Niche real estate is any specialized subset of the real estate market defined by either property type or potential client. Typically, the property itself will define the market. Its function or unique characteristics will appeal to a narrow segment of potential buyers, offering to fulfill a particular desire. Conversely, niche real estate can be categorized by first defining a specific segment of potential buyers and catering to their preferences and financial situation. In either case, it is seen as a distinct category from the mainstream housing and commercial property markets.
Lifestyle considerations are often the primary factor in niche real estate; the property in some way must offer more to the buyer than simple housing or an investment opportunity. Environment, ease of access to certain activities or noteworthy design may all be defining factors for a particular type of property. Vacation property is perhaps the best known of the niche real estate groups and is also one of the most diverse. For example, a mountain cottage, beachfront condominium or lakeside fishing retreat could each be a client's ideal for an escape from the daily routine. This class of property could easily be broken down into smaller market segments defined by locale, season of occupancy or associated activity.
Golf property is a popular segment of niche real estate for either residential or vacation use. There are thousands of golf courses worldwide with attached communities catering to the enthusiast. Perceived market value may be heightened if the associated course was designed by a noted professional or course designer. The same is often true for garden real estate, which are properties distinguished by notable landscaping or formal gardens. A well-known landscape designer's work may be seen as having an intrinsic value of its own.
More narrowly purposed niches can be found in properties dedicated to the equestrian or aviation communities. Equestrian lifestyles are facilitated in planned communities where nearby facilities and trails allow horse owners daily access to their animals. Stables and open areas may be shared or private with a resident staff of veterinarians, farriers and grooms. Similarly, communities have been designed around private airstrips with the aviation enthusiast in mind. Hangars, maintenance facilities and fueling stations are incorporated into the community.
Other facets of niche real estate may be built around the special needs of a small number of clients; for example, the very wealthy may wish to make a statement by the type of home they maintain. The famous or infamous might have special security requirements that must be addressed. Sites of historic note are often sought after by preservation societies or private individuals for restoration.