What is Your Niche in Real Estate?

By
Home Stager with Showhomes

At the recent Real Estate Staging Association national conference, one of the best ideas I heard came from David Avrin, author of 'It's not who you know - it's who knows you."

David said 'The economy celebrates specialists and quickly forgets generalists.'

In my personal business career in both real estate, home staging and franchising, I have always seen companies and free agents take control of a niche and capitalize on being the go-to person or service for that niche. Once you sieze a niche and provide great service, you become unstoppable. I beleive this is the key to a successful business and I have always sought to position my companies in a niche and have found that David's advice holds true.

My current company, Showhomes, is a nationally franchised home staging company with over 60 locations. I teach our people to say we are a niche business up front: we provide staging for larger, more expensive vacant homes that have already been on the market for some time and we target homeowners who are distressed and not in a position to hire a traditional home stager. Because of this, we rarely come into contact with other home stagers and almost never compete head to head with them. We provide an alternative method of staging for these homeowners that allows them to pay for staging on the back end rather than up front and it has been highly successful. Our niche is small but we own it.

I see others in the home staging business grappling with what their niche is or should be. My friend in Sacramento, Lori Polk, a home stager I admire, has been focusing on small to large investment groups who buy groups of homes at auctions. She has a specific staging product for these homes and has figured out a team approach that helps this very specific type of seller. What she is doing for her investors might not work for many other clients but it is working really well for her niche. She was one of the few home stagers I met who was not complaining about the market and really optimistic about the year ahead.

My friend and highly experienced stager Gary Barnett focuses on smaller vacant homes in Indianapolis. He has a type of staging product that is not very expensive and produces a good sales result. While it is much different than the staging we do on our homes, it services his niche really well and allowed him to stage over 100 homes in his market last year.He owns his niche and would be very difficult to compete with.

I know a lot of Realtors and the successful ones always have a niche. Sometimes it is an area or subdivision. Sometimes it is a type of listing such as condos. It can even be on the buyer side working with a certain type of buyer. They are successful simply because they focus on a niche and as David said - the economy celebrates specialists.

Do you service a niche? Are you a specialist or a generalist?

Thomas Scott

www.showhomes.com - a home staging business with a twist

we're expanding: www.showhomesfranchise.com

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Rainmaker
5,468,067
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Retired - Franklin, MA
Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team

Thomas....some folks never find their niche.....I've been fortunate....my niche is new construction.....I've been working it for decades and it certainly give one stability.

Jan 31, 2010 12:02 AM #1
Rainmaker
6,028,793
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Thanks for sharing. The next step for home staging professionals should be to work with the inventory of lender owned foreclosures.

Jan 31, 2010 12:03 AM #2
Rainmaker
76,897
Home Staging
Showhomes - Nashville, TN

 

Roy: I agree! We do more bank owned homes than anyone and talk about a niche that is tough! Business also has to be good for everyone involved and the home stager has to be able to make a profit; if they can't they won't be able to service the customer correctly. Here's a link to an article about our bank work:

http://showhomesfranchise.com/banks-turn-to-showhomes-to-help-sell-foreclosed-homes/

Barbara - stability is a great benefit of a niche!

Jan 31, 2010 12:07 AM #3
Rainer
133,256
Michelle Molinari
FEATURE THIS... Real Estate Staging & Interior Decor - Lafayette, LA
Feature This Real, Estate Staging & Curb Appeal Concepts

Thanks for asking, Thomas!

We have two niches.  DIY Curb Appeal Advice via our Curb Appeal Strategy Package and our Conceptual Staging Services. Of course, we have a traditional staging business that is heading full-speed into it's third year.

Our relatively quick success is a direct result of our niche marketing efforts, and distinguishes us from 99.99% of other stagers in the country.

Ya gotta find a niche!

~Michelle

Jan 31, 2010 12:14 AM #4
Rainmaker
47,676
Nicole Borsey
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Stamford, CT
CDPE | Stamford CT Real Estate

My niche has recently been short sales/ distressed homeowners... it used to be new construction... i sort of shift with the market :)

Jan 31, 2010 01:05 AM #5
Rainmaker
76,897
Home Staging
Showhomes - Nashville, TN

Nicole - aren't those the same thing? :)

Jan 31, 2010 01:21 AM #6
Rainer
253,684
Kathy Burke
Sensational Home Staging~~Danville, CA - Danville, CA
S.F. East Bay Home Staging

Nice niche.....glad it is working GREAT for you!!

Jan 31, 2010 01:49 AM #7
Rainmaker
272,505
Lori Kim Polk
Premiere Home Staging : Home Staging Services - Roseville, CA
Home Stager - Roseville, Sacramento

Wow... thank you Thomas. We looked at what was happening about 18 months ago and started to target the people who were making the money... investors. We really are excited about 2010 because we positioned ourselves earlier than many others. We looked at our bottom line, increased inventory, and started marketing to this group. The people who find a creative niche are the ones that will survive this real estate hurdle. Best to you my friend!

Jan 31, 2010 06:14 AM #8
Rainmaker
305,778
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

That was one of my "take aways" Thomas.  I cannot be everything to everyone but I can be something to someone. It was nice to meet you too!

Jan 31, 2010 03:02 PM #9
Rainmaker
125,829
Susan Peters
Dove Realty Inc. - Seattle, WA
The Better it Looks the Better it Sells

Hi Thomas,

I couldn't agree more. My niche is baby boomers who are selling their parents home. I just launched it this fall and it's the best business decision I've ever made.

Jan 31, 2010 04:35 PM #10
Rainer
100,180
Donna Ross
Room Remedy Interiors, Sydney, Australia - Salton City, CA
Home Decorating, House Staging, Sydney

Hi Thomas,

This is a great post. Times are tough for small businesses around the world right now, so if you can find a way to stand out from the crowd, it's certainly worth doing.

I love the examples you mention here, and it's great to hear from those who've already found their own specialty in the comments already left.

I'm working on a new niche for my own business. Home Staging with Feng Shui because although there are consultants in both, no-one combines the 2 approaches in my area.

I wrote a post on finding a niche market a few weeks ago. It's more of a 'how to' guide to finding your niche. It can be read here.

Thanks for sharing this valuable info.

Donna

Feb 01, 2010 09:16 AM #11
Rainer
4,368
J W
Oakville, ON

Hi Thomas,

You've provided some great ideas to think about.

For someone like me who is just starting out and establishing my company, would you think it would be wise to target a niche market so early in the game? I don't want to cut-off any other potential clients. However, the thought of focusing on Vacant properties, Model Homes and New Construction, I could see myself doing in the future. I don't believe there is any other Stagers in the area with this target niche, mostly, generalists.

I also have an interior design and an fine arts background. Would you think that these skills could be used for a niche market? I don't have a marketing background and am finding it difficult to establish contacts at the moment.

Any advice would be helpful.

Thanks,

Jennifer

Feb 01, 2010 10:30 AM #12
Rainmaker
76,897
Home Staging
Showhomes - Nashville, TN

Jennifer,

I think you have to look at your market and understand your competition. Being different takes thought; at Showhomes, we believe in business that has good fundamentals. That means it provides good value for the customer, produces a good profit margin so we can make enough to be able to service our customer and has enough scale to run a real business.

I wouldn't be offended if you checked out our franchise: www.showhomesfranchise.com since we are not yet in your area and want to expand (full disclosure: shameless plug :))

Think about the type of customer you want to target, decide on pricing that works, not pricing that cannabalizes the market and decide on what is involved to provide your staging product. Those are the first steps in picking a niche. Could be a type of home, a geographic area or a type of homeowner.

Good luck!

Feb 01, 2010 08:28 PM #13
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