Managing Your Expenses

There are many ways to spend money as a real estate agent. You need a decent car, nice clothing, and good promotional materials. You want a quality Web site that can be found on all the search engines, and you have the costs of education, desk rent, phone, computer, and supplies. All of these expenses can end up taking their toll on your actual income.

Create a budget for your business. Of course, this is hard to do if you do not know how much money is coming in. Think of your business expenses the same way you think of your mortgage; you have to pay it even if you don't have money coming in.

Find out the costs of the promotional material you will need, the costs of postage and other expenses, and create a spreadsheet. Some costs will not occur monthly but they should be in your monthly budget. If you do not need a new car right now but hope to get one in the future, start budgeting for it right away. Because technology changes daily, it is also a good idea to set aside money each month toward a new computer, even if you have one now that works just fine.

Start with a list of the expenses you anticipate. This list will give you a place to start:

  • Business cards

  • Professional photo

  • Newspaper ads

  • Glossy magazine ads

  • Other ads

  • Flyers and brochures

  • Mailers

  • Postage

  • Automobile and automobile expenses

  • Clothing and dry-cleaning expenses

  • Education

  • Computer, software, Web design and hosting

  • Cell phone and airtime costs

  • Keys and lockboxes

  • Signs, sign riders, and brochure boxes

  • MLS dues and other fees

  • E&O insurance and other insurances

  • Client gifts

Think of ways that you can save money, because chances are there will be unforeseen expenses, too. Can one of your friends or your family members take a good photo of you to save the cost of a professional photo? Can you deliver mailers to your farm area to save on postage, knocking on doors and leaving items on the doorstep if no one is home? Can you create professional flyers on your computer or is there an office supply store that can make inexpensive color copies for you? Will a smaller ad with an interesting border have as much impact as a larger ad in the local paper? Your budget will change as you learn what works best in your market and where you can save money, as well as what additional costs you will need to consider.

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A good rule of thumb for marketing costs on your listings is 8 to 15 percent of the commission you will receive. Lower-priced properties will be less expensive to advertise as they usually sell more quickly than the higher-priced properties. Overpriced properties cost the most to market, since they take the longest amount of time to sell.

Think about your budget as each new expense comes up. If you ended up with more listings than you expected and need to increase the flyer budget, try to take the money from another source in your budget (but not from your money set aside for the IRS). If it is something that can wait, such as paying to be the only agent in your area to be referred by a certain Web site, then wait until your budget can be expanded.

If you are worried about money, you will seem desperate when you are meeting with clients. By keeping track of your finances and budgeting you will be able to relax about money and focus on taking care of your clients and customers instead of concentrating on your financial concerns.

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  4. Managing Your Expenses
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