A new agent who joined Fred Hintenberger’s real estate office in Clearwater, Fla., didn’t have a marketing plan and was stumped by where to begin. As managing broker of Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc., where there are 2,200 agents, Hintenberger is a proponent of rookie salespeople finding a niche. But this newbie was coming up blank. She had been a stay-at-home mom for the past few years and was concerned that would impede her ability to connect with a niche segment of the market. But Hintenberger said, “‘Boom. That’s your niche.’”
From there, they laid out a game plan on how she could target all the mom groups in her area as well as come up with a “mom’s guide to home buying and selling.” The guide would include information on parks and recreational centers, youth events and sports leagues, dance and music lessons, religious groups, babysitters, and more resources that help young families moving to a new neighborhood.
People are drawn to authenticity, Hintenberger says, so the agent decided to share her own story in her correspondence with potential clients.
Everyone has their own experiences, passions, and talents, but finding a niche can still be complicated. Sometimes, a broker can help their agents think outside the box to find a niche they understand and are passionate about. It’s about creating a powerful message that touches customers on an emotional level, which sticks in their memory. “This is one of the keys to running a successful niche campaign, and it will give agents an edge in their business,” Hintenberger adds.
A Boating Bonanza
Niches run the gamut—downsizers and divorcees, vacation properties and luxury condominiums, historic homes, and ranches or horse farms. The possibilities are endless, says Hintenberger. In fact, one of his agents, Sammy Haji, who lives on Cory Lake Isle, bought a boat to show potential clients the great lifestyle they could have in his community. The agent offers boat rides several times each weekend where they explore homes for sale and even check out more expensive mansions so his passengers can see the infinity pools, expansive outdoor kitchens, and entertaining areas.
“I grew up in New York, and some of my friends came here to visit. The boat ride convinced them to move to Florida, and I sold them a house,” Haji says.
On his boat tours, Haji brings snacks and drinks in a cooler along with plenty of life jackets. Some of his clients have never been in a boat before, so he also totes blankets, sunglasses, and bug spray. He’ll talk about current market values and future investment growth. Haji mainly markets to potential buyers through local community magazines, on his website, and through his Facebook and Instagram pages.
“It’s all about knowing your neighborhood,” says Hintenberger. “If you know the market like the back of your hand, that gives your customer more confidence in you.”
A Golfing Guru
A month before Cheryl Fernandez got married, her husband-to-be bought her a set of golf clubs. But she had never golfed and had no knowledge of the sport. Over time, she became passionate about both the game and the people she’s met and play with. Now, as an agent with Realty Executives Northern Arizona, Fernandez, ABR, specializes in golf course properties and communities.
“I have sold many homes on and around golf courses, and I stay in touch with my clients throughout the years because we share the benefits and disadvantages of being on the golf course,” she says.
Knowing the layout, of course—such as where people gather on the tee box and where an erroneous ball may occur— are all helpful when showing properties. She can also explain the drawbacks—such as the maintenance that can start as early as 5 a.m. in the summer months. The noise of the equipment may not be suitable for all buyers.
Working a Niche
Fernandez’s broker, Don Bonnell, says working a niche is a proven method for finding real estate success. While it’s often easier for a listing agent to develop a niche, Bonnell says buyer’s agents can also create a niche as long as they know it inside-out.
For instance, if an agent wants to focus on golf course communities as Fernandez does, it’s best to become an expert one course at a time rather than trying to learn them all at once. Bonnell says an agent should also do their research to understand if there are enough sales in a particular community to sustain their business. “If you can get 20% to 25% of the market, you are doing well. It really depends on how many homes are in that area,” he says.
He also recommends agents join the golf club to get to know the members. “Working with a real estate professional who knows the nuances of that market is extremely important to many buyers and sellers,” Bonnell says. “You can also generate more money for yourself.”
Fernandez prides herself on really getting to know her clients and understanding which golf course may best suit their need and lifestyle.
“I have spent over a year with some buyers waiting for the perfect home,” she says. “I feel so fortunate that a true passion of mine has helped me foster great relationships. I can share my knowledge of golf courses with my clients to help them make informed, life-changing decisions.”