Do your homework and research your market! Knowing your real estate niche like the back of your hand is one of the most important concepts of being a successful real estate agent. You need to know more about the niche you chose, than either your competitors or your clients.

You should be able to answer simple questions like, “What are the average days on the market in this segment?” or “What is the average sale price versus list price?” These are quite often test questions that a potential client will ask, before he or she commits to using your services.

You had better know the pending and recently sold comparables for homes that you’re showing a client too. Or you might end up looking stupid when the client sees a home he or she likes and asks, “Is this good value or is it overpriced?”

The MLS is your friend, your very best friend.

Go to the classes that your board or MLS offers and learn how to use the reporting functions built into the MLS software. You need to understand how to find out the statistics that a client will likely ask.

Here is how to get to know your niche market; it will focus your mind and energy on the tasks ahead of you and help empower your subconscious.

Find a map of your target niche, preferably one with individual parcels on it. Ask your friendly local title company to help you. Assessor’s maps are the best bet. In a pinch you could use Google’s online mapping to print maps with lot lines, maybe tiling and pasting together sheets for larger niche area.

Get your map as large as you can and get it up on your office wall so it will be easier to work on.

From the MLS, pull all current listings and the last 18 months’ worth of sales. Plot these listings on your map — you will want to note critical data for each listing such as: days on the market, list price, sales price, square feet, lot square feet, beds and baths.

When your map is finished, become one with the data, and study and absorb it. Keep the map up to date on a weekly basis (daily would be better) so that you won’t be caught not having the right answer. Look for trends when studying the data. You may uncover overlooked future opportunities that you can capitalize on.

One agent, Ira Serkes, does this online to share with potential clients in Berkeley, Calif.

Knowing the data, however, is good but not quite good enough. Getting inside the current inventory is vital to your education and knowledge.

Getting to know the inventory

A “brokers’ caravan” is usually held weekly for local real estate agents, where listing brokers hold open their clients’ homes during the week. Other real estate agents can then preview them for their clients.

Many agents use this opportunity to socialize and gorge on all the free food. Your job, though, is to be nice and polite and focus on the homes’ condition, features and selling points. Take notes and photos (with permission), so you can refer to them later.

Take advantage of the weekend public open homes too — you want to be seen as active in the area, and it will complete your education.

Now when someone asks about what’s happening in your market, you will be able to answer with knowledge and authority.

Your new knowledge of sales and current listings in your chosen market niche will also set you apart from the majority of your peers.

You will have become the expert!

Get out there in your market and visit the inventory so you can speak in the first person, as in:

“Yes, the views from the living room are nice, but they are not quite as good as they managed to portray them in the photos.”

Learn to tell the bad news along with the good, play the role of counselor, not a weaseling salesperson.

You clients and bank manager will thank you for it later …

This article is the second in a five-part series during the course of this week. Tomorrow we will be exploring the demographics of your target client and how you should always qualify every potential client, every time.

Read the whole series: 1, 3, 4, 5

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