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How to Start a Real Estate Business

Written by:

Edited by:

Reviewed by: Daniel Javor

Published on October 29, 2021

Updated on September 23, 2022

How to Start a Real Estate Business

Disclaimer: Step by Step Business’ content is for informational and educational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional legal or tax advice. All of our articles are thoroughly reviewed and fact-checked by our editorial team. Read our editorial guidelines for more details.

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Fast Facts

Investment range

$1,190 - $2,070

Revenue potential

$25,000 - $62,000 p.a.

Time to build

4 - 6 months

Profit potential

$22,000 - $56,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Flexible

How to Start a Real Estate Business

Investors like to say real estate is the strongest asset. Owning a piece of property is practically a requirement for every business and every family: it’s slow to depreciate and all but guaranteed to appreciate over time. No surprise, then, that the real estate industry presents serious opportunities for the entrepreneur. Running a real estate business is hard work, of course, requiring research and expertise, as well as time, energy, and maybe a bit of charisma.

But it’s also very doable. The key is understanding what’s required and advancing patiently through the business launch process, step by step. Whether your real estate operation will focus on residential, commercial, industrial, or land assets, certain business tenets and administrative tasks need to be completed. That’s where we come in, and this guide to starting a real estate business from scratch could have you counting your commissions sooner than you think.

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

A prospective real estate professional should first determine which type of business offers the best fit. Business in real estate can include:

  • Real estate agency/brokerage – marketing and selling properties
  • Real estate investing – buying and selling real estate for a return on investment
  • Real estate management – managing real estate properties on day-to-day basis

This article will focus on starting a real estate agency or brokerage, in which you become a licensed agent and work with prospective buyers and sellers to move properties for a commission. Real estate agency customers include future homeowners and business owners buying office space.

Real estate agents are professionals with knowledge and expertise in the residential or commercial property space or both. To legally help people buy, sell and lease real estate assets, they must operate with an official real estate license issued by the state in which they work. Generally, agents work for a sponsoring agency or brokerage firm, though some work independently.

Real estate brokers are agents who have gone through further education to gain their broker’s license. Brokers can work independently or hire agents to work for their business.

Realtors are licensed real estate agents or brokers who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). They are as a result beholden to NAR’s code of ethics and are part of a reputable trade association, which provides significant resources.

Essentially, on your journey into the real estate industry: you begin as a real estate agent and then can work to acquire more experience, knowledge, education, and licensing certifications to become a real estate broker or a realtor, or both. Each additional title is viewed as an upgrade, enhancing reputation and earnings potential.

The education and examination process to gain a real estate license typically takes 4-6 months, so if you’re just starting now you have some time to prepare for launching your real estate business.

Pros and cons

Every business has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s a good idea to weigh these factors to help you decide if real estate is right for you.

Pros

  • Flexible – Even working for an agency, a real estate agent has a good deal of independence, choosing your own work hours and area.
  • Dealing with people – If you enjoy interacting with others, engaging and persuading, being a real estate agent might be the job for you.
  • High income – By helping sell properties for commissions, your income potential will be limited only by your sales totals.
  • Dream seller – A new home or business property can make people’s lives better; you will be in the business of selling dreams.

Cons

  • Extended hours – The open-ended nature of real estate sales often leads to evening and weekend work.
  • Dealing with people – For some, this is less than ideal.
  • No salary, no guarantees – Agents rely completely on commissions, earning no salary, and your income could drop sharply during slow periods.
  • High-stress decisions – Buying a new home or office is a major investment, a crucial life decision; you will often work with people dealing with stress and anxiety.

Real estate industry trends

The global real estate industry saw total revenue of $4.24 trillion in 2020, highlighting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.3% since 2016, according to market research firm Research and Markets.((https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210902005568/en/Global-Real-Estate-Industry-Almanac-2021-A-4.24-Billion-Market—Value-and-Volume-2016-2020-and-Forecast-to-2025—ResearchAndMarkets.com))

Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) shows US real estate revenue on a steady incline over the past decade, despite significant dips every year.((https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/REV5312TAXABL144QNSA))

The value of all US real estate experienced its biggest increase in 15 years in 2020, gaining nearly $2.5 trillion in value, according to leading online realtor Zillow.((https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/2020-us-housing-market-gains-were-biggest-in-15-years-301214718.html))

Industry size and growth

real estate industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

In a 2021 report, leading consultancy PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) detailed the key trends in the real estate market.((https://www.pwc.com/us/en/industries/financial-services/asset-wealth-management/real-estate/emerging-trends-in-real-estate.html))

Trends in the real estate industry include:

  • Suburban growth – With the rise of remote work, higher city taxes, and greater appreciation for low-density living, suburban populations are expected to grow.
  • Remote work transition – Most businesses now allow or even encourage remote work, which means office real estate sales and leasing are expected to decline, though business investment in digital capabilities such as server space may increase.
  • Safety and wellness measures – Due to COVID-19, real estate agents are expected to closely follow all health and cleanliness regulations at their properties — especially hotels, office buildings, retail, and restaurants.
  • Retail transition – Amid the pandemic and changing consumer tastes, US retail is moving away from big box and department stores and embracing discount, fast fashion, and online retail, which is reshaping commercial real estate.
  • Affordable housing issues – Housing disparities for low-income workers and threats of eviction mean that federal, state, and local governments could be pressed to provide programs and solutions to address affordable housing issues, which would take some housing stock off the market.

Challenges in the real estate industry include:

  • 5-10% price decline – The continuing COVID-19 pandemic is expected to reduce real estate prices 5-10% and keep them down for a number of years, with industrial properties, data centers, and single-family homes expected to rise in value while retail and hospitality properties see the largest decline.
  • Social justice and racial equity concerns – Recent polls say real estate buyers and sellers are showing greater concern about the impact of real estate laws and practices on racial minorities and underserved communities.
  • Fiscal challenges – Declining real estate tax revenues, as a result of hotels, malls, and offices losing tenants and value, means local governments could face financial challenges that erode their services and resources. This could mean less subsidized real estate loans, lesser infrastructure investment support from local governments, and potential changes in interest rates.
real estate industry Trends and Challenges

What kind of people work in real estate?

real estate industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a real estate business?

A real estate agent needs to get a state license to operate, which includes the cost of a pre-licensing course (~$300), study guides, books (~$35), and any fees to take the exam (~$150), plus a background check (~$40). The total average cost comes to $525.

Real estate agent advisory Building Better Agents says that as a new real estate agent you should expect the following startup and early operations costs:

Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Real estate license$500 - $550$525
Brokerage fees$300 - $400$350
Operation cost$115 - $345$230
Lockbox key$10 - $20$15
Business cards$5 - $10$8
Board of Realtors (NAR)$30 - $50$40
Multiple Listing Service (MLS) access$20 - $40$30
Gas$25 - $75$50
Client coffee/lunches$25 - $150$88
Marketing expenses$100 - $300$200
Education expenses$10 - $30$20
E&O insurance$50 - $100$75
Total$1,190 - $2,070$1,631

Operating as a real estate agent, you will typically split your commission with a broker according to a predetermined arrangement. The commission split can range from a 90% (you) / 10% (broker) split to a 50/50 split, depending on experience level and negotiation process. You must pay certain fees at startup and then on a monthly basis, averaging $350 at startup and $125 per month thereafter.

Monthly operational costs will include some of the basics for running your real estate business, not including an office space rental. Marketing costs – which can vary wildly depending on your approach – include your website, photos and videos of listings, and online ads to promote your business and your properties.

Online resources such as 360 Training and Real Estate Express offer more detailed cost estimates and relevant discussions by real estate professionals.

How much can you earn from a real estate business?

Established real estate agents can expect to earn nearly $50,000 per year, according to the latest data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. These annual income figures are based entirely on commission and can thus vary widely, from less than $25,000 for the industry’s bottom 10% to more than $112,000 for the top 10%. Real estate brokers, given their higher certification and education, typically earn more, with the median at just over $60,000 in 2020.

A real estate agent’s first few years may be in the lower-income bracket due to inexperience and the need to build a reputation and client base. But after a couple of years, an agent or broker is likely to be closer to the $50,000 median. Real Estate Express highlights the advantage of sticking with it: an agent with 10+ years of experience ($83,177) makes more than double that of an agent with 2-3 years experience ($41,023).

The average real estate agent commission in the US is about 5-6% of the sale price, according to real estate advisor Clever. 

This means agents and brokers can potentially live off just a handful of sales per year, depending on the area of specialization. In fact, the average US real estate agent closes just 5 to 12 sales per year, according to the NAR. The challenge is making those sales and getting those commissions, which are likely to be your sole source of income.

In your first year or two, you could sell two homes for $250,000 each in a year, bringing in $25,000 in annual revenue assuming a 5% commission. If you’re just working from home with minimal overhead costs and 90% profit margin, you’d make a profit of at least $22,000. As you gain experience, sales could climb to 5 homes a year. With annual revenue of $62,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $56,000.

real estate business earnings forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

Barriers to entry as a real estate professional include:

  • Competitors – Due to the relative ease of entry (no college degree necessary) and potentially lucrative nature of the business, competition is fierce. Rival agents and brokers will often be looking to sell the same property you are.
  • Education & licensing – Operating as a professional agent or broker, requires an outlay of time, effort, and money to earn your license. Keeping up on your continuing education and knowledge of your area and property specialization are also important.
  • High earners require experience – It can take years to establish yourself as a knowledgeable, qualified, and well-connected real estate professional. While barriers to entry may be low compared to other high-earning industries, becoming a top earner takes years, and there are no shortcuts.

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a real estate business. It’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.

Why? Identify an opportunity

If you are a people person with a knack for understanding how a new home or office can change lives, then starting a real estate business could be perfect for you.

A good first step is to narrow down your business location for your business: do you want to be urban or rural? Working in a big city or a small town? Next, consider what type of property you would like to focus on: residential, commercial, industrial, or land. Keep in mind, while residential homes may see the most sales, they are also the most competitive.

Researching the top real estate opportunities in your area should help determine which category to pursue.

Look for answers to questions such as: What kind of homes are people buying? Where have home sales recently increased? What types of commercial properties are most popular in my area? Are any niche property types drawing more attention lately?

As a real estate agent you will need to ally with a broker to complete your transactions. A smart approach is to choose someone with whom you’re able to communicate and collaborate. New agents are legally required to work under a broker for a period of time that varies by state, but is often several years. The ideal choice is a broker that is willing to guide you through the industry ropes, so look for a professional you can trust. Remember your earnings will rely on commissions that will be split with this person.

What? Determine your products or services

As an agent you will be focused on meeting people and showing them the features, as well as the buying or selling options, of a certain property. It’s crucial to be pleasant and personable as you guide people through one of life’s major milestones.

Real estate offers several industries and roles you might tap into, each with their own certifications and designations:

  • Residential Real Estate – Help clients buy and sell homes, including property valuation, financing, mortgages and aid with government programs. Agents and brokers require a state license. The Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR) and Seller Representative Specialist (SRS) certifications are also useful.
  • Commercial Real Estate – Help clients evaluate and buy/sell income-producing properties including office buildings, shopping centers, industrial parks, and apartment complexes. Some states require agents or brokers to have a specialized commercial license. The Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) and Certified Commercial Advisor (CCA) certifications are useful within this area.
  • Property Management – Maintain and manage properties such as apartments, condominiums, and vacation rentals. Property managers typically work for real estate firms and most states require a license to collect rent, list properties or negotiate leases. The Certified Property Manager (CPM) and Accredited Residential Manager(ARM) certifications are useful in this area.
  • Real Estate Appraisal – Help determine the value of properties for people and businesses, for investment, tax, accounting, or insurance purposes. Appraisers generally work for banks or appraisal firms and must be licensed by the state. The Residential Accredited Appraiser (RAA) and General Accredited Appraiser (GAA) designations are useful in this area.
  • Real Estate Counseling – Research and advise to help investors determine the future value of properties. This service is often unique to each client’s needs. Real estate advisors usually have backgrounds in valuation, development, and property management. The Counselor Real Estate (CRE) designation is useful in this area.

No matter which avenue you choose, your goal as a professional is to provide indispensable value to your clients on assets that will likely be vital to their business or their lives.

How much should you charge for your services?

The average commission is 5-6% of the sales price, which will be split by the agent and the broker as per their agreement. Depending on the client and the broker, commissions may be negotiable.

Top real estate agents often demand a higher commission and a more advantageous split with their broker. Both agents and brokers require a license to receive a commission, and brokers generally pay agents as independent contractors.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market depends largely on your area of specialization. If you choose residential, you will zero in on families and working professionals ready to invest in a home. If you go with commercial, your focus will be on business owners and companies in need of retail or office space.

Keep in mind that homeowners and business owners may buy property with investment criteria in mind, such as a specific appreciation rate or sales timeline. It is an agent’s job to be aware of their buyer or seller’s criteria for each and every transaction.

Where? Choose your business premises

Since most of an agent’s in-person work can take place at the property itself, the profession is flexible in terms of premises. You can rent or buy office space and have a place to host clientele, plus room for assistants, partners, or employee agents. Or you can operate from home, working part- or full-time and traveling to meet clients on-site when needed.

This flexibility, along with the income potential, attracts many entrepreneurs. In the early stages of your business, you may want to operate from home to keep expenses in check. As your business grows, you might need to hire workers and move into an office space. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
real estate business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “real estate” or “brokerage”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that set your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Business Plan

Every business needs a plan, a rough outline that helps guide a startup through the launch process while maintaining focus on key goals. A business plan is also crucial for helping potential partners and investors understand your company and vision before they invest:

  • Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written once the plan is complete.
  • Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
  • Product and Services: Describe your real estate company’s services in detail.
  • Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
  • Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
  • Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
  • Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
  • Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
  • Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist at Fiverr to create a top-notch business plan for you.

what to include in a business plan

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to real estate. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.

Choose your business structure

Businesses come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your real estate business shapes your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so it’s important to choose wisely.

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just needs to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using ZenBusiness’s online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

types of business structures

Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more.

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate on a calendar year (January–December), or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method, but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Venture capital: Offer potential investors an ownership stake in exchange for funds, keeping in mind that you would be sacrificing some control over your business.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding a real estate business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.

Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits

Starting a new real estate business requires you to obtain several licenses and permits from the local, state, and federal authorities.

To operate as a real estate agent or broker, you will need to do the requisite coursework and take the exam to gain the license for your state. To operate as a realtor, you need to already be a licensed agent or broker, then work to attain official certification from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Property sales commissions tend to be sizable sums, so you will need somewhere to keep your earnings, and that means opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your real estate business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer business account options, just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked but is vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your life and business.

Here are some of the different types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and perfecting some key elements of your business.

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, a number of excellent software programs and digital tools can help you with many business tasks. 

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as Propertybase, Zillow Premier Agent, RealScout, Contactually, and Structurally, for customer relationship management, lead generation, back office operations, and a homebuying search engine.

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
  • If you are unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Marketing

Some of your business will come from the casual passerby or online visitors, but you should still invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness. 

Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products: 

  • Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area. 
  • Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
  • Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Reserve Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.
  • Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.

Kickstart Marketing

Take advantage of your website, social media presence, and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:

  • Competitions and giveaways – Generate interest by offering prizes for customers who complete a certain action, such as 5% off for reservations made before the end of the month.
  • Signage – Put up eye-catching signage at your store and website. 
  • Flyering – Distribute flyers in your neighborhood and at industry events. 
  • In-Person Sales – Offer your real estate products at local markets and trade shows. 
  • Sponsor events – You can pay to be a sponsor at events that are relevant to your target market
  • Post a video – Post a video about your real estate business. Use humor and maybe it will go viral!
  • Email marketing/newsletter – Send regular emails to customers and prospects. Make them personal. 
  • Start a blog – Start a blog and post regularly. Change up your content and share on multiple sites.
  • Seek out referrals – Offer incentives to generate customer referrals to new clients. 
  • Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
  • Testimonials – Share customer testimonials about how your real estate service helped them find the perfect house.
  • Create infographics – Post infographics and include them in your content.

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google. 

You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your real estate business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your real estate business could be: 

  • Experience with previous residential or commercial deals
  • Local expertise
  • Housing expert
  • Buyer or seller expert
  • Fast and efficient closing
  • Market research specialist
  • Recognizable brand or charismatic presence via billboards, online ads, etc.
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a real estate business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in real estate for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in real estate. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.

Step 12: Build Your Team

You may not need to hire any employees if you are starting out with a home-based office. But as your business grows, you will need to hire full-time employees for various positions, such as:

  • Real Estate Agent/Broker
  • Listings Manager – Assists agents with research and contracting
  • Transaction Coordinator – Oversees transactions through to closing
  • Marketing Director
  • Showing Assistant – Readies and shows properties to prospective clients
  • Accountant

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Start Making Money!

In a comprehensive overview of the 2020 US real estate market, Forbes noted a crucial statistic for prospective real estate business owners: more than half of real estate transactions today are facilitated by inexperienced, part-time agents.((https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesrealestatecouncil/2020/10/06/15-upcoming-trends-that-will-impact-the-real-estate-market/?sh=6d0c12c6d513)) This has spurred greater demand for more experienced agents who provide clients with best-in-class service and results. Additionally, Forbes expects independent brokerages to receive a smaller share of real estate business as corporate and venture capitalist-backed brokerages gain market share.

It’s to your advantage that you keep these data in mind when you set up your real estate business. You’re now ready to start your entrepreneurial journey. Good luck!

Real Estate Business FAQs

What kind of license(s) do you need to get started in real estate?

The required license for a real estate agent or brokerage will depend upon your state. The US has no national real estate license (though there is a national certification for Realtors, with the NAR). You should begin your research based on the requirements of the state in which you plan to do business.

Are real estate prices - and agent / broker commissions - negotiable?

Yes. Almost everything in real estate is negotiable. The negotiations mainly depend on discussions between the buyer and seller. For commissions, agent and broker come to an agreed-upon division. Property prices and commission negotiations hinge on the experience level and leverage of the main parties.

Should I be a part-time or full-time real estate agent?

This depends on your life circumstances and desired work schedule. Keep in mind, your average seller or buyer is less likely to use a part-time agent, who are thought to have less expertise. In addition, as a part-time agent you may be required to lower your commission  or agree to a less favorable split with your broker.. Being a full-time agent, on the other hand, requires more time and energy, while offering greater earnings potential.

How do I find a good real estate broker to work with?

As a new agent, search for a broker just as you would for any business partner. Find a brokerage you can trust, with strong management, industry expertise, reasonable commission splits, an online presence, solid reputation, and the capacity to support your career. Real Estate Express provides a handy guide for new agents.