In a competitive market, customers are looking for a specialist who can give them the advantage with cutting edge real estate knowledge and insight of a true industry expert.

You don’t need 15 years of real estate behind you to become a real estate expert. If you’re relatively new to the profession, you’ll certainly want to draw from the experience of more tenured agents. But time alone does not guarantee expertise.

Here are three top tips to help position yourself as an expert and gain the upper edge in the marketplace.

1. Focus on a Specialty

Rather than try and be all things to everyone, a better business strategy may be to specialize in a specific community or type of property. Such an approach may mean saying “no” to properties and locations outside of your focus.

Once you’ve chosen a focus, learn everything there is to know about that area or property type. While this may require a steep learning curve initially, start with anything a buyer or seller will encounter in the short-term and then broaden your focus from there.

An experienced agent will learn from what she encounters. An expert agent will purposely hunt down what she needs to know.

2. Master Your Client’s Real Estate Needs

It sounds like a tall order, but an expert real estate agent will know more about the true real estate needs of his or her client better than anyone else.

A good CPA probably won’t know what her clients like to eat, but she will be so well informed about their financial situation, that they would not think of getting tax advice from anyone else.

Likewise, a real estate agent who has taken the time to thoroughly know their clients will be able to predict the kinds of properties they like before they’ve seen them.

In fact, an agent who knows a client’s likes and dislikes so well should be able to anticipate their needs and say, “I know this property is outside the parameters that we discussed, but here’s why I think it will be perfect for you.” Clients can only receive that kind of valuable advice from a true expert.

3. Network With Problem-Solving Pros

The reason that recommendation platforms like Yelp, HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List are growing in popularity is because people seeking professional help don’t want to just call the first result on Google. They want to know what kind of experience other people have had in similar situations, preferably in the form of personal recommendations.

An expert agent will know other professionals who can solve his or her clients’ problems.

The expert’s database of problem solvers should be both wide and deep, with first-hand connections and knowledge of specialists for every kind of problem.

Ideally, an expert agent will be such an effective source for home service professionals that his or her clients will stay in touch. Agents spend many hours and lots of money on ways to touch base with former clients. Being a resource they want to stay in touch with is the best way to continue the relationship.