Quick Takeaways

  • Figure out why you want to open a brokerage
  • Do you want to still sell?
  • Get involved in the community

Source: Making the Transition From Top Producer to Broker-owner (REALTOR® Magazine, May 4, 2021)

So you’ve struck out on your own: You’re following your dreams and controlling your destiny by starting your own brokerage. Now it’s time to set up healthy systems and routines, develop consistent and effective branding, and find strategies for generating company leads. You will also find resources for staying up-to-date on the legalities of running a brokerage, tips for hiring and recruiting, and ways to keep your finance in check.  Learn how to develop office policies that speak to the culture you’re building, find out how other brokers overcame some of their toughest problems while starting a new business, and get advice on everything from advertising on social media to establishing a wellness program.

See References for more information.


NAR Library & Archives has already done the research for you. References (formerly Field Guides) offer links to articles, eBooks, websites, statistics, and more to provide a comprehensive overview of perspectives. EBSCO articles (E) are available only to NAR members and require the member's nar.realtor login.

From the REALTOR® Store

Real Estate Brokerage Essentials® - Real Estate Brokerage Essentials®: Navigating Legal Risks and Managing a Successful Brokerage, Fourth Edition is the most comprehensive business tool for brokers to run their offices efficiently and minimize their risk for legal liability. This is a must have for all Brokers! (Item 126-359)

Real Estate Office Management - Based on the S-7 Management model, this indispensable resource explores the seven interdependent variables for managing a successful brokerage office, with emphasis on planning, capital, marketing, and people. (Item 141-341)

Broker to Broker: Management Lessons from America's Most Successful Real Estate Companies - Broker to Broker takes a unique approach to brokerage management by bringing you the ideas, strategies and lessons brokers and sales managers are implementing today. Compiled from the "For Brokers" section of REALTOR® Magazine it offers the best tips and advice on how to manage a residential real estate brokerage. (Item 141-60)

Sample Employee Manual for Brokers - Are you looking for assistance in developing an employee manual? NAR has a sample manual for you to tailor for your employees! (Item E126-155) Note: This employee manual is NOT intended to be used as a policy manual for independent contractors.

Striking Out on Your Own

How to Start a Real Estate Business in 2021 (The Close, Jun. 8, 2021)

Before you run any numbers, spend a few hours trying to figure out what kind of brokerage would make you happy to run five years from now. Is it a large brokerage? A small boutique brokerage that focuses on luxury properties? Or would you rather work with investors and focus on property management and fix and flip? What kinds of people do you want to work with? What office culture would make you excited to come to work every morning?

The 7-Step Guide to Starting a Real Estate Brokerage (Fit Small Business, Jul. 8, 2021)

If you are a leader (a person who guides and communicates well with others), you have the first building block to being a successful broker. However, if you are the “bossy type” who likes to bark orders, tell others what to do, or believe that only your opinion counts, then being a broker is not for you.

Making the Transition From Top Producer to Broker-owner (REALTOR® Magazine, May 4, 2021)

For other real estate practitioners thinking about making the transition from top producer to broker-owner, consider joining your local chamber of commerce. Get to know other professionals in your marketplace. Ask the chamber to support your office’s grand opening, which can help spread the word about your new brokerage and build those valuable relationships with members of the community.

How to Start a Real Estate Business: The Definitive Guide (2021) (CrowdSpring, Jan. 3, 2021)

When starting a real estate business and before you dive into your business plan, you should understand the real estate market you’re entering. Business planning and market research help you to build a more successful real estate business. Who are your direct competitors? Who are the top real estate sales agents working in your target niche? What makes them stand out from the rest of the competition?

How to Start a Real Estate Brokerage (Placester)

Depending on the type of real estate brokerage you want to start, you’re looking at startup costs of at least $10,000. And that’s if you’re bootstrapping it and jumping in with the bare essentials. Thinking about opening up a brokerage under a franchise? Costs can easily hit $200,000, and that doesn’t include the ongoing fees you’ll be liable for like license renewals.

Creating a Business Plan and Choosing a Brokerage Model

Infographic: Establishing Your Business

How to Prepare and Write the Perfect Business Plan for Your Company (Entrepreneur, May 5, 2021)

The business plan can help your company attract talent and funding, because when prospects ask about your business, you already have an articulated overview to offer them. How they react can allow you to quickly understand how others see your business and pivot if necessary.

How to Start a Real Estate Brokerage (Paperless Pipeline, Mar. 20, 2021)

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.

Six Steps to Help Start a Real Estate Brokerage Business (Wolters Kluwer, Feb. 4, 2021)

The first year opening a real estate brokerage is primarily focused on learning the ropes and establishing your brand. As you grow, develop habits that will help to ensure your success. For example, make it a habit to check in on expenses each month to make sure you’re spending wisely.

Ask Sean: Should I Buy a Franchise or Start My Own Brokerage? (The Close, Dec. 14, 2020)

If you already have a clear vision for your brokerage and you feel you have a strong business background, then opening an independent brokerage may be the right decision for you. This is because franchisors (the parent franchise company) have already figured out the vision and the business plan for their brokerages, and they are typically inflexible to changes.

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Real Estate Business Plan + Free Template (Placester)

The length of business plans vary, but they generally outline between one and five years. For our purposes, we’ve used a length of three years. Few agents are able to fully develop their business in only a year, while planning five years into the future can be very speculative. For most new agents, three years is a reasonable time frame for achieving a degree of financial success and establishing a viable career in the industry.

Write Your Business Plan (Small Business Administration)

Most business plans fall into one of two common categories: traditional or lean startup. Traditional business plans are more common, use a standard structure, and encourage you to go into detail in each section. They tend to require more work upfront and can be dozens of pages long. Lean startup business plans are less common but still use a standard structure. They focus on summarizing only the most important points of the key elements of your plan. They can take as little as one hour to make and are typically only one page.

Useful Websites

U.S. Small Business Administration — This website should be the first stop for anyone wanting to start a business. Topics covered include startup basics, writing a business plan, financing, marketing, employment, and tax topics. This site also has special areas for women business owners, veterans, minorities, Native Americans and young entrepreneurs. You can also find a local SBA office for further assistance.

SCORE Association — SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, is dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals. Since 1964, we have provided education and mentorship to more than 11 million entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneur Magazine — From choosing a business structure to naming your business, this website highlights the nitty-gritty basics of business star-ups. How-to guides, online newsletters and a resource center of articles provide helpful information for your start-up.

Inc.com — Inc.'s website provides information on starting, growing, and leading your business.

America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) — America’s SBDC represents America’s nationwide network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) – the most comprehensive small business assistance network in the United States and its territories. There are nearly 1,000 local centers available to provide no-cost business consulting and low-cost training to new and existing businesses. Small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs can go to their local SBDCs for FREE face-to-face business consulting and at-cost training on a variety of topics.

Minority Business Development Agency - MBDA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce that promotes the growth of minority-owned businesses through the mobilization and advancement of public and private sector programs, policy, and research.

National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) — NAWBO is the only dues-based organization representing the interests of all women entrepreneurs across all industries; and with chapters across the country. With far-reaching clout and impact, NAWBO is a one-stop resource to propelling women business owners into greater economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide.

Books, eBooks & Other Resources


The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

18 Steps for Starting Your Business (eBook)

The Accidental Startup (eBook)

Business Made Simple (Audiobook)

Business Plans Kit for Dummies (eBook)

Business Plans That Work: A Guide for Small Business (eBook)

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting Your Own Business (eBook)

How to Write a Business Plan (eBook)

Launching While Female (eBook)

The Real Estate Entrepreneur: Everything You Need to Know to Grow Your Own Brokerage (eBook)

Six Steps to Small Business Success (eBook)

Start a New Real Estate Brokerage, Economically! (eBook)

Starting a Business for Dummies (eBook)

Write Your Business Plan (eBook)

Your First Business Plan (eBook)

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Member Support. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Member Support at 800-874-6500 for assistance.

Real Estate Brokerage: A Management Guide (Chicago: Dearborn, 2004) HF 1375 C99 Ed. 6

Have an idea for a real estate topic? Send us your suggestions.

The inclusion of links on this page does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this page complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.


Common Brokerage Models

July 21, 2016
This infographic shows common brokerage models, compensation structures, and other details of brokerage firms.