In this time of low inventory and rising interest rates, are there still reliable real estate niches?
Yes, and agents who follow these reliable real estate niches will always have listing clients.
The first is military, because Uncle Sam will keep right on moving people around. Many of those service members have purchased homes and now they will need to sell. Others moving in will want to buy.
Then there are probate and divorce – two niche areas that many agents avoid because of the added emotional baggage the sellers are carrying.
If you want to serve the military niche…
First, of course, you have to live near a military base. Then you need to learn how to serve them.
Obtaining a Military Relocation Professional (MRP) certification from NAR would be a wise first move. Helping members of the military buy or sell is just a bit different, and you’ll need to learn a few new things. You’ll need to know all about military relocation services, basic housing allowances, down payment assistance programs, VA Loans, VA loan assumptions, etc.
Probate and divorce are reliable real estate niches, but you do have to have the right disposition.
These niches are reliable because death and divorce will keep right on happening, year after year. While not all affected houses will be sold, many will, and they’ll provide agents with a steady flow of listings.
Sellers in these situations are upset, and are often emotional. For you to survive and thrive when helping them, you have to be able to withstand and be unaffected by that emotion.
Probate and divorce clients need the help of a conscientious, caring agent.
Many are in a financial position that requires the sale of a house, and some are in an emotional state that makes making joint decisions difficult. They need a “middle man” to calm the waters and keep everyone on track. They also need someone who will give them honest answers and get the houses sold even if it’s not possible to put them in prime showing condition.
This simplifies the division of assets and allows for payment of estate debts. It can also save the heirs money in upkeep costs and prevent family members from needing to dig into their own bank accounts to keep up with payments if the estate is cash-poor.
Executors who live out of the area can really be in a bind.
They don’t know anyone in your city so they don’t know who might be trustworthy when it comes to clearing out the house, cleaning, yard work, repairs, etc. They also know nothing about local pricing, so are prime candidates to be taken advantage of by someone looking for a quick profit on a flip.
Most don’t know how to evaluate the financial pros and cons of selling in as-is condition as opposed to doing the clean-up and fix-up prior to listing. As a professional you can help them obtain bids, then weigh the cost of putting the house in prime condition against the probable increase in the selling price.
Some agents shy away from probate listings because they feel it’s a bit ghoulish to profit from someone’s sorrow.
And indeed, you do have to tread lightly.
I recall a listing I had years ago. Two sisters came to ask me to list their parent’s property, and they specified that another agent in our town was not to be allowed to even show it. Why? Because she had asked for the listing at the Dad’s funeral. I guess she thought that since she’d known them and their parents since childhood it gave her some kind of privilege, but they thought it was crass and uncaring – and they assumed that the only reason she came to the funeral was to secure the listing.
So, yes, the grieving do need a bit of time to settle down and think about what needs to be done before they’re ready to list. But once they’re ready, they need your help and your protection.
How to approach getting these listings…
One of the best ways to secure probate listings is to establish yourself with probate attorneys. You might need to act as a second source for price opinions a few times while you’re getting acquainted, but once you’ve shown yourself to be competent and caring, the attorneys will recommend you.
You can also wait until probate is filed, then contact executors directly. Their names will be of public record at the courthouse.
One of my copywriting clients has an assistant who checks those records weekly. You could do that, or you could use one of the services that gathers and sells probate leads.
You can also use your website to attract probate listings.
Create a web page all about probate, then blog about it regularly. Offer a special report in exchange for email addresses, then begin drip marketing.
Once again, there’s a lot to learn about handling probate listings, so do take time to do so before attempting to guide sellers. Go online for information on becoming a certified probate real estate specialist.
However you obtain names, you’ll need letters, so I wrote them for you.
This Probate Prospecting letter set includes letters to both executors and attorneys regarding specific homes, while the Probate Postcard set offers six brief messages to executors, offering your assistance in a non-pushy manner.
Since attorneys are a valuable source of clients, I also wrote a set of letters just for them. You’ll find it here. And finally, this 16-letter set offers help and advice to those who have not yet decided to go forward with selling. It’s a perfect set to use in email or postal continuity marketing.
Divorcing couples often need someone with the strength to remain neutral and unaffected by the couple’s bitterness. They also need an agent with the patience and dedication to meet with them separately if necessary, and to help them reach a compromise when one wants to use the transaction as a tool against the other. In this case, the agent’s negotiation skills might come into play long before they begin negotiating with a buyer and his or her agent.
I recall one sale my agency had years ago. The wife had taken a painting that the husband said was his. He refused to sign the closing papers until she returned the painting. She refused to return the painting until he signed the closing papers. We finally solved it by having the closing attorney hold the painting until the transaction was finalized.
Some divorcing couples will try to put you in the middle…
As an agent I didn’t have occasion to handle many divorcing couples, but one in particular stands out. I had sold them the house several years earlier, so they called me to find them a buyer. I liked both of them individually, but SURE didn’t like listening to either of them telling me about the other’s sins.
And… by the time we were finished, I knew why that gentleman had moved in with his girlfriend. Every time the wife and I were on the phone together she spent half the time screeching at the children. It wasn’t easy to stay on topic with that going on.
Since you’ll need letters…
My Divorce Prospecting letters remind couples that unless one party can get a new loan, selling the house will be in their best interests. If they hold title jointly, or if they both signed the mortgage, their finances will be tied together until the house is sold.
Of course the letters mention your wiliness to meet with them separately, and to consult with them initially and/or prepare a market analysis with no obligation on their part.
The letters to divorce attorneys are designed to get your foot in the door so you can begin receiving referrals from them.
As with probate, there are courses available to help you help those divorcing couples.
Divorce and probate are reliable real estate niches, but they aren’t for everyone…
You have to have the right personality and temperament to deal with people who are sometimes overly emotional, demanding, and even unreasonable. And, for the sake of your family and your mental health, you have to be able to leave other people’s emotions with those other people.
If you’re wondering about the divorce niche, check out this interview I did with a divorce real estate specialist Sally Hanson. In this one hour audio, she shares her insight on the niche that she and her husband have followed for years.
If either of these niches IS for you…
You’ll find yourself with less competition in getting those listings. So learn what you need to learn, then get busy!
Girls in cemetery image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net