woman working at desk with laptop

Avoiding Burnout As A Real Estate Agent

Every industry contains a danger of job burnout. Although it’s not an actual medical disease, the Mayo Clinic defines burnout as “a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/burnout/art-20046642)

It sounds like fun, right? No, not at all. Real estate agents can be especially prone to burnout because of the unique nature of their job. As independent contractors, agents can feel isolated even if they’re part of a thriving brokerage. Dealing with people, in general, is stressful and can lead to burnout; dealing with people who are in the middle of one of the biggest transactions of their lives is exponentially more stressful than dealing with people sitting down for a meal or buying a pair of jeans. And the sheer complexity of the transaction itself can be overwhelming for agents.

But burnout is far from a sure thing. There’s a lot you can do to protect yourself from feeling that state of physical and emotional exhaustion.

How do you know it’s burnout?

First, you have to be able to identify what you’re experiencing as burnout. It affects everyone a little bit differently, but there are some typical symptoms that people with burnout tend to have that can help you pinpoint if it’s happening to you.

Think about your recent sleep patterns. If you have burnout, you may also have insomnia; either you have trouble falling asleep at night, or you wake up way too early and can’t get back to sleep, or both. This could be paired with chronic fatigue: Because you aren’t getting enough rest at night, you might feel tired all the time at work, listless, with no energy.

Your food consumption can also alert you to burnout if you pay attention. Some people lose their appetite, while others overeat out of stress — so if the number on the scale has been creeping up or down from its normal spot, and you’re not intending to gain or lose any weight, that could be a sign that your job is starting to affect how and what you eat.

If you’ve been diagnosed before with anxiety or depression, or you know someone who has, then some of this may sound familiar. In fact, anxiety and depression often coexist with job burnout; job depression can incite anxiety and depression in people who have never had either before, and it can also make pre-existing conditions worse.

Another strong emotion that can be a warning sign of burnout is anger. Are you on a hair-trigger these days, finding your blood pressure soaring when you encounter certain situations at work? Do you notice yourself snapping at people much more than you ever did?

You may find that you’re forgetting things more often, or have serious trouble focusing or paying attention during your workday. And burnout can come with physical symptoms, too, including shortness of breath, heart palpitations, a propensity to get sick more often, and other body troubles that indicate all is not well in your world.

Does any or all of this sound familiar? It’s quite possible you have burnout. So what can you do to resolve it?

How do you fight burnout?

Burnout is quite common in real estate, but it’s far from inevitable! There is a lot you can do to improve your situation if you do think you have burnout, and prioritizing yourself will help you deal with your current burnout as well as prevent it from coming back in the future.

1. Set boundaries

The reason why burnout is so common in this industry is that it can feel like a 24/7 business. It’s a stressful time of life for your clients, who don’t buy or sell a house every day, and they are thinking about the obstacles to the closing table around the clock … but that truly does not mean that you have to do the same. The first thing you have to do to protect your psyche and manage your time more wisely is to set boundaries with your clients.

This can feel very uncomfortable for some agents, but with some practice, even the most bend-over-backward types will learn that the vast majority of clients are happy to respect your boundaries. So during your first meeting, tell them, “These are the hours during the day where I will be available via phone or text message to answer any questions you have. If you ask me a question before 6 p.m., I promise I will get back to you the same day. If you need something after 6, you can email me, leave me a voicemail, or text me, and I’ll reply as soon as I can the following day.”

If you’re working with sellers (who are more likely to have an after-hours emergency that might affect your business), it might behoove you to set up an answering service that can help connect your sellers with emergency plumbers, electricians, and contractors so that you don’t have to.

2. Take care of your body

One of the first things to go when we’re feeling stressed out is our self-care, which is absolutely the worst possible move to make, yet we do it all the time. You’ve heard it before and it’s nothing new, but taking care of your body through diet, exercise, and an appropriate amount of sleep will alleviate stress, give you more energy, and even extend your life. That’s why even in the peak of the busiest time of year for real estate agents, it’s critical that you’re planning your day so that you can eat nourishing, healthy food instead of pulling up in drive-through after drive-through.

It is quite common for agents to cut corners on sleep in particular as their business ramps up and they feel stretched thinner. This is one of the worst things you can do for your body. Sacrificing your sleep for work should be an absolute last resort and something you do extremely infrequently. Exercise can help if you have insomnia; spending 30 minutes sweating every day can wear you out enough to send you to bed when you’re supposed to go and keep you there all night.

Get some assistance

One of the best things about being a real estate agent is that the work that goes into your day is incredibly varied. You have to find and work with clients, market your listings and your business, negotiate deals, tie up loose ends, manage your own business finances, and generally be a person of all trades to the best of your ability.

That’s an amazing experience on its best days, but when things start going sideways, every agent will admit that there are some tasks they enjoy more than others. Some thrive on building social media following into the tens of thousands while others would rather file taxes than post to Instagram. Some are marketing-savvy while others enjoy the numbers and economic interplays in real estate.

Think about the things you have to do every day in your business, and then take some time to identify the tasks that you have grown to dislike — or maybe you just don’t enjoy them as much as you do everything else. Make a list and review it to determine what you can delegate. As soon as you can afford to, consider hiring an assistant or subscribing to a service that will handle that task for you.

You may find a little stigma in the real estate industry around not doing everything yourself. But so what? If you’re happy in your job and an assistant helps you achieve more work-life balance, it is a sign of the maturity and opportunities in your business that you have enough work to handoff. Savor it.

Give yourself something to anticipate

Maybe it’s a vacation planned to a destination you always wanted to visit but haven’t yet, or perhaps you can set up a standing Friday night date for you and your closest friends to bond over tapas and wine and commiserate about the past five days. Even though it seems counterintuitive, some agents fight burnout by working on next year’s business plan and strategy. It doesn’t matter what it is, but if you have something to look forward to, you can summon its presence whenever burnout rears its head and you feel like throwing your laptop at the wall.

Another way to build anticipation into your world is to give yourself a creative outlet that you indulge on a regular basis, whether daily or weekly. Channel all of those awful experiences into the novel you’re writing or the metal song you’re composing. If you can do this consistently, you might even catch yourself smiling when things get crazy at work because you know it’s all grist for the mill of your art.

Establish a support system

A mentor can be an immense help for new agents who are struggling to juggle all of the nuance and detail that goes into a real estate transaction. If you don’t already have someone you consider your mentor, think about making it a priority to find one.

You can also build a network of people who can be trusted to support you when you need it. That could be your mom, your partner, your neighbor, your best friend, your book group, a therapist — anybody you trust to help you handle some of the emotions and experiences that emerge when you’re working in real estate. Coworkers can be a huge source of help: They’ve been there before and they understand what it’s like. If you don’t feel like there’s anybody at your brokerage who can provide that support system for you, look online. There are a ton of social media groups for real estate agents to support each other, and one of them is probably a good fit for you.

Rearrange your day

How different would work feel if you remembered to take regular short breaks to refresh and revive yourself every day? Well, the great thing about being in real estate is that you are your own boss. Too often, that means that you drive yourself into the ground trying to impress yourself — but if you give your boss-self permission to be a nice, indulgent boss (on occasion) to your employee-self, you’ll probably discover that you begin to enjoy your workplace incrementally more.

Breaks are just one way to reorganize your working day to facilitate feelings of equilibrium and stability at work. Maybe you can do something with your workspace or car, adding personal touches that make you feel happy and soothed when you’re in that environment. A plant or candle on your desk (with a clean workspace) can do wonders for your mood, and if you have a home office, painting at least one wall your favorite color, or hanging an image you love where you can see it, can be a good way to spruce up your work area.

Surrounding yourself with things that make you happy can be supplemented by building small treats into your day. Do you love to sit on your porch with a cup of tea in the afternoon? Is stopping at home to eat lunch one of your favorite parts of your day when you can make it happen? Well, guess what: You got into real estate so you could have a lot of flexibility around your work. If tea time or a lunch break is something that rejuvenates you and helps you be more present during the rest of your day, you can be your own boss and add it to your schedule.

Shift your mindset

The best thing about anything shiny and new is its shiny newness. It is very common for humans to start something new, feel thrilled at the fact that they’re allowed to do what they’re doing … and then, gradually, become dulled and inured to the awesomeness of your life. Can you remember how exciting it was to start a new career in real estate? How much freedom you felt when you realized that the sky was the limit in terms of earning potential and that you could craft your business to suit your needs as an independent business owner?

When you’re feeling especially terrible, if you can, stop and try to think about the first time you felt really excited about being a real estate agent. Maybe it was the feeling you got when you passed the exam, or when the brokerage you wanted to work with most told you that you were also their top choice. Perhaps it was a time when a client heaped praise on you for the effort you put in on their behalf. Stash up as many of those memories as you can, and revisit them when things are feeling bleak to give you a little extra boost for the day.

Sometimes, this can be as simple (or as incredibly difficult, depending on your perspective) as changing how you talk about work in your head. When your phone rings, instead of thinking “What now?!,” maybe you can train yourself to think, “Someone needs my help!” or even “What kind of problem will I be solving?”

Avoid toxic clients

This is often easier said than done, and although we all have the best intentions about who we will and won’t work with professionally, it’s often difficult to stick to those convictions when you know you need to close another deal this month and the toxic client is your best option. But think about the repercussions for you personally. Working with toxic clients affects your health and your energy; it can literally drain years from your life, and contribute to issues you might already have at home — or generate new ones.

Make a pact with yourself to treat yourself as well as you would treat your clients — which means you don’t want you to work with people who don’t appreciate you! You know more than anyone else what you can (and truly can’t) put up with, so create a personal list of dealbreakers and then enforce it liberally when it comes to work. Life is too short to collaborate with people who make us miserable, and if doing that actually makes life shorter (it does!), then avoiding them entirely is a perfectly intelligent decision.
man in tie pointing finger

20 Qualities That Make A Good Real Estate Agent

Lots of people are attracted to a career in real estate — but is it the right future path for you? The thing about selling real estate is that not anybody can do it, but everybody thinks they can. There are some specific skill sets that the best agents in the business tend to have in common, and if you want to be successful, then you want to either already have or be able to cultivate these skills.

You can listen … 

We were all born with two ears, but we don’t all listen — comprehending what we hear and acting on it — equally well. A real estate agent’s core purpose is to help a buyer or seller accomplish an enormous task, and agents do that over and over again, day in and day out.

To make sure their buyers and sellers are happy with the experience, agents need to understand exactly what will make them happy, which means listening carefully to what they’re telling you (and probably also to the subtext).

And you can talk

Communication is really the key here more than talking. Your clients are going through a stressful time in their life — exciting, but stressful — and one way you can make them happy and keep them moving forward is to maintain excellent communication and make sure they always know what they should be doing and what you’re working on, too.

Honesty and integrity

There is a lot of money at stake in a real estate transaction, and if you truly want this to be your long-term career, then you need to behave in a way that ensures you’ll be around long-term. Agents who break the law or who put their own needs ahead of their clients’ might get some short-term gain, but ultimately they won’t be practicing real estate as long as they’d prefer.

The ability to hustle

Real estate is a business with a lot of competition, and if you wait for business to come to you … well, you probably are going to be waiting for quite some time, and then you’ll go out of business. Can you get out there and make some business happen for yourself?

Self-motivation

One of the amazing things about being self-employed is that you can work just as hard as you want to, and no more. That’s also one of the worst things about being self-employed. If you don’t have some way to motivate yourself or a sense of drive, you’re going to have a glorious few months doing not very much … until you can’t afford to do that anymore.

Desire to help people

Yes, you can make a lot of money in real estate, and of course, those big commission checks are incredibly satisfying. But this is also an intense, stressful gig. If you’re in it for the money and only the money, you might find that it’s not enough to keep you in the game.

Agents who stay in the business for decades usually are drawing their sense of satisfaction and a job well done from their clients. Buying or selling a house is a huge life accomplishment, and being the person who makes it happen can be hugely rewarding for the right person.

Interest in homes …

Look: If you aren’t at all interested in buildings, architecture, home design, home maintenance, home upgrades, or anything to do with residential real estate, then it’s possible you might be barking up the wrong tree. Agents need to know and understand the housing stock in the areas where they’re working with clients, and if you have no innate interest in those things, learning everything there is to know about it is going to be a pretty tedious slog.

… And an understanding of the market

“How’s the market?” Agents know this is one of the most-asked questions they hear; it’s one you can expect to hear as soon as someone hears you’re a real estate agent. Will you know how to answer it intelligently and in a way that showcases your expertise? Or will you fumble it and encourage your audience to find a better-qualified agent than you appear to be?

A network

If you think that “networking” is a dirty word and you frankly prefer never to do it, then you are probably not the best fit for a real estate job. Nobody’s suggesting that you need to be sleazy or over-the-top with your networking, but you should feel comfortable (or able to feel comfortable) talking to strangers and forming connections with them.

A love for a local community or two

Think about the last time you talked to someone who had a searing passion for something. It felt infectious, didn’t it? Made you want to learn more about it and maybe dig into their passion yourself?

The agents at the top of their games feel that way about the neighborhoods where they sell homes; they could talk to you for hours about what makes those areas the best places to live. Finding your own love for the place where you’re selling homes is only beneficial for your business.

A head for negotiation

When it comes right down to it, a lot of buyers and sellers think they could do most parts of an agent’s job … except, many of them admit, for the negotiating. It’s a dance, a give-and-take, and it involves much more than just a home’s price. The negotiating process is where most agents show their value to buyers and sellers, and it’s where you should shine if you want to be a star.

Attention to detail

There are a ton of moving parts to a real estate transaction, and the agent is at the center of them all. Forget one item and it could delay the deal by days or even weeks — or derail it entirely. Picture having to explain that to a buyer or seller, and you’ll understand pretty quickly why agents have to pay close attention to all the details.

Organizational savvy

If you had to pick a term to describe what real estate agents do, you could pick a lot worse than “project management.” Buying or selling a house is an enormous project, and agents are the ones making sure everything happens the way it’s supposed to happen. This means you need to have some basic-to-advanced organizational skills or hire someone who does.

Tech savvy

Real estate is still very much a paper-based industry, but that’s not going to remain the case forever. Documents, financial verification, and any number of processes are going fully digital, and we can expect that this trend will continue; agents who balk at using technological tools to do their jobs are going to find those jobs increasingly harder.

Empathy

It’s probably become clear that real estate is a high-stress industry, and part of that is because buyers and sellers themselves tend to be stressed. Sometimes people are happy to be moving, but there are plenty of circumstances when sellers are only leaving because of necessity, or when buyers would prefer not to be making this life change.

Divorce, death in the family, illness — all of those can be reasons to buy or sell a home, and agents who aren’t empathetic and sensitive to the emotional ups and downs of their clients will wind up making one of those clients very angry sooner or later.

Can-do attitude

A home sale transaction almost never unfolds smoothly; there are snags and bumps and diversions all throughout the experience, and agents who throw up their hands and declare defeat when faced with an obstacle are not agents who wind up staying in the business long-term. Of course, not every problem has a solution, but if you approach every problem as if it’s the end of the road, it will be — for the sale and, pretty soon, for your career.

Determination

Real estate agents get used to hearing “no” a lot. (Although, hopefully, it’s phrased as “no, thank you.”) People in sales, in general, have heard the advice to not take no for an answer, and whether or not you believe it’s good advice, it’s definitely indicative of how often salespeople will hear that word.

A good agent is determined to get the listing, get the sale, get the deal done. Determination is the drive and forward motion that takes the solution found with the can-do attitude and pushes it across the finish line.

Entrepreneurial mindset

Entrepreneurs want to build something that’s bigger than themselves and their own worlds. They get really excited at the prospect of creating a legacy that will outlast their own lives. You don’t necessarily have to dream about becoming a magnate of industry, but the best agents have that same kind of push to work hard and create their own destinies.

Enthusiasm

Lost, perhaps, in all of the stress-management and organizational skills that agents should have is the sense that buying real estate is a big, exciting life event. Maybe it’s not always happy, and agents should understand when to curb their own enthusiasm, but it’s perfectly acceptable — even preferable — for agents to get excited about helping buyers and sellers with this next phase of their lives, and to allow some of that excitement to show here and there.

Business sense

Most real estate agents are not also CPAs, but the ones who manage to stay in business the longest and make the most money are pretty smart when it comes to making business decisions. They don’t throw good money after bad, they research their options carefully, and they put back enough in savings for their taxes, fees, and expenses, plus a little leftover for a rainy day.

Not every agent is top-notch at all of these different things, but if you think that you have most of these qualities, then you would probably make a great real estate agent.
credit cards

5 Essential Financial Steps to Take Before Investing in Real Estate

If you’ve been thinking about investing in real estate, getting your finances in order before you start searching for properties and scheduling appointments will save you from money headaches in the long run.

Real estate investments could be one of your largest investments, and unless you have cash ready to invest, you’ll need a plan for financing and a plan for cash flow in the future. Here’s what you need to do before heading out to property shop:

1) Create A Financing Plan

If you have strong credit, consistent W-2 income, and a sizeable down payment, traditional financing could be your best option for your first real estate investment since interest rates are typically low and the terms are attractive. Figure out how much you can afford based on your current expenses, and how much cash you’ll need to have on hand for renovations and upgrades. Make sure you know where your liquid funds will come from to improve your chances of landing a good deal. With cash, you can move faster, which will motivate most sellers.

2) Review Your Credit Report And Keep It Healthy

Request a copy of your credit report through one of the credit bureaus and make sure you dispute any errors or provide an explanation for any derogatory issues or late payments. Keep your credit score from slipping by avoiding any new credit inquiries, canceling any credit accounts, or lowering your limits with any creditors.

3) Get Mortgage Pre-Approval

With an approved mortgage in hand, most lenders will lock in an interest rate, so if rates fluctuate upwards while you’re searching for the perfect investment property, you can relax knowing that your rate isn’t going to change. To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you’ll need to have the following in order:
  • Personal documents: Two forms of government-issued ID, your social security number, as well as proof of ownership of other property, including your primary residence or other investment properties.
  • Tax returns: For the previous year, and potentially for the last two years.
  • Proof of income: W2s, paycheck stubs, 1099s, or if you’re self-employed, a year-to-date profit and loss statement.
  • Proof of assets: Bank statements, 401Ks, IRAs, and money held in stocks or mutual funds.
  • Summary of all debt: Primary property loan(s), credit card balances, student loans, and all monthly payment amounts.

4) Stay Competitive By Doing Your Homework

Just because your financing is approved, doesn’t mean you’re ready to start shopping. Do some comparison shopping and contact other lenders to see what kind of interest rate they can offer. A few percentage points might not seem significant, but can save tens of thousands or more over the lifetime of a loan and affect your monthly cash flow. Consider checking with a bank other than the one you bank with; they might be very likely to be more competitive to win new business.

5) Liquid Funds

Based on your financing plan, you’ll have figured out how much cash you need to have in hand for a down payment and closing costs. Also factor in how much cash you’ll need for renovations or repairs if the properties you’ll be considering aren’t turn-key. Consider your cash flow from month to month to make sure you’re not projecting negative cash flow. Or if you are, that you have a backup source of cash such as drawing from your personal accounts.

The goal of real estate investing is usually to make money. As your investment style evolves and matures as a real estate investor, the amount of risk you can withstand is bound to change. Keep your original goals in mind, and do your homework to help position yourself to enjoy the financial returns.

Thinking of investing in real estate or changing your investing goals? Get in touch!
overhead view of a business meeting

11 Components Of A Real Estate Business Plan

If you’ve never crafted your own real estate business plan before, doing it for the first time can feel especially overwhelming. The good news, however, is that if you include certain things in your plan, and construct your plan in a certain order, you’ll have no problem creating something that fits your business where it is — and prepares you for growth next year.

When you’re creating your real estate business plan, make sure you include the following, ideally in this order.

Market assessment

The most perfectly crafted real estate business plan won’t get you anywhere if it’s focusing on the wrong part of the market, an area where a business is going to contract instead of expanding — unless you have a very specific plan to capture more business regardless. But to make that specific plan, you’ll need to know where the market is, so even if your ultimate goal is to swim against the tide, start by pinpointing the tide itself.

Take a look at the past year (or, ideally, two or three years) of sales in your area. Look at price points, location, days on market, and see if you can identify or pinpoint any trends. Did luxury sales look stronger than normal last year, and why do you think that could be? Did price growth suddenly start to soften around entry-level homes?

When you know who is buying and selling which homes in your area, what they like and what they don’t like, and what they’re willing to pay or to list their homes for, then you’ll have a good idea of how you can fit into that mix and provide services to those buyers and sellers.

Mission

After you’ve assessed the market, take some time to think about what inspires you in your day-to-day life. There are probably some moments you’ve experienced in your career that make you feel like all your effort and hard work paid off in a rush of reward and accomplishment. If you think about those moments and try to identify any common denominators or features they each hold, what might those be?

You could realize that you feel most fulfilled when you’re handing keys over to a single parent who’s working on building a stable life for a family on a single income. Or perhaps you get that rush helping an elite seller offload a property discreetly, quickly, and for a sizable amount of money, earning their praise and referrals.

Why tackle the mission after the market assessment? Truthfully, you could do either one of these exercises first; if you do the market assessment first, however, then your mission is likely to be at least a little bit more actionable in the current real estate environment.

SWOT analysis

The acronym, if you’re unfamiliar, stands for “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats” — and this is a critical analysis to complete for your business plan if you want it to be competitive. Start with your strengths: catalog where you know you do well and count those as assets. Be equally thorough and even more brutal with weaknesses, though.

Next, look back at your market assessment and think about the opportunities and threats that you think will be most important to have on your radar in 2020. Maybe one area of your business or one method of lead generation that was important to you seems to be drying up; in that case, you definitely need to mark that as a threat. On the other hand, perhaps a new industry opening up in your area or a chance meeting with a developer who wants to work with agents could be a sweet new opportunity for you.

Goals

You’ve got the foundation built for your real estate business plan; now it’s time to put an actual, well, plan into action by setting some goals. The work you’ve done on the market assessment, your mission statement, and the SWOT analysis should give you a good framework for where you should make goals in your business to help drive you forward and what, exactly, those goals might be.

For example, maybe a combination of new industries emerging in your area, a new network connection into some new condo developments, your own assessment that condo sales are climbing while single-family home sales are stagnating, and your age and technology savvy all lead you to believe that there’s a big opportunity in condo sales and that you could be the person to tap it. Perhaps your goal will be to close a certain number of condo sales this year or to double the amount you did in 2019.

It’s a good idea to build a few different goals around different areas of your business so it’s not all about production. Think about the financial and lead-generation goals you want to meet, of course, but also consider operational goals like hiring an assistant, or lifestyle goals like being able to take two weeks of vacation in 2020 without things going haywire while you’re away. You can even use this opportunity to set health goals, relationship goals, anything else you want to work on next year; after all, your work is part of your life, and if one of your work goals is to give yourself more spare time and energy to spend with your loved ones, that’s both admirable and doable.

Strategic plan

Your strategic plan is essentially your road map from getting from where you are today, your current state of affairs, to reaching or passing your goals. This is the part of your plan where you break your goals down into actionable steps, giving yourself a clear pathway to the end of 2020 and the successful completion of every single one of your goals.

One effective way to do this is to look at the gap between where you are today and where you want to be, measure how wide the gap is, and assess the best way to bridge it. If you wanted to run a marathon, you’d know that you have to start running every day, so “run every day” would probably be on your list of things to do to accomplish that goal, along with “register for a marathon” and “buy running shoes.”

Schedule

Taking the marathon analogy to the next level: When you start training, hopefully, you would know better than to try to run twenty miles on your first day. You want to build up to running those long distances, which means you first need to acclimate yourself to running shorter distances.

With your goals and strategic plan in hand, think about your schedule and how you’ll time those incremental steps toward your goals. Don’t forget about seasonal or annual commitments that might make things easier or more difficult for you at different times of the year and then plan accordingly — your future self will thank you for your thoughtfulness.

Budget

You need to spend money to make money, so the saying goes, and that’s definitely true in real estate as much as any other industry. But that doesn’t mean you should be spending indiscriminately; in fact, you should actually be setting a budget for these goals and then doing your best to come in under that budget if you possibly can.

Make sure you are paying attention to the budget in your business plan. Outline how much you will spend upfront and then reinvest in your lead generation system, how much you will save for business expenses, how much you will reinvest for retirement — if it’s money-related and you have a goal tied to it, but the budget in your business plan.

Marketing

You’ll have to market yourself as an agent in addition to marketing your listings, although those tasks can take different priorities in different years. So think about your marketing goals in 2020 — even if it’s only to automate what you’ve been doing, or delegate it so you don’t have to think about it anymore. Have you already put those into your business plan? What else might you need to add to help actualize the rest of your goals in terms of marketing?

Systems and processes

Outlining the systems and processes that you’ll use daily in your real estate business plan might seem like overkill, but on the other hand, if there are things that you’re doing at a very practical level and on an extremely regular basis that don’t entirely align with your goals and your mission … don’t you want to know about that as soon as possible so you can make some changes?

The other advantage to outlining systems and processes in your business plan is so that you fully understand what you are personally handling and what you’re outsourcing, and you can decide when it makes the most sense to either delegate further, outsource, hire an assistant, or whatever you need to do so that you’re able to reach your end goals.

Executive summary

This is the part of your business plan that sums everything up, exactly what it sounds like. Why is it necessary? Well, if you need to remind yourself in a sentence (two, tops) what you’re doing, for whom, and why, the executive summary does that perfectly. You can even use that structure to create it, and if someone asks for your elevator pitch, you’ve got it down to a single sentence — impressive!

Check-ins

Some agents create a real estate business plan and then never check it again until it’s time to make next year’s plan … which might as well look a lot like this one, if not identical because you never implemented anything. Look at your goals and your schedule, then decide how often you’re going to pull out your business plan to review it and see how you’re pacing. Weekly? Every other week? Every month? (That’s probably the longest you want to go, realistically.)

If you’ve had difficulty sticking to a plan in the past, give yourself shorter time periods between check-ins so that you can self-correct more quickly when you have to. And if you find that you’re hitting some goals more easily than others, you can always stretch out those check-ins so that you’re only focusing on where you need improvement.
Commercial Offices

Should you rent or buy commercial office space? The answer depends on these things

Your company is growing and it’s time to move into a bigger, or maybe even a different space to meet the daily needs of your workers. The biggest question on company leader’s minds, “should we rent or buy commercial office space?” The answer, of course, depends on many factors — here is a guide to help you decide which path to explore further:

Why you might consider leasing

You’re not ready for a long-term investment. You haven’t found the perfect property to invest in for the long haul, or maybe you’re not ready to make a long-term commitment. It’s also a time and emotional investment —Owning real estate is a distinct, non-core business that will require your time, knowledge, and resources. Not having to worry about this frees you up to grow your business.

Tax benefits. Come tax time, you can deduct your lease payments and other rental expenses.

There’s no down payment. Investing in an office space, you have the benefit of a lower upfront capital investment. When you invest in an office space, you’ll need to factor in a large down payment, anywhere from 10 to 30 percent. When you rent, you’ll only need to pay a deposit that’s usually equal to one month’s rent, or first and last month’s rent.

Keeps your cash-free. When you rent a commercial office space, this will free up more cash in the short term for you to invest back into your business or use for working capital.

No-fuss maintenance. Depending on your rental terms, your property owner will likely be responsible for building maintenance and repairs. You’ll likely be responsible for keeping your office space clean and kept. Note, this could also be a deterrent depending on how quickly and efficiently the owner responds to any of your concerns.

A nicer space than you might have access to. It may be too costly to purchase an office facility in a high-end area, but with renting, you could have access to that high-end property you have your eye on for less money than if you purchased.

Flexibility. Leasing offers a variety of flexible options. You’ll have the option to choose a lease term that fits your company’s needs, the flexibility to grow or contract for both the short and long term, and the flexibility for an easy departure at the end of your rental period if you choose not to renew.

Why you might consider purchasing

Building equity and your brand. When you purchase a commercial space, you’ll be able to build equity. The longer you stay, your cost of ownership goes down on an actual cash basis. You can eventually use this equity as collateral if you decide to expand your business. Should it ever come time for you to sell, you could also make a nice profit. This may also create favorable perceptions in your market as your company is viewed as a stable player.

Increased cash flow. You can take advantage of low borrowing costs if you’ll be the owner-occupant. If the commercial space is large enough, you can rent out extra office space for supplementary monthly income.

Tax benefits. You can deduct interest payments on your taxes. Unlike a lease, you won’t be able to deduct your entire monthly payment, but you can deduct your mortgage interest expense.

Avoiding rent hikes. If you lease, your rent is likely to increase at renewal time particularly in high-demand neighborhoods, whereas if you purchase, your month-to-month fees will eventually decrease over time.

Design your own amenities. With a lease, you may be limited, or even restricted to the amenities you can offer your employees. With ownership, you’ll have greater control over the space and be able to scale and grow as your business expands.

You’re in charge of maintenance. While this could also be considered a point against purchasing, if you’re responsible for maintenance and repairs, you’re in control of how quickly you can make the repairs and get to control the vendors you use instead of being limited to previously approved vendors with a property management company.

Predictability. With a lease, the building owner could change hands at any time. With a change of ownership comes unpredictability in many things like rental fees, amenities, and terms if you were renting. If you take out a fixed loan, your costs will remain steady and your monthly payments will never increase during the finance period.
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