How to Start a Real Estate Business

Belle Wong

Whether you’re looking to make a career change or you have a lifelong passion for real estate, there are many reasons why you may be looking into opening a real estate company. And with real estate markets booming across the country, a real estate business is a great business to start.

If you enjoy interacting with others and like the idea of helping someone purchase the home of their dreams, becoming a real estate company owner might be the next step for you.

The purpose of this guide is to help you learn how to start a real estate business. We’ll take you through the following essential steps:

  • Developing and planning your real estate idea
  • Obtaining the proper licenses for your business
  • Setting up your real estate business

There’s one caveat, though. The process of opening a real estate company is more complicated than a lot of other small business startup ideas. A good first step is to make sure you plan to run a real estate business over the long term.

Develop and Plan Your Idea

Not only is real estate a vast and diverse field, but it’s also a highly competitive one. No matter where you plan to run you real estate business, you’ll be facing a lot of competitors. That’s why the development and planning stage is a major step that shouldn’t be overlooked.

It doesn’t matter if you plan to start a real estate brokerage or you just want to learn how to state a real estate business. Proper planning helps you identify and address potential challenges and hurdles.

Planning also helps you answer this key question: What do you need to start a real estate business? As you will see, the planning process can be crucial to the success of your new business.

Identify a Niche

You know you want to run a real estate business, and you may be thinking that’s enough of a niche in itself. But real estate is a broad field with a lot of competition. By identifying a niche, you can differentiate yourself from your competitors.

The following are some ideas to help you select a good niche for your real estate business:

  • A specific demographic. The demographics of your target market will make a big difference to your marketing efforts. For example, selling to young Millennials who are buying their first homes requires different marketing techniques than selling to retirees looking to downsize.
  • A specific property type. Choosing a type of property to specialize in can also give you a good niche to target. For example, even within the residential home market, property types run the range from small starter homes to luxury mansions and condo units.
  • Rental properties. The long-term rental market is another niche that can prove profitable. With house prices skyrocketing across the country, many people are looking to rent rather than buy, and they could use the expertise of a real estate professional during their search.

Market Research

Market research is an essential part of the real estate business development and planning process. It helps you clarify who your ideal clients are and the competition you’ll be facing.

Among other things, your market research can tell you:

  • Where your client base is located
  • The size of your target market in the area you’ve chosen
  • Your target market’s needs, wants and buying behaviors
  • The number of competitors within your chosen location
  • How your competitors are marketing themselves

Once you’ve completed your research, assess how you fit into the real estate landscape in your area. Even more importantly, strategize ways you can differentiate your real estate business from your competitors.

Create a Business Plan

A business plan is simply a document you put together to provide an outline of your real estate business’s goals and how you plan to achieve these goals. Creating a business plan is a vital stage of the planning process.

While business plans can be extensive and highly detailed, your real estate business plan doesn’t have to be excessively long to be valuable. Think of your business plan as a roadmap of sorts. A concise roadmap can be just as valuable as something more detailed.

Learning how to develop a real estate business plan begins with an understanding of what goes into a solid business plan. It should include:

  • Executive summary. This section is a summary of what you’ve put in the rest of your business plan.
  • Business description. This is where you’ll describe your real estate business and how your business is structured or organized.
  • Market research and strategies. In this section, describe the market research you’ve conducted and the marketing strategies you’ve come up with to reach your target market.
  • Competitive analysis. Who your competitors are and how they’re achieving (or not achieving) their goals is an important component of your real estate business plan.
  • Management and key personnel. This is the place to put the bios of your key personnel and how their experience and expertise can help your business meet its goals.
  • Financials. This section is made up of your financial statements. It’s here that you’ll show the financial numbers to back up the goals and strategies you’ve outlined in the rest of your plan.

Obtain the Right Licenses

No matter where you decide to run a real estate business, you will need to obtain a real estate license to make your business legal. Specific licensing rules and fees differ from state to state, so be sure to check your state’s requirements and fees in terms of licensing. And don’t forget to budget for the costs of any mandatory pre-licensing courses in addition to the cost of obtaining the real estate license itself.

Real Estate License

No guide on how to be in the real estate business would be complete without a discussion of the licenses required and how to obtain them. If you’re new to the world of real estate, you’ll need to obtain a real estate license before you can begin selling real estate. This is true even if you intend to open your own real estate brokerage.

Each state has its own rules for obtaining real estate licenses, so you’ll need to do research to be sure you meet all the requirements. In general, however, you will need to do the following:

  • Complete a valid pre-licensing course
  • Take and pass the real estate licensing exam
  • Submit your real estate license application to the appropriate state department

Once you have your license, you’ll need to make arrangements to work as a real estate agent under a broker.

Broker License

If you want to work as an independent agent, or you want to start your own real estate firm, you’ll need to obtain a real estate broker license. Just like obtaining a real estate license, each state will have its own rules for broker licenses. In general, you’ll need to:

  • Obtain a real estate license if you don’t already have one
  • Have between two to four years of real estate experience
  • Complete a valid pre-licensing course
  • Take and pass your state’s broker’s exam
  • Submit your real estate broker license application to the appropriate state department

Set Up Your Business

Once you’ve obtained the proper licenses, you can begin setting up your real estate business. Starting a real estate business involves a number of different things, and knowing what you’ll need to do can often help you feel less overwhelmed. And don’t forget, as a new real estate company owner, you’ll also need to learn how to manage a real estate company.

Manage Your Finances

When working in real estate, finance issues have an impact on the success of your business. Effectively managing your real estate business means you need to ensure your business finances are in order.

On top of basic business expenses, other financial issues you’ll need to stay on top of include the following:

  • Cash flow aspects of working in an industry that tends to ebb and flow
  • Budgeting for unexpected expenses and additional tools or licenses
  • Setting up an adequate marketing budget

Gaining a solid understanding of the financial aspects of your business will help you build a firm foundation on which to grow your real estate business.

Purchase Business Insurance

For those in real estate, insurance is an important business purchase. Much like any other small business, obtaining the right kind of small business insurance can make a big difference down the road.

While you hope to never deal with business catastrophes, the reality is that adverse things can happen to your business. If they do, you want your business insurance to step in and help set things right.

For example, small business insurance can be essential for any of the following:

  • Property damage
  • Theft
  • Liability issues
  • Lawsuits

Without the right insurance, these kinds of events can have a substantial negative impact on the bottom line of your real estate business.

Develop a Brand Identity

In the highly competitive world of real estate, branding plays a crucial role in successful real estate marketing plans. Your brand identity is the one thing that can set you apart from your numerous competitors, many of whom have similar-looking branding. A strong brand identity tells your clients who you are, what you do and why they should turn to you to help meet their needs.

To build a strong brand identity, use the results of the market research you carried out and follow up on these results with the following questions:

  • What’s your brand’s story?
  • What values are central to your business?
  • What’s your brand personality?
  • Who are your clients?
  • What problems do they need to solve?
  • Who are your competitors, and why are you different from them?
  • How are you ideally placed to help meet your clients’ needs?

Your clients will encounter your brand identity everywhere they meet your business. By developing a strong brand identity, you will be able to stay at the top of their minds.

Develop an Online Presence

Your real estate business is a local business. Do you really need to have an online presence? The answer is a resounding “yes.” Because clients expect their real estate agents to be online, having a presence online can play a significant role in the success of your business.

The good news is, it’s not difficult to develop a presence online. In general, you will need:

  • A business website. Your website works much like your own piece of Internet real estate. It’s the space where potential clients can find you and obtain your contact information.
  • Social media presence. These days, there are many different social media platforms. But you really only need to establish a social media presence on the platform where most of your potential clients hang out.
  • Online ads. Done right, you can leverage the power of online ads and paid search (for example, ads on Google or Facebook) to place your real estate business in front of potential clients when they need your services the most.

A real estate business isn’t the easiest business to set up. It can be overwhelming to face all you have to do, from developing and planning your business to studying for and passing your licensing exam. But if you’re committed to starting a real estate business, knowing what you need to do can go a long way toward setting your dream into motion.

And once you are set up, learn more about the optimal small business insurance for your new real estate business.

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