How to Choose the Best Real Estate Niche for Your Career
Earning your real estate license unlocks multiple career paths within the industry, including lucrative real estate niches. But what are these real estate niches, and how can you choose the best niche for your career?
In this guide, we’ll outline real estate niche ideas so that you can feel confident forging your path through the industry. First, let’s address why you may be interested in undertaking more specialized work: Pursuing a real estate niche is something many successful agents do in order to become an expert in that specific area of the industry. As you gain more specialized knowledge, you unlock greater branding opportunities, which can fuel your business and customer base for years to come.
The bulleted questions below are a great starting point to help you discover which niche real estate avenue best suits your:
- What's your real estate passion - what type of homes speak to you?
- What's your favorite type of client? First-time buyer? Young family? Downsizing seniors? Would you rather focus on investors?
- Do you see the possibilities in even the most run-down houses or have a construction background?
- Are you passionate about sustainability?
Some real estate niches demand additional education and certifications, which you may have seen on experienced agents’ marketing materials. Read on to discover some of the most popular real estate niche ideas.
For Sale By Owner Properties
FSBOs are a great real estate niche because many agents don't want to deal with owners who don't want to use an agent. Check Craigslist, classified ads, and social media for leads.
The trick to turning a FSBO into a listing is simple - visit the property in person and ask the seller if there's anything you can do to help them sell. Prepare a market analysis for the listing and offer it to the seller. Show them what you can do for them rather than sell them on all the trouble they'll have doing everything on their own.
If you're pursuing FSBOs, be sure to have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system in place to manage your leads and schedule your auto-contacts.
Shadow real estate agents while you're still studying for your license, or find a mentor who will help you narrow your interests.
Rental and Vacation Homes
If you live close to a resort or vacation area, why not focus on vacation or rental homes? These lucrative real estate niches have been glamorized by HGTV, and for good reason. Selling a second home that may double as an investment takes a different skill set than selling a family home - primarily an in-depth knowledge of the tax implications that second homes carry. On the buyers' side, clients are more focused on resale, rental income, and taxes than they are on school zones and luxury kitchens. If you're going to specialize in this market, you'll need the Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist Certification from NAR.
Who wouldn't want to sell one house for the same commission you'd make selling ten? Every new agent wants to break into the luxury home market, but it's the toughest real estate niche to master. For one thing, it's a limited market. Secondly, this niche is already saturated with luxury-designated real estate professionals. You can break in, just take a different approach - hang out with affluent people. Go to networking events, join civic clubs, and volunteer for charities to put yourself in a position to develop personal relationships with wealthy buyers and sellers.
Co-listing and marketing are common with luxury homes, and sellers may want to negotiate the commission structure, which is why they’d likely seek out a specialized agent.
Maybe you got your real estate license so you can start a second career flipping houses or work with investors who flip. In either case, it's a great niche if you have a background in construction or just love to customize properties. You'll need to know more than the Pantone Color of the Year to succeed in this niche, but our podcast on flipping houses is a great place to get started. Build up your contacts of contractors, plumbers, and electricians so you have a team ready to rehab your flips.
Specific Geographic Areas
While you're getting your license, focus on becoming acquainted with the different geographic areas in your MLS. Learn the demographics: Which neighborhood has a lot of baby boomers who may be downsizing soon? Where are new schools being built? Is there a technology hub in your city that attracts a well-educated workforce? What about neighborhoods in gated communities or on golf courses? Once you understand your local micro-economies, figure out which area is most interesting to you and the type of client who you could best serve there to hone in on this real estate niche.
Architecturally Unique Properties
Historic and architecturally significant houses can be a great real estate niche for history buffs. Don't confuse unique with large and expensive; in cities throughout the U.S., there are millions of older homes with the period details and architecture that homebuyers love. From Sears’s pre-fab two-bedroom bungalows to mill houses to mid-century ranches with the original open floor plans, you can be the expert your clients turn to in order to find one-of-a-kind properties. While a “unique” home doesn't automatically mean it’s a fixer-upper, you'll likely have opportunities to flex your home flipping skills for one-owner or older properties since some updating will be necessary.
Houses outside of city limits, multi-acre estates, and farms all fall under the rural property section of MLS. If cities make you claustrophobic and you’re tired of trying to find parking, make rural properties your real estate niche. A variety of houses fall into this category, from a ranch on a couple of acres that's a mile from town to historic cabins built in the depths of nature. To make the country your thing, you'll need to know about aspects beyond the home itself, including water and septic systems, mail delivery, state-maintained roads, and the rules regarding livestock near houses.
If you have a knack for mentoring or enjoy gently guiding people through difficult decisions, consider focusing on first-time buyers. These clients come to you armed with other people's homebuying horror stories, and you're the one who coaches them through all the phases of the homebuying process. You're the one they turn to with questions about everything from their down payment to their interest rate to the quality of local schools, and, if you do your job right, you’ll have a client for life. Remember that in the U.S., people move every five to seven years. Run the numbers on that fact, and you’ll understand the appeal of catching first-time homebuyers early!
Seniors still buy houses. Some downsize and buy a condo; others decide they need more room for family to come visit and actually upsize. The reality is that the U.S. has an aging and active population that is still a force in the real estate market, with buyers aged 66 and older comprising 19% of sales in 2019. There's a NAR designation for senior specialists, SRES, that lets prospective clients know that you have the education to meet the demands of their market, including an understanding of ADA guidelines, safety and security, and proximity to health care and amenities.
While Millennial and Gen X buyers want their homebuying experience to be entirely online, baby boomers may want a more personal touch. They will answer the phone, so don’t be afraid to dial into this real estate niche!
You can't actively market to single buyers without running afoul of Fair Housing guidelines, but you can make singles your niche and stay in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s good graces. In most cities, leaning into this real estate niche means focusing on multi-family properties that are close to the center city. Single females are currently buying more houses than any other demographic aside from couples, comprising 18% of recent buyers. Single buyers tend to be millennials, so create a digital marketing universe that relies on texts and social media to get their attention. A focus on green properties with energy efficient features will go a long way with younger, socially conscious single buyers.
Whatever niche you choose to pursue, remember that your reputation remains the key to a successful career. Become the most knowledgeable real estate professional in your niche, then be willing to share what you know. Doing so brands you as the expert in that segment of the market and makes yours the name that clients think of when they need specific services and high quality care.