I have several clients who are niching their businesses HARD. I've been preaching "niche, niche, niche!" for years, but there's nothing like a tough market to make that niching come to the surface. For those of you who are still looking for a niche in your own market, I want to share some ideas from my current clients...
Super Senior Services
Diana Beam of SmoothMovesForSeniors.com specializes in helping senior citizens and their children with "RightSizing®” their lives. Her reach goes well beyond the real estate portion of her full line of senior services. This long-time Indiana Realtor has joined her real estate savvy with her over 20 years of work protecting and assisting senior citizens in a variety of capacities.
"This market is growing and needs special attention," says Diana, "and I'm working to build a system to help other real estate agents help seniors in their own geographic areas." The project, SmoothMovesForSeniors.net, is a whole new business model for the real estate industry and is currently in beta-test mode. (She is currently accepting a limited number of beta testers.) Diana's interviews have been an activity flurry lately as the idea of this new niche is beginning to emerge and the media is beginning to take note.
"I work with the families and with the seniors to make sure that the transitions that are needed are what's best for all parties," says Diana, "sometimes this involves reviewing all the options, sometimes it's a matter of helping them to make changes in their existing home to facilitate aging-in-place, and other times it involves a complete lifestyle shift."
Whatever is needed, Diana works "hands-on" through the entire "RightSizing®" process to free up the family and the individual. "I help them to look forward, rather than looking back and so many of my clients are amazed that they enjoy not being tied to their old way of life, and they start branching out to experience more and worry less. The families love that I help them to shoulder the burden of the responsibilities during these times. I love that I can help people and can put the 'service' back into real estate services!"
Luxury Staging for Sales
Linda Bobski of LuxuryRealEstateStaging.com takes the staging of her homes (and the homes of other listing agents) to a new level. "I prefer to work with builders and vacant properties, since I my services provide the most impact there, but I also work with home owners and other real estate agents," said Linda. "First impressions really make a difference, and I can make that difference a positive one."
Linda isn't merely a Realtor who understands the importance of staging a home for sale -- she is an Accredited Staging Professional (ASP) and is a member of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals. In addition to staying abreast of the real estate market in Kansas City (and both Kansas and Missouri), she also takes continuing education classes in staging.
Linda is a full-service staging Realtor and provides as little or as much as each client needs. She will offer consultation services for those who want help in knowing what needs to be done, but who are willing to do some or all of the work themselves. She also offers bids to do the entire project for those people who don't have the time, patience or desire for "do-it-yourself" staging.
"I want to give my clients as much or as little as they need to create an impact in potential buyers. The home, when I'm finished, is staged as a home for the incoming resident. Professional staging makes it easy for an individual to imagine themselves enjoying their own life in a given place. Staging makes a buyer want to wrap themselves in the environment," says Linda, "and I make that happen."
Linda recently launched LuxuryRealEstateStaging.com to help homeowners and other real estate agents learn more about staging and what they can do to improve the odds for individual houses in this tough market and will be adding staging articles on a regular basis to the new site.
Jeff Aughey of AlphaHomes.com has discovered a much-needed and even more appreciated niche in the current tough market just outside of Atlanta Georgia (in Alpharetta and Johns Creek). This particular geographic market has twice the inventory now as it had this time last year. While other agents are feeling the pinch, this proactive Realtor rolled up his sleeves and got to work... literally!
“What's not selling right now are the properties that need work or those that are easy to overlook,” says Jeff, “I'm working with my own resource list of area painting, construction, and repair professionals that do great work on renovations. We are enhancing homes so they not only sell, but they sell faster and for more money -- even in this market. We are actually returning money to the seller on their investment.”
In a time when many Realtors are cutting commissions to survive, Jeff is charging a premium and is getting excellent results. "It is unbelievable what I can do with a cooperative seller. The most recent update project has been a joy. I'm not doing the work, but I do coordinate like a real estate renovation "general contractor” from my tried-and-true list of excellent subcontractors."
Jeff always looks for colors that need to be updated and gives special attention to the kitchens and baths. Sometimes he orders the place painted, sometimes there are minor repairs and even some not-so-tiny physical changes.
"The most exciting thing is being able to take a weakness that a house has... for instance a kitchen floor with ivory tile and dark grout (which was really ugly) and make it became an accent, with the proper wall paint and staging," says Jeff, "What was a weakness is turned into a visual positive -- without a tremendous cost to the owner."
Jeff warns that if it's done wrong, it can be a catastrophe. “You have to understand the real estate market, the current design trends and the basics of home construction, renovation and repair. The secret is to find the best people for the job, hire them, pay them well and coordinate the effort to give the owner the best possible outcome.”
Yes, this niche means that Jeff spends more personalized time with each listing and each owner, and he has fewer listings, but moving homes in this market at higher prices means everyone wins!
So if you find that your own real estate market is in a slump, maybe you should consider niching a particular type or menu of services to help your clients get what they need and want, and insure your success and the quality of your bottom line... even in THIS market!