Small Business Basics

10-step checklist for writing a 2021 real estate business plan

A 10-step checklist for writing your first real estate business plan.

January 28 · 11 min read

If you’re a real estate agent planning on opening a real estate company, you need a business planning lesson. Every successful business operates off a template defining its operations and goals. Your real estate business plan is the founding document of your organization, and every new business owner must take the time to plan their venture.

If it’s your first time writing a business plan, you probably have mixed feelings of excitement and frustration. It’s a thrilling experience to bring all the elements of your new company into realization, but it’s upsetting when you realize you don’t know what you’re doing.

Writing a business plan helps to show you the flaws in your business skillset. You might be a marketing genius, but you have no idea how to manage operations cash flow. Similarly, you could have excellent administration skills but know nothing about marketing.

Writing out your business plan shows you where you need assistance. You identify areas where you’re weak and build a strong team around you to support the places you need help. In this post, we’ll unpack a 10-step checklist for writing your first real estate business plan.

Step 1 – Define your real estate business

The first step in writing your real estate business plan is understanding your limitations and strengths as a real estate broker and a business owner. Do you know what you want to achieve with your business? Your real estate brokerage needs defined goals and targets to chase, or your organization has no purpose.

Every small business relies on a team. The team you select needs to complement your strengths and weaknesses. Use this stage of your plan to define the organizational roles of each team member. Identify their skillsets and what they bring to your company.

Real estate brokerages need to understand the type of business you want to run and the personality types of the agents you wish to attract to your company. As the firm’s founding partner, you get to decide who you want to add to your team.

After identifying the team, and each member’s roles, it’s time to work on your mission statement and executive summary.

An executive summary defines the aspects of your business plan and what you want to achieve with your business outcomes. It also describes the culture of the firm and your values.

The mission statement clarifies the purpose of your business and what you’re trying to achieve. It also mentions how you intend to get to those goals. We recommend writing out both your mission statement and executive summary and revisiting them after completing your business plan.

In the initial planning stage, wiring out your mission statement and executive summary helps you clear the cobwebs and focus on the task at hand. However, when revisiting your mission statement and executive summary at the end, you might find you left something out or want to make a change to clarify your business directives.

After you have an understanding of your business, it’s time to work on your goals.

Establishing your business goals is the most crucial part of the planning process. Your real estate business plan needs clear and defined goals for growth, sales, finances, marketing, and every aspect of your business.

Each section, like finance, for example, drills down into sub-goals for each category. For instance, your financial goals should feature an overall sales target for the year. However, there should be sub-goals in each section for monthly sales targets, and you can break that down into a different sub-category with targets for individual agents.

The idea of goal setting is to set achievable business goals with measurable results. You’ll have both short term and long-term goals attributed to each of your business functions. Here are some examples of measurable goals you can use in your planning process.

  • How many transactions do you want your company to do each week, month, year?
  • How many leads do you need to capture in a day, week, month, or year?
  • How many new agents do you want to work on your team?
  • What’s your earnings goal for the year?
  • What do you want to achieve with your brand?

All these questions are vital to setting targets for your business. Without goals, you’re like a car rolling down the hill with no engine. You’ll hurtle down the hill at first, but when you reach the bottom, and the momentum dies out, you have no engine to pull you along. It’s the same with your business planning and goal setting. If you don’t have goals, you have no targets, and you’ll run out of enthusiasm in a few months when the momentum in your company starts to fade.

Step 2 – Identify your target market

The first stage of the planning process involves structuring your company and defining your business goals and purpose. The second step of building your real estate agent business plan consists of understanding your target market.

What market are you operating in with your business? Do you want to sell luxury homes? Or are you looking at specializing in selling single-family units or condos? Specialization is a popular strategy for real estate firms, giving you the chance to build a reputation in a specific market segment.

Take your time identifying your target market, and dig into the MLS listings to determine which areas offer you the best return. As a real estate agency, you’ll have to specialize in a specific region and build your reputation in that area.

Look for the following metrics when examining potential markets.

  • What is the average price of properties in the area?
  • How many days do they stay on the market?
  • What is the average listing commission?
  • What is the average pricing trend for properties in a prospective market?
  • How many new listings come up in your target market each week, month, or year?
  • How does the data compare month-on-month and year-on-year?

Step 3 – Complete a competitive analysis

All business owners need to understand the competitive landscape. The real estate industry has thousands of operators, and there are probably dozens of firms in your local area. Understanding the performance and structure of your competitors allows you to uncover the most successful firms.

When you identify the leaders, you can model what they’re doing right and bring it into your real estate business plan. Check out your competitor’s websites and review their social media accounts to gain insight into their marketing strategy and operations.

Who are the realtors that have the most industry clout in your area? Who are the leading firms, and what makes them stand out? Ask yourself these questions and unpack the top real estate firms’ characteristics and components in your local area.

Step 4 – What services are you offering?

Real estate is a massive industry, and there are dozens of sub-industries within the real estate market. You need to understand your business model, specializing in a specific segment of the market. For instance, do you want to sell single-family homes to first-time homebuyers? Are you looking at providing commercial leases? Maybe you want to build a rental portfolio?

Spreading yourself thin across too many markets results in a lack of focus and direction. Startups will do better if they identify a profitable market and specialize in servicing that specific niche. Identify the areas with the biggest opportunities, and set up your services to cater to those areas.

Step 5 – Identify customer personas

Without accurately defined customer personas, you diminish your marketing efforts and prospecting outcomes. Understanding your customer profile and persona in the real estate market is essential to formulating your marketing strategy.

Your customer persona needs to describe demographic elements like average age, income, occupation, and other defying criteria that help you nail down your ideal customer. If you’re a brokerage or realtor offering multiple services like sales and rentals, make sure you identify customer personas in each category.

You can further drill-down on your personas by identifying demographics in clients that buy luxury homes, single-family units, apartments, and condos.

Understanding your client persona gives you a better direction for your marketing strategy. For example, if you specialize in selling apartments to young professionals under 30, you’re going to need to advertise through social media. Mediums like outdoor and print bring you less ROI on your advertising dollars.

Step 6 – Complete a SWOT analysis

Completing a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) is an essential component of real estate business plan templates. In this analysis, you unpack everything you know about the strengths and weaknesses in yourself, your company structure, and your team.

Think of the SWOT analysis as a basic summary of everything you’ve done with your real estate business planning so far. Combine the know your learning during the exercise with what you know about your working habits and personality characteristics.

For instance, you might be a champ in closing deals, but your prospecting skills are weak. That’s an example of identifying your limitations and performance parameters.

Maybe there is no real estate brokerage in your area that catering specifically to millennial first-time homebuyers? That’s an example of a market opportunity your business can fill.

Perhaps your target market involves new construction, and industry news states that there’s a big strike happening at the end of next month. That’s an example of a threat facing your business. Revisit your SWOT analysis every quarter to see if you can identify any new developments to add to your business plan.

Step 7 – Build a marketing plan

Now we get into the serious stuff with the development of your marketing strategy. Marketing is the single-most-important function of your business. The purpose of marketing is to drive new real estate leads to your business, allowing you to convert them into customers.

Your marketing strategy needs to focus on the things you learned when completing your customer persona. Where are you going to get the best bang for your marketing buck? Real estate marketing is a competitive space, and you need to make every dollar in your budget count.

Your marketing plan needs to include your online and offline strategy development. Your online strategy is the most important, and you’ll need to build a website to promote your company and your listings. Social media marketing, referrals, brand building, sales funnels, and lead generation are essential online marketing strategies you need to succeed in your business.

Today, all your customers are online, and you need to market where your audience is hanging out. Most of them are on social media. Therefore, you’ll need a social media marketing expert on your team to develop and direct your social strategy across all platforms.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is another critical component of your business that integrates with your company’s function. The CRM helps you manage clients, your sales funnels, and your marketing efforts through one dedicated platform.

You’ll need to hire a marketing team to help you develop and implement your marketing strategy and CRM. Experts create a dedicated online marketing plan that includes all team members.

Your marketing plan is the foundation of your business plan. Investors will want to know your strategy and the results you expect to implement in your target market.

Related: 20 easy real estate marketing ideas to grow your agency

Step 8 – Complete your financial plan

Your financial plan is crucial if you intend to seek investment for your company. Whether you’re dealing with private angel investors or the bank, they want to see your financials and sales projections to complete due diligence on loans.

If they decide to loan your money, they need to know when they can expect you to return the money and the ROI you offer on the deal.

You’ll need to include information like your commission pricing and average commissions, your sales forecasts for three years, and cash flow projections. When completing this section of your real estate business plan, you’ll need to sit down with your accountant and get their advice on structuring your financials.

You’ll need to account for your business expenses and the costs of setting up your company with a website, CRM, and digital marketing services. Remember to include memberships to marketing sites like Zillow Premier Agent and ProspectPLUS.

Your financial plan forms the backbone of your investor’s interest in involvement with your real estate firm. The numbers need to make sense, so make sure you run them past your accountant.

Step 9 – Periodically revisit your real estate business plan

Your business plan is a living document, and it changes with your business. Having a rigid plan won’t work. The reality is that nothing in business works out 100% the way we plan. You’ll need to have a flexible document you can update as your business grows.

During the first year of your operations, we recommend revisiting your business plan every quarter. As the business matures, you can push this exercise back to once every six months or once a year.

Revisiting your business plan gives you a chance to follow up on your goals and targets, giving you ideas on where you need to improve. Real estate professionals understand the importance of remaining responsive to change in a dynamic business environment.

Periodically revisiting your business plan gives you a chance to reflect on your progress and plan the future with clarity and certainty.

Step 10 – Visit B12 for your digital marketing needs

Getting your planning out of the way is an essential part of establishing your company. However, your marketing plan is the business engine, and every startup needs to focus on this area the most.

Your real estate website forms the foundation of your marketing efforts. It acts as the touchstone for your company online, providing a virtual storefront to your prospective clients. Inefficient and ineffective website design can derail your business plans, costing your company vital leads during the startup phase, where you need to generate as much income as possible. For website design inspiration, check out the best real estate websites and this guide on how to design a website!

If you need help with your real estate business website, reach out to the professionals at B12.

B12 specializes in helping professional services companies create beautiful sites that enable them to operate effectively online. Built-in tools like SEO, email marketing, and online scheduling make it easier to reach your audience.

Plan with Professionals

As an individual starting out a new real estate business, you have many things to consider for your real estate business plan and might not have the time to create a website from scratch. Relying on the expertise of design professionals ensures you get a website that helps you achieve your business goals.

Sign up to see a free draft of your new real estate website or learn more about how B12 uses artificial intelligence and experts to help businesses like yours grow online.

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