When looking for a niche to optimize your marketing strategies and recession-proof your real estate business, it’s important to keep in mind those who are most likely to need your services. Here are eight real estate niches agents can start working to take advantage of today’s historic market shifts.

1. Vacation Rental Investors

Infographic showing occupancy levels for short term rentals leveling out after 2021 spike
(Source: AirDNA)

Many first-time homebuyers are on the sidelines, strapped by the current interest rates coupled with historically high home prices. So, if your focus has been on first-time homebuyers, it might be time to pivot to a niche that’s less affected by the current market. Thankfully, short-term rentals (STRs) are still lucrative, even in the current economy. 

It’s true that escalating home prices, along with increased regulations and fees, have slowed the STR boom of 2021. But, as you can see from the infographic above, that leveling out will turn down the crazy and keep a lot of people who shouldn’t invest out of the pool, making it easier for serious investors to buy properties smartly.

And your expertise around your market’s permits, demand, and fees for STRs and vacation rentals will set you apart from other agents. You can become the one investors turn to for accurate market updates and listings. 

How to Start Working Rental Property Investors

First, make sure to familiarize yourself with your market’s regulations and restrictions for vacation rentals. There are usually different rules for long-term vs short-term rentals, so get to know your community’s permit requirements along with the amount of any fees.

You also should enroll in a few continuing education classes through your association that deal with short-term and long-term rentals, investors, and even try dipping your toes into some commercial real estate classes. If vacation rentals aren’t your thing, you can also consider other types of real estate investing. Gain as much knowledge as you can around real estate as a business.

You’re bound to have a community group that stays in touch on Facebook—or even in person—that you can join. Bigger Pockets is a good place to start looking if you’re not sure where to start in your market. But if you search Google for real estate investment groups in your area, you’re bound to turn up a few more options. Once you join a group, get involved in discussions, offering your real estate expertise. Become the knowledgeable agent in the room that people come to with their questions. 

Get a head-start by learning the BRRR (buy, rehab, rent, refinance, repeat) method for investors by downloading this e-book from Kiavi. You’ll be the agent everyone turns to when you learn the ins and outs, pitfalls, tips, and financing secrets of successful real estate investors.

Get Your BRRR E-book From Kiavi

2. Rentals

Infographic showing the escalation of rents from January 2017 to January 2023
(Source: Statista)

This summer, median home prices increased nearly 2% from one year ago to $406,700. And with mortgage rates currently sitting around 8%, this puts homeownership on ice for many. That leaves more people flocking to rentals. The rise of “digital nomads” as a lifestyle also means more people are looking for housing options that allow them to travel around the country and the world. This means working rentals can become a lucrative niche for agents in 2024.

When I was an agent in New York City, I made $1,500 to $3,000 per closed rental transaction. Agents who worked high-end exclusive rental listings sometimes collected five-figure commission checks from one closed rental deal. While results like these might not be common in all rental markets (it’s New York City, after all), it proves that rentals can be very lucrative for real estate agents. 

There are two ways to do this in smaller markets: 

1. Increase volume

2. Get exclusive rental contracts with developers

How to Start Working Rentals

If you’re working in a market that focuses on high-end luxury rentals, you can join a brokerage that focuses on rentals to tap into that market. If you’re not, get licensed in property management if your state requires it and start pitching builders and developers.

With the market cooling in many areas, homeowners may need to temper their expectations. But if they’re needing to leave the area (say in the case of a military permanent change of station move or new job), you might offer to manage their home as a rental. You’ll be helping your clients start or build a rental portfolio while you also expand your experience and skill set. 

One of the easiest ways to stand out in the crowded property management market is to sharpen your digital marketing skills. Create a website where you can showcase rental properties and drive traffic from your marketing efforts, then offer to build one for free for a local developer.

If you want to work the sales side, start educating your sphere on real estate investing with an eye toward renting. You can get started with these deep-dive articles on real estate investing from Sean Moudry:

3. Military Movers

Speaking of permanent change of station (PCS) moves, one group who will move no matter what the economy is doing is the active-duty military members. They don’t pay for their move, and they have to go when they get PCS orders from military officials. So, you can always count on members of the military moving every few years. 

Most military members will get orders in the spring for a summer move. So, summers are typically busy with PCSers. But there’s also a secondary PCS season that many overlook: end-of-year moves. It’s not as busy as the summer, but there is a substantial number of military folks who get orders to pack up during December. 

The best part of military movers is they typically use their Veterans Affairs benefits, which allows them to get a mortgage with zero down payment. That makes buying a home in their new duty station easier since they won’t have to come up with a substantial amount of cash to buy. Military movers also make a great niche for you because when their tour is up and they have to PCS again, usually within a few years, they will most likely reach back out to you to either sell their home or help them set up the home as a rental property. 

How to Start Working Military Movers

If you live near a military base, this niche will work for you. Start by learning about the military community and familiarize yourself with their lingo. There are a lot of acronyms military members throw around, and you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about. 

You can also become an MRP, or military relocation professional. It’s a designation that will take about a day to acquire. Once you learn the language and get that MRP, join the military base groups on Facebook (particularly the spouses’ groups) and get to know your local military community. 

You can also create social media content educating those moving to your area. Remember, these folks PCSing to your market know practically nothing about it. You can share information about different communities, what it’s like to live in your city, steps for the homebuying process, how to use VA benefits on real estate, and so much more. 

If you really want to dive deeper into the steps involved in the military movers niche, check out this in-depth article from Kinga Mills:

Related Article
How to Become a Successful Military Relocation Professional (MRP)

4. Probate Sales

When a homeowner dies, a property typically has to go through some type of probate court before it can be conveyed to a surviving family member or person named in a will. Often, a home is left to a spouse or adult children, who then need to sell the home and share the proceeds from the sale. 

These are the people who need your help. Adult children, in particular, will need a professional to help them get the home on the market, especially if they don’t live in the same area as the home. And if you can help them sell the property quickly, getting them through a tough time in their lives, they will be forever grateful.

How to Start Working Probate Sales

Getting into probate can be a little tougher than some other niches listed here, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. The first step is to familiarize yourself with the probate process. You can check your local association to see if they offer courses to understand probate. 

After you’ve learned more, you might consider reaching out to probate attorneys and pitching your services to them. It never hurts to establish yourself in your community, make connections, and build relationships. Even if one of the attorneys is working with another agent right now, they may end up with more work than the one (or two) agents can handle. 

If you really want to up your probate real estate game, you might consider checking out predictive analytics software that can actually find them for you before anyone else has a chance. Catalyze AI utilizes event-driven data to send you listing leads. You can be the first agent to reach out and get a jump on the competition.

Check Out Catalyze AI

5. Vacation Homes

Vacation communities—like The Hamptons in New York, or the beach houses of Clearwater, Florida—will continue to be an excellent niche for agents. Many of these communities saw the largest influx of new buyers in 2020. But even in the current sluggish market, the vacation home market will continue to draw those who can afford this lifestyle.

How to Start Working Vacation Communities

If you work near a vacation community and have the listings in your MLS, start marketing them to potential buyers using an IDX website. The idea is to curate listings from a vacation destination to a page on your website using IDX widgets, then drive paid and organic traffic to that page. If you don’t already have an IDX website, use this as an excuse to finally build one. You can learn how here: How to Build an IDX Real Estate Website: The Ultimate Guide.

In your marketing, promote the lifestyle more than the listings. Remember, this niche is all about the idea of getting away from the hustle of everyday life. They want to see the dream. For inspiration, check out Michele Bellisari. She’s a pro at promoting the Boca Raton lifestyle in her social media marketing.

6. Luxury Real Estate

Graph showing the steady climb of Manhattan rental rates
(Source: Douglas Elliman)

No matter what the market does, the wealthiest will always use real estate to build more wealth into their portfolio. So if you live near a luxury area, like New York or Los Angeles, chances are inventory is ridiculously tight, and many homes may be selling above asking price. But luxury isn’t confined to only the biggest cities. You can find luxury in many areas, including the mountains and the beaches. 

How to Start Working Luxury Real Estate

Finding luxury buyers to work within this market is relatively easy. You can advertise on Facebook or Google, network, or just join a luxury team. You’ll want to give your branding and marketing materials a bit of a polish before you start, though. A strong brand is far more important for agents transitioning to luxury.

For listings, the road is rougher but possible. If you’re serious about transitioning to luxury listings, check out Sean Moudry’s excellent article below. Sean has been in real estate for 29 years as a broker, coach, speaker, author, and consultant, and he has a wealth of experiences to share.

Related Article
How to Become a Luxury Real Estate Agent in 2024

7. FSBOs

Some agents shy away from working for sale by owner (FSBO) listings because they believe iBuyers are snatching up all the inventory. But not so fast! We’ve seen Redfin, Zillow Offers, and a handful of other iBuyer models fold or pull back the reins on home purchases. 

So, FSBOs are still in play and can be a plentiful source of listing leads for any resilient agent. It makes sense when you think about it. The market is cooling, and homeowners still haven’t learned how to sell houses. So, while investors may still be a factor, learning to pitch FSBOs can put agents ahead of the game. 

How Agents Can Start Working FSBO

Of course, pitching FSBOs is not easy. In fact, it will take practice to get good at turning an FSBO into a listing. The housing market of 2021 left many homeowners thinking that selling houses is simple. As agents, it’s our responsibility to show our value, manage expectations, and prove that agents are worth the commission. The trick is to establish a relationship with them before the reality of selling their home finally sinks in. 

You can start by learning and practicing FSBO scripts. Chris Linsell broke down his seven favorite FSBO scripts here and explained why they work so well: The 9 Best FSBO Scripts (+ Why They Work).

If you’re ready to jump feet-first into the FSBO world, you should consider looking into REDX. They curate expired and FSBO listings daily, delivering accurate data so you can reach out to sellers before the competition. Don’t waste time on inaccurate phone numbers or get into hot water over the Do Not Call list. REDX scrubs its data to make sure you’re only getting the freshest info. Keep track of your contacts inside the REDX CRM so you can nurture and convert your leads easily.

Check Out REDX

8. Empty Nesters & Downsizers

Today’s millennial homebuyers face tight inventory, rising home prices, rising rents, and high student debt that are all converging to keep them out of the real estate market. So it’s no surprise that the largest shares of homebuyers in 2022 were the 55 to 64 and the 65 to 74 age groups, together accounting for 42% of all buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors’ Profile of Buyers and Sellers report.

Looking at the data, it’s no wonder that the 55-plus age group is the biggest homebuying segment. They typically have equity in their existing home to make a move work. 

Most of these prospects are moving to be closer to family or to downsize. But don’t forget to target those who are looking to make lifestyle moves—think golf, pickleball, and boating. If you live near a 55-plus planned development, like the now infamous retirement community The Villages of Florida, you might want to consider them in your marketing strategy.

How Agents Can Start Working Empty Nesters & Downsizers

Start off by brushing up on the communities near you that target this demographic. Find out the features and benefits of each one so you can rattle off information in a conversation easily. Next, you might consider a print campaign in some of the older neighborhoods in your community. Target homeowners who have lived in their homes for more than 10 years. Your campaign should feature the benefits of moving to a community with a fun lifestyle for its members.

You might also consider getting a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation to learn the ins and outs of meeting the needs of this fast-growing niche. Sean Moudry explains the designation at length in this article: The SRES Designation: Is It Worth It for Residential Agents?

Over to You

Know of an underrated real estate niche you think is poised to become more lucrative this year? Let us know by leaving a comment below.