The Costs of Being a Realtor: Startup Costs
My last blog post revolved around the monthly costs to be expected by a Rookie Realtor. I received such good feedback and very good criticism at the same time. Based on the feedback, I will focus my future posts based on my own experience working and living in Vancouver.
Anyhow, let’s get started. My intention is not to sway anyone from starting a career in real estate. If you love it, jump on in. I want to share my knowledge of how I experience real estate on many levels. In this post, I will share a range of startup costs that are to be expected.
I have broken down the startup costs by line item and by budget and category, respectfully. Depending on the market you are entering, there will be different barriers of entry with associated costs. The more “luxurious” the real estate, you will face more brand competition with deeper pockets. You must strategically invest in your business. This whole business is based on self-promotion and value-adding proposals.
So let’s start with my spreadsheet below. The expenses are broken down to basic, moderate, and high. I personally started out with the moderate to high budget during my first year and I know how much websites, branding, print materials etc. cost. To date, I have now spent well over double of what I have listed in the “high” category.
First, the real estate course and subsequent fees are self-explanatory. Go to http://www.rebgv.org/costs-and-fees for more information on these line items.
Moving on, let’s talk about websites. Your online presents is key and you will need a reciprocity enabled website for your business. Sorry, a DIY website on WordPress will not cut it and would be a huge mistake. Brixwork is definitely my favorite web development company and they offer some fantastic templates for a reasonable cost. They are also local and will work with you to take your vision and transfer it to a brand and website. Plus, their backend is the best in the business and so easy to use. Check them out at www.Brixwork.com.
You can also check out other sites such as Ubertor (www.unbertor.com) or MyRealPage (www.myrealpage.com) for options and pricing. Expect to spend a minimum of $300 on a basic template but you may be able to find a cheaper option. That said, your website is your online business card so why would you want to cheap out? I would recommend budgeting a minimum $1000 if you can on your website design and creating something with a little more pop. The top tier custom websites can run you north of $10,000 so prepare for that upgrade in year 3 or year 4 if your goal is to be in the luxury market.
Branding is an important part of your business. Figuring out your niche and differentiator will help define your message and your value-adding proposition. Why should people use you over another agent? You should always be able to answer that question. Take your perception of a weakness and turn it into strength. For example, if you are new and have a lot of time, spin that message so that your message conveys that you don’t have assistants and your clients will only speak with you – that personal 1 on 1 methodology.
Spend the money to develop your brand, logo, colours, fonts, message, services, niche, etc. Depending on your budget, your branding company can create the basics such as the above or you could spend more money on designing custom brochures, custom folders, other marketing collateral, social media pages, and more. In the attached budget, branding simply reflects the time spent on design and does not include the cost of printing. You will be paying a professional branding company $80/hour so spend your money wisely yet effectively.
“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
Business attire is very important. As a man, I will focus on the male aspect of business attire because, admittedly, I have never shopped for women’s clothes! I say dress how you want to present your message and brand. I mean you want to be a professional, correct? Own it!Your clothes are part of your brand. I suit up almost everyday.
If you are budget sensitive, look for Groupons for custom suits. Youcan pickup a custom suit sometimes for about $350. It may not be the best quality suit but at least it will fit. If you already have a suit, go and get it tailored. A sloppy suit is just a no-no. Accompanied by a few good dress shirts, ties, belts, pocket squares, stylish socks, and a nice looking watch, you can pull off a decent look. You can pickup some great deals on shirts and accessories at Winners as well. Find the brands that fit you well and stick with them until you are ready to upgrade.
After I graduated from business school, one of my professors told me that my first investment that I should make is a quality and nice fitting suit. If you can afford it, buy 3 suits. It’s amazing how many combinations you can pull off with all the accessories. I invested in 3 custom tailored suits, a couple Eton shirts, two nice pair of shoes, a couple belts, and a whole lot of ties and pocket squares when I first started off. My business attire bill is now well over $7,000 a year but it’s well worth it as it is part of my brand and message.
Lastly, buy yourself some good technology. I am a huge Apple fan but I am a bit of a techy – that’s just me. A smartphone is a key component to running your business. Make sure you have Drop Box or Google Drive installed and run all your business files through these platforms. I can’t tell you the countless amounts of times where I had to pull up a file on my smartphone through Google Drive. Also, if you can’t afford a nice laptop you can still find a decent laptop for around $500.
I am sure I missed some costs but that should give you a general idea of what to expect. So prepare to save up some starting capital before entering the Real Estate game.
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below or you can e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.