President Thomas Jefferson said, "The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time." And so it is with marketing for real estate agents. Once a real estate agent stops spending money on marketing, business begins to dry up, no matter how good you are at shaking the referral tree. An agent generally can get by longer working on a slim budget as a buyer's agent than for those who list properties.
Buyer or Seller's Agent
Whether you are a buyer's agent or a listing agent, marketing expenses are the most costly line item on a real estate agent's budget. Marketing for real estate agents has one goal, and that is to publicize your name. Real estate agents learn quickly that signs, ads, websites and other means of promotion are more about marketing you than any single property. Understanding what the average marketing costs are for an agent is best expressed as a percentage of net income. A commonly accepted starting figure is 10 percent of your net income.
Basic Marketing Expenses
Every real estate agent shares the some basic marketing needs, and it begins with business cards and a website. The cost for both of these can vary tremendously, from under $10 for 500 business cards purchased online to more than $100 for custom-designed front and back folding four color cards. Any active agent can go through a thousand business cards quickly, so stock up. Websites, too, can run the gambit of versatility and expense from free to more than $1,000. The more useful a website, the more you will keep people coming back.
Buyer's Agent Expenses
Buyer's agents need to spend money on marketing to keep their names in front of their target market. According to the 2010 National Association of REALTORS Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers Highlights, 81 percent of buyers used the Internet in the search to find a new home. Advertising can be expensive, though pay-per-click or banner ads, are relatively cheap by blogging or through your website. Of course, traditional marketing is important, too. This might also include bus bench ads, grocery shopping cart ads, neighborhood newspaper ads and mailings.
Listing Agent Expenses
Listing has always been expensive, but even more so in a slow real estate market. As of 2011, on top of the same expenses a buyer's agent would have, you can add monthly fees of $30 to $40 to list each property on the Multiple Listing Service, yard signs at $50 to $100 each, yard sign permits $20, flier boxes at $25 each, color fliers at 12 cents each, virtual tours of each listing at $100 to $200, 100 professionally printed and designed four-page brochures at $250, food for a broker open house at $125, a “just listed” mailing for $500, and ads in listing magazines can run $50 per month to $500 or more for an inside cover.