Real estate businesses come in a wide range of sizes and styles, from one person offices that handle a few homes in a handful of neighborhoods to enormous chains that cover both commercial and residential properties across the country. Many new real estate agents try to expand too much too soon, failing as the result of unsustainable growth. A written business plan will keep you on track and help you grow your real estate business in an organized way. In addition, if you plan to seek funding, investors and lenders will use your business plan to determine the level of risk.
What Is a Business Plan?
Your business plan provides a snapshot of your real estate company as it currently exists, and lays out a road map for the next three to five years. It highlights your business goals, identifies potential challenges, and describes your strategies for overcoming adversity and meeting your goals. It is a living document that should be frequently updated as your real estate business grows and evolves.
Although it serves as the introduction to your business plan, your executive summary should be written last. The first page helps financiers decide whether to read the full plan, so provide the most important information. Give a clear and concise description of your real estate company. Provide a summary of your market analysis that proves the need for another real estate business, and explain your company’s unique qualifications to meet that need.
Your company analysis explains your real estate business as it exists right now. Describe the company’s founding, current stage of business, and legal structure. Highlight any past milestones, such as lining up key clients or hiring an agent with a proven track record. Elaborate on your unique qualifications, such as expertise in a currently underserved niche market.
The real estate industry is incredibly large and diverse, but your analysis should focus on your specific segment of the market. Do you specialize in multifamily residential buildings? Single family homes? Office buildings? Small commercial properties? Figure out where your real estate company fits in, and then research the current trends and market projections that affect your niche. Create a detailed strategy for overcoming any obstacles that you uncover.
Who will purchase your real estate? Are they first-time homebuyers? Upwardly mobile young professionals? Developers, speculators, or investors? What is important to them in a real estate agent? Do they require hand holding through the entire process, or are they savvy buyers that just want you to show them the properties that interest them? How do they decide on a particular property? Narrow down their demographics as closely as you can, and then figure out what their unique needs are and how you can fulfill them.
Your direct competitors are those real estate companies that fulfill the same needs for the same target market as yours. Your indirect competitors are real estate businesses that target a different market, or other companies that fulfill a different need for your target market. Describe each of your direct competitors individually, and talk about the things that set your real estate company apart. Categorize your indirect competitors as a group and talk about them as a whole.
A solid marketing plan is based on the four P’s: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place. The Product section describes the real estate you sell along with any other services you provide. Price will change according to the specifics of the property, but you can delineate your fees here. Promotion is your means of getting new business. Place is your physical office location, along with your web presence and the areas where you sell. Another category, Customer retention, refers to the ways you will build loyalty.
Your operations plan explains your methods for meeting the goals you set forth. Everyday short-term processes include all of the daily tasks involved in signing up clients, showing properties, and closing sales. Long-term processes are the ways you will meet your defined business goals, such as expanding into new markets or new types of properties.
The management team section highlights the backgrounds of the key members of your team. Focus on those aspects that prove your team’s ability to build and run a successful company. A business mentor or advisor can help fill in any gaps, provided you can identify the specific ways that your advisor will influence your company’s growth.
Investors and lenders heavily scrutinize the financial plan, but it is often the most challenging part of the business plan to write. Real estate is a fickle market, subject to changing whims and economic cycles. Yet the financial plan requires you to detail your individual revenue streams by implementation timeline and relative importance, and disclose any sources of outside funding. You also need to summarize your past and future Income Statements, Cash Flow Statements, and Balance Sheets, based on key assumptions that must be both reasonable and verifiable based on an analysis of similar companies. You should also provide a solid exit strategy that shows your understanding of the market and your desire to capitalize on profitability.
Your full financial projections should be attached in the appendix along with any other documents that support your claims, such as letters from key partners.
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