
- US. Buyers looking for overseas homes
- Retirement overseas
ARCHITECTURAL STYLING REAL ESTATE NICHES
27. Mid-Century-Modern was an Artcurial style introduced in the US with the goal of bringing Modernism to the post-war suburbs. Popular from 1950-1970’s this style of home has increasingly gained a rabid following with modern homes often increasingly significantly more in value than other homes built in similar neighborhoods but using “standard” styles of the day. Paul Kaplan out of Palm Springs is an excellent example of a realtor that targets this niche.
28. Brownstones referees to a sandstone which was once a popular building material in the U.S. Real aficionados of this real estate niche will be able to recite the various locations that produced this material in the early 1900’s. You can find thousands of these homes in every major city that expanded heavily from 1900-1940. Much of this material was used to construct multi-family residences, and in New York, you find whole neighborhoods that reflect the “brownstone” architecture type. You can see an example of a brokerage focused on this real estate niche HERE.
29. CraftsmanAlso referred to as the American Arts and Craft movement is an American domestic architectural philosophy that began in the latter half of the 19th There have been many revivals throughout the years. The style defined by its handcrafted versus mass production quality. As with mid-century-modern homebuyers have driven the value of these homes up over the years.
30. True students of history will understand there are MANY different Victorian styles and even those differ based on global location. To see HOW the classification “Victorian” came into being, please go to this Wikipedia page. For a home or building to be Victorian in North America, it was built between 1860 and 1910. Some revivals fall into this classification that were built later.
31. ColonialsColonial homes developed in the 1700’s. They are mostly two story homes, they are mostly square and feature an entry door that can be found in the middle of the house. Colonials can also include paired chimneys, a pitched roof, and a stairway behind the entrance door that leads to a hallway that bisects the second floor. Colonials come in many styles like Spanish and Dutch Colonial.
32. Bungalows Are usually one story home or cottage. They are limited by smaller square footage and were originally designed as affordable housing for the working class. Rare examples can include increased square footage and second story and various additions.
33. Log Homes Are structures with interlocking horizontal logs. Logs can be squared off handcrafted or milled. Often Log houses are referred to by other names such as cabins, hunting or fishing shacks, ski lodges or mountain homes.
34. Manufactured Housing or mobile homes in the U.S.A. also referred to as modular and factory built housing. Factory-built housing is made “offsite” and installed at a predefined location. Some modular homes once fully assembled are indistinguishable from site-built homes.
Special Skills, Relationships, and Licenses Can Define a niche
Luxury real estate, retirement communities, gated communities, bank owned homes, investment real estate, land and acreage, ranches all these real estate niches can require permissions, skills licenses and sometimes relationships that separate a “generalist” from a specialist. Here are the most common licenses or designations.
34.Seniors home buying and selling (SRES®)
35. International real estate transactions (CIPS®)
36. Buyers Representative (ABR®)
37. Resorts and Second home buyers (RSPS)
38. Distressed Property (SFR)
39. Negotiation Expert (CNE)
40. Sustainable, Eco-friendly housing (GREEN)
USE YOUR PASSIONS | INTERESTS TO DEFINE YOUR REAL ESTATE CAREER
41. Interests and hobbies
- Shopping (luxury areas such as rodeo drive)
- Animals (Dog’s, Horses and Cats are most common)
- Alumni (Ever notice how people can be rabid about their alma matter?)
- Sports (preferably ones you love)
COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE HAS SOME NICHES TOO
42. Office Buildings
43. Manufacturing Facilities
44. New Home Developments (The WHOLE development)
45. Property Management
46. Multi-Unit Rental Properties
47. Empty Lots
48. Custom Homes
49. Retail Storefront Property
50. Niche Commercial Business
- Restaurant – Fast Food
- Hospitals – Nursing Homes
- Department Stores
If you enjoyed this post, please consider checking out my OTHER top 50 posts.
Top 50 real estate memes.
Top 50 real estate quotes.
I created a YouTube Video for those of you that do better listening or watching.
Feel free to leave me a comment.