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.
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.
And now I would like to offer you free access to information on a powerful integrated system of marketing, sales & advertising so you can thrive instead of survive in today’s economic environment.
Henthorn is president of Spiral Marketers, a marketing firm which includes a number of partnerships that range from cutting-edge software development, business and personal improvement coaching, online e-commerce businesses, and more.