How to Start a Real Estate Business

The world of real estate investing is an exciting one to get into. Whether you want to buy, sell, develop, or rent out real estate, there are plenty of opportunities in the residential and commercial sectors. You can make great money, love your job and provide a home for individuals, families and businesses. What’s not to love?

In this guide we’ll explore everything you need In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to do to set up your real estate investment business and maximize your chances for success. We’ll cover:

  • Understanding the world of real estate
  • Questions you should ask to see if you’re ready to start a real estate investing business
  • Choosing the best legal structure for your new organization
  • Basic rules and regulations you may need to follow
  • Information on taxes and finances for your real estate investing business
  • Hiring employees, marketing and administration
  • Resources for your real estate business
  • And much more

Understand the World of Real Estate Investing

Let’s start by exploring the world of real estate and understanding what the opportunities are.

Background Data & Stats about the Real Estate Industry

$220 trillion

Estimated value of all property globally. This is nearly three times the yearly U.S. GDP. Around three-quarters of this property is residential.

96 percent

Percentage of investors in real estate who believe the investment gave them financial success.

82 percent

Percentage of investors who believe real estate is important in diversifying investments.

10.6 percent

Average yearly return from residential and diversified property investments.

The industry has been growing by 9% year on year over the last five years.
  • The industry has been growing by 9% year on year over the last five years.
  • The sale and rental of residential property accounts for around 72% of real estate business income in the US.
  • The real estate industry has been growing by 9 percent year on year over the last five years.
  • The sale and rental of residential property accounts for around 72 percent of real estate business income in the U.S.
  • High corporate profits are increasing opportunities in commercial and industrial real estate.
  • Revenues in the real estate business market are expected to continue to grow over the next few years.

This all points to the real estate investment world being ripe with new opportunities for focused entrepreneurs, so now might be the perfect time to dive into starting your real estate investment business. Incfile is here to help you form your business and understand the ins and outs of owning a real estate company.

There are two main ways you can take advantage of real estate business opportunities.

Start a Real Estate Business Helping Others to Buy, Sell, Rent, or Manage Property

How to Invest in Real Estate

There are several ways to create a real estate investing business, depending on your focus. This might be through buying a property, renovating it and making improvements, then selling it on at a profit. Alternatively, you might buy up a number of units and rent them out or make money in some other way such as vacation accommodation or Airbnb.

Understand Your Real Estate Market

If you want to get into the real estate investing business yourself, you need to decide the specific part of the industry where your business could be most successful.

Sale and purchase of residential property
Real estate property development

Building or upgrading existing residential or commercial property to resell at a profit.

Leasing and rental of residential property
Leasing and rental of residential property

Developing or enhancing residential property and arranging for rental as a rental agency or individual landlord.

Sale and purchase of commercial or industrial property
Sale and purchase of commercial or industrial property

Working with other businesses to locate and arrange for transactions on property for profit-making purposes

Leasing and rental of commercial or industrial property
Leasing and rental of commercial or industrial property

Developing or enhancing business property and arranging for rental as a rental agency or individual landlord.

Real estate property development
Real estate development for resale

Investing in commercial or residential property and making income when you sell the property.

Real estate property investing
Real estate property management services

Carrying out real estate property services like financing, maintenance, dealing with tenants and the like.

Once you know the type of real estate business you want to run, you need to identify the size of the market and number of customers in your local area. Explore how successful and volatile the property market is and establish the likely number of individuals or businesses buying, renting, developing or selling real estate on a yearly basis.

See how many competitors there are in your local real estate markets. A lot of competitors isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it could mean there’s plenty of demand. Get involved in local real estate discussion groups and ask questions about your regional market. You can even offer to take other real estate investors or business owners out to coffee to ask them questions about what it's like to run a real estate investment business in your region.

This initial time spent fact-finding will make sure you're pursuing a viable business opportunity.

What Your Real Estate Clients are Looking For

When it comes to real estate, your customers will have different needs depending on the type of investment business you run.

Provide a complete, end-to-end package

Provide a complete package

Keep everything as simple as possible for your clients, whether they are buying a developed property, renting from you or something else.

Be very proactive in your communications

Be proactive in your communications

Buying and renting property is very stressful for most people, so active communication from you will give them peace of mind.

Offer extensive local knowledge

Deliver exceptional value

Clients are looking for quality, accuracy, speed and reassurance when it comes to dealing with property.

Deliver exceptional value

Show additional benefits

Clients will likely have plenty of choices when it comes to deciding where to buy or rent. Make sure you clearly explain the benefits of the property and the services you provide.

If you can get these in place and explain your unique selling points, you'll have a good chance to stand out from the crowd.

Questions to Ask Before You Get into Real Estate

Is Real Estate Entrepreneurship for You?

Running a real estate investment business isn't for everyone — it can be a stressful experience! You will need a combination of resilience, project management and deal-making skills, as well as the ability to manage clients, contractors and high-pressure deadlines.

You will often be working long hours or on weekends, especially as you're starting your new business. You need patience, chutzpah and the ability to juggle multiple tasks to succeed. Plus, you have to be prepared for your income to arrive all at once, or sometimes not at all.

What Are the Main Skills, Expertise and Experience to be a Successful Real Estate Entrepreneur?

What Skills do You Need to be a Successful Real Estate Investor?

If you want to be successful in the world of real estate, here's what you need.

  • Excellent interpersonal skills: You will need to deal with contractors, local authorities, clients and buyers all the time. Great interpersonal skills and the ability to handle people well are essential.
  • Powerful time and task management: You will likely be juggling multiple opportunities together with managing your business. You must have a good way to manage your time, tasks and appointments.
  • Strong talent for negotiation: Negotiating real estate finances and pricing is an art. You need to have great deal-making and negotiation skills and understand exactly what the client wants to get out of the real estate transaction.
  • Range of background skills and experience: You will want an excellent knowledge of your local market, strong relationships with mortgage providers (and other real estate support professionals) and an understanding of the legal nuances of buying and selling.

What Are the Main Challenges for a Real Estate Business?

Your main challenges will likely involve dealing with real estate property development, handling negotiations, managing a very busy schedule and keeping your clients happy. You will likely have a very full voicemail and email inbox and will need to put aside plenty of time for communications.

You will also need effective marketing, especially if your local real estate investing market is very competitive. Look into partnering with other related businesses for mutual benefit.

What Does a Day in the Life of a Real Estate Entrepreneur Look Like?

Each day is going to be different, but you'll likely be doing the following:

  • Reviewing development work on properties
  • Dealing with contractors and other tradespeople
  • Taking calls from clients
  • Negotiating deals between different parties
  • Arranging for contracts and legal formalities
  • Setting up showings
  • Preparing offers and other related documents
  • Running your business (including taxes, bookkeeping, scheduling, emailing and more)
  • Talking to lawyers and advisers
What Does a Day in the Life of a Real Estate Entrepreneur Look Like?
Check out our additional guidance in understanding if a real estate business is right for you. In this blog post, we'll help you analyze your real estate business idea, conduct market research and build a business plan.

Formally Registering Your Real Estate Investment Business

Now that you have all the background information for your real estate business, it's time to choose the right structure or "legal entity" for your business. In the U.S., there are several business structures. They are:

Choose the Right Business Structure and Register Your Real Estate Business

Sole Proprietorship

This is the "default" business
structure and is what your
business will be if you decide
not to create a more formal
structure. We don't
recommend this type of
business as it doesn't give
you the legal protections you need.

Limited Liability

Limited Liability
Company or LLC

The most common type of business entity. An LLC is fast, simple and inexpensive to setup and maintain. It protects your personal finances and assets and is a great way to start your real estate

Series LLC

Series LLC

This is a special type of LLC entity that's only available in certain states. It allows you to create "mini" LLCs, each with their own limited liability and separate assets, under the umbrella of a master LLC.

S Corporation

S Corporation

This is a more complex type of
business and isn't generally
recommended for smaller

C Corporation

C Corporation

These are the largest and most
complex types of businesses
and are far more than the
average entrepreneur or
business owner will need.

A Special Note on Series LLCs

Series LLCs are ideal for real estate investors. A series LLC gives you all the same benefits as a regular LLC, but it serves as a sort of “umbrella company” with additional flexibility and protections for multiple companies or lines of business within your overall operation. For instance, a series LLC can give rental property owners a way to separate their real estate investments from one another.

Even though series LLCs were created to simplify investment portfolio management, this type of business structure is still a relatively new approach to LLCs. In addition, series LLCs are currently only available in eight states:

  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Nevada
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah

If you’re in one of these states, see if a series LLC could be right for you.

Special Considerations for Setting up a Real Estate Business Entity

As a real estate investment entrepreneur, the standard or series LLC is very likely the best option for you. They do not have a lot of administrative overhead and still provide you with good liability protection.

For more information on the advantages and disadvantages of different types of businesses, please see our in-depth guide. If you've still got questions, we've answered them to help you choose the right business structure.

In most cases, our recommendation would be to create an LLC. We've got a complete guide to everything you need to do, and we can even set one up for your real estate investment business. LLC formation does vary from state to state, but we've got you covered, wherever you are.

Set up & Maintain Your Real Estate Investment Business

Once you've legally created your real estate investment business, you’ll need to get some other things in place.

Setup & Maintain Your Real Estate Business
Business Location

Where are you going to run your business from? Will you work from home, get an office, use a shared working space or something else? Many real estate investors can easily work from home.

Permits & Licenses

Running a real estate business comes with certain rules, regulations and legalities you need to be aware of. Incfile can conduct a Business License Research package for you, or you can take the time to do the research yourself. Check out our blog post on real estate business legalities to follow for more information.

Permits & Licenses
Finances & Taxes
Finances & Taxes

What kind of bank account will you get? How will you pay your business taxes? These are all important things to consider so your real estate business stays in the green.


Do you need to build a website? Should you have a logo designed professionally? Will you need business cards? Since real estate is such a networking-based business, you'll probably want to develop strong branding and use it on collateral you can hand out at in-person events.


What equipment do you need to manage your real estate investment business? What about transportation or specialized equipment? Make sure you understand exactly what you need to spend so you can write it off against business expenses.


What business processes are you going to use to run your business efficiently and effectively? You should come up with good processes for negotiation, managing legal details and more.


Do you need to hire employees to help you out? Read our 10 must-know tips for hiring for your business.


Is there software that can help you manage and market your business? Real estate investors should focus specifically on scheduling, customer relationship management, project management, document management and task management.

Business Maintenance
Business Maintenance

Most states require businesses to file an Annual Report report once a year. You will also be expected to pay estimated taxes on what you plan to earn in the current business year. Also, your federal, state, regional and city business licenses and permits may need to be renewed on a regular basis, typically once a year.

Our Start a Business Checklist will also help you get your real estate business going in the best possible way.

Ready to Get into Real Estate?

There you have it — our complete guide to starting a successful real estate business. We hope this has given you all the information you need to think about, plan, start and manage a successful venture. Remember, we can help you with creating and maintaining your real estate business