The Realtor Niche

Woman inserting a key in the doorA niche, as defined by Mirriam-Webster is, among other things “a specialized market”.

You’ve probably seen this with Realtors in one way or another. There is the waterfront specialist, the center city condo specialist, relocation specialists, Realtors that specialize in horse farms and I even have a Facebook friends who only brokers B&Bs. Pretty cool, huh?

Of course, most Realtors do just about anything for anyone. You know a lot of those people, too. They work with buyers and sellers. The help people rent, if that’s what they want to do. They’re into property management. If someone can fog a mirror and get a mortgage or has some real estate to sell, these Realtors will do it…or try to.

Back in the day, when I was first starting in the real estate business that was me. Work with anyone trying to buy or sell virtually any piece of real estate. In fact, there was one time, someone asked me if I could sell off a burial plot they no longer needed. No, I didn’t take that one on. I tried to get into selling land – dirt, essentially – and that didn’t work out to well, either.

The point being is that eventually I decided I needed a niche. Something I could focus on.

What Niche Works Best?

I used to get asked by my clients who I liked working with best: buyers or sellers. They didn’t use the word niche but that’s what they meant.

I didn’t really want to turn anyone off so I would hem and haw and basically tell the story that everyone is different and buyers have different needs from sellers and, truth be told, I get paid for working with all of them. That seemed to satisfy most people. After awhile, though, I started thinking a little more deeply about the question. Who really is better (for me) to work with? What would be a good niche for me?

Here is what we call in the business a true fact: not all sellers sell and not all buyers buy. There are lots of reasons for this but when it comes right down to it, there are times I have worked with people and never got paid because their house either didn’t sell in the time I was given or the buyers decided that, “Nah, we’ll rent for another year.” That’s OK. It’s just part of the job. Albeit a part of the job not everyone thinks about.

Working With Sellers

After a lot of years, I’ve really come to an understanding that sellers are a lot more fun to work with and. let’s be honest, a lot more likely to go through to settlement.

First, if the seller is realistic and motivated to sell their home, they are more likely to price the home competitively to the market, get it fixed up so it shows well to potential buyers, allow access to the home.

Second, I don’t need to drive the seller around to look at lots of different houses. There’s not a lot of evening and weekend hours. In fact, I can just as easily work with a seller in another part of the country selling their real estate here in Maryland as I can if they were right here. Ya gotta love the Internet!

Third, I enjoy the marketing piece of real estate sales. Getting the website up and going, meeting with the photographer, getting the postcards and stuff out.Ā  I can review an offer and tell whether or not it’s going to fly (there’s never any guarantee but some are clearly better than others).

Fourth, and this has gotten really important to me, sellers don’t need as much of my physical prescience as buyers do. I can call a seller on the phone. I can e-mail them. I can text them. Buyers, on the other hand need me to physically be there to show them houses. it takes a really long time.

As I get a little older I realize it’s really important to have more time with my wife and friends. My wife has health issues that need my attention and help and it’s not as easy for me to say, “Bye, honey, I’m going out to show houses. Be back in five or six hours.”. There might be whole days I just have to say “no” to real estate.

The Niche and Work/Life Balance

This whole “new age-y” thing about work/life balance is important, too. There have been too many other things I’ve missed in my life in the cause of showing buyers around or meeting them to discuss their criteria or calling lenders, inspectors, etc.

Don’t get me wrong. I will work with buyers. Buyers that are focused and motivated. These are usually people who are selling their home to upsize, downsize or relocate or moving into the area from somewhere else and know they want to buy a home.

About Ken Montville

Ken Montville is a RealtorĀ® and Associate Broker with RE/MAX United Real Estate in the beautiful Maryland Suburbs of Washington, DC. He has been selling nice homes since 1999. Way back in the 20th Century.

When Ken Is not doing the real estate thing he can be found all over social media in places too numerous to mention and he listens to jazz, reads a little (mostly non-fiction), hangs out with the Rotary Club of College Park, MD and can be found blogging at