Four reasons why new brokers should avoid specialization

Kevin is the founder of Real Estate Marker, an innovative company with a transparent, inclusive, customer-centric strategy.

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

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

My best guess is that they assume that by focusing on one thing and dismissing everything else, you’ll gain credibility as an expert faster and never waste time chasing things that don’t fit your selected customer profile. I agree that specialization is important for experienced 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 take every opportunity like it’s your very last. This means you have to keep all doors open and embrace every opportunity that comes your way. I don’t share this advice because I think new agents should kick themselves in the ground – quite the contrary. The more you do, the more you learn, the more people you meet and the more likely you are to succeed. There are four main 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 is important to understand the buyer and seller side of the market. Even if you eventually specialize in one or the other, understanding the psychology behind working with buyers and sellers will help you become more competitive over time.

Exposure in different neighborhoods makes you more agile and competitive.

Even the hottest real estate markets ebb and flow. Anchoring too much in one market early on can make it difficult to turn or expand. While local knowledge is always a plus, don’t be too quick to lock yourself up in a single neighborhood or region. If you do, you may find it difficult to respond to changes in the market.

Plans are sometimes best broken down.

It’s great to have a plan (for example, setting clear benchmarks to measure your success), but if you’re afraid of breaking your plan, you risk stunting your own growth. Let’s say your 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 for any new agent. Keeping your options open may be the best way to gain the skills, network and insights needed to ultimately focus solely on luxury real estate and high net worth clients.

You can’t think outside the box when you’re in a box.

Just as you don’t want to lock yourself into a single plan, you don’t want anyone else to lock you in either. Even if a broker or team leader puts you in a box (for example, by pushing you to represent only buyers in a specific market or neighborhood), you have to fight to keep your chances open. Holding out doesn’t have 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. Ultimately, your ability to think outside the box will be well served by never being 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 provides leads, ideally different types of leads. Whatever you do, stay hungry and be open to opportunities. Over time, a niche market or specialization can develop. 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 for new opportunities throughout their careers.

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