Starting an apartment finding service

One of the easiest businesses to start in your own home is an apartment finding service. Your services can be invaluable to people who need to relocate and who don’t have the time or the knowledge to research availability of apartments to fit their needs and budget. In fact, you can expand your services like a friend I met while in the Navy who helped military families moving to San Diego. Not only did she help them find an apartment, she also took care of getting utilities turned on and sometimes even helped with household goods deliveries. She had an entire business built around helping military families move from one duty-station to another.

How do you get started? First, you will have to be very familiar with the rental property market in your area. Start building relationships with leasing companies and managers at local apartment complexes.

Most states don't require a real estate license to operate an apartment finding service. But you will want to research to be sure yours is not one of those that do. You will also need to get a business license and I highly recommend business insurance.

Decide what type of service you will offer. Basic apartment finding services? Or perhaps you want to focus on a particular niche. If you live in a college town, you could specialize in finding apartments for college students. I often hear University of Arkansas students talking about the difficulty of finding a decent apartment off campus. Or perhaps you could work with seniors who are wishing to downsize from a home that is too big into something more manageable. Since I live in the same area that is home to Walmart, Tyson, and several other large companies, a business that helped with corporate relocation might be ideal.

Once you have chosen your market, how and where will you operate your business? Online? From a home office? Or will you rent office space?

Decide on your pricing structure. The typical fees are half of the first month's rent. You can charge more for additional services such as getting utilities turned on. Consider charging a small, nonrefundable deposit on any work you do in the event a client changes her mind after you've worked several hours and days to obtain the perfect place.

Finish your business plan by determining the best way to market your services to your target market. Depending on which market you chose, your marketing techniques could vary.

I moved many times while in the military. I look back now and wish I had used an apartment finding service to help me locate the perfect place when government housing was unavailable. Today's families relocate often due to jobs, family responsibilities, health concerns, and a variety of other reasons. An apartment finding service can help alleviate some of the stress of making that move and earn a nice income for you.

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