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Four Reasons New Real Estate Agents Should Avoid Specialization

Kevin is the Founder of Marker Real Estate, an innovative firm with a transparent, inclusive, client-focused strategy.

When I was a new agent, I never specialized in one market or type of property. I raised my hand for every possible opportunity and chased down these opportunities to the very end. I believe that my decision to pursue every possible opportunity contributed to my success as a real estate professional and entrepreneur. So why do so many brokers and team leaders encourage new agents to do the opposite?

I often hear brokers and team leaders encourage new agents to focus solely on sellers or solely on buyers. I’ve also heard them say it is better to only work in one neighborhood or only focus on a specific type of property. 

My best guess is that they assume that by focusing on one thing and rejecting everything else, you’ll gain credibility as an expert more quickly and never waste time chasing things that don’t fit your selected client profile. I agree that specializing is important for seasoned agents. But when it comes to new agents, this can be dangerous advice. It may even be one reason why real estate has one of the lowest retention rates of any profession. 

Keep All Doors Open 

My advice to new agents is to pursue every opportunity like it’s your very last. This means keeping all doors open and embracing every opportunity that comes your way. I am not sharing this advice because I think new agents should run themselves into the ground — quite the opposite. The more you do, the more you learn, the more people you meet, and the more likely you are to succeed. There are four key reasons why this is the case: 

Working with buyers and sellers is part of your industry training.

If you want to succeed in real estate, it’s important to understand the buyer and seller sides of the market. Even if you do end up specializing in one or the other, understanding the psychology behind working with buyers and sellers will help you become more competitive down the line.

Exposure across neighborhoods will make you more agile and competitive.

Even the hottest real estate markets ebb and flow. If you get too entrenched in one market early on, it can be difficult to pivot or expand. While local knowledge is always a plus, don’t lock yourself into a single neighborhood or region too soon. If you do, you may struggle to respond to market changes.

Plans are sometimes best broken.

It’s great to have a plan (e.g., set clear benchmarks to measure your success), but if you’re afraid to break your plan, you risk stunting your own growth. Let’s say you’re goal is to break into the luxury real estate market. It’s a great goal, and the returns can be impressive. It’s also a high bar to set for any new agent. Keeping your options open may be the best way to acquire the skills, network and insights needed to eventually focus solely on luxury properties and high net-worth clients. 

You can’t think outside the box if you’re boxed in.

Just as you don’t want to box yourself into a single plan, you don’t want anyone else to box you in either. Even if a broker or team leader puts you in a box (e.g., pushes you to only represent buyers in a specific market or neighborhood), fight to keep your opportunities open. Holding your ground doesn’t need to be confrontational. If you explain that you want to get as much exposure and experience as possible, most brokers and team leaders will understand. In the end, your ability to think outside the box will be well served by never getting boxed in by others. 

So what’s the bottom line? Make sure to expose yourself to as many opportunities as possible. If you can, join a team that offers leads, ideally different types of leads. Whatever you do, stay hungry and open to opportunities. Over time, a niche market or specialization may evolve. But don’t assume that to be successful, you have to close doors. Many of the most successful real estate professionals keep the door open to new opportunities throughout their careers.

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