Very few real estate professionals can—or want to—do everything for everybody. The most successful agents have found a niche for themselves, and they've stuck with it.
A niche can involve catering to a certain type of client—such as buyers or sellers—or a market area or a property type, such as condos or commercial. Some areas of specialization are more common than others, and some have been highly successful for agents. It never hurts to specialize in something that you enjoy doing.
Work Only With a Certain Type of Property
The choices are many in this area. You can be a commercial property specialist, selling business structures, or you can specialize in single family residential homes. Your niche could be farms and ranches, or only land sales in more rural areas.
You might even choose just condominiums. Some agents in big condo markets have named their websites named "XXX Town Condos."
Specializing in One Geographical Area
Specializing in one subdivision has been lucrative for some agents, particularly when they have very large subdivisions in their geographical areas. Focusing your marketing on an area is referred to as "farming" it.
The frequency of your "for sale" signs in a subdivision can bring in business from those who perceive you as that area's expert if you're in the nice of listing homes. You might want to specialize in one or two of these towns if you're in a rural area with numerous small towns.
Some geographical areas offer additional sub-niches. Some might be popular with baby boomers who want to downsize. Others might appeal to millennials who are just starting out. Your primary niche could end up offering its own secondary area of specialization.
Work Only With One Type of Client
Only working with sellers and exclusively listing properties is another very popular strategy. Likewise, some buyer agents simply do not list.
These two areas are frequently combined in one office or on a team. "I hate working with sellers!" could indicate that you'd be happier, and thus more successful, working only with buyers.
A very special niche is the "investor client." These clients buy and sell for investment only.
The possibilities in this niche are numerous. Consider focusing on first-time homebuyers if you're a people person, you want to share in their excitement, and you thrive on—or at least don't mind—a lot of handholding.
The High-End Exclusive Properties Specialist
An agent can typically specialize in only high-priced properties after establishing a reputation in that market. This niche requires excellent marketing skills and a high profile in the community. You would market to the concerns and needs of very high-priced property owners or buyers.
The Property Management Specialization
An agent can make a very nice living managing short- and long-term rentals for clients, especially in resort and vacation markets.
Cooperative marketing has been accomplished within some offices, with a vacation homebuyer agent and a management agent working together. A vacation homebuyer might want to use the property only part-time and rent it out for income when they aren't there.
The Internet Buyer as a Niche Strategy
This strategy has been very successful in vacation/resort markets, as well as in markets with a high percentage of buyers who are coming in from outside the area. With more than 70% of internet buyers indicating that they ended up working with the first web agent who contacted them, you can see the potential here.
The Distressed Property Niche
This became a major niche after the crash in the real estate and mortgage markets beginning in late 2006 and early 2007. Be careful about committing too much in the way of planning, marketing, and future income based on bad times, however.
They eventually turn around, and wouldn't you hate to be the only person in real estate complaining about good times?
Working exclusively with "flippers" of rehabbed homes can provide a relatively stable stream of business. You might even not mind personally rolling your sleeves up and doing some heavy lifting, entering this market on your own. Nothing says that you can't personally buy distressed properties, then turn around and sell them again for a profit.
Short of that, however, you should be able to build up a relatively long-term list of potential clients if you specialize in locating fixer-uppers in the right price range for rehabbers.
You might consider combining any two or more of the above specializations. You could be an internet buyer agent specializing in farms and ranches, or perhaps you'd like to serve only sellers of high-rise condos in the city. It's your business and your success.