If you want to take the plunge and start your own real estate business instead of just treating real estate as a career while working for someone else, there is a lot to consider.
Here’s what you need to know to plan, start, and grow a real estate business.
>> This is a condensed version of How to start a real estate business: the definitive step-by-step guide. Read the full guide for more information and actionable resources to help you start your real estate business.
The real estate market is huge. There are approximately 2 million active real estate licensees and over 86,000 real estate brokerage firms in the United States. The median gross income of a real estate licensee is approximately $ 42,000.
According to National Association of Real Estate Agents, annual sales have been increasing for more than a decade. And while 2020 and a global pandemic put a lot of pressure on the real estate market, the end of 2020 saw a strong rebound in real estate sales across the country.
A long-term career in real estate can be a lucrative small business.
Let’s take a look at the five steps to start a real estate business:
1. Develop and refine your idea
Real estate is competitive. Your area already has at least one or two successful and popular real estate brokers and companies.
How do your natural assets differentiate you from other real estate companies in the region?
Consider the following questions as you start your real estate business and refine your business idea:
• What skills set me apart?
• What is the goal of my business?
• Who do I provide a service or product to?
• What is the maximum amount that I can safely devote to this real estate activity?
• Do I need outside capital? How much?
• What kind of work / life balance am I trying to achieve?
• What are my expectations for starting a real estate business?
Find a niche for your real estate business
When starting a real estate business, think about what specific niche is right for your real estate company to give yourself a leg up on the competition.
Maybe you want to be the expert in the field in short sales, focusing only on rental property management, or maybe you are the go-to resource for your state’s landlord / tenant laws.
This is true for any small business, not just the real estate industry. Our definitive guide to how to start a business emphasizes that aspiring entrepreneurs choose a niche to have the best chance of success.
The competition is tough enough – make it easier to stand out with a specialty when starting a real estate company.
2. Write a business plan
Although a business plan is not mandatory, it can help you crystallize your ideas.
A business plan defines your business goals and then provides specific information that shows how your business will achieve those goals.
Your business plan doesn’t have to be 100 pages long. 100-page business plans are not standard in the real estate industry. Keep your business plan short and to the point, and focus on the essential details. There are several large one page business plan templates you can use.
Studies show that entrepreneurs who take the time to write a business plan are 2.5 times more likely to go all the way and start a business. The work involved in creating a business plan also helps new entrepreneurs develop skills that will be invaluable down the road.
For actionable insights and free downloadable business plan templates, read this definitive guide on writing a business plan.
And find a mentor who can help you revise your business plan and answer other questions about starting a real estate business. Many seasoned real estate agents and brokers are looking for help with their real estate businesses or potential future partners.
3. Obtain a real estate license
You will need to get your real estate license before you can start working as an official real estate agent.
In most states, a real estate license allows you to sell residential real estate. You will need a separate certification to sell commercial real estate (called commercial real estate).
There are four necessary steps you need to compete to get your real estate license and start working as a real estate agent:
• Take the real estate pre-license course for your state. You will need to study the topics covered on the exam, including fair housing laws, types of property, fiduciary responsibilities, titles, deeds, contracts, and other necessary aspects of real estate law. Each real estate pre-licensing course will cover your state’s rules and regulations, in addition to the federal real estate laws in effect for all 50 states.
• Pass the real estate license exam. The duration of the exam varies from approximately 1.5 hours to 3.5 hours depending on your condition. In most states, you must answer 70% to 75% of the questions correctly to be successful.
• Submit your real estate license application. Submit your license application to your state’s real estate board as soon as you pass your exam. Your state may require that all applicants for a real estate license submit their fingerprints for a criminal background check.
• Find a real estate broker. Now that you’ve passed your real estate exam, submitted your license application to your state’s real estate department, and paid the necessary fees, you’ll need to find a broker to work for. Having your license associated with a licensed brokerage is required to start working as a real estate agent.
4. Create a strong brand identity
Real estate agents and brokers often market their services on the basis of their brand and personality.
Make a memorable brand identity is a crucial element for any real estate professional.
Your brand identity is how people know you and your business. It affects how customers perceive your reputation or the reputation of your business.
Ask yourself these essential questions:
• What identity / personality do I want my real estate brand to project?
• Who will want my products or services?
• What can clients get from my services that they can’t get anywhere else?
• What can clients achieve by working with me that they can’t go anywhere else?
• What are the values of my brand?
• What is the most critical part of my clients’ experience?
Your answers to these questions (and others like them) will build the heart of your brand. All your future Branding and rebranding decisions should develop these ideas. Your Company Name, logo and website should all evolve from the concepts you have presented here.
Far too many real estate companies have identical logos. Make sure your real estate logo is unique.
And don’t forget the real estate signage. Leave dull signs for others and instead get real estate signs who sell.
Whenever you make personal appearances, be sure to wear business cards and leaflets for people who want to know more about your services.
Before you decide to delay building a strong brand identity for your real estate business because you may not have a huge budget, rethink this plan.
The truth is, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to build a strong brand identity. Here are some pricing guides that can help you identify the right place for pricing:• •
• How much should a logo design cost?
• How much does a business card cost?
• How much should a brochure design cost?
• How Much Does Website Design Cost?
The guides above cover free, cheap, affordable, and expensive options. You will find a price that will suit your budget, regardless of the size of your budget.
5. Build an online presence
Clients choose real estate services based on the brand, the real estate professional behind the brand, and that person’s reputation. Your website is often the first point of contact between you and your potential customers. Make that first impression a good impression with a well-designed site.
According to a to study of home buyers, 90% start their research online, and 40% contact a real estate agent after researching the web.
You have to be on the Internet to be competitive in the real estate market.
Make sure your website design truly embodies your real estate brand. Visitors should understand who you are, the services you provide, your qualifications and your reputation.
The design and marketing copy of your real estate website should project the voice and identity of your personal brand or that of your broker. Here are some suggestions:
• If you work as a realtor, include a photo and biography. Homebuyers want to know the person behind the site.
• Be authentic and avoid marketing “happy talks”. Speak the same language as your customers.
• Include high quality examples of sales you have made and be sure to include social proof wherever possible.
• Provide an easy way for site visitors to get in touch with you.
There is a lot to think about when starting your own real estate business.
But with this guide, you have a proven step-by-step plan that shows you how to start your own real estate business.
Ross Kimbarovsky is Founder and CEO of the crowd, where over 220,000 experienced freelancers help agencies, small businesses, entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations with logo design, web design, graphic design, product design and corporate naming services high quality personalized. Ross mentors entrepreneurs through TechStars and Founder Institute, has been honored as one of Techweek100’s Top Tech Leaders and Business Visionaries, and enjoys wearing shorts to work after a successful 13-year career as a litigator. Ross has founded many other startups, including Startup Foundry, Quickly Legal, and Respect.