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Finding the Right Niche

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RISMEDIA, August 20, 2008-In addition to technology and networking, many real estate agents are perfecting their business strategies by focusing in on a particular niche within the business. For Karen Hoff, working with historic homes was a concept that came easy. “I gravitated toward old houses from day one,” she says. Here, meet Hoff and learn how her team is capitalizing on their niche market in Tennessee.

Karen Hoff
The Karen Hoff Team
Historic & Distinctive Homes

Years in real estate: 23
Years as an agent team: Since 1999
Number of team members: 8; one closing coordinator, five buyer’s agents and two personal assistants
Region served: Davidson County and other counties surrounding Nashville, Tennessee

I formed an agent team…by first hiring a closing assistant and then a buyer’s assistant. As I got bigger, I realized I could get listings full time and make beautiful brochures and do all the things needed to sell houses if I had help servicing buyers. So basically I started a team so that I could service clients better than I could as one person. It’s kind of like a football team. One person can’t play football.

When and why did you develop your historic homes’ niche?

I gravitated toward old houses from day one. Old houses are not easy to sell-there are all kinds of issues that need to be addressed by someone like me who knows all about old houses. Then a few years ago, I took a class from the National Preservation Association and really learned to appreciate historic homes more. Also, I was a history major in college so it all just sort of fell together.

How has this given you a competitive advantage?

There are very few people who really know old houses. When I got started, I was the only one. I was the authority. So it always helps to be the one who people turn to when dealing with antique houses.

Are you still focusing on this niche given the more challenging real estate environment?

When you have a niche like this, you stay with it no matter what. But also in our niche we really didn’t go backward like the rest of the market. We had a slight bump backward but that was it. It’s just not as devastating. The fact is, older houses hold their value better than newer ones. They do need lots of love and affection unlike a new house that you can do light maintenance on and be done with.

How do you market this niche?

We market with tons of Internet advertising. I think you should have some print media, too, so I rotate and then I do some television. I also do a lot of good, old-fashioned open houses and old-fashioned brochures so people can grab a brochure in the middle of the night and text message any questions. I think text messaging in this environment is really important.

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