7 Fair Housing-Safe Niches

April 1, 2007

Take care that your niche marketing doesn’t violate fair housing laws, which prohibit preferential treatment or discrimination in housing based on race, national origin, color, sex, familial status, religion, or handicap. Some niche options to try:

  1. Faux farmers and ranchers. Help retiring boomers who want to “return to the land” understand rural living, including septic systems and wells.
  2. Parents of college students. If their kids want to live off campus, parents may find it a good investment to buy a condo rather than rent housing for four years.
  3. Home owners facing foreclosure. Help strapped owners sell before the bank takes back their property.
  4. Historic home lovers. If you understand the challenges of owning and maintaining historic homes, those who favor such properties will value your knowledge.
  5. New urban dwellers. Those who’ve spent their lives in the ’burbs will value an initiation into the pleasures of walking to the store.
  6. Divorcing couples. Family breakups mean selling jointly held properties as well as finding new places to live.
  7. The carless. Mass transit and walkable communities appeal to the environmentally conscious.

Adapted from Real Estate Brokerage Essentials: Managing Legal and Business Risks, 3rd edition (Item #126-358 at REALTOR.org/store.)

Coffee Talk

Regular communication with your sphere of influence is a great way to grow your business. You can write your own weekly missive or use one of the many templates available. Ben Mondragon, a selling broker with RE/MAX Integrity in Eugene, Ore., uses an e-newsletter template called Monday Morning Coffee to stay in touch with the 367 people in his database.

The weekly newsletter, inspirational in tone, costs $99 annually and includes his picture and a link to his Web site. “It’s worth its weight in gold,” Mondragon says.

On the Prowl

Carolyn Giandonato, a sales associate with Sellstate Advantage Realty Network in Cape Coral, Fla., finds more than the occasional bargain at local yard and garage sales. She’s also picked up three listings in a one-year period for homes that sold for a total of about $950,000.

“The first time, it happened accidentally. I was driving through a neighborhood and saw a piece of furniture that matched the furniture in my guest room,” says Giandonato. She learned the people holding the sale planned to move soon and convinced them to list their home with her.

Now she pays careful attention when she passes a yard sale. “You have to know what to look for,” she says, noting that furniture and other large items often are a good clue that the home may be being readied to sell.

Chuck Paustian is a former REALTOR® Magazine senior editor.