Real Estate Specialties
In the real estate industry today, "general practitioners" still dominate the business, but more and more you see "specialties" on the rise.
Probably the oldest distinction is between those generalists who occasionally found themselves in a light commercial deal and the specialist who does only commercial. Though you will still find the "residential broker" involved in small multi-family sales and some business and residential mix, more and more today the territory is the exclusive domain of the full-time commercial broker.
The higher the stakes the more complicated the issues of zoning, taxes, financing, disclosure, negotiating, and regulations become. Even in the specialty of commercial itself, you see divisions where agents specialize in retail, office, strip mall, leasing, industrial, and large rental properties. It's a factor of knowing the product the process, and the people. There are a number of Educational and Organizational Designations that indicate what specialty the broker has focused on. When you see alphabet soup after someone's name, ask what it means!
Specialties that have arisen in the residential end of the business have a lot to do with product, but more recently reflect lifestyle as well. You will find practitioners who gravitate to new construction or historic properties, some that deal only with the high end price range, others who focus on raw land. Specializing in vacation properties or time-share usually has everything to do with location. Some residential agents are rental specialists and often combine that specialty with property management.
The popularity of condos, (Not as new as you might think. They actually existed in Roman times), began the process where real estate professionals focused as much if not more on the lifestyle of the consumer as the features of the product. Today, that has evolved into the recognition of certain market segments. Two of the fastest growing being the single homeowner and the single parent "head of household".
Of course, as the baby-boomer wave crests into the golden years, the big focus is on accommodating the retirement lifestyle of that population that has dominated all markets for twenty years. You will frequently see communities marketed as 'Over 55' or '62 and Over' housing. The SRES designation indicates the practitioner has taken advanced education to assist 'seniors' in accomplishing their housing goals.
Most residential professionals handle all segments of the residential market, often focusing some concentration on a particular specialty or market segment. As a consumer entering into the market, whether to buy or sell, you might be well served, when interviewing agents, to ask them about their specialty. You may learn more about the business. You will certainly learn more about that agent.
By John Doran, all rights reserved