Starting a real estate business isn’t for the faint of heart. What other industry requires you to cold call dozens of leads every day but only close five deals in your first year (if you’re lucky)?
It’s a common adage that 3 out of 4 real estate agents fail within the first five years. But for those who have what it takes, starting your own real estate business can absolutely give you the seven-figure job of your dreams.
Here’s a down-to-earth look at how to start your own real estate business, plus advice for avoiding mistakes that hijack momentum as you grow.
No Competition, No Success!
According to the National Association of Realtors, there were 106,548 real estate brokerage firms operating in the US, in 2020. In that year, 5.64 million existing homes and 822,000 newly built homes were sold.
How big is your competition in this field can be gauged from the fact that the NPR has 1,504,474 realtors as its members?
However, do not be intimidated by the competition. When you start real estate, the focus should be on good planning.
The initial phase of a business is its foundation. Make sure that the foundation is solid so that you can handle the harsh market environment successfully later on.
So, to be successful in my own real estate business, you must be prepared to face the challenges. At a personal level, and as a business owner, nurture your ambitions and become a goal-oriented and organized person.
Keep in mind that the real estate sector is not about achieving instant success. Instead, it is a long game, which requires a lot of patience.
Here are the Steps to Start your Own Real Estate Business
01. Pick A Specific Real Estate Niche
First, choose your real estate business niche. This is a vast sector where plenty of businesses are active. You just cannot work in all of the niches as that is not viable and practical initially.
Here Is The List Of Main Real Estate Business Niches :
- Residential real estate
- Resort and vacation homes
- Income properties, the ones that real estate investors buy to have income through leasing or rental.
- Commercially zoned real estate properties
- Property management
- Rental Property
Your startup cannot do business in all of these niches. So, to work efficiently, pick one or at best two specific niches of your interest. The best way to choose is to prefer the field that you have worked in previously.
Adopt a narrow-down approach to zero into the niche of your liking. You may have experience buying and selling condos, the pick condos. Or, if you specialize in short sales, then choose rental property management.
Even when you think about how to start a real estate business with no money, a niche is essential to start about. You simply cannot excel in this business without focusing on a distinctive niche.
02. Choose A Legal Business Structure
When pondering on how to start a real estate business, pick the right legal business structure. By deciding on the structure, you will be able to meet all of your legal requirements to run your company.
While many types of legal structures are available, not all of them fit your type of business.
There are mainly four types of legal business structures: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), or A Corporation.
- Sole Proprietorship – A sole proprietorship means that you are the sole owner of your real estate business. You are responsible for the profits, losses, and debts while running your company.
- Partnership – Partnership means you will have one or more partners conducting the business. All the partners will be responsible for holding liability.
- Limited Liability Company – Limited Liability Company [ LLC] implies that business owners can limit personal liability and still the tax and other benefits will be included in it.
- Corporation – A corporation business structure allows the corporation to own property, pay taxes, and have contract deals. So, a corporation is legally separate from its owners.
So, if you want to operate your real estate business single-handedly, you should choose a sole proprietorship business structure. Most independent real estate agents operate under this structure.
You can also go for this structure if opening a real estate brokerage on your own. Also, if you do not choose the LLC structure option, then you are a sole proprietor by default.
Sole proprietorship real estate business structure is also the easiest to set up. Just as you start offering your services, you are automatically considered to have this structure without formally declaring it.
Choose a corporation and company structure only if you intend to set it up to gain some distinct financial benefits.
We advise that you should keep your real estate business goals in mind while picking the right business structures.
03. Do Extensive Market Research
Market research is essential to know if your business idea will work, and which niche in the real estate market will be good for you.
The research will also give you some idea of the ways to position yourself within the niche. You can even hire an online letting agent to do complete market research on your behalf and execute the marketing strategies as well.
Here Are Some Points To Consider:
- Make sure that you research the market early to save time and money
- Find out if you possess the right skills by researching the market
- The research will give you some real-world experience
- As you know more about your niche, you may find a mentor to guide you
04. Plan Everything
Like all other businesses, the real estate business also is a vast field with numerous aspects. So, find out your business plan before proceeding further into the business.
Write a business plan to have a clear map of the proceedings. Also, include in it the type of logo you would like to have for your business, designed by a designer or a logo creator.
The planning will give you confidence in moving forward in a measured way. For example, if you know how much cash you need to get your company started, you will plan your office building design, purchase the office furniture, equipment, and other things accordingly.
You can set realistic goals also. You can get advice from Small Business Development Center experts when writing your business plan or providing an essay writing service.
The purpose of a real estate business plan is to set goals and a direction. But more importantly, you can take the plan as a document to investors or lenders for financial assistance.
Planning is also the best way to get you involved directly in real estate projects.
05. Have A Business Plan
A business plan gives you a detailed outline of how you will proceed to achieve your business goals. You have a financial outline that helps you define your real estate business objectives.
There is no need for you to prepare a long plan. Instead, it can be concise in a few pages only. But it must focus on the key details of your business. Many one-page business plan templates are accessible online for use.
Note that you may take your business plan to your investors. So, it should include all the details that an investor possibly needs to look at.
An Ideal Real Estate Agency Business Plan Includes These Key Details:
- Executive Summary – It is called so because an executive can read to have a summary of what your plan is all about. So, it should be precise and have all the main points of the plan.
- Your Industry Overview – Tell something useful about the type of industry. Precisely mention where your business niche stands in the broader industry section. You should also give details about the key competitors, sales, and trends in the industry.
- Research And Analysis Details – Give an inside-out view of your market using the research and analysis you did. Talk about different market segments and their locations. Your real estate agent’s business plan should tell you about those people whom you take as your target customers.
- Your Competitors – Give some details about who are your direct and indirect competitors. But tell also how you will stand out from them in your niche real estate business.
- Marketing Strategy – Mention an outline of how you would be marketing your products or services. Just give the essence of it to the reader who may also be an investor. You may also opt for a detailed description of how you would promote your business.
- Management – Your business plan should also have a section describing how you will manage your business at the initial and later stages. Here, you can tell more about your advisory board.
- Operating Aspect – Do not forget to mention the location of your business and the facilities, equipment, and employees it will have. You can also name our potential suppliers. Give your manufacturing process as well.
- Finances – Tell about your estimated startup cost, cash flow, balance sheet, and any non-traditional business model you wish to follow. This aspect is important for investors to take a look at how you will deal with financial issues.
It would be even better if you could hire a professional real estate consultant firm like Skymarketing to get advice on different crucial investment related aspects of your business in this sector. Such a firm will serve you as an investment consultant, marketer, dealer, promoter, and marketing adviser.
06. Build A Sales Plan
Make sure that you have thought of how you will sell your real estate business services. Know that real estate is a sector where success depends mostly on the personal equations you have with your clients.
While you can generate leads from various sources, you still need to have a hands-on approach to seal the deals.
That means you must personally meet your potential clients. Working online and talking to people virtually is not going to work.
You need to quickly find out if you can serve the client or not, to save your time. This is part of your sales plan.
In case you can serve the client with the real estate services you have, meet the client in person for a consultation. The purpose here is to have an outline of what are their expectations from the deal.
At this stage, you will make the client commit to buying real estate from your services. So, consider this in your real estate agent business plan.
Once you have finally sold a real estate product or service to the client, use the deal to generate word-of-mouth publicity for your business.
That is a crucial part of your sales plan. The satisfied homeowners have a great experience negotiating the deal with you. They will surely like to speak a favorable word for your services.
Such a sales experience with your client will help you win referrals generated through word-of-mouth.
07. Set Up Your Shop
Look around for a location where you can set up your real estate shop. But a vast majority of the startup business owners start from their own home.
At the initial stage, focus on choosing a target market rather than finding a location for your storefront.
If your budget does not allow it, find out how to work without a proper storefront and work without hiring employees.
Do not be choosy and rigid in getting a physical location for your shop. A flexible approach that allows you to adjust your plan is a nice one.
You can even manage customer relationships by using Customer Relationship Management software. Such software and technologies are especially useful for new entrepreneurs to work from anywhere without worrying about a physical location.
Make sure that you are familiar with the area where you want to set up your real estate business shop. If you know the place well, it helps in reaching out to local people and clients.
Also, take a look at your competitors in the area. See if the realtors and real estate companies are successfully doing the business in that location.
08. Assess Your Finances
Before you start your real estate business, another important aspect to take care of is to assess your finances honestly. You will of course track your sales and commissions. But more than that the intention should be to help make your small business profitable.
You will have many financing alternatives to choose from. An assessment of your business will let you know about how you will finance it for its growth. If you have no picture of those numbers, it will be difficult to sustain your business for long.
Talking of finances, you should not be overspending and buy only those things that are barely essential to run your business for the time being. Avoid buying expensive equipment when starting.
Real estate brokers and agents can start with lesser finance at hand. Once they have to build a good list of loyal clients, then they can spend more on equipment and other things.
So, when your bookkeeping and accounting system has calculated your cash flow and other financial situations, stick to it.
Get Your Starting Finance
When starting a real estate business, only a small amount of money is usually enough. Many entrepreneurs started their real estate business for less than $1,000.
But do not make the usual mistake of calculating the startup cost only. It is better to instead calculate ‘carrying cost’, which lets you know the amount you need to survive for the next few months before getting your first payments from clients.
When writing your business plan, know about the lenders whom you would be approaching for a loan. If you do not have much money from your sources, then find ways to get the investors on your side.
09. Have Your Real Estate Business License
You simply cannot run your real estate business without having a license to work as a realtor.
After getting the licenses, you are legally allowed to sell residential and commercial real estate.
Follow These Basic Steps To Have Your Real Estate License:
- Apply For A Pre-License Course – You are required to take a pre-licensing real estate course and pass a real estate exam of your state. So, during the course, you will study property ownership types selling a probate property, fair housing laws, deeds, titles, contracts, etc real estate laws. You will learn about both your state’s and federal laws in this regard.
- Clear The Exam – Make sure that you pass the real estate pre-license exam with good marks, which is 70% to 75% of questions answered correctly. That will require you to study the state and federal laws a bit deeper. The examination duration ranges from 1.5 hours to 3.5 hours depending on the state.
- Make An Application For The License – After passing the exam, you need to apply for the real estate business license. The state authorities will check your background before granting you the license.
- Get A Real Estate Broker – Now, you should associate your real estate business license with a licensed real estate brokerage. It is essential to do your business as an agent. You can choose to work with a franchise brokerage or a boutique brokerage.
10. Set Up An Accounting System
Your real estate business, even if it is a sole proprietorship, will be filled for tax purposes. It will also need to track your cash flow. Therefore, you must have a bookkeeping and accounting system.
Accounting is all about keeping a record of your organization and financial information. Bookkeeping records and categorize your financial details.
Your new real estate business can start by hiring a bookkeeper on an hourly basis. The bookkeeper will be responsible for keeping your bank accounts and financial records. You can also hire the services of an outside bookkeeper to pay your bills and manage invoices.
Note that your business will need the services of bookkeepers and accountants to review your finances and tax strategies. You should be doing your accounting the professional way.
Therefore, hire a bookkeeper and accountant who is well versed in the real estate industry and tax preparations. The professional should also be able to formulate an effective accounting strategy for your business.
11. Hire A Business Lawyer
The job of a business lawyer is to make sure that the deal between you and your client is genuine and as per law. You need a business lawyer to set your business structure right. The lawyer will play a vital role in splitting ownership interest in case you have co-founders.
So, when everything is legally in place, your business can move forward smoothly. An experienced lawyer is a great help in overcoming obstacles that usually come in when thinking about how to start in real estate.
But avoid hiring a less experienced lawyer who may do more harm than good to your prospects of finalizing a deal. Such overzealous lawyers can even kill a potential deal due to their inexperience.
Therefore, do not let a lawyer’s costly fee impede conducting your real estate business successfully.
It would be good if you can build some relationships with an experienced lawyer who specializes in the real estate sector. Such a professional should be able to negotiate with brokers or agents.
12. Have Your Business Insured
An insured business is well-protected from any potential damages in the future. If for any reason you suffered losses to your office furniture and other property, insurance will compensate. So, keep your real estate business secure and safe by purchasing insurance before you start.
Starting a real estate business with business insurance will cover any potential losses to your property and any theft. The insurance will also cover damages caused due to intellectual property lawsuits.
For small real estate businesses, such losses matter a lot. Do not forget that even a small business in real estate involves a large amount of money, which is the price of commercial and residential properties.
You should get your liability insurance to give you protection from any possible claim. An unhappy client can sue you if something goes wrong due to negligence or any other factor.
Similarly, buy workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance as well. That will cover your employees.
Overall, There Are 7 Types Of Real Estate Business Insurances:
1. Professional Liability Insurance – Also know your errors and omission insurance, it will cover yours from any negligence on your part.
2. Property Insurance – This insurance will cover signages, equipment, furniture, and inventory of your real estate business.
3. Workers Compensation Insurance – You can compensate your employees when they need medical treatment and they are disabled. This insurance also helps you compensate them in case of their death.
4. Home-Based Business Insurance – Homeowner’s policy generally does not cover home business. So, if you run your real estate business from home, then get this insurance to cover your equipment and inventory at home.
5. Product Liability Insurance – This type of insurance is for a specific product or service of your real estate business. Clients can sue you for damages caused by one of your products. In that case, this insurance will compensate you.
6. Vehicle Insurance – You can cover your real estate business from any liability due to an accident in your vehicle.
7. Business Interruption Insurance – Your real estate business may suffer huge losses due to any catastrophic events. In that case, this insurance will cover your losses.
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13. Work On Brand Building
Branding is essential to build credibility and your business will look bigger than its size to the target consumers. Branding is all about creating a perception of your business in the minds of people.
To turn your real estate company into a trustworthy brand, you need a great real estate logo design, an ad campaign, press releases, and other such marketing strategies. You can follow these tips:
- Build relationships with your potential clients
- Engage your clients on a personal level and interact with them more often
- Set your real estate business apart from the competition
- Give your customers value for their money
- Project yourself as a go-to expert and solve your audience’s real estate issues
14. Get An Impressive Logo
Another aspect of doing a real estate business successfully is to have a unique and impressive logo. Such a logo will be your symbol of business that will appear everywhere on your promotional and marketing materials.
But a logo is not just any other symbol of a company and its business. More than that, a logo conveys your brand values to your target audience. People will have a certain impression of your real estate business when they see your logo. It can convey your value of honesty, dedication, quality products and services, trust, etc. to people.
But only an impressively designed business logo can help establish your brand identity in your target market amid the audience. Each element such as color, typeface, images, etc must be carefully incorporated into the design. So, every element including the shape of the logo matters in making it stand out.
Make sure that your real estate business logo does not look similar to your competitors. It should not also be a cliched design.
Remember that a bad and randomly designed logo can do more harm than good to the cause of your business.
Note also that getting a unique logo design is not costly these days. There is an online marketplace such as Designhill where designers can create logos as per your brief. Your cost of such access to a unique logo will be the bare minimum.
15. Have A Website For Your Business
When thinking about how to start your own real estate company, and how to give it a boost, make sure that it has a good presence on the web. Your potential clients make online searches to find out real estate products and services on offer.
But ascertain that your real estate website comes up on the top rankings of the search results on Google. A clear visible website at the top search result will mean that the consumers can reach your website, where you have put all the details of your company and business.
Your social media presence of the business is also part of the overall online marketing strategy. Use various social channels to form customer relationships. But build relationships also offline using a traditional outreach strategy.
To conclude, a real estate business requires a business plan and research of a niche market to find out the target consumers. The business starts with small money but finding out the investors is not difficult with a convincing business plan. Make strategies for a good online presence to drive consumers your way.
But make sure that your website design reflects your real estate business. Your visitors should come to know what your business is all about.
They come to know how your business stands out from competitors. So, include bio and photos of your business. Give high-quality examples of the real estate deals you made with clients.
16. Build An Online Presence
You also need to have a strong online presence for your real estate business. In this digital age, an online presence is not optional but essential in your field of work. Think of online when planning how to start a real estate company.
A strong online presence is all about how quickly people or target audiences can find a business or company online. So, the success of your real estate business depends on how easily your clients can locate you online.
Here Are Some Points To Consider When Building Your Strong Online Presence:
- Build Your Email List – Collect as many email addresses of your potential clients from your market using surveys, etc tools. Then, send email messages regularly to them about your real estate products or services.
- Master SEO – Search Engine Optimization techniques help in bringing your website and content to the top of search results. So, hire an SEO professional who will work hard to make your real estate business visible.
- Be Active Online – Make sure that you are consistently present online. You should be regularly posting several types of content pieces. That will ensure your online presence.
- Go To New Forums – Forums are the platforms where people come to post their problems and get answers from experienced people. Such forums help in taking your real estate business to more people as they solve your issues. You may also be solving other people’s problems on forums.
- Use Social Media – To enhance the online presence of your real estate business, you should be active on social media. Create your content of business for different social channels. Make sure that you are consistently present on these channels.
17. Build Your Social Media Presence
Make sure that your social media presence is strong. There are several social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others to explore.
You should particularly be present on Facebook and Twitter. These are the two most used and popular social channels where you can reach out to your potential clients.
All you need to ensure is to post your text and visual content regularly. With daily inputs from your end, your audience will become familiar with what you do. They can then recognize you as an expert real estate business owner.
18. Stand Out From Your Competitors
Another point to note while starting your real estate business is to stand out distinctly from your competitors.
Your business is new in the market. So, people may not notice it immediately if it does not catch potential clients’ attention immediately.
While a new business takes time to establish in any given market, it should make a sound start. So, study your competitors and find out how you can offer useful real estate business services.
Therefore, know what new services your real estate business can offer to the clients. How are you unique in dealing with your clients and resolving their issues amicably?
Answer these questions to know how people can see you as a realtor different from others in the market.
- What unique skills do you possess that help you stand out?
- Why did you enter the real estate business?
- Who are your target customers?
- What are your expectations from this business?
19. Build A Strong Network
To start a real estate business with a purpose, you must start building a network. It is a challenging industry where the competition is fierce.
You have to survive and then grow by competing well with established and new real estate businesses. The only way to grow here is to do hard networking.
Networking should be a key part of doing business in this industry. You need to make new connections and nurture older ones. With more connections, you can then easily establish your credibility.
However, not all the connections matter. Make sure that you choose quality clients and build a network of them for your business.
Therefore, join networking events in your area where you will personally meet with influential clients. They are instrumental in meeting your goals. Also, they can help build your sphere based on those connections.
But see that your network is diverse and includes individuals and businesses. They can give you timely advice, assistance, as well as sales leads.
While building your network, do not forget to keep your business cards ready. Nowadays, having a digital business card is the norm so that you can send it to potential customers online in your emails or other digital marketing campaigns. The card has all of your contact information. Therefore, make sure that you have a unique business card both physical and virtual.
20. Manage Customer Relationship
As your business grows, your list of customers becomes larger with time. Your Inbox has too many emails from clients and managing them becomes a hard task.
So, one of the key considerations for starting a real estate development company is to have a strong CRM team.
You should manage customer relationships with an honest intention of helping out your clients. They should see you as their rescuer when they are stuck with a real estate issue.
But you do not have to manage your customer relationship issues manually every time. These days, many CRM tools are available online when you want to organize your leads, network connections, and contacts.
Here Is The Select List Of CRM Tools For Small Businesses:
1. Hubspot CRM
3. Zoho CRMFreshsales
4. Less Annoying CRM
6. Zendesk Sell
Often these CRMs will integrate with an email service such as Google’s Gmail to make importing and organizing of customers’ email a smoother process.
So, you can quickly and easily track all of your customers’ engagements and make decisions. This means that you can optimize your interactions with customers.
21. Request For Referrals
Your satisfied customers can suggest to you some valuable clients that you can then contact. These are called referrals. So, referrals are important to make new contacts and clients for your real estate business.
As they say, one thing leads to another, you can also use the referrals to make further inroads in this jungle of real estate.
Many surveys have established the importance of referrals in the fast growth of a business. A study by Wharton School of Business has shown that the referred customers are more loyal and they have a 16% greater lifetime value. This means that such customers are more likely to be with your business for life.
So, do not be shy in asking your clients for referrals. They are satisfied with your services and so they will be more than willing to help you with referrals. You should take referrals as your great source of leads for your new business.
But most business owners ignore referrals. They do their job of serving a client well but make no additional effort to get referrals from them.
Note that most clients will be more than happy to share their experience of working with you. So, they do want to refer your services to your other potential clients.
Reach Out To Your Family and Friends
Besides your satisfied clients, your family, relatives, friends, and business associates are other sources of referrals. They are also helpful in extending your network of clients.
A rule of thumb of asking for referrals is to ask straightforwardly. Do not hesitate and place any ifs and buts to it. Just simply ask the client if he or she can refer your services to other people. Or, ask for their links and addresses.
Your clients or family and friends will not take it as something aggressive from your end. That is because everyone knows that is the way to ask for referrals.
If you are not sure how to do referrals, then explore some tools especially for this purpose. Many resources are accessible online to help you request referrals. You can even start an email campaign to give freebies or perks to the clients who refer your real estate business services.
So, start your real estate business with the utmost preparation from your end. Pay attention to each point mentioned above. But do not expect the results in a few days or months.
All you need to do is make a sound start and then the results will follow automatically with a bit more effort.
Your startup will need a logo and other visual identities. An impressive logo design will convey your brand values to your potential clients. Similarly, your business card, website, brochures, etc must be a unique design.