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Finding Your Niche: California’s Vacation Home Market
January 3, 2022

Finding Your Niche: California’s Vacation Housing Market

by The CE Shop Team

California’s Vacation Homes Are in High Demand

Entering a new year always feels like a much-needed fresh start, and finding a new niche market to enter can be the perfect rejuvenation to your real estate career — not to mention a great way to expand your business and make more money.

Vacation or secondary homes are a great niche market for real estate agents to tap into. During the COVID-19 pandemic, vacation home sales skyrocketed, and vacation home sales rose by 16% compared to the year before, according to a report from the National Association of REALTORS®. In California, vacation homes are hard to beat, as the state’s size and location offer a plethora of options for housing, from a sun-filled sandy beach home in Southern California to a mountain retreat tucked into the trees in Northern California.


Key vacation home markets in the United States
Source: Visually

“One near-certain aspect of the post-pandemic economy, when it comes, is the flexible work schedule,” Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist of NAR, said. “It is very hard to envision five days a week in the office. Therefore, vacation-home sales will continue to move higher, this year, next year, and for the foreseeable future.”

As Americans seek an escape from their homes and remote work continues to give people flexibility, vacation home sales are projected to continue to rise. If you’re interested in entering this niche market, our tips can help you get started.

Pick a Vacation Market You Know Well (or Want to Learn)

Location, location, location remains a tried-and-true principle within the real estate industry, and in a niche market like vacation homes, it's a crucial piece of the puzzle. Narrowing down the multitude of options that California provides will be the toughest decision you make when defining your vacation home location. To help you narrow your search, here are the top vacation home markets in California:

  • Newport Beach - median home value: $2,918,379
  • Joshua Tree - median home value: $390,854
  • Napa Valley - median home value: $978,856
  • Palm Springs - median home value: $614,194
  • Big Bear - median home value: $578,963

Define Your Marketing Strategy

Once you’ve figured out which vacation home market you want to enter, honing your marketing strategy will help to spread awareness of your business and can help buyers find their ultimate vacation paradise.

The best way to build your marketing strategy is to know your audience and what kind of vacation home they desire. Are they luxury homeowners adding another property to their portfolio? Do they want to find a vacation home in a touristy area that they can rent out throughout the year? Or do they simply want a paradise retreat that will allow them to disconnect and relax?

Knowing what your audience is looking for in a vacation home will help you determine the best way to market your services, which will allow you to spend your time and money in the channels that will generate the most leads for your business. Instead of trying every lead generation tool, focus on four prospecting pillars based on your audience and location: 

  1. Referrals - This source of leads should be a permanent part of your business that can feed you leads primarily by word of mouth.

  2. Paid leads -Paying for leads doesn’t have to be costly and can turn into referrals over time, making the price per lead even less expensive.

  3. Open houses - Hosting an open house whether in person or virtually, is a great way to increase your listing’s visibility, and offers an opportunity for agents to answer questions.

  4. Probates - California's probate process is fairly simple. If there is a written will that names the heir to the property, it’s a done deal. However, in the case there is no will and no heirs to claim the property, then there are companies that sell listings of real estate in probate. You can also check county records to find these properties since they’re open to the public.

Once you’ve established these pillars in your business, focus on identifying who your audience is and how you can market to them.

  • For the buyer who wants to earn extra money by renting out their vacation home, consider securing a billboard near an airport or another highly-trafficked part of town.

  • For the buyer looking to disconnect and relax, try online ads or targeted social media ads aimed at those searching for smaller coastal or lakeside retreats.

  • The best way to market to luxury buyers is to get connected within the market and network with other luxury real estate agents. You could get creative and place business cards or brochures at wealthy hot spots in town such as a country club, highly-rated restaurant, or high-end car dealership.

California's Vacation Housing Market

Stay Connected and Keep Your Clients Informed

More than likely your clients will not live in the market in which you’re showing them listings. It’s important to keep them informed and connected to what is happening with home prices and local news that might impact the market. Exchange contact information and assure them that you will connect with them on a regular basis. 

Perhaps you start a newsletter that keeps clients up-to-date on local news and market shifts. Texting is also a great way to stay connected without bothering a client with calls and voicemails. Sending links to listings or even a quick text checking in and gauging interest is an easy and effective way to stay connected with clients. 

Beyond sending a text, calling, or emailing, being available is the key to keeping clients and eventually making a sale. Be prepared to answer questions at any time to show them your commitment and market insight. After all, the life of a real estate agent goes beyond the typical business hours, and veterans in the industry know that client questions can pop up at all hours of the day. Now go off and conquer the vacation market!