2010: The Year of the Niche in Scottsdale Real Estate

2010 is the Year of the Niche.

It’s true, feel free to consult the Chinese calendar to verify.  Scottsdale Real Estate practitioners, in self-defense, have turned to new and interesting means of keeping their businesses relevant in these inexplicable times.  Today’s homework assignment for a Real Estate adventurer?  Finding a profitable, niche specialty.  Thus, the members of the rank and file have been advised to choose a tunnel and follow it out of the malaise.  Two examples stand above the rest as the most popular paths to career CPR: bank-owned property sales and short sales.

Forever a fringe subset of the industry, the foreclosure market has become a predominant segment.  Virtually unheard of outside a counter-culture circle of practitioners a few short years ago, short sale specialization is another a bully of the current Real Estate pulpit.  Given the adapt or perish mantra that permeates a commission based existence, it is hard to fault an agent for migrating to either avenue in an effort to remain profitable.  It’s Survival 101.

I won’t pretend that I have not considered both routes as viable solutions to the systemic problems facing the current Real Estate market here in Scottsdale.  The smart money goes where the action is.  And yet, I have no particular affinity for the institutions that contributed to the implosion of my clients’ property values.  I have no burning desire to represent said institutions in transactions against the little guy whom they have summarily defrocked.  I’ll put my buyer in the car and go try to steal a property from the bank, but there aren’t enough deflated greenbacks in the US Treasury to convince me to sign on as the Devil’s listing advocate.

Short sale sellers deserve professional assistance.  Sadly, I fail to believe that an agent who would flee to “specialization” in this sector at this late stage would prove a legitimate source of the expertise that so many need (and so few actually have).  A weekend course and some moxie do not an expert make.  Perhaps the specialists that are being churned out at an alarming rate will boast the training and experience necessary to be of legitimate value during the next down cycle, but such “expert in training” zygotes are not the answer for those who need assistance NOW.   The stakes are too high to navigate the short sale obstacle course on a bike whose training wheels were only recently, and prematurely, removed.  A substantial incubation period is necessary before such a “specialist” fully morphs from a liability to an asset.

Beware the marketing Sirens who would lead a negative equity seller onto the rocks with good intentions.

So where does that leave a conscientious objector to the hordes of freshly minted “experts” with 6 months of experience in a chosen area of specialization?  Right back where I started: 100% loyal to real, live humans.

There is nothing wrong with diversifying one’s business practice to gird against shifts in the market, but I refuse to abandon a loyal client base for the new money of bank business.  Once you become beholden to the financial institutions, there is little time left in the day to service those who now constitute an under-represented segment of the Real Estate market.  Sure, the bank guy might take on a few moms and pops here and there, but can an overextended agent really provide a private seller the level of service required to do this job?  A dubious proposition in the best of times, let alone in the murkiness of 2010.  With a market that is still twenty thousand leagues beneath the sea, your agent’s periscope better be nimble and at the ready if you are to avoid the same shipwrecked fate that has befallen so many neighbors.  Unthinkable in an industry with more per capita agents than snakes on a plane, but I surmise that all of this nichefying has relegated the non-distressed homeowner to afterthought status.

Assuming you have no equity in your home, or will be unwilling to part with it at the market’s nadir if you do, the industry has given up on you as a viable source of business.  It has moved on.  And yet, there are a few straggling agents who aren’t quite ready to throw in that towel.

While it may seem that every agent and his recently licensed brother have gone to work for the banks, know that there are still a few of us diehards around who pledge allegiance to you.  Our phones aren’t always jammed with 8 bazillion calls about our 8 bazillion listings.  We won’t take a week to respond to your questions and concerns.  We have staked our careers to providing a certain level of service, and we will not compromise it.  Market conditions be damned.

Tempting though it may be to wear the “Certified Gastrointestinal Distress Expert” or “Short Sided Career Reinvention Specialist” hats, we stay away from the light and cement our enduring commitments to those left behind in the industry’s pursuit of the next big thing.

Our niche is you.

Should you require the hands on, fully attentive assistance of a couple of non-certified, non-distressed, non-toxic property experts, give us a call.  We’re not too busy panning for the bank’s gold to take it.

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  • You know I just had someone call me to represent them as a buyer who wanted a “foreclosure expert buyer agent.” I told her did that mean she wanted to rule out the great deals on estate sales? I suggested she look at all the good deals, not just the foreclosures.

    The niche isn't a bad thing, but I'm a fan of the big picture. Foreclosure notices are dropping in my area. Not such a good thing for the long term of those distressed property experts.

  • I run across those inquiries, too, Melina. Foreclosures are a good place to bargain shop, but no reason to focus on them exclusively. That said, I have no problem honing in only on distressed property if that's really what a buyer wants. As to the growing compartmentalization of the industry, I have no problem with agents carving out their own niches. We all do it to some degree, whether geographically, price point, etc. My beef is with the Johnny Come Lately carpetbaggers who are practicing on their clients. There should be some kind of apprentice period with something as fraught with peril as short sales. As to the bank listing agents … they can keep that business. I'll gladly assist all of their former clients who got left in the dust while they do 100 deals a month for a faceless entity.

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Paul Slaybaugh is here to sell houses and chew bubble gum. He's all out of bubble gum. More About Me >>>

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