How to Start a Real Estate Brokerage

The complete guide to starting your own successful real estate brokerage in 2023

How many times have you thought about starting your own real estate brokerage? How many times have you searched Google for the best ways to start a real estate business without much money or capital?

Now is the right time to start your own real estate brokerage. And the good news is that it can be relatively straightforward, affordable, and enjoyable.

While you may think that you need an office, a lot of expensive software, and vast sums of money, that’s not necessarily the case. The truth is, it’s faster and easier to start small, stay agile, and scale appropriately. 

Put an end to endless internet searches, and start building your real estate business today, with this guide. It covers everything you need to know about how to start a real estate brokerage and will explain the steps you need to take to get started in 2023.

Chapter 1: Lay the Foundations

To get started, let’s take a look at what you need to do before starting your brokerage. There are a few critical steps that will set you up for success further down the line. 

Get your real estate broker license (or hire a licensed real estate broker)

In the U.S., a real estate broker is responsible for the transactions that are processed under their license. This person is accountable for everything related to the transaction including legal compliance and the company’s real estate agent’s performance. 

If you want to open a brokerage, you either need to get a broker’s license yourself or hire someone to broker the transactions for you. 

Assuming you want to do it yourself, you should take steps to get your license well before you plan to open. This will also save you the money of hiring immediately. However, if you’re not able to obtain a real estate broker license, then hiring is a priority.

Licensing is administered at a state level in the U.S., so the exact requirements differ depending on where you plan to set up shop. You typically have to complete a course, ranging from around 40 hours to a few hundred hours.

Some states also require you to have experience as a real estate agent or to have completed a specific number of transactions before applying for your licensing exam. 

This means the licensing process can be a lengthy one. Understanding what’s required will help you put an accurate timeline on when you can start your business.

Set up your business

You must take steps to ensure you operate your business legally. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has a helpful ten-step guide to setting up a company you can use to guide you. 

One of the first things to decide on is the business structure you will use. Brokerages can operate as a sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership, or corporation. 

Most people will choose to operate as a Limited Liability Company (LLC). An LLC is a simple business structure that helps remove personal liability and often provides better protection of your personal assets. You won’t require a board of directors or need hold formal shareholder meetings. 

Speak with a lawyer at this point to get professional advice about the pros and cons of each option. Then register your business with the state agencies where you do business. 

You should also apply for a federal tax ID and consider taking out errors and omissions insurance (E&O) to reduce risk exposure. 

Franchise vs. Independent Brokerage

Another critical decision is to choose between opening a franchise brokerage or going it alone. 

The former is often easier as providers typically have operating procedures set up for you to follow. You’ll also benefit from a recognizable brand name, so you won’t have to work as hard on marketing or building brand value. The downside of the franchise route is that you’ll lose independence and the ability to build your company with a specific vision. 

You’ll also typically need some capital to open a franchise brokerage—possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the provider you choose. 

You may also be required to pay a percentage of revenue to the franchise operator. This franchise fee takes care of services like marketing and running the company. 

Franchise Direct has produced an interesting rundown of some of the top franchises in the U.S. and what you must do to start one. Read it here

💡 Franchises aren’t for everyone
Franchises can help give less experienced brokers and agents a boost early in their careers.
But more established brokerages tend to get fewer benefits from them. Some are even better off going independent.
Paperless Pipeline customer Hal Barnett told us how he made his brokerage more profitable and easier to run. One of the ways he achieved this was to go independent. 

Start with a minimum viable brokerage

If you choose to run an independent brokerage, now is the time to start thinking about running your business. 

Unless you have startup capital and experience, we recommend beginning with a minimum viable brokerage. This means you’ll launch with the minimum amount of investment and infrastructure in place. Doing so allows you to adapt quickly and scale appropriately. 

The benefits of this are:

  • You’ll keep initial costs to a minimum, reducing risk. You won’t spend money on expensive offices, unnecessary software, or costly brand-building campaigns. 
  • You’ll earn commissions faster. A minimum viable brokerage allows you to start working as soon as possible. You’ll focus on getting your first sales over the line to kickstart your cash flow.

Technology has provided enormous opportunities for brokerages to run virtually. The only tools and equipment you’ll need are a website, some business cards, for sale signs, and access to Excel. 

Of course, you don’t have to continue operating like this (unless you choose to). Once you have momentum, you can begin to spend on the extras needed to grow your business.

Will you do the selling or hire agents?

When you first start, you will probably perform the duties of both agent and broker. You’ll find leads, market properties, organize tours, and facilitate transactions. 

This is advantageous at the beginning of your journey as it eliminates agent fees. You get to keep all the profit and reinvest in your business. The downside is that doing everything yourself means growth will be slower.

At some point, you may want to hire agents to work for you. The more people you have on your team, the more deals you can do and the more commissions you can produce. 

At this point, your role will become increasingly administrative. Instead of selling, you’ll focus on activities like:

  • Recruitment
  • Contract negotiation
  • Workforce management
  • Tracking commission payments
  • Generating leads

The decision to hire or not to hire is not easy. Consider your susceptibility to risk and reward, as well as practical details, like the amount of available cash. 

💡 You need a system for recruiting
The most successful brokers build systems to recruit agents similar to the ones they use to generate leads.
Check out our article on Robb Campbell. He is one of the country’s top real estate recruiters. He told us about the system he uses to recruit agents for his business. 

Take financial planning seriously

Before setting up a business, you should create a business plan with detailed financial projections. This ensures you have realistic expectations about how much cash you need to operate and how many sales you must make to earn this money. 

First, consider startup costs. This can be anything from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It all depends on the type of business model you use. 

A virtual minimum viable brokerage with you performing the role of agent requires the least amount of money. You’ll have to cover business registration, insurance, essential equipment, and reliable transaction management software. 

The amount of cash you need quickly rises if you want to open a brick-and-mortar location. You will have to factor in the cost of office space, furnishing, and labor. 

You’ll also need to consider how you will finance these costs. 

You may have money saved up that you can use to get started. Or you may decide to apply for financing via the Small Business Administration. 

Costs only increase once you’re underway. You’ll need to cover:

  • Marketing
  • Utilities
  • Staff expenses
  • Rent
  • Agent commissions
  • Franchise fees
  • Association and Multiple Listings Service (MLS) fees
  • And more

These costs can easily hit thousands of dollars per month. Create detailed cash flow projections that show the targets you’ll need to reach to cover them. 

Getting paid takes time

Remember that it can be a while before you get paid for the work you and your agents do. Also, deals can fall through at any minute—leaving you with plenty of costs but nothing to show for your work. 

The average home spent 25 days on the market in 2020, but it can be much longer. And it can take up to 45 days to receive your payments, even once a deal is finalized.

So you need a good grip on cash flow, especially during the early stages when a single sale can make a substantial difference. 

Keep your personal and business expenses separate

Be aware that at first, you may not earn enough to pay yourself a wage. Before starting, be sure to have at least a year’s worth of personal expenses saved up to cover you before your business becomes profitable. 

Once you earn enough to pay yourself, don’t just dip into the company bank account when you need some cash. Pay yourself a salary every week or month like you would with any other employee. You can supplement this with bonuses if the business is going well and you want to earn more. 

This guide to how small business owners should pay themselves is a helpful resource.  

Recruit the right agents

When it’s time to hire agents, getting the right people is hugely important. 

Top agents bring in more leads and close more transactions, but they also cost more than their peers. Find a balance you are comfortable with.  

An alternative is to look for promising talent that is making a name at other agencies. People at this stage of their career may still be on less favorable commission terms, meaning it’s easier to recruit them.

Recruiting real estate agents is an ongoing process that is likely to take up a significant amount of your time as you start to grow. Make sure you are always on the lookout for potential hires tol improve your brokerage. 

Rewards packages matter

Perhaps the most crucial factor when recruiting is the commission structure that you offer. Look at other brokerages in your area to see what kind of commission and fees they pay agents and create a competitive compensation package based on this. 

Consider how you can differentiate your business through factors like opportunities for growth, a better work/life balance, and technology that makes an agent’s job easier. 

Keep existing agents happy

Keeping your existing workforce happy is just as important as hiring new agents. 

Ensure people are on plans suitable for their current performance level so that they are less likely to look elsewhere. 

It would help if you also communicated with your agents about the things they like or dislike about their work. You may find that the things that frustrate your workforce are easily fixable. But you won’t be able to do so if you don’t know what those issues are. 

We have a complete guide to recruiting agents that you can read here

💡 Get creative with agent benefits
Generous commission splits and a good work-life balance aren’t the only ways to keep agents happy. 
For example, Paperless Pipeline customer Joe Weinzetl told us how he offers his agents the opportunity to earn passive income. Any of his agents that achieve more than 10 transactions in a year can become a mortgage loan reseller under a scheme he is subscribed to. 

Chapter 2: Start Closing Real Estate Transactions

With your business entity setup, it’s time to put pen to paper on your first deal. Early deals are often the hardest as you may be starting from scratch in terms of leads, reputation, and client base—unless you have an existing network in your area.

As getting cash flow to cover your costs is an essential part of running a business, we recommend that new brokers put all their focus on getting their initial deals over the line. 

At first, this means doing anything you can to bring in leads for yourself and your agents. 

If you have already established yourself in the real estate  industry, you may have a network you can rely on for referrals. This is an ideal scenario as people will trust you. 

Let other realtors know you’ll be willing to pay a commission for any property they pass to you. This can be a good source of referrals, as popular realtors often receive leads they can’t or don’t want to list. 

Attending business events is another good way to expand your network and to get more referrals.

But don’t limit yourself to professional connections. Ensure that everyone in your network knows you’ve started your own  brokerage business. Tell them you appreciate referrals if they know anyone who is considering selling their home.

An easy way to stay top of mind is to ask people you know if you can add them to an email list. Then use email marketing software to send out a weekly message about your business.

Even if the people on your list aren’t buying or selling houses themselves, they may know people who are. This can eventually lead to referrals.

Cold calling is another method you can use to get your first client. Real estate marketing company Marketing Artfully recommends producing a laminated list of local services, including your brokerage, and delivering it in person to homes in your area. 

As the document contains valuable information, people are less likely to throw it out than a purely promotional flyer. You can read about this and nine other strategies for finding listings here.

Carve your niche  

To be successful in a crowded market, you need to carve out a niche. Specializing in a single area means clients are more likely to come to you when selling a specific property type. 

Some of the most common ways to choose a niche include:

  • By geographical area: Start small and close to your base—you can expand as you recruit and bring on more agents.
  • By property type: Family homes, luxury property, holiday homes, or manufactured homes.
  • By customer type: Retirees, high-net-worth individuals, relocations.
  • By financing type: FHA, VA, and cash-only are a few examples.

The key is to look at the real estate market you want to operate in and discover its needs. Analyzing competitors will show you the types of property that sell where you live. Also, look at what you have prior experience and success in. 

You also need to find a good balance between your niche. Being too broad can dilute your marketing efforts, and you won’t be able to differentiate yourself. Going too narrow may be a constraint, and you’ll struggle to find enough business to stay afloat.

When starting, it’s easiest to let supply define your niche. If you find you have many opportunities to sell residential homes in a particular area, embrace this in your positioning.

💡 Get creative with your niche
Don’t just think about the type of property you work with, think about who you sell to and how you operate. 
For example, Paperless Pipeline customer Daniel McClam told us his company’s unique business model.
His real estate company buys properties and sells them wholesale to institutional investors. He does this by using a unique targeting system that finds the right properties where the owners are likely to want to sell. 
These property owners are then contacted by cold callers. This provides his agents with 50 leads per day to follow up. 

Customer incentives

It’s essential to choose customer incentives that will suit your niche, business, and commission structure. You can offer many buyer and seller incentives to make your brokerage stand out, each with unique benefits and downsides.

Here are some excellent incentive examples:

1% Fee

This agency offers a 1% fee, which is much lower than the average of around 3%. Lower fees appeal to sellers as they pocket more of the sale total.

While you’ll earn less per sale, you may be able to stay profitable by taking advantage of cheaper online marketing techniques to sell the home, reducing commission splits, or processing a higher volume of sales. 

The downside is that it may be tougher to attract agents. You’ll have to develop a creative solution to ensure they still earn enough to make their work worthwhile. 

Flat fee brokerage

Brokerages can differentiate themselves by offering to work for a flat fee. You’ll offer your services for a predefined cost that won’t change no matter how much the home sells for. 

The benefit to the client is that they know exactly how much their fees will be. If their home sells for the expected amount, they will save a percentage of the sale price. 

This flat fee brokerage says that the average customer saves around $10,000 when they choose its services. This is a significant figure that will be very attractive to sellers. 

The brokerage’s benefit is that they also get a guaranteed amount of money, even if the sale goes through for less than expected. 

Minimum service flat fee 

Some brokerages offer a flat fee service where they provide a minimal service, such as listing the property on an MLS, but let the seller take care of finding a buyer. The brokerage doesn’t assign the seller and agent, market the listing, arrange home tours, or take photos. 

The benefit of this basic service to the seller is that the fee is much lower. If they can get a deal through, they will save a considerable amount in fees. The brokerage’s benefit is that while they won’t earn as much for the sale, and agents are free to work on other deals. 

Charitable donation

Providing a percentage of your commission as a charitable donation is another way to attract customers. 

The way it works is that the brokerage reduces their commission, and the client pays the corresponding percentage to a chosen charity. This payment goes directly from escrow to the charity’s account. 

The brokerage benefits because it stands out by offering an unusual but attractive option. It doesn’t have to cost the brokerage much, yet it can make a big difference to prospective clients. Additionally, your client gets the satisfaction of donating to a good cause.

The key is deciding on an appropriate amount that is appealing to clients and ensures you still get paid fairly for the work you put in when selling a home. 

Express sale

Selling a home is often an inconvenient and stressful experience for the current owner. Because of this, some brokerages provide a new service sometimes known as an ‘express sale’. This is when they give the seller a fast cash offer and buy the property off them. Offerpad is an excellent example of a company providing such a service.

For the seller, the benefits are more flexibility and a quick, stress-free sale. However, they won’t take advantage of market demand, and the offer they get may be relatively low.

The benefits for the brokerage include more potential profit and more predictable buying processes. The downside is that you’ll need a lot of free capital to buy the home, and there is a small risk that you could lose money on some properties.

Chapter 3: Choose a Commission Structure

Real estate commission on a property sale is typically between 5% and 6%. This fee is then split four ways between the buying and selling brokerage and agents. 

While the overall percentage the client pays doesn’t change much, there is room for negotiation in how the brokerage splits the commission with the agent. There are a few different real estate commission plans that may complement the way you run your business.

Here are some of the most common commission structures:

Traditional commission split

A traditional commission split sees the total commission divided between the agent and the broker. 

The exact split will be decided when the agent joins your brokerage. Usually, the agent pays between 10% and 40% of the amount they receive to the broker. Experienced agents with a proven track record have more bargaining power and earn more than those just starting. 

This is an excellent and well-known structure. It encourages agents to keep bringing in deals, as the more transactions they close, the more they (and you) earn. 

Sometimes percentages change depending on where the lead comes from. If the agent brings in the lead, they may receive a higher percentage of the deal. If it comes from the brokerage, the company can collect more money. 

Commission threshold 

A commission threshold is similar to a traditional split. The difference is that the percentage the agent pays to the broker reduces once they pass a monthly sales target. 

For example, the agent may keep 60% of their first three sales in a month. Then, after the third transaction, they earn 70%. Sometimes there is even a third level. 

The benefit of this type of structure is that the agent stays motivated once they have brought in a significant sales volume—potentially increasing the amount you make as a broker. 

This type of structure is also likely to attract quality agents who are confident in their ability to push sales over the line.

You can base the threshold on various factors. For example:

  • The amount the agent has paid to a broker
  • The number of transactions they’ve completed
  • The total value of the sales

Flat fee structure

In a flat fee structure, the agent keeps 100% of the commission but pays a regular flat fee to the brokerage. 

This fee, often called a desk fee, is paid either every month or per transaction. It allows the agent to use the brokerage’s office and other infrastructure. 

Monthly fees are paid whether or not the agent closes a deal during the period. They can be as much as $2,000 or more

The benefit to the brokerage is that it receives a guaranteed income. It also typically provides agents with less support and doesn’t pay for signage or advertising. This can significantly lower costs. 

The downside is that it won’t earn as much from productive agents as a traditional commission model.

This type of structure typically attracts experienced agents who generate consistent revenue and close deals without much support. This type of person is confident they will make enough money to make the desk fee worthwhile. 

Chapter 4: Choose a Business Model

Getting your business model right is essential. This section will explore the merits of both brick and mortar and virtual brokerages. 

Brick and mortar office

Traditionally, brokerages operated from a dedicated physical office. This was a requirement as technology couldn’t  facilitate remote work.

Many brokerages still operate like this, and for a good reason. Having an office gives employees a place to work, hold meetings, and communicate with others. All the equipment people need is right there in the office, and many agents expect you to have one.

Having a high-street presence can also improve your visibility in the area. It encourages people to drop in when they are interested in selling or buying a home. This may be essential if you deal with specific customer groups, as many people still prefer to visit a physical location. 

If you choose to go down the franchise route, you will often be required to have an office as part of your agreement.

The biggest downside to the brick and mortar model is the cost required to run an office. It can be thousands of dollars each month. You’ll also have to choose an office of the correct size. Go too big, and you’ll spend more than you need; too small, and you won’t be able to grow. 

The reality is that even if you have an office, many agents will spend a significant part of their day out in the field. 

Virtual office

Technology has enabled brokerages to go remote. Even those previously unconvinced about virtual brokerages’ merits were forced to change their minds in 2020 due to COVID-19. 

Remote work during this period didn’t seem to harm the industry. Sales volume in 2020 remained high and, while slightly down on 2019, was more than 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Running a virtual real estate brokerage has many benefits. You save significantly on the cost of office space. It’s also easier to scale up and add people to your team without worrying whether you have room for them.

It’s suitable for agents too, which may make recruiting easier. They get flexibility over where and how they work. Instead of commuting to the office, they can work at home and go straight to meet clients, potentially saving hours each day. 

You need the right technology to make it work

Technology means that many of the tools previously required to run a successful brokerage are now redundant. 

Agents can scan documents on the go with their phone cameras, send them to you by email, and review documents on their computers. Meanwhile, tools like Zoom and Slack help keep the team in reach when needed. Perhaps most importantly, transaction management software keeps everything running smoothly.

The biggest downside is that agents won’t have space to meet clients. This is problematic on the occasions when in-person meetings are necessary.

But many brokerages are overcoming these difficulties. Moving to a remote capacity allows for a vast operation that runs virtually using cloud-based tools and a franchise structure. This will enable agents and employees anywhere to collaborate without the need for brick and mortar offices.

For many brokerages, starting with a remote operation and then renting some office space when required is a good idea. 

Hybrid model

In a hybrid model, most of the work takes place in the field. Agents still send digital documents and communicate with the team online. 

But you have a small office. This will typically mean a limited number of meeting rooms or hotdesks that agents can use when they need to. 

You’ll save on property costs as you are renting a smaller space, but you’ll still get many of the benefits of an entire office.

Another option is to take advantage of coworking space if it is available in your city. These are open-plan offices shared with other companies. 

The companies that manage these spaces often provide all you need to work, such as Wi-Fi, coffee machines, and more. You can also usually reserve meeting, presentation, or conference rooms when required. 

It’s a good solution for firms with a small number of employees. The downside is that your employees will have to be comfortable sharing the space with other businesses.

Team structure business model

Brokerages are typically viewed as competitive places. Agents control the whole sales process and take home the rewards. 

A team brokerage is a little different. In this structure, agents intentionally operate more like a team—a small group of highly productive and focused real estate agents. Each one has a manager and plenty of support staff that helps bring in sales. Agent commission is much lower to cover the extra costs, but good teams can sell at a higher volume. 

This article provides an overview of how it works. It uses an example in which agents only receive 30% of the total commission, a significant decrease in industry averages. Each agent sells an average of 30 transactions a year, which is around four times the national average—easily making up for the shortfall. 

It’s also more attractive to clients who benefit from the more service-oriented focus of these businesses.

Chapter 5: Marketing and Branding

Marketing and branding are critical when it comes to generating new leads and helping your business stand out. Here’s a guide to how to do each one well. First, let’s look at branding.


Creating a strong brand is essential to differentiate yourself from the competition and appeal to your target audience. But creating a strong brand isn’t easy. Here are some steps you can take. 

Build a buyer persona

Your brand needs to appeal to the people you target your services towards. And different things appeal to groups in various ways. 

Retirees looking for a vacation condo, bankers searching for Wall Street penthouses, and families looking for suburban homes will want very different things from their brokerage.

The first step in branding is, therefore, defining who your target market is. 

Do this by creating a buyer persona—a fictional representation of the type of people you want to attract. 

There are many details you can include, such as:

  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Average income
  • What they value
  • What they like or dislike about the buying or selling process
  • How they buy property (cash, mortgage, etc.)
  • Why they sell property
  • Where they live
  • Interests and hobbies

Create a persona for each customer segment you will target your services toward. 

It’s crucial to create your buyer persona before moving on to the other steps. When you decide on other elements of your marketing and branding, you can look at your persona and ask yourself whether it is likely to appeal to this person. 

Define your value proposition

Next, you need to decide on your main value proposition. This means defining something that you are good at and that will appeal to your persona. You’ll use your value proposition in your marketing. 

Here are some excellent examples:

Compass Real Estate

Compass’s value proposition combines the expertise of a top brokerage with technology that creates a “seamless” buying or selling experience. This is a powerful proposition that is likely to appeal to the tech-savvy customers it targets. 

Texas Discount Realty

Texas Discount Realty has a strong value proposition based on saving clients money. They offer several ways for sellers to save, including flat-rate commissions and using the same buying and selling agent for the transaction.


Winston-Traitel portrays its experience in the area’s commercial real-estate sector. It’s a strong value proposition aimed at a particular section of the market. 

Remember that your value proposition doesn’t need to be unique. Look at brokerages in other regions that have a similar customer type and niche to yours. Use this to inspire your ideas.

Create a name, logo, and tagline

Your brand name, logo, and tagline need to appeal to your target audience and communicate your unique value proposition. 

At this point, you can hire professionals to help. This could be anything from a full branding agency to just commissioning a designer to create your logo. 

Create a marketing plan

Now that your branding is done, you can start to create a marketing plan. Here are some strategies to consider.

Build your online presence

Brokers must have a robust online presence. A 2019 National Association of Realtors survey found that 44% of people started their property search online. Meanwhile, social media was the top tech tool for providing high-quality leads. 

First, you’ll need a website so that buyers and sellers can find out more about your business and properties. 

Tools such as WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace make it possible to create a website on your own at a low cost. This may be okay if you want a simple site with information about your business, contact details, and simple pages for listings. 

At this point, you’ll also need to claim your profiles on social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. These can be powerful ways to increase the reach of your brand and improve your brand visibility.

Search engine marketing

You need to show up on Google when people search for relevant terms. Here are three things you can do that will help. 

Create a Google My Business Profile

The easiest way to appear on the search engines (without paying for ads, which we’ll discuss later) is to create a Google My Business Profile. This is a short profile for your business that contains information such as opening hours, customer reviews, and your address.

This profile shows up on Google Maps and Google Search when people type in relevant keywords such as “Realtor near me” or “Realtor in [your area]”. You can see how it looks in the screenshot below.

Buyers and sellers can browse these listings until they find one they like. All the information they need to contact you is already in the profile. 

Optimize your website

If you’re willing to invest more in getting found on Google, you can implement a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. 

SEO is complex. It means optimizing pages on your website for keywords that you want to rank for on Google at its most basic level. 

These keywords are typically terms that people who are looking for a realtor are likely to search for. 

This could be:

  • Your brand name.
  • “Realtor in [your area].”
  • “How to sell a home in [your area].”
  • “What is the best realtor in [your area]?”
  • “Where is the best place for families to live in [your area]?”

Optimize pages by adding keywords to your title and article, creating the type of page Google thinks searchers are looking for, and then attracting backlinks to the page.

The great thing about SEO is that if you do it right, you can get a steady stream of potential leads arriving at your website for free. 

Whether you can rank will depend on the competition from other websites trying to show up for your term. If lots of authoritative sites already rank highly, it can be tough to break through.

Search engine ads

The other way to show up on Google is to pay for search engine ads. You’ll choose keywords that you want to show up for and then create ads for these terms. 

When someone searches for these keywords, Google might show your ad at the top of the search results. 

These ads use a pay-per-click (PPC) pricing model, which means you pay a small fee whenever someone clicks on your ad. 

The good thing about PPC ads is that it is a quick way to generate leads. The downside is that costs can add up, and if your website isn’t optimized to convert leads well, you may be throwing money away. 

Stewart Dunlop, from digital ad agency PPC Genius, shared two tips brokerages can use when advertising on the web.

“The most important factors are finding the right keywords to bid on and then creating a targeted funnel for each one. 

Let’s say you’re based in New York; you’d have to find out which keywords people looking for a broker in this area are searching for. You probably have a good idea of this already—things like “real estate brokerage New York.” But there’s plenty of tools like SEMRush or WordStream that can highlight new opportunities.

Once you’ve found your keywords, you need to create an enticing ad and follow it up with an effective lead capture form. We like to create separate landing pages for each offer we promote. It may take time to set up in the beginning, but your conversion will go through the roof—which is super important when every click costs you money.”

Other forms of marketing

Online isn’t the only type of marketing to consider. You can get the word out through:

  • Print advertising
  • Radio advertising
  • Billboards
  • Attending local events
  • Flyers
  • And more

Consider your buyer persona and where they are most likely to see you. A billboard in a popular spot with your target audience may be just as effective as a Google ad. 

Chapter 6: Use Best-in-Class Real Estate Software

Brokerage management software helps you streamline processes and scale your brokerage. 

It’s important to choose solutions that agents and other employees find easy to use and fit in with their day-to-day workflows.

Some software packages are more fundamental to running your brokerage than others. In this next section, we explain what solutions you should prioritize acquiring:

1. Real estate compliance software

Real estate compliance is complex. Having set procedures and keeping a record of transactions is the best way to ensure you don’t fall foul of regulations. It’s therefore vital that you start using compliance software from day one. 

Software can make it easy to comply by:

  • Letting brokers review documents quickly. 
  • Storing a downloadable history of activity on each transaction.
  • Ensuring each step takes place when it should.

2. Accounting software

It would help if you also got reputable accounting software as soon as possible. This is important as it tracks all of your spending and transactions ready for submitting your tax return. The longer you leave investing in accounting software, the more complicated your tax return will be. 

You don’t need software marketed only to real estate brokerages, either. The best solutions are the ones that handle business accounting. Your brokerage is a business, and expenses will be similar to any other company in any other industry. 

 Xero and Quickbooks are great examples of popular accounting platforms that easily integrate with other software.

3. Real estate transaction management software

Managing the real estate transaction process can be overwhelming. Invest in transaction management software once you have your first deal under your belt. A good product like Paperless Pipeline allows you to digitize the entire transaction process. This is essential if you plan to run a brokerage remotely and valuable even if you don’t.

You can:

  • Create transaction checklists that guide your team through all the steps from listing to close.
  • Automatically set dates so admins and agents can see exactly when tasks are due, ensuring deals stay on track. 
  • Generate reports that show crucial transaction information. For example, the number of deals expected to close in the next 30 days or the number of deals closed in a certain period. 
  • Upload and review documents from anywhere, enabling a completely remote way of working. 
  • Connect your account to over 3,000 commonly used apps.

Find out more about how Paperless Pipeline helps brokers manage transactions here

4. Real estate commission management software

Once you start employing agents, you’ll need to get brokerage management software. 

This helps by automatically tracking sales and calculating commission based on your agreed-upon rates. You can bring up reports, manage plans, and even assign different agents to unique commission structures.

Find out more about how Paperless Pipeline can help you manage commission here.

4. Integration tools

Once you have multiple SaaS apps and software packages in operation, it’s helpful to use an integration tool to get them working in synergy. 

Popular tools like Zapier allow you to automate essential functions between your apps, freeing up your time and reducing human error.

5. Customer relationship management (CRM) software

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems allow you to manage and organize your customer data, track your sales, and plan and execute marketing campaigns. 

They also gather customer interactions from across your channels and record them in a single place. This means that everyone working at your brokerage will always have the latest customer information available to them. This improves efficiency and customer experience. 

You may need a CRM as you begin gathering cold leads. In these early days, we recommend you choose a good quality free tool like HubSpot. Later on, once you are managing an extensive sales pipeline, you may wish to upgrade to a premium CRM. 

The type of brokerage that you operate will impact how you choose a CRM. If you are a producing broker, you may wish to allow your agents to select their CRMs to keep their leads confidential. If you are a managing broker, you will more likely supply your agents with a CRM.

It’s time to start your own real estate brokerage.

Now you know how to start a real estate brokerage. But this is just the beginning of the road to success. But getting these crucial first steps right will set you up nicely for the future. 

The most important thing to remember is that starting a successful real estate brokerage doesn’t have to involve spending lots of money on offices, employees, and complex software. Stick with the basics you need to get your first sales and then grow from there.