Start-Up Stuff - Puzzling the Pieces Together

This time between passing the state and national exams and hanging my license with a broker is moving more slowly than I'd like. It has, however, given me lots of time to get lots of puzzle pieces into place so I can hit the ground running once we have the funds available (or I adopt a rich uncle then get him to write me into his will then kill him off, or win the lottery, or whatever). I started this blog just thinking in type and intending to save it as a draft for my own reference later. Then got to thinking this might be of interest to other newbies, and other people might be able to point out things I'm missing and/or might want to consider.

To start, I believe I'll have to do business as "me" and show my association to the brokerage on my main website, business cards, and signs as these are branding items. If they allow personal co-branding while associated, or later when I become an independent broker, I'll be promoting my real estate services as SpinOne Group so I'm getting all that set up now too.

So for whatever it's worth, thus far I have considered and/or already set up the following. Please note that pricing is specific to me, my state, my chosen brokerage, and my choices / options and it all may differ from what you'll find.  

Being An Agent Stuff ~ These items are required just to BE an agent.

State License - Obviously this is needed. $475 for Initial, $144 for Renewals

Errors and Omissions Insurance - required for licensure and covered by my chosen brokerage for first-year agents. $250/year  

Continuing Education - once actually licensed I will have to take a required number of CE-credit courses for each license renewal. $Varied/year

MLS Access - technically, I suppose, access to the MLS isn't required, but what agent would go without it? Certainly not me! $43/month for non-Realtors® and $38/month for Realtors®.

Being Associated with a Brokerage Stuff~ a.k.a. Hanging my license with a broker. These items are required to be associated with my chosen brokerage. At a minimum, I will need to be associated with a supervising brokerage for two years.

Office Dues - my chosen brokerage charges dues, paid quarterly. $75/quarter

Transaction Fees - my chosen brokerage charges a fee per transaction. $249/transaction for non-Realtors® and $199/transaction for Realtors®.

Centralized Showing Services - for Listing showings; My chosen brokerage uses This is a service I would likely continue if/once I'm no longer associated to a supervising brokerage. $35/listing  

Being A Realtor® Stuff ~ These items are required just to BE a Realtor®. Being a member is NOT required, but it is something I wish to do.

Realtor® Membership- I will join once I have a few transactions under my belt. Membership dues cover local, state, and National. Approx. $750/year 

Doing Business Stuff~ These items are NOT required but will make my life easier.

CRM- I chose Nimble CRM. This consolidates my contacts, e-mails, Google Calendars, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn. Google+, and GoogleDrive account, and can do many more. For each contact then, it pulls all interaction between me and them into one spot. One spot! It also allows me to set up "deals" for tracking where potential transactions stand with a client prior to entering them into the transaction management software once we go to contract (listings) or offer (buyers) stage. The only thing (so far) I wish it did better is mobile access -- right now it is via a browser and is not terribly mobile phone format friendly (probably fine on a tablet). $15/month.

Transaction Management Software - I chose CTM eContracts.  This integrates with my Google calendar. I'll be able to share documents and calendar information with other CTM agents and with clients. It has integrated electronic document signing included in the price. The only thing (so far) it doesn't do that I wish it would is to send e-mails through my Google mail instead of their own system so I can track everything in one place (Nimble). There's a workaround, though, I'll just CC myself on every e-mail I send from that system. $30/month (down to $28/month once I become a Realtor®.) 

Alternately, my chosen brokerage uses SkySlope. I'm learning more about that and if it suits I'll use that instead and the cost is included in the office dues. So far, though, CTM eContracts is winning despite being an out of pocket cost to me.

Accounting Software - I chose QuickBooks Online. I trialed just about every option I could find for online accessible accounting software under $50/month. I'm taking a basic accounting course this semester and after the first few weeks of having my eyes opened, QuickBooks just blew the others out of the water (for my needs anyhow). $26.95/month for Essentials.

Google Apps-- E-mail, Calendar, miscellaneous Document Storage. $50.00/year/e-mail account (I have one for and one for

Business Phone Line- Line2 - this has a smartphone app and a desktop app for phone line use, and then a website account for managing it. I'll use it mostly for incoming and outgoing calls from new prospects and the public and I used it heavily while trialing software as I didn't want my personal phone linked to those trial accounts. Essentially it will be for screening and I'm willing to pay for that to preserve my sanity. Day-to-day business with established clients and with other agents will be via my personal cell phone number. $9.95/month.

Bank Accounts- I have established a separate checking and savings account for real estate business. It would just drive me completely batty  to not do so. The business savings account will be used for stashing away funds for quarterly tax payments. The business checking account will be used for day-to-day stuff once I have a few transaction under my belt. It is also linked to our personal checking account for ease of either paying myself or investing more personal funds as needed. No Fees Charged ; Interest Bearing Accounts

Credit Card- I've dedicated one of our credit cards to be used for business purposes only. It's one of my least favorite cards to use because of the absolutely dismal online access. This discouraged me from using it much for personal needs and encouraged me to pay it off immediately when actually used, so I hope to retain those habits for business expenditures. No yearly fee; Interest Charged on balances

Business Cards - designed based off other cards from agents with my selected broker; have to wait until I can officially associate to my selected broker, then likely some amount of tweaking the design to suit and based on branding options.My desire is to have my logo and name on the front with my contact info, then have the brokerage logo and website, along with my name and license number on the back. We'll see how that plays out. Estimating $50-ish/500 cards.

Signs - for open houses and listings. I will, of course, also have to wait for officialdom unless I want them very generic (which I don't).  $?/each

Lockboxes- I'll deal with these when needed. $?/each

Trade Name - SpinOne Group trade name registered with Colorado. $20/year

"Later" Stuff ~ Other things that for me will not be needed until my full-time day-job goes bye-bye.

Health Insurance, short- and long-term disability insurance, retirement contributions or savings plan. $Varied/year

Web Stuff ~ A web presence is NOT required, but having the IT/geeky history that I do I don't think I could not have them.

Web Sites: which simply redirects to which then serves as a jump page for the following Items. Domains run $15/year each ; hosting runs $11/month unlimited domains ; monitoring runs $6/month up to two domains

Real Estate Services - just a stub right now, darn it. This will be my MLS integrated search site which will be hosted on as I have already confirmed with my chosen brokerage that I can use any URL I like. This will likely be WordPress, self-hosted, self-managed.

At Your Service - my blog. This also pulls the facebook page entries in the sidebar. WordPress, self-hosted, self-managed.

Facebook Page - for "around the net" postings. This will also pull the At Your Service blog entries into the blog tab once I either find a free service to do that or can justify paying $30/month for Symphony to do so.

My Broker's Website - just a stub right now, darn it.

MLS Integration - integrate MLS access into main real estate search website. $15-30/month

Google Analytics - set up to track website and blog visits. Included w/ Google Apps for Work

Twitter-  nothing public here yet, just getting it ready. Free

Instagram- nothing public here yet, just getting it ready. Free

Pinterest- very little public here yet, just getting it ready. Free

Other Items / Just for Fun

H.e.r.e -- a Facebook Page for H.eartbeat, E.xquisite R.eal E.state; this one will showcase properties I find on travels around the country and/or around the internet - properties which make me say "I'd live here in a heartbeat." :0) Free

H.e.r.e. - Trade name registered with Colorado. Might never go further with this one, but wanted to nab the name just in case. $20/year - right now auto-redirects to the Facebook Page. Probably that's all it will ever do, but I wanted to nab the domain name too, just in case I ever decide differently. $15/year

Additional Education and Training Stuff ~ Education beyond the CE credits is NOT required, per se, but I'm a strong believer in education above and beyond any required basics.

I'm currently taking courses in accounting and business at the local community college. Next semester I start back in with Spanish. I'm also attending training sessions for CTM eContracts, attending general real estate webinars from a local Realtor® organizations, studying the Colorado regs and manual in more depth than was required for passing the tests, and hanging around ActiveRain and other real estate blog and networking sites to pick brains.

I expect to continue this sort of thing each year. $Varied/year


WOW, you're still here?! I know this was a long one, but putting it together made me recheck, shift, and refine a lot of things so it was definitely a good exercise for me. Hopefully, you found it entertaining and/or helpful. If you didn't see things that you think a newbie (or oldie) should be considering, please comment!