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Starting a Real Estate Business

The real estate industry is very sensitive to economic changes like interest rates and the cost of materials in building houses. Interest rates in particular can easily swing the number of sales that are completed during any quarter of the year. Rising interest rates will slow down the sales and falling rates will aid the sales of real estate. This is an important fact in the real estate business as this can absolutely cause rapid changes in income from the sales that can be made.

With this in mind, the time to buy an agency that comes up for sale may be when the real estate business is in the doldrums. A hot real estate market will make an existing firm worth more, as their income will be higher during this period of time. Of course if you follow this course of action, you will have to wait out the slow down in the markets. Another factor in the purchase or start-up a real estate company is the state licensing requirements.

Most states have serious requirements for real estate agents and brokers. Brokers have a much stiffer requirement in most states than an agent. The requirements include passing exams and a fixed number of educational hours for both agents and brokers. There is also a requirement for continuing education. These state mandated steps to a career in the real estate business would have to be met before an agency could be purchased or started. Since this industry is regulated and has strong legal steps to comply with, this licensing plus experience would be an initial step to being an owner in this field. This is not a business that can be stepped into by just paying out some money.

An agent can have the goal of owning their own firm, but it will take planning and meeting the state rules to make this happen. Once a potential owner has these steps out of the way, finding an existing business to buy will be in order. A quick check of real estate business listings reveals that they are usually found in larger cities and the asking price is significant. There are also resales of franchise companies. Just typing into a search engine, “Real estate businesses for sale”, came up with this quick check. A buyer could also check with business brokers and real estate brokers in their city. Another source worth checking out would be a franchise connection. An in place real estate business is advantages as the name is already known and will get clients due to this. When you start a company from the ground up you do not have this advantage. An existing business with several locations will come with a higher price tag than what you could start your own business for.

Another way to gain ownership would be buying into an existing business. This could work if you have a solid relationship with the current owner. The problem is you will not have the final say in most decisions unless you are buying controlling interest.

Specialty real estate firms

Most people think about a firm that helps with the buying and selling a home. There are several other areas of specialization. A real estate firm could become expert in buying and selling commercial property, farmland and farms, farm product processing plants, rental properties and shopping centers. Actually a broker could cut out a niche market from many that are available in the real estate business. If you have an area of expertise, this could become something that could be marketable and cut out a lot of competition in certain situations. Some real estate firms have unique departments that handle certain types of real estate marketing. The decision you must make is what kind of a firm are you going to own. You may have to start your own in order to make it happen.

You could also get into real estate management and the buying and selling of these rental properties, which is a very unique part of the industry. Shopping center related firms could be in from the start of a project. They can help with the formation of the firm to build and own the property and then handle the rentals and day-to-day management of the center.

The point of all of this is there are areas of real estate specialization that lend themselves to a business that just works in this real estate category.

Finding the money to make your dream happen

You may not have the total purchase price for an existing business. The question is how do you come up with the balance to make the deal. Finding a source to lend you the money is one way to come up with the needed funds. There are businesses that offer loans to new owners of businesses. These can be found on the Internet by just doing a search. Family and friends could be another source of money. One way to get the needed money is to take in a partner for the business. If you have a friend in the business maybe they would be interested in owning part of the existing company. All of these possible money suppliers will have different requirements for paying the money back.

Make sure you can see your way clearly on how you will accomplish the pay back. This business can be adversely affected by interest rates so you would need a second way to make the payments. A person thinking about ownership in this field must remember that it can be feast or famine as far as sales and commissions go. This is not like being in the restaurant business or owning a printing company. Successful brokers can make considerable money in a good market. They can also have periods that are very tight as to sales. The brokers that succeed have a policy of putting away some of their earnings during good times to cover the less profitable times. Doing this just shows the broker has a realistic view of the business.

Conclusions

This business can be extremely profitable during low interest rate economies. The legal and state requirements make the ownership of a brokerage firm more difficult to own than is the case with other businesses. Buying and selling a real estate business is somewhat more difficult due to the restrictions that are placed on the owner of a real estate firm. You must have the appropriate licenses in place before you can begin operation. This is true whether you buy a company or start one up from scratch. Finding a firm you can afford will take some time and research on your part. Hiring a professional business broker may speed up the search.

Deciding early on if you want to be a specialist will set other decisions in place. Niche areas that you are an expert in will help cut the competition somewhat. A general real estate business will have the potential for more clients, but will need and ongoing advertising campaign to gain listings and clients looking to buy. The start-up is cheaper to open, but will have little cash flow like an existing firm. Money flow is the one huge advantage buying an existing business offers to the new owner.

Redefining Real Estate E-Marketing Standards

Marketing strategies in the past

Marketing strategies for real estate agents were always the same: print tons of fliers, put out more newspaper ads – a typical numbers game. The more phone calls, fliers and newspaper ads you’re doing, the more chances you have to pick up new clientele. However, in our 21st century, full of new technologies, these strategies are likely to fade away. These tools are becoming obsolete for reaching a bigger and broader audience of seller and buyers.

Based on the latest market analysis by the National Association of Realtors (N.A.R.), 80% of buyers used the Internet to help find a home. Amazingly, only 15 years ago that wasn’t possible. Information on properties wasn’t available to the public, since all listed properties were stored in printed multi-listing system books. Buyers didn’t have any choice, but to get help from licensed agents. Back in those days, looking for properties took a lot of energy and required more than a regular “real estate” license. Agents had to remember various codes that Multi Listings Service (MLS) companies were using. For example, agents needed to memorize that property type CONDO1 represents a condominium with 1 bedroom. In addition, agents were required to page through heavy hard cover MLS books. Both of the previously mentioned skills were often described as “dealer maker” qualities. Sellers and buyers were blind to these books and only agents had the power of knowledge. This all happened of course, before the WWW era.

Marketing strategies nowadays

Nowadays, the same information is found on thousands of real estate web sites. Customers are given the power of knowledge. According to the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.), nearly half of the REALTORS┬« said that their business originates from Internet. In our “Google this” age, more consumers are spending their time online to do their own due-diligence prior to looking for a real estate professional. Real estate market customers ask for more information that is publicly available from anywhere and at any time.

Introduction of public Internet access greatly contributed to this change. Internet users started to ask for everything with the “click of a button”. This eventually pushed local MLS companies to change their rules regarding sharing listing data. With MLS changing their rules, real estate professionals were given the opportunity to own their own listings portal – their own web site. In the beginning, the only adapters of the new technology were big brokerage firms. As the years went by, technological advancements and high demand reduced the cost of ownership. From this very moment, having a web site became a standard for every real estate agent. Furthermore, having a Web site became as much of a necessity as having a cell phone.

Benefits of today’s tools/strategies

The major shift to “e-shopping”, is benefiting all involved parties in a real estate transaction:

  1. Buyers are spending less time to look for listed properties. They can find available properties on a user-friendly Listing Search web page that offers access to hundreds of listings based on search criteria. Select city, state and optional bedrooms and bathrooms and wait for the listings. Clicking on a particular listing that got your attention, will bring more detailed information about this property. Most of the time a regular listing information will be accompanied by:
    • property photos
    • virtual tours
    • quick loan calculator
    • community information
    • comparable sales
    • local schools
    • property on the map
    • send an email to the agent
    • an option to schedule a showing with the listing agent
  2. Sellers are benefiting from faster transactions, since every listed property transforms to a property that is visible on “every block”. Since most of the web sites are taking their listing data from the same centralized data center, such as MLS, a listing that is uploaded to MLS will turn up on all sites that are sharing the same MLS data. More exposure, of course, means more prospects and a faster sale.
  3. Agents are taking advantage of lower marketing costs. No longer do agents need to rely on expensive fliers and newspaper campaigns, since the cost of electronic media is much more affordable than its “hard-paper” rival.

Today’s standards for a web site

To accommodate e-commerce growing needs, real estate professional agents required knowledge that associated with building web sites. This required a prior knowledge of various computer related technologies such as: domain name registration, web hosting, web design and much more. Luckily for them, a variety of Web services companies came up to fill up these growing needs. These tech-oriented companies made it easy for real estate agents to maintain, update listings, and even to keep their web site complaint with most recent MLS rules. Agents that took advantage of such professional help were given more time to represent their clients in real estate transactions.

Agents and web service companies, the demand and supply of real estate industry, created some “must-to-have” features in the industry. These features became the foundation of any web site that each web site should follow:

  1. Fair graphic design of web site’s pages
  2. Convenient and easy of web site navigation
  3. Web page that offer to search for available listed properties
  4. Property detailed description that features agents that own the web site
  5. Option to customize different personal and office details: photos, email accounts, phone numbers, etc…
  6. Automated email notifications feature that sends listed properties information as soon as they become available on the market to a specified email address.
  7. Free Real Estate industry reports
  8. Real estate news

New standards for a web site

Starting from 2004, web site strategies changed and just a having a web site became irrelevant. Having a web site and having a web site that translates to leads, are two totally different ball games. Since the introduction of the first real estate web site, the Internet has greatly changed. Real estate web sites started to pop-up like mushrooms in a rainy forest. A world full of real estate-related web sites, signaled that competition for Internet visitors had began.

Fortunately, using five marketing tools bundled with your web site can definitely reduce your marketing efforts and give your web site greater exposure. These tools are FREE to use and easy to integrate with your existing web site. These extra features in addition to your current web site are going to create new industry standards.

  • Interactive Maps

Providing potential buyers with detailed property information is vital for successful real estate transactions. Eventually, a buyer that contacts an agent after reviewing all available information becomes a more qualified buyer. Supplying property address look-up on a regional map helps buyers to decide about the location of the property. Such look-up feature provides customers with additional information such as: cross streets, freeways, parks and more.

A web site that is designed to embed “mapped” property instead of redirecting visitors to another web site is a key selling point of this feature. “Redirecting” has a negative impact on Internet users’ attention. Unfortunately, once the other web site is grabbing users’ attention, users tend to lose any interest in your web site. A range of “Map” products from different companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are able to deliver interactive maps that can be navigated by dragging the mouse and zoom in/out using the mouse wheel to see detailed street information.

  • Web site Analytics

With Web site Analytics, agents can find out what keywords attract their most desirable prospects, what advertising copy pulled the most responses, and what landing pages and content make the most money for them. In addition, they will be able to track all online campaigns, from emails to keywords, regardless of search engine or referral source.

Google Analytics is considered one of the successful tools on the market and yet it is free, and it offers enterprise-class web analytics. It allows web site owners to track the effectiveness of their online marketing activities and helps to optimize the content and layout of their website. Out-of-the-box functionality includes conversion goals, funnel path analysis, Google AdWords integration and e-commerce tracking. The goal of Google Analytics is to empower you with information to maximize your marketing ROI and increase website conversions.

  • Search engine exposure / recognition

One of the many benefits of a well-known brand’s web sites such as, RE/MAX (www.remax.com) and Realtor (www.realtor.com) is brand recognition. A brand that is recognized by customers often becomes associated with “products of desire”. Regular customers will go directly to the realtor.com web site, when looking for a Realtor. Others alternatively, are going to http://www.remax.com to look for properties. Of course, a regular real estate agent with a limited budget and a 2-3 year old web site can’t compete with such companies. Customers are not going to hit his/her web site, since they don’t know about its existence.

One of the many ways to tell the world about your web site is by using search engines. Search engines are sophisticated creatures that are able to find relevant resources on the Web. Becoming one of the registered or indexed resources is one the keys for your web site success. According to comScore, an Internet information provider, search engine market is held by 5 major search engines: Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL and Ask. Since AOL search results are almost completely based on Google search engine results, we count only 4 search engines. Making your web site recognized by these search engines gives your web site greater exposure by improving placement for specific keywords. Greater exposure, of course, translates to more phone calls and emails from prospects.

Recent adoption of sitemap specifications by the “big 4″ greatly reduced indexing efforts. Sitemap is a page that lists the pages on a web site, typically organized in hierarchical fashion. Sitemaps can improve search engine optimization of a site by making sure that all the pages can be found. Just 30 minutes, that is what it takes to make your web site ready to be indexed. This is the maximum time that it takes to create Sitemap file, create a reference to it and upload these changes to your web hosting account.

Additionally, webmaster tools such as Google Webmaster Tools and Yahoo Site Explorer, offers help to diagnose problems and improve your site’s visibility.

  • Real Estate Blogs

Thousands of real estate bloggers can’t be wrong. RE blogs become the added value in real estate industry and let’s you quickly post thoughts, interact with people, and more. Real estate professionals can position themselves as industry experts and interact with prospects. According to Pew Internet & American Life Project, 44% of U.S. Internet users have contributed their thoughts and their files to the online world.

In addition, running blogs is also good for your search engine marketing, since search engines are on a continuous-run to add unique content. Given that most of the blog platform available on the market are search engine friendly, your written content becomes visible faster and easier. Visible to search engines, blog options such as RSS feed subscription and URL track-backs will constantly promote you web site.

One of the respectable choices for blog platform on the market is Blogger. Blogger offers FREE and easy blog management tools for those who are not tech-savvy. Furthermore, with the addition of hundreds of web-templates to choose from, your blog can get a unique look that it deserves. Since your blog will be hosted by Blogger, you don’t need to have a web site to have a blog. And finally, given that Blogger was recently acquired by Google, you can count on better exposure on Google search engine results.

  • Virtual Tours and Video Profiles

One of the latest technology contributors to sales is the virtual reality tour. “Virtual tours” offer buyers a much greater user experience than just regular property pictures. Buyers are more likely to visit the homes and are more ready to buy than their more traditional counterparts. Based on Real Networks, a provider of Internet media delivery software and services, web visitors stay on a site 75 percent longer when the site includes video. The majority of these web visitors will watch the videos on the site. This number is even greater and closer to 100 percent, for professional web site such real estate web sites.

Uploaded video to a highly successful web site such as YouTube creates a world full of possibilities. Since every video comes with YouTube profile that can include a web site, video viewers that liked your video will most likely follow to your web site. In addition, you will save money by receiving a free movie hosting from YouTube. Furthermore, linking to your video has never been easier – YouTube provides you with necessary code that links to your video. And of course, one of the biggest advantages of YouTube is its growing popularity. Your uploaded video, becomes searchable on YouTube Search and even on Google Search.

How To Successfully Invest In Real Estate For Beginners

Are you thinking about becoming a real estate investor? There are are some points that you should consider before you begin to invest in real estate that could decide if you succeed or fail.

The first thing you should consider when investing in real estate is can you afford it? Real estate investing is an expensive thing to begin to do and you need to take a look at your budget. You will probably have to make a real estate investment loan so you can invest in your real estate but can you pay that loan back? To invest in real estate is a big commitment and you are going to have to know if you are going to be able to afford it before you begin.

You need to decide why you are investing in real estate. If you are investing for your family you should check out the papers and formalities of the land such as water, road connectivity to the estate and electricity, and also how near to schools, shops, etc. the estate is located. If the house is a home you are investing in you should take a walk through the interior to make sure there are no faults or repairs needed.

If you are buying the estate solely for the purpose of reselling it in the future it is very important that you do a lot of research on the estate. You need to find out how much of an appreciation the land goes through and also calculate which areas are going to bring you the best profit. This is important because you do not want to go out and buy an estate on land that is not in demand.

The next point to consider before investing in real estate is to choose a good real estate agent. When choosing a real estate agent you should choose one who has a good market knowledge and one who knows the latest trend of the real estate market. You also need to choose an agent who is reliable as the bargain of the real estate investment lies solely on the agent’s knowledge and trust. If you choose a bad real estate agent you could end up with a bad bargain and many problems so choose wisely.

After reading this article you should walk out knowing how to begin to invest in real estate and be on your way to success.