Many of us finish our real estate education, pass our exam, and think, “Well, now what?” Because, while we might know about homestead exemptions, the measurements of a government survey township, and how many square feet are in an acre, we don’t know how to start a real estate business.
The truth is, real estate agents are so much more than licensed professionals. We are business owners, responsible for all that goes into a successful business, from branding and marketing to sales and budgeting. We’re the CEO, COO, CFO, and CTO—oh, and we have to actually practice real estate.
The good news is The Close has you covered. We’ve pulled together all of our tools, resources, worksheets, and templates you need to build your real estate business into a step-by-step guide—and you can start right now!
Know Your ‘Why’
Building a business takes tremendous energy and focus, which is why it’s important to first establish why you’re doing it. Maybe you love the thrill of the deal. Maybe you hope to help people and make their dreams come true. Maybe you want to develop your community. Your “why” needs to drive the large (and small) decisions of your business.
This can be summed up in your mission, vision statements, and values. Before you can tackle the really exciting things, like your branding, first establish what you stand for. Our resource below will walk you through the process and give you helpful examples of each element.
Make a Plan
You know what Yogi Berra said about planning: If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else. Bottom line: Planning is crucial to building your business.
Let’s start with a good old-fashioned business plan. It’s a classic because it works. We created our business plan template specifically for agents; it walks you through all of the decisions you’ll need to think through. Your business plan is your blueprint—it will help you reduce risk, identify threats and weaknesses early on, exploit opportunities, and fortify strengths.
Our business plan leads you through these seven steps:
- Telling your story
- Targeting your specific real estate market
- Identifying your target client
- Conducting a SWOT analysis (don’t worry, it’s all in the template)
- Establishing your goals
- Creating a financial plan (remember what I said about budgeting?)
- Monitoring and evaluation
By the end, you’ll have a crucial founding document that will support and inspire you in the hard times and keep you on track in the rocking good times.
If your business plan is already in place and you’re looking for ways to scale, here are some ideas to differentiate yourself in a crowded market. Carve out a specialty for your business with one from our list of 6 red-hot real estate niches.
Create Your Brand
You don’t have to take our word for it—Steve Forbes puts it clear as day: “Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.” But it’s way more than just a logo. There are many different components to your brand, and we can help you with each step.
Start with our business launch kit, which is essentially a collegiate-level crash course in branding and marketing.
If you already have a pretty good foundation for your brand and want a tune-up, check out Real Estate Branding: How to Build Your Brand (+ Case Studies). Here you’ll go through some thought and strategy exercises to put your branding through its paces and compare it to some successful case studies.
What are you going to call yourself? What is going to make you stand out in a crowded market and speak to your value proposition? If you already know because you’ve been tossing it around in your head for months or years, excellent! Skip this step.
If you’re not sure where to start (or worried you didn’t get it quite right yet), we’re here to help. Our Creative Real Estate Company Names article includes a free name generator. Click on over and take it for a spin.
Now that you have a name, it’s time to create some visuals to go with it. You need a logo that is bold and defines exactly who you are and what you’re all about. If you have the graphic design chops to design your own, go for it (VistaCreate and Canva can help)! If not, maybe leave it to the professionals. Check out Fiverr, where you can set your own budget (as low as $5) and hire a designer to create a custom logo for your business.
A strong slogan can convey a wealth of information in just a handful of words. Slogans can be pithy (Sell It Like Serhant), earnest (Our Passion Is People. What’s Yours?), or highly local (The Power of Deep Roots). But they must reinforce your value proposition.
Creating a company slogan is not easy—some entire advertising careers are built on one five-word phrase. But we’re here to help with our own real estate company slogan generator. Go ahead and give it a try!
Now that you know your company name, slogan, and have a stunningly visual logo, let’s tell the world who you are. Bios are some of the hardest things to write, even for professional wordsmiths. But consider this as an opportunity to establish why someone should trust you and how your experience, professionalism, and local ties make you the best choice to help sell or buy a home.
Don’t have the energy to write up your biography after all of this hard work? We’re going to do it for you. Try out our real estate bio generator!
Turn Your Brand Into a Business-generating Machine
Strong branding is all about attracting a customer base that shares your values. Here we will walk you through some of those commonly overlooked branding tools that can help you shine. You’ll need an excellent headshot, for example, and a business card, and social media templates. This article will guide you through some of the most important, but easy-to-check-off tasks in your branding efforts.
Get the Right Tools
We are fortunate to live in an age with such advanced technology. There are tools out there to help agents in every step of their business. Here at The Close, we review everything from lead generation companies to website builders. Here are some of our favorite providers for new agents in the categories crucial to starting any successful real estate business.
Pick a Solid CRM
A customer relationship management tool (CRM) gets more and more important the more successful you are. It helps you keep track of your contacts, prioritize communication, and strategize effective touchpoints.
Our top pick for the past three years has been LionDesk. A lightweight, affordable, and easy-to-use CRM, it has everything you need to start organizing and automating your relationships. Even better, you can get set up with LionDesk starting at just $21 per month—less than half what most other CRM companies charge. Give it a test drive with their free 30-day trial.
If LionDesk doesn’t seem like the right fit, check out our other top picks, or consider one of the excellent free CRMs in our guide. Just remember what they say: The best CRM is the one you’ll use.
Build a Gorgeous Website
You’re going to need a standout, optimized website to showcase your logo, headshot, slogan, and bio. There are endless possibilities, from building your own with Squarespace to getting a custom real estate-specific site from Placester to including a site within a lead generation machine like Sierra Interactive.
For inspiration, take a look at our ranking of Real Trends Top 25 Real Estate Agent Websites, which also has advice and tools for creating your own. When you’re ready to start your own site, consult our list of our top website builders, with tips on how to decide which provider is best for you.
Get the Word Out
Now it’s time to shout it from the rooftops! Tell everyone in your community that you have arrived and are ready to fulfill all of their real estate needs. Real estate marketing takes many forms and it can feel overwhelming when you’re just starting out. First things first: Take a look at our comprehensive list of marketing ideas and decide which ones are a good match for your business and farm area.
When you’re ready, move over to our article that shows you how to use our template to create an entire marketing plan that’s customized for your business.
Use Marketing Tools to Make Life Easier
If you’re not exactly sure what you need, or if you know what you need but not sure who to work with, we’ve got it all figured out for you. We’ve put together our favorite marketing tools that will really elevate your efforts and make them more efficient. Check out this resource for reviews of tools for community engagement, graphic design, search engine optimization (SEO), email, SMS, video production, and even artificial intelligence (AI).
Reach the Masses With Email & SMS
A good CRM (see above) will help you with your email and texting campaigns. Most already have a library of helpful templates that are appropriate for almost any situation. Announcing your new business? Send out an email introduction. Getting to know your neighbors? Invite them to an open house with a personalized text. Farming a specific area? Become the expert with professional newsletters that outline all of the goings-on.
We have plenty of expert tips and templates that will set you up for success:
- Proven Real Estate Newsletter Ideas (+ Tips, Templates & Tools)
- Real Estate Email Templates That Will Generate Business
- Best Real Estate Text Message Scripts for Agents
- 6-Day New Lead Text Messaging Campaign + Agent Texting Scripts
Conquer Social Media
Social media is a cheap, easy way to market your business, if it’s done correctly. Our advice is to select two, at the most three, social media channels and focus on those.
If Instagram is a good option for you, that’s great because we’ve got all the templates and tips you need!
- Start with our crash course for real estate agents. It includes templates you can use right out of the gate.
- Need help understanding what makes for a good post? We’ve dissected it in our Best Real Estate Social Media Templates for Facebook & Instagram.
- Not always sure what to post? Read our Real Estate Instagram Posts That Attract Clients (with Canva Templates).
- Want some inspiration? Click over to Must-follow Real Estate Instagram Accounts.
Real estate agents have had tremendous success with Facebook over the years. Here are some of our resources on how to make the most of it:
- Awesome Real Estate Facebook Cover Photo Examples to Inspire You (+ Templates)
- How to Set Up a Real Estate Agent Facebook Page to Get More Leads
- How to Create Real Estate Facebook Ads That Actually Generate Leads
Twitter, TikTok & Pinterest
Do Twitter, TikTok, or Pinterest fit your style, brand, and market better? Start here:
- Funniest Tweets (+ Top Real Estate Twitter Accounts to Follow)
- Real Estate TikTok: 3 Top Agents on How to Get Millions of Likes (+ Leads)
- Powerful Pinterest Real Estate Marketing Ideas From the Pros
…Or Leave It to the Pros
While social media is an excellent marketing tool, it’s not for everyone. If you’re looking for a little help with your social media marketing, or just don’t have the time to invest in it, take a look at Coffee & Contracts. This is a real estate marketing platform just for agents, offering sleek and trendy templates that feature engaging copy.
Talk to five different top-producing agents and they’ll give you five different ways to generate leads they swear are the best. However, we find that the most effective strategies are a mix of different approaches based on your market, budget, resources, and even your personality. Start with Sean Moudry’s customizable template, which takes all of this into account to help you create the perfect lead generation plan for your business. Then check out our 12 tips for getting real estate clients in 2023.
Here’s a look at three of the most common lead generation techniques in real estate:
It can be intimidating to pick up the phone and call a stranger. But with our cold calling scripts in hand, you’ll know exactly what you want to say and be ready for any objections they throw your way.
There are some pretty interesting lead generation companies out there, and we’ve done a deep dive review of just about all of them. Start with our guide to the top lead generation companies (plus some to avoid).
Then move on to take a look at our top-rated predictive and data analytics companies. They are using some incredibly sophisticated technology to help agents understand their markets and target the right potential clients.
Once you have the lead, then what? Take a look at our guide to lead nurturing and conversion, which will further convince you that a great CRM is crucial to long-term success. It includes tips and scripts to help you make the most of your lead generation efforts.
Remember Your ‘Why’
Running a real estate business takes patience, dedication, inspiration, and hard work. It can be a lot of fun, but there are definitely days that are long and hard. Most Realtors experience a period of frustration early in their careers. But The Close is here for you. We have exactly the type of strategic advice and fun content you need to get through the hard times.
And if you feel completely overwhelmed, go back to your “why.” This should be exactly the reason you started your real estate business in the first place—and why you should keep on building.
Bringing It All Together
Being a real estate agent is hard work, especially because it requires being good at so many different things. Starting a real estate business takes time and is easier with someone on your side. We’re here to support agents every step of the way. With our combined 40 years of experience, we can offer the advice, the tools, and the resources to get you to where you want to be. We can also give some helpful motivation and a just-for-agents meme or two—or 108.
Do you have suggestions or advice for someone starting their real estate business? Lessons you learned along the way? Questions? Leave us a comment below.