Owning your niche: How agents choose their specialty

by Jason Porterfield

The lakefront community

When it comes to real estate, location is key. That’s especially true for real estate agents who want to specialize in a particular area or neighborhood. A former Chicago-based marketing professional, Mary Brennan helped open Wisconsin’s first @properties office in Geneva about four years ago. She specializes in lakefront properties in the village of Twin Lakes, located in Kenosha County in Southeastern Wisconsin — particularly homes with frontages on Lake Mary and Lake Elizabeth.

Brennan saw that the brokerages operating in the area didn’t have access to the marketing tools and resources that @properties provides and identified an opportunity to thrive in a potentially underserved market where no one else specialized in those homes. She quickly established herself as the area’s lakefront property expert.

“Once I identified this as an area where we could penetrate, I did mailings of nice postcards and just gave market data,” Brennan says. “I made it about the market and trends in the market and within those trends what we could do to provide services within those markets.”

Most of the approximately 500 lakefront properties are second homes owned by people from the Chicago area, according to Brennan. Because of her specialization, she often finds herself working as a dual agent representing both the buyers and the sellers, a common occurrence in the small town of just over 5,000 residents. She brings a disclosure form with her when she meets with clients and walks them through it to make sure they’re comfortable with the process before she has them sign it.

“If they’re not comfortable, I offer to bring in another agent, although that’s never happened,” she says. “Eventually, we get to the point where we’re comfortable, but in some instances I’ve had them call buyers that have worked with me with the dual agency just to make sure that they have a comfort level.”

She builds a foundation of trust with her clients by demonstrating her knowledge of the town and the individual properties, identifying the four different types of lake bottom that can be found in the area and knowing where those are located.

“It gets to where the client feels that you’re not just interested in the sale, but that you’re really interested in finding them the right fit,” Brennan says. “Once a client starts to feel that, there’s a paradigm shift where they realize this is about them. It’s not about an agent selling a house.”


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  • Amani Ghouleh says:

    Teresa Del Toro is a ball full energy & she’s a pleasure to work with.

  • Angel says:

    You rock, Mary!! You’re the absolute best! I’m happy to see that you are getting some recognition for all of the hard work you do!!

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