How to Create the Best Real Estate Business Plan

Chris Heller HeadshotChris Heller, Licensed AgentDecember 1, 2022

Notebook,With,Toolls,And,Notes,About,Dividends.

To be truly successful in the world of business, you must create a solid business plan. This is the case no matter what industry you are in, and that includes real estate.

The business plan you work out must be unique. There is no cookie cutter approach. You must keep your brand image and goals in mind when creating the plan that’s perfect for you.

However, there are a few steps you can take to ensure your plan is well executed. This article will review those steps to ensure you plan is as successful as possible.

Why Create a Real Estate Business Plan?

A real estate business plan offers several benefits including the following:

  • It shows you where your business is at and outlines areas where you can make improvements.
  • It allows you to set goals and track progress.
  • It can be used to help secure funding. Most potential investors will want to see a copy of your business plan before moving forward.
  • It can be a selling point for attracting top talent.
  • It provides an outline that will help you manage day to day tasks in an organized fashion.
  • It can help you track your marketing efforts.
  • It can help you attract clients.
  • It will keep you more organized in reaching your long-term goals.

Determine Your Business Model

There are a few ways to go when embarking on your real estate journey. You may decide you want to start or join a real estate team. Or you may decide you want to start or join a brokerage. You’ll want to decide if you need a sole proprietorship or an LLC is in your best interest. You may establish a plan early on in your career, or you may decide to change directions and create a new plan in the middle of your career.

While these are all very different paths to take, there are common elements that will need to be focused on in the plan creation process. They will be outlined in the following sections.

Identify Who You Are

Real,Estate,Agents,Introduce,The,House,Style,To,Clients,WhileYour real estate business plan will tie in closely with who you are as an agent. Are you a luxury seller? Do you want to focus on commercial real estate properties? Or do you prefer to work with residential clients?

Determining your brand identity will help you create marketing materials that reflect your image. Are you a friendly ‘people person’? Or is your main goal finding clients the best investment for their money?

Your strategies will change slightly depending on your business model. If you own or work in a team setting, you must define the role of each team member and their part in helping you reach your goals.

If you own a brokerage, your real estate business plan will help you determine what type of agents you want working for you. If you work on your own, it will all come down to your unique vision.

When putting it down on paper, your identity will consist of:

  • Your Mission Statement: Your reason for being in real estate
  • Your Executive Summary: One or two sentences that summarize what you do

Analyze Your Target Real Estate Market

Once you determine who you are as an agent, you will have a better idea of who you are marketing to. You may be targeting business owners, investors, families, luxury clients and so on. It’s also likely you will be working within a specific area.

After identifying your target audience, you need to figure out how your target market is doing. What are home prices like? How is inventory looking? Is it a buyer’s or seller’s market? And what are future predictions?

You will be able to glean this information by looking carefully at the MLS and staying on top of trends. Online and offline real estate resources will also provide some insight.

In general, you will want to stay on top of:

  • General Trends including how long homes are staying on the market on average, commission rates, sale prices, etc.
  • Market Opportunities based on supply and demand
  • Market Saturations based on inventory and agent services

Analyze Your Competition

Real,Estate,Agent,Welcoming,Young,Visitors,Coming,To,Open,HouseAny good real estate business plan requires you to keep an eye on the competition. What other agents are in the area and what are they doing that you are not?

We all know the saying, ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’. Stay on top of what other agents are doing by subscribing to their newsletters and following their social media pages. While you won’t want to copy their strategies outright, they may just inspire you to create a marketing plan that gives you a competitive edge.

You should also look out for underserved niches and competitive saturation.

When it comes to underserved niches, there may be plenty of agents in your area specializing in family residential properties. But how many are serving the commercial sector? Or the luxury sector?

If the city sections in your area are blowing up, consider looking into properties in a nearby suburb to avoid competitive saturation.

Decide What Services You Will Provide

Most real estate agents provide the expected services such as conducting open houses, finding homes for buyers, determining pricing, negotiations, and keeping transactions organized in general.

But you can offer additional services that set your business apart. For example, you may provide:

  • Staging: Staging involves setting up the home, so it looks more aesthetically appealing. Once upon a time, staging was offered as an addition service. But today, many agents are rolling it into their agent fees. The agent may stage the home themselves, or they may bring in a specialized team for staging.
  • Professional Virtual Tours: Today, virtual real estate tours are the way to go. They allow clients to get the experience of being in the home without having to leave their home. If you are not offering this service, it’s time to get onboard.
  • Neighborhood Analysis: Most agents provide clients with an overview of what a neighborhood has to offer. But if you want to go that extra mile, you can provide an in-depth report that includes crime rate, types of properties, demographics, and more.
  • Relevant Discounts: Agents can offer clients relevant discounts in terms of handyman services, inspections, appraisals and more.

Carving Out a Niche

It’s important to carve out a niche in terms of what type of property you want to sell and who your target audience is. But you can get even more ‘niche-y’ by specializing in certain types of properties such as condos and townhouses, catering to first time buyers and so on.

It may seem like carving out a niche is limiting, but it will make people come to you first when they require expertise in your field. When choosing a niche, base it on what you are most skilled at and where you see an opportunity to grow professionally.

Create a Marketing Plan

Couple,And,Real,Estate,Agent,Discussing,Together,At,HomeNo business can be successful without an effective marketing plan.

The first step of your marketing plan will involve identifying your target audience and determining the best way to reach them. For example, if you are focused on first time buyers, you will be targeting a millennial crowd. In addition to emphasizing money saving goals, you may also want to advertise yourself as an agent that is environmentally friendly and gives back.

A luxury crowd may have similar concerns, but their main interests will be in finding high end properties that offer the utmost in amenities.

You must also consider the best way to reach your target audience. What social media platforms are they likely to be on? Do you think they will respond well to cold calls, door knockings, and mailings? Or is it best to keep things digital?

You must also consider race, color, origin, sexual orientations, and disabilities. Create marketing materials that are appealing and will not discriminate in any way.

Conduct a SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

In terms of strengths and weaknesses, you must consider what you are best at and what could use improving. For example, you may find that you have superior digital skills but that you’re not so great with cold calling. If this is the case, you should focus on digital and avoid cold calls.

However, you may also consider improving weak spots. For example, if it was the other way around and digital was a weakness, you should consider building up your digital skills. This will give you a competitive advantage in today’s world of real estate.

It’s also important to be aware of opportunities and know when to pounce. This will help a lot with lead generation. For example, FSBO, near pre-foreclosure, and divorces are all ideal situations for an agent to come knocking. You may also think of opportunities in terms of underserved areas and niches in your community.

Threats can come in the form of competition and/or changes in the market. There is usually no way to keep these threats from happening, but you can take steps to be prepared when they occur. This will ensure you are in the best shape possible for taking them on and minimizing potential damage.

Focus on Your Specific Goals

Real,Estate,Agent,With,Client,Or,Architect,Team,Discussing,ProjectYour specific goals should be a main focus of your real estate business plan. Here are some goals you may consider reaching:

  • Making a certain amount of money in a given time
  • Completing a certain number of transactions in a given time
  • Attaining a certain number of new clients in a given time
  • Reducing lead time
  • Growing your company by hiring new agents and employees or opening new locations
  • Determining a better work/life balance

When you set up your goals, it’s important to make them measurable and attainable. If your goals aren’t attainable, you will end up wasting time working towards goals you will never reach. You will also become frustrated by your lack of progress.

Measuring goals can be challenging. In today’s digital world, reports and analysis are provided so you can determine your ROI and figure out what’s working and what isn’t. If you are outside of the digital realm, it may be more difficult to measure your progress, but you should have some idea of how well you are doing.

Keep Track of Your Finances

No matter how passionate you are about your business, it won’t be a success unless you are making money. You must keep track of how much you are spending and how much you are earning. Your net profits should always be positive.

For best results, implement an online system like QuickBooks. Online bookkeeping systems will provide reports so you can see where most of your money is being spent and your main sources of income. This will help you determine what’s bringing in the most ROI, what’s generating income, and what’s not.

You may also consider hiring an accountant and/or a financial consult. Your financial team will ensure you are making smart moves at tax time and when investing in tools, software, and other business ventures.

Review Your Success Ratios

Couple,With,Real-estate,Agent,Visiting,House,For,SaleFinances will be a good indication of how well your business is doing, but you must also consider your success ratios. A good agent will have a success ratio of 80-90% in the area they are serving.

Your success will also be contingent on customer satisfaction. Are your customers pleased with your services? Are they referring friends and family?

If your success ratios are looking good but your finances aren’t matching up, you may be overspending on certain aspects of your business. Look at your records to see where the bulk of your money is going. Cut back if necessary.

Revisit Your Real Estate Business Plan Regularly

Your business plan is not set in stone. It’s a good idea to check it on a regular basis so you can revise it in accordance with your current needs. You may also want to create a new business plan if you decide to change up your business model.

A real estate business plan is a valuable tool for agents. It will keep you on course in attaining your goals. This template will help you devise a plan that is best suited to your professional needs. We wish you the best of luck in moving your company forward.

You’re a successful real estate agent, but you’d like to step to the next level. To do that, you want to create a better business plan for next year. So, how do you start? By filling out that form your manager gave you, asking for your goals for next year? Or, maybe you’re attending those trainings where seminar gurus give you 30 things to do next year. That will put you in a quandary because you don’t know how to choose! Please don’t leap to either one. Before you commit, take a look back at your last year (In the strategic planning process, it’s called the ‘business review’.) Using the same thought process successful businesses use to create effective business plans will give you clarity.

Time To Scope Your Business Plan: Small Adjustments Pay Big Dividends

You and Your Business are Unique

Don’t copy someone else’s plan or commit to pie in the sky numbers until you know your three business indicators here. Armed with that information, you can pick and choose your actions and goals wisely, because you know they will work for you.

money and calculator image1. Where’s your money been going? It makes sense the money you invest in your career should be giving you pay-offs equal to your investment. Unfortunately, many agents don’t know where they spent the bulk of their money last year. Even if you haven’t been generating monthly profit and loss statements, go back over the past four months. Add up the moneys you’ve spent to generate business in each of your ‘target markets’–those identifiable groups of people that you build programs around to get business (geographical farm, first-time buyers, return and referral business, etc.) Where are you spending most of your money? Are you getting a good enough ‘return on your investment’? 

Building Your Business Best

From working with agents in my business planning courses and systems, I’ve observed that many agents don’t build a business plan around their best source of business: ‘sold’ customers and clients. Marketing surveys show that it costs six to nine times as much to get a new customer as to keep an old one. So, if you spend more money on your best source, and less on your other sources, you’ll optimize your investment.

Confident,Insurance,Agent,Broker,Man,Holding,Document,And,Present,Pointing2. What are your ‘success’ ratios? Most agents don’t know this one: What are your ratios of listings taken to listings sold? How many of your sellers are you making happy? How many of those sellers are so delighted with your service that they will refer more people to you? In my opinion, a good agent should target  a 80-90%  success ratio in this area. Why? We all know we need to promote ourselves. The most successful, believable promotions are based on our success records–what we’ve done, not promises. If you have a sign on your desk that says “If you don’t list, you don’t last”–tear it up. Instead, put up a sign that reads, “If your listings don’t sell, you don’t last. Small adjustments, big dividends. (Plus you’ll save lots of marketing dollars.)

3. How ‘delighted’ are your clients? Most so-called ‘business plans’ in real estate merely are goal-setting grids. Focusing only on the end results suggests that the ends justify the means. However, the consumer sure doesn’t think so! These goal setting grids alone lead agents to miss the point of the decade: Top-flight customer service begets more business. That is, it’s not just what you do, but how you do it. What level of service are you providing? Is it just good enough to get through the transaction? Or, is it so great that your clients are thoroughly delighted? (Delighted consumers refer business to you–less cost and more effort equals big pay-offs, right?)

Build Delight into your Business Plan

New agent meeting with clients for the first timeWhat can you build into your business plan to assure you’re regularly delighting those you work with? One of the agents in featured in many of my books, Rick Franz, provides surveys weekly during the time he works with buyers and sellers. He wants clients to know he cares how they feel about the service during the process, and that he’s dedicated to providing the best service they’ve ever had. No wonder Rick is a fabulously successful agent, and a great tribute to our industry.

Don’t Worry About the Tactics

If you’ve been gathering those dozens of tactics seminar gurus have suggested you MUST do, your head is probably spinning. That’s not the way to go about creating an effective business plan. Instead, take time to use the strategic planning process, which includes your business review. Commit one hour out of your day now to assess the three areas here and plan adjustments. The bonus: With your answers, you can pick from that myriad of action plans you’ve gathered and choose the ones that support your major goals. Now you have the ‘why’ for your plan, and you’ll be inspired to create and implement your unique business plan.

Chris Heller Headshot

About the Author

Chris Heller brings 27 years of experience in real estate. Chris serves on the AgentAdvice Editorial Board and is the Chief Real Estate Officer at OJO Labs. Chris brings deep expertise having held influential industry positions including CEO of mellohome and former CEO of Keller Williams Realty International.

Last Updated: 12/1/2022

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