SPECIALISATION IS ON the rise in the real estate industry, and it is a future born of necessity. RE/MAX Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Michael Davoren explains.
A scientific research study conducted by Innermetrix Incorporated last year concluded that agent performance and success had more to do with the degree of specialisation than any other single variable considered. After looking at 197,000 people over a seven-year period, research showed that best performers are anything but all things to all people, suggesting that the more specialised the tasks and responsibilities, the greater their results.
Having information is one thing, but being the expert in sifting, sorting and sharing it, transforming data into valuable intelligence for unique customers, that is the role of the agent now and in the future. Agents must be pre-emptive, knowing their clients’ needs before the client does.
A specialist in their own right, an agent must be the one to find solutions, which involves a gamut of further specialists and a total integration of services to make the buying and selling experience as comfortable and positive as possible. Agents must be immensely valuable and profitable for the customer. I believe that the prerequisites for future business success are specialisation, customer relationships and giving value. Lose value and the agent becomes obsolete.
HOW CAN YOU SPECIALISE?
Rentals, leasing and property management are part of our industry, as is business broking. The commercial sector is well covered.
We are already familiar with geographical specialisation being favoured by independents and franchise groups that enforce physical boundaries on their agents and talk about ‘farms’, ‘patches’ or ‘focus marketing areas’.
We are familiar too with agencies that specialise in city apartments, top-end homes, waterfront properties or lifestyle choices, for example; but I am not referring to specialisation in the above-mentioned areas or in property types alone. Move your thinking away from price and commission and consider instead the total concept of ownership, which extends to finance, insurance, moving, property presentation, customer education and the numerous other contributing services that may be delivered as part of the sales transaction or purchase. Your business isn’t selling; it is connecting with customers in a meaningful and specific manner that is relevant to their situation, helping them understand the risks they may face while positioning yourself as the risk-free alternative.
Some of the following specialisation examples exist, but many are yet to trend:
- Finance any matters relating to purchasing and covering cost of home-ownership, such as Loans, Conveyancing, Insurance, Leasing and Financial Planning
- Investment portfolios this goes much further than rent rolls and involves sourcing opportunities for investment in property and other assets, and ongoing management
- International property markets to specialise seriously, this entails having personal contacts and networks of on-the-ground specialists, because you can’t just ‘mess’ in the international field
- Project development and marketing delivering exceptional customer service in relation to projects ranging from new apartments, townhouses, land and housing to master-planned estates and subdivisions.
- Property maintenance this is not just for rentals. Consider services to property owners such as landscaping, lawn care, cleaning, property makeovers, air-conditioning, safety and security, and property preservation using a network of painters, carpenters, plumbers and other repair people.
- Logistics moving house.
- Consumers working solely with a particular demographic.
- Technology with streamlined CRM systems, personalised databases in your virtual communities and, most importantly, communicating with those communities, because you can’t get point of-difference from an app that every other agent is using or a portal available on every real estate ‘shelf’. Uniqueness can only come from the agent and the real estate business itself.
At the crux of specialisation is the imperative of an extraordinary customer experience. An agent cannot be a ‘jack of all trades’, treating all customers the same by ignoring specific needs and budgets.
The real estate market and our industry are much less of a mystery than they once were. Customers today can access largely the same information as agents, but it is what form you get your information in, how you are able to interpret it and how relevant it is to you that is the deal breaker.
Regardless of what area you are in, your business in the future will rely on relationships – which must be cultivated and managed in a more refined, effective way than in the past – and specialisation.