4 Hot Niches (and How to Reach Them)

1. Seniors

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people age 65 or older will increase to 71.5 million by 2030 from 35.6 million in 2002.

How to reach them:

  • Hire a registered nurse to give weekly free blood pressure checkups to seniors who take morning walks at the local shopping mall.
  • Print a chart to record blood pressure readings on the back of your business cards and hand them out at each event.
  • Hold a free seminar on a topic of interest to seniors, such as selling an "empty nest" or buying a vacation or investment property.
  • Earn the Seniors Real Estate Specialist designation, which is awarded by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® to REALTORS®who have met certain educational and program requirements.

2. First-Time Buyers

New buyers represent 37 percent of all home sales, according to the 2011 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

How to reach them:

  • Hold free home-buying seminars in renter-heavy neighborhoods.
  • Post information about low-downpayment mortgages and government-sponsored, first-time home buyer programs on your Web site.
  • Offer a free report on “How to Buy Your First Home.” Publicize it in your mailings, on your Web site, and via social media. Use an e-mail autoresponder to distribute it.

3. Foreign-Born Buyers

Minorities are the driving force behind household growth, accounting for 75 percent of all growth from  2003 to 2007 and 67 percent of growth from 2007 to 2011, according to a 2012 study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

How to reach them:

  • Call foreign embassy offices in your area, and let them know you’re available to help people from those countries with their real estate needs.
  • Advertise your services in local foreign-language publications.
  • Hire a personal assistant or secretary who speaks the language of a major nationality in your area.
  • Earn the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) professional designation. The curriculum for this NAR designation includes ownership and transaction principles of international real estate, cultural diversity, market data, investment trends, marketing strategies, currency issues, and financing.

4. Luxury-Home Buyers

From mid-2010 to mid-2011, 9 percent of all U.S. homes sold for more than $500,000, according to the 2011 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

How to reach them:

  • Network with financial advisers, attorneys, interior designers, and other sales professionals who cater to wealthy people.
  • Support and attend high-profile charity events.
  • Purchase mailing lists of people who own pricey cars, donate to local art museums, or belong to golf, tennis, or other luxury sports clubs.
  • Place your listings in publications that are must-reads for potential luxury buyers.
  • Locate your office among high-end stores or boutiques, and don't make it look like a typical real estate office. "Our office atmosphere is that of a gallery and draws people as they walk by. Your office becomes one of your marketing tools," says John Cotton Jr., Cotton Real Estate, Osterville, Mass.

The 2009 article "Own Your Niche," offers additional tips on selecting a niche, as well as guidance on how to avoid Fair Housing Law violations when targeting a diverse customer base.