How to Start a Real Estate Business [Can You Start Your Own?]

Published on September 1, 2023

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How to Start a Real Estate Business

How to Start a Real Estate Business

Starting a real estate business is exciting for many aspiring entrepreneurs. With the promise of significant profits and a flexible lifestyle, the real estate industry attracts individuals from various backgrounds. 

But the big question is, “Can you start your own real estate business independently?" The answer to this is a little tricky, and reading this blog will help you realize why. 

Here, we will explore the establishment of a real estate business, from business examples, business benefits, and steps for beginners. Whether you're looking to become an agent, real estate broker, investor, property manager, etc., this article will definitely help you grow a real estate business.

What is a Real Estate Business?

What is a Real Estate Business

A real estate business revolves around buying, selling, leasing, or managing properties. These properties can be residential, commercial, industrial, or even undeveloped land. 

The main objective of this business is to create value for clients, whether that's through helping them find the perfect home, securing the best deal on office space, helping build a real estate investment property, or offering property management services.

To be specific, businesses by real estate agents and brokers play a crucial role, serving as intermediaries between sellers and buyers or landlords and tenants. They leverage their expertise and knowledge of the local property market to negotiate the best deals on behalf of their clients.

Meanwhile, those in real estate development businesses acquire land, finance real estate deals, build or have builders construct projects, and generally transform raw land into habitable spaces.

The industry is supported by various other real estate businesses such as property management, appraisal, real estate marketing, and even financial services tailored specifically for real estate transactions.

Examples of a Real Estate Business

The real estate industry is large, and it encompasses various sectors and services to form a real estate business. Here's a list of examples of different types of many real estate businesses that exist. Time to start planning your way to financial freedom through these examples of real estate businesses!

  • Residential Brokerages: Companies or individuals who help clients buy, sell, or rent residential properties for a real estate business include homes, condos, and townhouses in their transactions.
  • Commercial Brokerages: Specialize in commercial properties such as office spaces, warehouses, retail centers, or mixed-use buildings.
  • Real Estate Marketing and Advertising Agencies: Specialize in promoting properties, developments, or real estate services to the public.
  • Relocation Services: Companies that assist individuals and businesses in relocating, finding new homes, or commercial spaces in new areas.
  • Property Management Firms: Businesses that manage properties on behalf of owners, handling maintenance, tenant relations, rent collections, and more.
  • Real Estate Development Companies: Firms that buy land, plan, and oversee the construction of new properties, be it residential, commercial, or mixed-use.
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs): Companies that own or finance income-producing real estate across a range of property sectors. They provide a way for individuals to invest in real estate in the large-scale.
  • Appraisal Services: Businesses that specialize in determining the value of a property.
  • Real Estate Consulting: Offer expert advice on property and development topics.
  • Property Tech (PropTech) Companies: Startups and businesses that leverage technology to enhance and innovate the real estate industry, from virtual tours to real estate transaction platforms.
  • Mortgage Brokers: Individuals or firms that help clients find suitable mortgages for property purchases.
  • Real Estate Investment Groups: Organizations or clubs where members pool their funds to invest in properties.
  • Title and Escrow Companies: They ensure that the title to a property is legitimate and provide escrow services to safeguard money during the property transaction process.
  • Real Estate Law Firms: Specialize in property-related legal issues, from transactions to disputes between parties.
  • Vacation Rentals: Businesses or individuals who rent out homes, apartments, or other properties for short-term stays.
  • Industrial and Warehouse Real Estate: Focuses on spaces for manufacturing, storage, and distribution.
  • Land Sales and Development: Specialize in buying, selling, and developing undeveloped parcels of land.
  • Urban Planning and Design Firms: Real estate companies that focus on designing and planning urban developments, ensuring sustainable and functional community growth.
  • Luxury Real Estate Brokerages: Focus specifically on high-end, luxury properties.
  • Real Estate Education and Training Institutes: Offer courses, certifications, and training for aspiring real estate professionals.

Is a Real Estate Business Profitable?

Is a Real Estate Business Profitable

Yes. Real estate businesses are historically proven to be profitable. For instance, many real estate agents earn commissions on the sales or rentals they facilitate, and in booming markets or with high-end properties, these commissions can be substantial. 

On the investment side, real estate has proven to be a stable and rewarding investment avenue. Owning properties, especially rental properties, can generate a consistent stream of income in addition to potential capital appreciation over the long term. 

Developers, who purchase land and create new properties, can realize immense profits, especially if they can identify emerging market trends. 

Meanwhile, property management firms, which handle the day-to-day operations of properties on behalf of owners, generally work on a fee or percentage-based model. This provides a more consistent and stable revenue stream than some other real estate sectors.

Can You Start a Real Estate Business on Your Own?

Starting a real estate business on your own is entirely feasible and has been the route many professionals in the industry have taken. 

Note, however, that venturing solo in the real estate world requires a combination of industry knowledge, entrepreneurial spirit, and a tolerance for risk, as it is not an easy field.

One of the primary advantages of starting alone is the level of control you maintain in your new business. Without partners or a large team, decision-making processes are streamlined, and you have the flexibility to change your business strategy as needed. 

The only downside is that going solo when you start a business also means bearing all the responsibilities and challenges on your shoulders. From understanding property laws to managing marketing campaigns and handling client relations, becoming a real estate professional has many roles to grow your business.

Additionally, the financial burden, including start-up costs and ongoing operational expenses, rests entirely with the individual. Without a team or partners to share in these responsibilities, the task can initially seem overwhelming. 

Note, though, that you can start wholesaling with no money, so if you are on a budget, this niche in the world of real estate might be for you.

Benefits of Starting a Real Estate Business

Benefits of Starting a Real Estate Business

The real estate industry offers a lot of opportunities and advantages that goes more than financial gains. Let's delve into the benefits of starting a real estate business and uncover the tangible and intangible rewards it can bring.

Cash Flow

One of the standout advantages of getting into the real estate industry is the steady cash flow. In real estate, cash flow typically pertains to the net income garnered by an investor after all operational costs and mortgage payments have been covered by rental proceeds. Such a continuous income stream can prove to be a financial anchor for investors. 

When properties are strategically located and well-managed, they can promise a regular inflow of funds from tenants, which can be especially appealing when compared to other volatile income sources. 

Moreover, this rental income can provide stability in uncertain times. Over time, as mortgages get paid down, this cash flow can increase, offering even greater financial flexibility.

Tax Benefits

Real estate businesses have tax incentives that can enhance an investor's profit margins considerably. 

The concept of depreciation stands as a significant downside for real estate entrepreneurs. It allows for the deduction of the cost associated with buying and enhancing a property over a designated period, which in turn can substantially reduce the amount of taxable income, softening the tax burden. 

Additionally, the interest incurred on mortgages used for purchasing or refining a rental asset can also be claimed as deductions, further lessening tax liabilities. 

Real estate sales, when approached strategically, can benefit from capital gains tax rates which are frequently more favorable than standard income tax rates. 

Another notable tax advantage is the 1031 exchange provision, which permits investors to defer capital gains taxes if they reinvest their sale proceeds into a new, like-kind property.


Embarking on a real estate venture gives you security, primarily because real estate is a tangible asset. 

Unlike virtual or paper assets like stocks or bonds, a property is something you can see, touch, and make use of. This physicality often brings reassurance, a sense of ownership and permanence. 

Beyond being physical in nature, property possesses inherent value. Even during economic fails, a piece of land or a building retains some worth, ensuring that your investment of real estate properties never dwindles down to nothing. 

This allows for portfolio diversification in real estate investing, granting investors a safety net when other markets show signs of volatility or get your business up and running.


Historical data and market trends indicate that over extended periods, real estate typically appreciates in value. This potential for a property to grow in worth over time stands as a compelling reason for many to venture into real estate. 

Appreciation means that not only does the active or remote real estate investor benefit from regular rental income, but they are also likely to secure a higher sale price than their purchase cost when they choose to sell. This dual avenue of profit amplifies the allure of real estate investment. 

Furthermore, one can purchase a property primarily through borrowed funds which shows the the effects of appreciation, as the return on investment is calculated based on the entire property value, not just the down payment.

Control and Pride

Starting and operating a real estate business gives a sense of control and pride in every entrepreneur. 

This industry offers a high level of personal decision-making. Every aspect, from selecting which property to invest in, to deciding on rental rates, to choosing maintenance schedules, rests in the hands of the owner. Such decision making power allows for adaptability and quick changes in response to the market. 

Alongside control, owning and managing property brings about immense pride. Transforming a neglected property into a sought-after rental unit or creating new living spaces for families brings a satisfaction that few other businesses can match. 

Additionally, real estate professionals wield the power to shape and influence neighborhoods, creating lasting legacies and contributing positively to society.

Steps in Starting a Real Estate Business

Steps in Starting a Real Estate Business

Embarking on a journey in real estate requires careful planning and a step-by-step approach to ensure success. Let's navigate through these essential steps that lay the foundation when you start your real estate business to set you up for success. 

This section includes a guide on how to start or get involved in real estate businesses and answers to real estate business FAQs. This isn't a typical "succeed in a real estate business in 10 steps" section, as this offers more comprehensive steps and tips you need to start a real estate enterprise. 15, to be exact!

Step 1. Choose a Real Estate Niche and Type of Real Estate Business

Starting a real estate business requires a strategic approach, and the foremost decision is pinpointing your niche and determining the type of real estate venture you wish to pursue. 

Just like the broader business world, real estate is filled with diverse opportunities, each with its demands and requirements. From residential to commercial properties, from buying and flipping homes to long-term rentals, or even specializing in luxury estates or affordable housing—each niche caters to different market segments. 

Moreover, one must decide on the business model—whether you aim to be a licensed real estate agent like the million active real estate agents in the U.S., a broker, a property manager, or a successful real estate investor. 

Your chosen niche and business type will not only dictate your operational strategy but also influence your marketing tactics, funding needs, and educational requirements. Thus, this initial step is significant, setting the foundation upon which your entire real estate enterprise will be built.

Here are some of the niches you might want to consider you can specialize in:

Residential Real Estate

  • Single-family homes
  • Multi-family homes
  • Condominiums
  • Co-ops
  • Townhouses
  • Vacation homes

Commercial Real Estate

  • Office buildings
  • Retail spaces (e.g., malls and storefronts)
  • Warehouses
  • Industrial properties

Land Real Estate

  • Undeveloped land
  • Farming or agriculture
  • Ranch properties
  • Land development   

Multifamily Housing

  • Apartments
  • Duplexes
  • High-rise buildings

Industrial Real Estate

  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Distribution centers
  • Warehouses

Retail Real Estate

  • Shopping centers
  • Strip malls
  • Standalone stores

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

  • Companies that own, operate, or finance income-generating real estate across various sectors   

Specialty Niches

  • Student housing
  • Senior housing and retirement communities
  • Luxury real estate
  • Foreclosures or distressed properties
  • Short sales
  • Real estate auctioning

Real Estate Services

  • Property management
  • Real estate photography or videography
  • Home staging
  • Real estate consulting
  • Real estate development

Eco-friendly or Green Real Estate

  • Sustainable property development
  • Retrofitting properties to be more energy efficient

Historic Property Real Estate

  • Restoring and selling historic homes or properties

Vacation and Second Home Real Estate

  • Properties in vacation hotspots or properties marketed as second homes

International Real Estate

  • Working with clients looking to buy or sell property in foreign countries

Rental Real Estate

  • Short-term rentals (e.g., Airbnb)
  • Long-term residential rentals

Many real estate professionals begin in one niche and later branch out or change based on market trends, personal interests, or business opportunities. 

Step 2. Choose Among the Four Main Types of Business Structures

Diving into a business necessitates making key structural decisions, and an essential second step is choosing the right business structure. This choice can significantly impact aspects ranging from liability exposure to tax obligations and operational flexibility.

Sole Proprietorship

This is the simplest form, where an individual directly owns and runs the business. It offers ease of setup and direct control but also exposes the owner to personal liability for business debts.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Opting for a Limited Liability Company (LLC) introduces a protective barrier, as it protects personal assets from business-related liabilities. It also provides flexibility in taxation while ensuring ease of management.


A partnership is ideal when two or more individuals collaborate, pooling resources and expertise. While it simplifies profit-sharing and decision-making, partners may be personally liable for debts unless structured as a limited partnership.


Lastly, a corporation is a separate legal entity, providing the highest degree of personal liability protection. While it requires stricter record-keeping and can lead to double taxation, it's often preferred by larger businesses seeking external funding.

Step 3. Do Market Research

Entering the real estate world without enough market insight is like venturing into unknown waters without a map. Therefore, conducting thorough market research is quite crucial for a successful real estate business. 

This step equips aspiring real estate entrepreneurs with a clear understanding of their target audience, prevailing market conditions, competition, and potential opportunities within their chosen niche. 

By studying factors such as property prices, rental yields, demographic trends, and regional economic indicators, individuals can gauge the viability of their real estate business ideas. 

Additionally, understanding the preferences of potential buyers or renters – from desired amenities to property sizes and locations – allows for better marketing strategies. Analyzing competitors, on the other hand, offers insights into best practices and potential gaps in the market. 

Beyond just data, market research reveals consumer behavior, risks, and local regulations, forming an invaluable foundation upon which a resilient and responsive real estate business can be built.

Step 4. Create a Business Plan

Creating a real estate businesses requires a compass, and that's precisely the role writing a business plan plays. This document acts as a strategic blueprint when starting a new business, detailing every step and aspect of your real estate venture so you can make money in the real estate niche. 

It begins by defining your business objectives and the niche you've selected. From there, it delves deeper into your target market, drawing from the insights gleaned during the market research phase. 

Your business plan also outlines the operational aspects, from staffing requirements to technology and tools you'll need. A comprehensive financial section is crucial, projecting revenues, identifying potential expenses, and estimating profitability. 

Marketing and growth strategies, too, find a place here to refine your business idea, which leads the way for brand building and client acquisition. Not only does this plan offer clarity and direction for internal stakeholders when you get started in real estate investing or other different types of real estate businesses, but it also proves vital when seeking external funding or partnerships. 

In essence, a well-structured real estate business plan serves as both a roadmap and a reflection of your vision for your real estate business.

Step 5. Set Up Your Office or Shop

Establishing a physical presence in the form of an office or shop is an exciting milestone in the journey of starting a real estate business. This space becomes the core of your operations, a place where clients are welcomed, deals are negotiated, and plans are strategized. 

The location you choose must align with your target audience. For instance, a high-street office may be suitable hub of your business if you are into luxury real estate, while a community-centric approach may benefit from a more localized setting. 

The design and ambiance of the space should mirror the goals of your business, offering a professional yet welcoming environment. Today's real estate workspace must also be technologically equipped.

It's not just really about the physical office but about creating an environment that promotes productivity, collaboration, and trust when launching a real estate business. Whether you're a solo entrepreneur or have a team, this space becomes a proof of your commitment to the business and ultimately get your business off the ground.

Step 6. Organize Your Finances and Set Up Accounting System

Any real estate venture brings with it a lot of financial challenges, making it essential to carefully organize finances and establish a great accounting system. 

Starting on the right financial step for your physical or online real estate career involves opening a dedicated business bank account, ensuring personal and business finances remain distinct. This separation aids in accurate bookkeeping, budgeting, and financial analysis. 

Moreover, the complexities of real estate transactions when you build your real estate business may necessitate an efficient accounting system. Some of these transactions when you get into the real estate business involve initial deposits to final payments, rental collections, and property maintenance costs.

Using modern accounting software to start your business can streamline financial operations, automate invoice generation, track expenses, and generate detailed financial reports. Moreover, given the tax implications associated with real estate – from property taxes to the various deductions – having a system that seamlessly integrates with tax solutions is invaluable. 

Organizing finances and setting up a tailored accounting system not only ensures compliance with financial regulations but also offers clear insights into the business's financial health, guiding informed decision-making helping you start and grow in becoming a real estate agent, active real estate investor, etc.

Step 7. Get a Real Estate Business License

As with many professional businesses, operating within the laws of the real estate sector when you get into real estate entrrepreneurship demands obtaining a specific business license. This real estate license stands as a proof to the legitimacy and ethical standards of your real estate business. 

The process typically begins with understanding the licensing requirements for a business owner specific to your region or state, as regulations can vary widely. Prospective real estate agents or brokers may need to complete specific educational courses and pass an examination to demonstrate their proficiency in the field. 

For others in the industry, like developers or property managers, different sets of qualifications or certifications might be necessary for their small business. When you get a real estate license to grow your real estate business, it may also involve background checks and financial audits to ensure the business's credibility. 

Furthermore, regular renewals and staying updated with changing regulations are important. Get your real estate license to ensure that you you operate within the laws of the state but also instill trust among clients and partners.

Step 8. Hire a Lawyer

Legal expertise is not a luxury but a necessity when opening a real estate business. Hiring a competent lawyer becomes an instrumental step in ensuring your real estate business is safe against potential challenges. 

Property transactions, lease agreements, and land development often come with a lot of legal documents and contracts. Having a lawyer ensures these documents are not only legally sound but also protect your business interests. 

Disputes, unfortunately, are not uncommon in real estate, be they with clients, tenants, or contractors. A lawyer offers pre-planned solutions helps deal with risks and navigate disputes when they arise. 

Additionally, staying updated about zoning laws, property rights, and evolving real estate regulations becomes simpler with legal guidance. 

Beyond dealing with transactions and disputes, a lawyer can advise on structuring your business, compliance, and even potential partnerships or expansions. In essence, hiring a lawyer equips your real estate business with a protective shield so every operation is legal and smooth.

Step 9. Get Business Insurance

Real estate, with its high-value transactions and physical assets, carries a lot of risks. Protecting your business against unforeseen challenges is where the significance of business insurance comes into play. 

Several insurance types cater to different aspects of a real estate business. General liability insurance, for instance, protects against injury claims or property damage linked to your business operations. 

Professional liability or errors and omissions insurance protects real estate sales agents against potential legal claims from unsatisfied clients. 

Meanwhile, property insurance is needed if you own office space, ensuring protection against damages from events like fires or natural disasters. For those with employees, worker's compensation insurance becomes crucial. 

Investing in the right insurance policies not only offers financial security but also develops confidence among clients and partners, ensuring the business continues even in the face of challenges.

Step 10. Build Your Brand Through a Marketing Plan

Your brand is more than just a logo or a tagline; it showcases your values, your promise to clients, and the experience you aim to deliver. 

That said, a comprehensive marketing plan to promote your business begins with a clear understanding of your target audience: Who are they? What are their property aspirations? What channels do they frequent? 

When you learn about all these, you can create good narratives that works with potential clients. Choosing the right marketing mix, from traditional advertising in newspapers and billboards to digital campaigns on social media and email marketing, is crucial. 

Equally important is consistent branding across all your platforms. Feedbacks through client surveys or digital analytics, help you identify the best strategies over time.

Step 11. Build a Website

In today's digital age, a website serves as the main face for any real estate business. It's often the first point of contact for potential clients, making it crucial to create a lasting impression. 

A user-friendly, visually appealing website showcases your property listings with high-quality images, detailed descriptions, and virtual tours. It's not just about aesthetics; the functionality is key. 

Features like property search filters, mortgage calculators, and customer testimonials enhance the user experience. A website also offers a platform for content, from blog posts about local real estate trends to advice pieces for first-time buyers, establishing your business as a trusted knowledge source. 

Integration with social media channels and email sign-ups can further widen your reach. Moreover, given the increasing mobile usage, ensuring your website is mobile-responsive is no longer optional but a necessity. 

Step 12. Establish Your Social Media Presence

A robust social media presence is also very crucial for a real estate business. Social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn are powerful tools that allow real estate professionals to showcase properties, share insights, and connect directly with potential clients. 

Beyond listings, these platforms offer a detailed view of properties using video tours, drone footage, and interactive posts. Stories on Instagram or Facebook can be used to offer behind-the-scenes glimpses or spotlight happy clients, making the business more relatable. 

Engaging content, such as market trends, home improvement tips, and community highlights, can position the business as a leader in the industry. Meanwhile, regular interaction with followers, be it through comments, polls, or direct messages, ensures community and trust. 

Moreover, targeted advertising features enable reaching certain demographic, so you can optimize ad spend.

Step 13. Build a Strong Network

Real estate, at its core, is a relationship-driven industry. The ability to build and nurture a strong network can significantly influence your way to success. 

Networking goes beyond client relationships; it also includes connections with fellow realtors and real estate agents, mortgage brokers, contractors, developers, and even local businesses. Attending industry seminars, joining real estate associations, and participating in community events can also be invaluable in expanding one's network. 

Such connections can lead to collaborations, referrals, and a deeper understanding of the market. A greatnetwork also provides a support system, offering insights into best practices, emerging trends, or solutions to challenges. 

Clients, past and present, are a big part of this network. Their referrals and testimonials can be more powerful than any advertisement when it's time to get your business running. 

Step 14. Use a CRM

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have become instrumental in modern real estate operations, transforming the way businesses manage client interactions. At its core, a CRM provides an organized platform to track leads, manage client information, and monitor transaction progress. 

Given the processes in real estate— from initial inquiries to property viewings, negotiations, and post-sale follow-ups—a CRM ensures no detail slips through the cracks. Modern CRMs offer more than just contact management. They provide analytical tools to understand client behavior, predict buying trends, and personalize marketing efforts. 

Integration capabilities of many CRMs also allow for a seamless flow of information between the CRM, website, email campaigns, and even social media. This real-time data can inform timely interventions, maximizing conversion opportunities. 

Additionally, CRMs often come with automation features, reducing repetitive tasks and enhancing productivity. In a business where nurturing client relationships is essential, a CRM doesn't just optimize operations; it becomes the core of delivering exceptional customer experiences.

Step 15. Get Referrals

Referrals are gold when owning a real estate business in 2022 and the succeeding years. A word about your real estate business from a satisfied client often carries more weight than any marketing campaign or advertisement. Referrals are not just testimonials of your service quality; they're bridges to potential clients who already have a degree of trust in you as established via the referrer. 

To get a steady stream of referrals, it's vital to offer consistently excellent service throughout the property buying or selling journey. These require a real estate post-transaction engagement, through check-ins, newsletters, or appreciation events, ensuring you remain top-of-mind for past clients and keep your business plan working. 

Encouraging referrals doesn't always have to be passive. Real estate professionals can actively request testimonials, offer referral programs, or offer incentives, discounts or gifts. 

Networking events, collaborating with related businesses, or hosting community seminars can also be ways for generating referrals. 

Key Takeaways: How to Start a Real Estate Business

Starting a real estate business is both ambitious and rewarding. While the industry can be challenging to enter, the potential financial and personal returns are quite substantial. 

As with any venture, however, establishing a real estate business requires persistence, adaptability, and passion. Careful planning, continuous learning, and a deep understanding of market dynamics are also crucial.

Feel like you’re ready to start a real estate business? Let us help you with finding seller leads! Here at Property Leads, we generate highly motivated seller leads from SEO and sell them exclusively to guarantee deals.

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