How to Become an ‘Expert’ Real Estate Agent: Part I

People value and pay more attention to experts in their respective fields. That’s true of most professions, including doctors, lawyers and, of course, Realtors. Experts usually earn more money, too!

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Would you trust a mechanic who claims to be able to fix every make of transport, be it plane, car, boat or bike?

Of course not! Nor should a real estate agent claim to know everything about everywhere.

Consumers spend six or even 18 months researching towns, neighborhoods and home types, using sites like Zillow and Trulia, usually without ever speaking to a real estate agent.

Having done their research, consumers are looking for advice and interpretation of local market conditions. They are often more knowledgeable than the average agent is about localized data.

When you meet one of these educated consumers, you had better know what you are talking about, or they will dump you and quickly find an agent who does.

The very first step to expert status? Creating your own niche!

Once you focus on a niche, you differentiate yourself from the thousands of other Realtors in your market, but it has to be something that you are (or can be) passionate about.

A niche can be any of these, or even combinations:

-a price range or property type;

-a particular demographic — first-time buyers or single women;

-a geographical location;

-hobbies/interests such as horses;

-a profession such as attorney or engineer;

-a subdivision or tract.

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Using Portland, Ore., as an example …

… It would be a stretch to claim you cover the whole city of more than half a million people.

If your home is located on the edge of the city, perhaps Cedar Mill, even if your office is located some miles away, wouldn’t it be more appropriate to concentrate there, and the neighborhoods that are close by?

Neighborhoods that you can get to know really well and get excited about?

Page 2 of the search results pages just does not cut it for lead generation.

When I checked, there wasn’t a single agent on the first page of Google for the search term Cedar Mill real estate, and only one for Cedar Mill homes. The results are dominated by the aggregators: Trulia and Realtor.com sites.

A well-optimized WordPress site concentrating just on Cedar Mill and a couple of adjacent neighborhoods such as Oak Hills and Bonny Slope, with tons of localized content, would surely make the first page for both search terms along with other long-tail results for other specific neighborhoods.

The next step: You must be sure that your chosen niche is worth the trouble.

Before you jump in and fully commit to your target niche, ask yourself this crucial question: “Is there enough business to go around?”

Look at the demographics. Cedar Mill has a population of a little more than 12,000, with just under 5,000 households and around 130 homes currently listed.

Run multiple listing service reports to list the homes that have sold over the past five years (10 would be better) in your proposed niche. Compare these sales, year by year, to see if there is a trend up or down.

Work out the commission volume.

Evaluate the competition. If you will be targeting listings, is there a dominant agent who does most of the business, or are there many agents involved? Personally, I would prefer the latter.

The last step: your elevator pitch!

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Now that you have chosen your niche, it’s time to perfect your response to the question people will ask you: “What do you do for a living?”

This, in essence, can be better described as your elevator pitch, because that’s exactly what it is.

From this point forward you can stop responding with “I’m a Realtor” because that’s never, ever going to start a meaningful conversation.

Wouldn’t a phrase like this — “I love helping people find really nice homes in Cedar Mill” be more appealing and appropriate?

This article is the first in a five-part series during the course of this week. Tomorrow we will be exploring how to do your homework and research your market, because you need to know more about your niche than either your competitors or your clients.

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