14 Steps to Building a Reputation As a Community Expert

What does it mean to be a community expert? Most real estate agents will provide the same market statistics that the MLS delivers to every agent in order to showcase their expertise, but that hardly sets you apart from the other people claiming to be the go-to person in the area for any real estate needs.

There are a number of ways you can start to acclimate yourself to the community or neighborhood where you’re already helping people buy and sell homes—or to a new area where you want to learn the ropes. It’s not hard, and anybody can do it, but it does take commitment and time, so most agents don’t bother. If you spend a couple of hours every week choosing a task or two from this list and working on it, you’ll arguably be an expert before long!

What does it mean to be a community expert? Most real estate agents will provide the same market statistics that the MLS delivers to every agent in order to showcase their expertise, but that hardly sets you apart from the other people claiming to be the go-to person in the area for any real estate needs.

There are a number of ways you can start to acclimate yourself to the community or neighborhood where you’re already helping people buy and sell homes—or to a new area where you want to learn the ropes. It’s not hard, and anybody can do it, but it does take commitment and time, so most agents don’t bother. If you spend a couple of hours every week choosing a task or two from this list and working on it, you’ll arguably be an expert before long!

What does it mean to be a community expert? Most real estate agents will provide the same market statistics that the MLS delivers to every agent in order to showcase their expertise, but that hardly sets you apart from the other people claiming to be the go-to person in the area for any real estate needs.

There are a number of ways you can start to acclimate yourself to the community or neighborhood where you’re already helping people buy and sell homes—or to a new area where you want to learn the ropes. It’s not hard, and anybody can do it, but it does take commitment and time, so most agents don’t bother. If you spend a couple of hours every week choosing a task or two from this list and working on it, you’ll arguably be an expert before long!

What does it mean to be a community expert? Most real estate agents will provide the same market statistics that the MLS delivers to every agent in order to showcase their expertise, but that hardly sets you apart from the other people claiming to be the go-to person in the area for any real estate needs.

There are a number of ways you can start to acclimate yourself to the community or neighborhood where you’re already helping people buy and sell homes—or to a new area where you want to learn the ropes. It’s not hard, and anybody can do it, but it does take commitment and time, so most agents don’t bother. If you spend a couple of hours every week choosing a task or two from this list and working on it, you’ll arguably be an expert before long!

Set yourself apart from the other agents and build your reputation as a community expert. Become the go-to person in the area for any real estate needs.

What does it mean to be a community expert? Most real estate agents will provide the same market statistics that the MLS delivers to every agent in order to showcase their expertise, but that hardly sets you apart from the other people claiming to be the go-to person in the area for any real estate needs.

There are a number of ways you can start to acclimate yourself to the community or neighborhood where you’re already helping people buy and sell homes—or to a new area where you want to learn the ropes. It’s not hard, and anybody can do it, but it does take commitment and time, so most agents don’t bother. If you spend a couple of hours every week choosing a task or two from this list and working on it, you’ll arguably be an expert before long!

1. Get out of your vehicle and walk around

Cars are convenient and can get you from point to point faster than almost any other transportation option, but what you gain in speed, you lose in your ability to absorb the world around you. Tiny parks tucked into city corners, eateries, retail shops, and community venues all blend together if you only experience them from a driver’s seat.

Whether you want your area of expertise to encompass a few blocks or a collection of neighborhoods or developments, spend some time on your feet, walking from place to place. Benchmark how long it takes to get to different locations by foot, and take note of any interesting landmarks or stores you might want to research later.

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2. Keep tabs on local meetings 

City and county planning departments, school boards, council meetings—these are where the plans are made that start trickling down and actually affecting your community in weeks, months, or years. Start by researching which meetings take place when, then do your best to drop in on as many as you can. (In the post-coronavirus-pandemic era, you might be able to attend via Zoom, always convenient!)

Not everything in these meetings will be real estate-related, necessarily, but don’t discount the opportunity to learn about what retail stores or developments are being planned or worked on, zoning discussions, or other projects that will eventually have an effect on the community, and possibly a large one. The more you understand about how these issues emerged and what arguments exist against them, the more questions you’ll be able to answer from future buyers and sellers.

3. Pay attention to the news

Here’s a secret: Most of the time, what’s reported in the local newspaper in the morning will guide the television news coverage at night. And here’s another secret: Most mid-sized-to-large metro areas (and even some smaller ones) will have a business paper that specifically covers business news.

If you don’t have time to visit all of the planning and development meetings that take place, then subscribing to the business paper so you can follow the work of the reporter who’s attending is the next-best thing. 

Some cities even have development and infill blogs helmed by locals who happen to be interested in real estate, infrastructure, and related topics. Bookmark those and keep tabs on what they’re discussing and posting about, too. If there are concerned citizens agitating about a project, you might read about it on one of those blogs before it ever reaches reporters’ noses.

4. Find and join social media groups

Nextdoor has established itself as the go-to locally driven social media platform; you need to prove you live in a specific area in order to have access to it as a member. But it’s far from the only place you’ll find local groups dedicated to towns, neighborhoods, subdivisions, and other real estate-based enclaves. Facebook’s community groups have become increasingly popular, and unlike Nextdoor’s, you don’t necessarily have to prove you already live in an area to join.

Following Instagram hashtags or accounts, Twitter accounts, and even local TikTok accounts can also help you keep up with what your community is doing and discussing. These should mostly be places for you to learn about the things that are important to the area residents, as opposed to an opportunity for you to promote your real estate services.

5. Familiarize yourself with the Chamber of Commerce

You don’t necessarily have to join (although it might be useful), but a chamber of commerce is invaluable for orienting you with the different businesses operating in the neighborhood or area, and at the very least, you can start to build a network of contractors and retailers to refer new homeowners to when they first move in.

The chamber of commerce offers much more than simply a directory of businesses, that said. They also host regular member meetings to discuss issues and plan events, might help organize the booths or vendors at festivals, or create “welcome” videos and other collateral for new residents. Even if the only thing you learn is who the big movers and shakers are in your local chamber of commerce, that’s well worth knowing!

6. Learn about the numbers

From crime rates to school test scores to demographics, understanding the different numbers that define an area (even if they aren’t numbers you can directly share with buyers or sellers) will help you understand not only what makes that community desirable, but also who specifically might want to move there.

What’s the average age of a community resident in the area? How big is their household, and how old are the children, if any? How big are the homes? Do they have yards? Are most of the homes owner-occupied, or are there more rentals? How about short-term rentals? If they migrated from elsewhere, where was it most likely to be?

This is information you can use in your marketing, and it will also help you better understand what your (hopefully growing) audience wants to know so that you can dig deeper and find it.

7. Join the historical society

Not every locale is going to have a historical society, but if yours does, look into how much it costs to join and what resources are available. You don’t have to be a history buff to find value in the background of your community. The historical society will have information on where the first homes in the area were built, what they looked like, and how infrastructure was added, and what the expansion plan looked like.

The historical society is likely also involved with museums and events in the community, and if you’re working with the society, that will give you a heads-up as to any noteworthy changes or interesting additions.

8. Explore volunteer opportunities 

Habitat for Humanity and other volunteer-driven outfits that focus on real estate are obvious choices, but depending on your interests and passions, they don’t have to be the only options. There are as many ways to volunteer as there are things to care about in the world.

Animal-lovers might consider working with a no-kill shelter on a volunteer basis, for example; there are also usually ample volunteer opportunities available for people who are interested in preventing domestic violence or homelessness, working with specific age groups, promoting literacy, restoring natural environments, and on and on and on.

9. Attend community events

The local flower festival, the weekend of historic reenactments, the school play—you know these things are happening as a real estate agent (at least, we hope you do), but you might not be making attendance a priority. Here’s why you should: The more people recognize your actual in-real-life, three-dimensional face—and who recognize you from fun, bonding experiences—the more people will begin to connect the dots between real-life you and digital you, the headshot that graces your website and social media pages and open house fliers.

By making a point to attend events (and bring your family and friends), enjoy yourself, and maybe participate in a contest or two, you’ll be building up the kind of “I care about this place” social proof that you just can’t fake—because you’ve been participating.

10. Support local sports teams

There might already be an agent sponsoring the Little League team in the area, but you don’t necessarily have to limit yourself to youth sports! More and more cities are establishing sports leagues for games like adult kickball and softball, or even dodgeball, and those teams are looking for sponsors, too. 


If you’re a participating member, even better! You’ll become someone your teammates see every week and someone they know works in the real estate industry; who better to answer any casual (or serious) questions about buying or selling a house?

11. Visit every possible open house

Whether or not you have a buyer who might be interested in that house, whether or not it’s a listing you ever expected to snag, whether or not you like the agent or brokerage representing the listing—attending all of the open houses you can is one way to learn exactly what’s the same (and what’s different) about homes from one subdivision to another, in an intimate way that other agents will have difficulty replicating.

Take notes on all of the open houses you attend, as they’ll quickly start to blur together. Note the street and development, the year it was built, the style, any materials or style details you might want to collect (foundation type, roof, siding, and so on), the list price, the bed and bath count, whatever you might use to compare and contrast against other listings later. 

If you make a point to regularly update this information with the sales price, then you’ll even start curating a hyperlocal sense of which pricing tactics have been working well (or tanking) with different types of homes.

12. Educate yourself about the buildings

On the heels of the previous item, even if you don’t get a chance to walk inside every single home in the neighborhood or community, you can still learn about how those homes were built. As you’re walking around on foot, take notes about the architecture styles that you see, then spend some time learning about them later. What are the benefits and drawbacks of building houses like this?

Similarly, reading the building codes that apply to the area (especially if you start with the most current ones first) can help you understand what issues have emerged at the city and county level, and what has already been done to try to alleviate any problems. 

Spend some time learning about what a homeowner would need to do, permit-wise, if they wanted to add space to a house, build a detached garage, or embark on another big project. Can a buyer build an in-ground pool? And how much would it cost? Those are things that any agent can research, of course, but if you have that knowledge at the tips of your fingers, buyers are going to trust that you’re the true expert.

13. Cultivate truly niche market expertise 

Some agents erroneously believe that sub-specializing within a market is a mistake. After all, aren’t you eliminating a huge pool of possible clients? Possibly, but what’s more likely is you’re making yourself available and attractive to a very specific group of people who want that knowledge you’ve been acquiring and are willing to go to lengths to work with you. Wouldn’t that be nice!

Think about what you’ve learned about the neighborhood where you’re focused. What kinds of specialties might be available to you? Perhaps a specific suburban subdivision, or a type of architecture or construction—high-rise condos downtown, for example—or historic properties, or homes with land. If you’ve learned a lot about a particular developer, or type of property, then specializing in it can give you a foothold from which to expand.

14. Share what you know

Your reputation as a market expert only goes as far as, well, your reputation in general! If you’ve been diligently working on the different options available to increase your neighborhood expertise, then at this point, you’ve probably learned at least a handful of interesting things about the community you want to serve. Now, it’s time to share what you’ve learned so that you can start creating a new reputation for yourself, one as the go-to person when someone wants to learn about a specific area.

Some agents decide to do this using their website—creating a blog, in other words. You can also put together a community events calendar if there isn’t a good comprehensive one in your area using a shareable tool like Google Calendar and making it public, then promoting that calendar on social media or your website. Email campaigns or newsletters, building a social media group or page and posting regularly there, or creating community guides that you make available on your website can also be smart ways to showcase your area expertise.

Whatever avenue you take, don’t skip this step! It might be the last one on the list for a reason—you’ll have to have at least a modicum of expertise before you can pursue it—but if you neglect it, then it will take you much longer than it should to cement your reputation as the go-to agent for the area. Use the platforms you’ve already created to showcase and share what you know, engage with questions, and generate new research ideas.

What does it mean to be a community expert? Most real estate agents will provide the same market statistics that the MLS delivers to every agent in order to showcase their expertise, but that hardly sets you apart from the other people claiming to be the go-to person in the area for any real estate needs.

There are a number of ways you can start to acclimate yourself to the community or neighborhood where you’re already helping people buy and sell homes—or to a new area where you want to learn the ropes. It’s not hard, and anybody can do it, but it does take commitment and time, so most agents don’t bother. If you spend a couple of hours every week choosing a task or two from this list and working on it, you’ll arguably be an expert before long!

What does it mean to be a community expert? Most real estate agents will provide the same market statistics that the MLS delivers to every agent in order to showcase their expertise, but that hardly sets you apart from the other people claiming to be the go-to person in the area for any real estate needs.

There are a number of ways you can start to acclimate yourself to the community or neighborhood where you’re already helping people buy and sell homes—or to a new area where you want to learn the ropes. It’s not hard, and anybody can do it, but it does take commitment and time, so most agents don’t bother. If you spend a couple of hours every week choosing a task or two from this list and working on it, you’ll arguably be an expert before long!