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Target the right personThe days of the ‘generalist’ agent, even in buyer brokerage, are drawing to a close. While some firms and agents do just fine chasing commissions all over town, it seems that in order to really move ahead of the pack, you need to specialize.

Specialization can come in all shapes and sizes. Niches can range from the somewhat traditional, such as first-time buyers, military relocation, or neighborhood specialist, to the more focused fields of golf course living, surf communities, or off-campus housing. You don’t have to limit yourself to the tried and true. If you believe there’s a market for your niche, why not explore it? Sometimes, finding your niche is obvious based on your passions or your community, but sometimes, it takes a bit more effort, exploring what you and your firm do best.

Now, you may ask yourself, why bother specializing at all? First, it allows you to focus your time, resources and marketing on a particular type of buyer-client—be they first-time homebuyers, empty nesters, or people looking for the perfect ski chalet. Your marketing and networking can go deeper without having to be spread thin to all corners.

Second, by focusing, you can devote your time to becoming an expert in your field. In today’s world of organic, line-caught, and artisanal, your client doesn’t want the mass-produced factory standard of a buyer’s agent. They want to feel that they are relying on an expert who can meet their particular needs. If your niche is your neighborhood, you will know about the schools, can talk intelligently about recent transactions, understand the impact of proposed developments and be able to point out area charms that others might miss. Following a niche can also make your money go further. You can focus your agent training dollars toward classes, programs and designations that will build your brand based on your specialty and not just on meeting state continuing education requirements.

Finally, being known as the niche expert boosts your credibility, drives referrals, and just makes your job easier. If you’re following your passion, it will shine through in your presentations, your marketing and your value proposition. You can become your more authentic self. And hopefully, updating your print materials, website and social media will be less of a chore and more of a breeze, especially without bland platitudes directed at the general public.

As we ramp up to the home-buying season in much of the country, ask yourself, have you found your niche? Take some time to explore where you’re going as a broker and as a company. If you’ve found your specialty, it’s not too late to be thinking about some extra training to hone the skills of your agents.

Marc Gould is vice president, Business Specialties, for the National Association of REALTORS® and executive director of REBAC.

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