The LGBTQ community
Real estate agents catering to the LGBTQ community will find tremendous opportunity in the Chicago metropolitan area. About 3.8 percent — or 220,000 residents — identify as LGBTQ, according to Advocate Magazine.
Sam Powell, a broker with Dream Town Realty, specializes in finding homes for LGBTQ clientele. She entered the industry in 2002, beginning by printing her own fliers and distributing them throughout Lakeview and Andersonville, then gradually developing a clientele through homebuyers who responded to those efforts.
“As I became more successful in the industry, I began to buy ads in some of the LGBTQ directories to try keep my brand in front of my community,” she says. “That turned into bus ads and park benches, sponsoring sports like the Chicago Force women’s semi-pro tackle football team and the CSMA softball team, and getting involved in the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP).”
She began to give and receive referrals across the country, as well as have opportunities to speak at national conferences as a knowledgeable professional Realtor who was active in the LGBTQ community.
Powell estimates that about 65 percent of her business comes from the LGBTQ community, and the rest are allies who are happy to hire an agent who is out and proud. More than 90 percent of her business is derived from repeat clients and referrals. She continues to advertise and also takes part in speaking engagements, civic organizations and charitable efforts.
She expanded her network even further by having a table at the Chicago LGBT Wedding Expo for many years and developed an extensive list of contacts from that effort alone.
“Through the years it grew to several thousand names, and sometimes you’d see the same couple back-to-back years because they were still planning,” she says. “Some of those attendees are now ready to purchase a place together and can reach out when they are ready if they felt a connection with you while they were at the expo.”
Powell recommends that agents who are looking to work within a particular niche strive to be fully authentic and identify aspects of their lives that also can be assets to their business.
“Think about your life and your world, and where you are most comfortable and have the most fun and enjoyment,” she says. “Always see if there is an opportunity to focus your efforts in volunteering, supporting with financial contributions or sweat equity, and building meaningful relationships with people. When the opportunity presents itself, make sure they know what you do and how you’d like to be a resource to them and anyone they know.”