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VIEWPOINT: 5 Insights to Help You Start a Real-Estate Business

By Ross Kimbarovsky


A real-estate career, over the long term, can be a lucrative small business.

Let’s take a look at five steps you should take to start a real-estate business (this is a condensed version of How to Start a Real Estate Business: The Definitive Step-by-Step Guide):

1. Develop and refine your idea.

How do your natural strengths differentiate you from the other real-estate businesses in the area? Consider the following questions:

• What skills set me apart?

• What is the purpose of my business?

• Who am I providing a service or product to?

• What is the maximum figure I can safely spend on this real-estate business?

• Do I need outside capital? How much?

• What kind of work/life balance am I looking to achieve?

• What are my expectations for starting a real-estate business?

Competition is hard enough — make it easier to stand out with a specialty when you start a real-estate company.

Maybe you want to be the area expert in short sales, only focus on rental-property management, or perhaps you are the go-to resource for landlord/tenant laws for your state.

It’s important to find a niche. Choosing a niche will increase your chance of success.

2. Write a business plan.

A business plan defines your company’s objectives and then provides specific information that shows how your company will reach those goals.

Although a business plan isn’t mandatory, it can help you to crystallize your ideas. Keep your business plan short and concise and focus on the essential details. There are several great one-page business-plan templates you can use.

3. Get a real-estate license.

There are four necessary steps you need to complete to get your real-estate license and start working as a realtor:

• Take the real estate pre-licensing course for your state. You’ll need to study the topics covered on the exam, including fair-housing laws, property-ownership types, fiduciary responsibilities, titles, deeds, contracts, and other necessary aspects of real-estate law. 

• Pass the real-estate licensing exam. The exam length varies from about 1.5 hours to 3.5 hours, based on the state. In most states, you must answer 70 percent to 75 percent of the questions correctly to pass. 

• Submit your license application to your state’s real-estate board as soon as you pass your exam. Your state may require all real-estate license applicants to submit their fingerprints for a criminal-background check.

• Find a real-estate broker. 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 strength of their brand and personality.

Crafting a memorable brand identity is a crucial element for any real-estate professional.

Your brand identity represents how people know you and your business. It affects how customers perceive your reputation or the reputation of your company.

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 get from working with me that they can’t get anywhere else?

• What are my brand values?

• What is the most critical part of my customers’ experience?

Your answers to these questions (and others like them) will build the core of your brand. All of your future branding and rebranding decisions should expand on these ideas. Your business name, logo, and website should all grow from the concepts you laid out here.

Far too many real-estate companies have identical logos. Be sure your real-estate logo is unique.

And don’t forget about real-estate signage. Leave dull signs to others and instead, get real-estate signs that sell.

Whenever you make personal appearances, be sure to carry business cards and brochures for people who want to learn more about your services.

Before you decide that you should delay building a strong brand identity for your real-estate business because you might not have a considerable budget, rethink that plan. The truth is that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on building a strong brand identity. 

5. Build an online presence.

Customers 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 contact point between you and potential clients. Make that first impression a good one with a well-designed site.

According to a study on homebuyers, 90 percent start their search online, and 40 percent contact a real-estate agent after researching the web.

You must be on the internet to compete in the real-estate market. Ensure that your website design truly embodies your real-estate brand. Visitors should understand who you are, the services you offer, and your qualifications and reputation.

Your real-estate website design and marketing copy should project your personal or broker’s brand voice and identity. Here are some suggestions:

• If you work as a real-estate agent, include a photo and bio. Homebuyers want to know the person behind the site.

• Be authentic and avoid marketing “happy talk.” Speak the same language as your customers.

• Include high-quality examples of sales you’ve closed, and make sure to include social proof wherever possible.

• Give site visitors an easy way to get in contact with you.

There’s a lot to think about when you’re 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 at crowdspring. He mentors entrepreneurs through TechStars and Founder Institute and has founded numerous other startups, including Startup Foundry, Quickly Legal, and Respect. You can read his full guide, called “How to Start a Real Estate Business: The Definitive Step-by-Step Guide,” at

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