Unless you’re a perfectly preserved mid-century rancher, there’s always room for renovations.
When it comes to your real estate business plan, it’s understandable that you may require some tweaks throughout the years to ensure that your plan is as thorough, sturdy, and opportunity-optimized as it can be. And if you’re brand new to the real estate biz, a business plan should be among the first documents you construct.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the real estate industry has experienced countless surprises. So much of what we had planned needed to be altered or abandoned entirely. Crisis does this; it throws unexpected factors into the mix and demands our ingenuity and resilience to remain afloat. It’s tempting to want to throw all the plans out the window entirely after a year like 2020, but unfortunately the world of business isn’t black and white.
Back in the 1950’s, Dwight Eisenhower said, “Peace time plans are of no particular value, but peace time planning is indispensable”. What did he mean?
Though we may be required to alter or even trash our plans in the face of an unprecedented crisis like COVID-19, the act of planning forces us to look ahead, anticipate challenges, understand our weak spots, and create contingencies that will be helpful no matter what challenge is thrown our way. Even better, having a business plan in place makes it easier for you to approach new partners and investors who can take your projects to the next level.
So today, we’re taking a fresh look at your real estate business plan, and providing you with an actionable framework within which to create your peace time plans. Are you ready to roll out the blueprints? Let’s get started.
Structure: A multi-storey approach
Though each business plan will vary slightly depending on the specifics of the business, most plans follow a similar outline:
This section is generally tailored to each audience who will be presented with the document. It’s common to write a few variations that can be used depending on if you’re sharing the plan with an investor, lender, or a partner, etc. You may even consider writing this section last because it’s a summary that contains all the other information from the rest of the document. Rather than racking your brain up-front, save yourself the time and write this once you’ve beefed up your other sections, then just pull information from them.
You’ll want to include:
- Business overview
- Project description and details
- Investing experience and previous projects completed
- Identifying the executive leadership team
- Major goals
- Projected estimates of financial information – i.e. – revenue, costs, sources of funds, assumptions
- Expected development timeline
- Market information
Structure of the organization
This section should combine two separate and distinct aspects of a real estate project. The first being your management team and their experience (including bios). The second is the actual structure and organization of the real estate project. Will it be via a corporation, partnership, joint venture, or a combination of multiple entities?
- History of your company, how you were formed and when.
- Team bios and CVs. Include the management team and advisory committee and highlight past success and knowledge base.
- Legal structure.
- Mission statement.
This section details your Strengths, Risks, Opportunities, and Threats. It’s an at-a-glance look at how you measure up to the competition, where you stand to improve, and what you uniquely have to offer.
Analysis of the market
Here’s your chance to show just how much knowledge you have about the market in which you operate. Share everything you’ve learned about your target audience and how your investment strategy plans to serve them. The purpose of this section is to prove that you have the industry knowledge and experience necessary to carry out your projects successfully.
Have you chosen a specific type of build because you have a target market in mind? Talk about it here.
Strategy for financing
In this section, you’ll want to project at least a few years in the future, even if this is entirely a guess. Share which financing methods you plan to use in order to grow your portfolio, and why you feel this is the best route. It’s also worth considering including a sensitivity analysis that provides information pertaining to various outcomes and variables that may impact your project.
Important documents to include:
- Income statement (current income versus expenses)
- Cash flow statement (where does cash come from and where is it spent?)
- Balance sheet (net worth versus debts)
Worth underscoring here is the importance of cash flow. Particularly in times like today, cash flow can be an incredibly valuable tool to remain afloat through a crisis. Place careful time and consideration into developing a strategy for maintaining and increasing cash flow, and then flaunt it in this section. Often, proposals project large amounts of income but little discussion is made of cash flow. If revenues are high but there will be trouble realizing these revenues, the large income may be of little use to the reader. Ensure assumptions are clearly articulated and easy to follow to enable a user to obtain an understanding of your projections.
If you’re a brand new company, a lot of this information may just be based on reasonable projections and estimates. It’s okay. Share your plans and then once you have some real-life work under your belt, go back and update your plans accordingly.
Strategy for growth
This section is valuable not only because it proves that you have the drive necessary to grow your business, but also because creating this section enables you to identify your goals for the future. Regardless of how much you need to pivot along the way, having goals keeps you motivated and provides forward momentum, while also giving you a framework to check against when making big decisions.
Strategy for lead acquisition
Here you can share your plans for finding the properties you wish to invest in on an ongoing basis. Though working with a real estate broker is probably the most common method, you could also consider non-traditional avenues like real estate wholesaling.
How will you know when it’s time to sell a property in your portfolio? What are your anticipated timelines for each project? What factors will lead to your decision to sell? What is your anticipated return on the investment on a future sale? Here you can also detail your plans for finding tenants, and any property management strategy you may have in place.
Contingency planning may be the most valuable exercise within the construction of your business plan. Here you can consider factors like your annual turnover, and the cost of improving each unit. It’s also recommended that you take a closer look at the Threats identified in your SWOT and create a plan about how to handle each. These may be something like competitors edging you out, or more unexpected events like an environmental issue. It’s recommended that you have cash flow to sustain a crisis, and here is where you can outline your plans to obtain that contingency cash and how you’ll maintain it.
Another area to consider within your contingency plan is rate fluctuations and performing a sensitivity analysis. What if interest rates go up? Materials costs? Exchange rates? Examine what might happen if rates went up by even 1%. Could you sustain that change? How?
Lastly, insurance. Do you have adequate business interruption insurance? Have you considered rental insurance? What coverage will you need on job sites? Being sufficiently covered by insurance is essential and will reassure new investors and partners of your ability to sustain a future crisis.
Accounting and reporting
Once you’ve decided on your corporate structure and exit plans, you will want to work backwards to determine the reporting requirements that are necessary to remain compliant. Will you need to report annually? Quarterly? Will you need an audit? The easiest way to have immaculate books is to start early and stay ready. Don’t underestimate the amount of time and energy associated with reporting and compliance.
Consider your audience
In the event that you will be presenting your plan to potential investors, you’ll want to share with them how you anticipate that they will make money. What are the plans for distribution and payout? Explain how distributions received by investors will be taxed. This information will assist them in making an informed decision about your business.
In summary, your business plan needs to prove and explain the two most important assumptions about your business:
1) You have a product that buyers will want
2) You are equipped to build and sell the product profitably
Every single piece of information contained within your business plan should point back to these assumptions, building out a breadth of evidence layer by layer. Place yourself in the shoes of potential investors. Ask yourself what questions you may have, and what concerns may arise, and then do your best to address those factors thoroughly in your content.
Sure, we can look back, but we can never go back. Knowing what we now know about how quickly the world can be turned upside down by an unexpected event, we have a first-hand understanding of the importance of crisis preparedness. Addressing COVID concerns is an essential part of any real estate business plan today. Here are some areas to consider:
- Response team
- Response plan
- Business continuity plan (including managing disruptions to the workforce, leadership, information technology, and operations)
Build a team to support a strong foundation
Your real estate business plan deserves careful time and consideration to prepare. Taking the time to thoroughly build out this document will not only assist you in attracting attention from the right investors, but will also give you a clear path towards future success, making it easier for you to make tough decisions along the way.
The good news is that you don’t have to do this alone. The team at Zeifmans has over 6 decades of experience assisting real estate entrepreneurs in drafting business plans that contain actionable insight and gain practical results. We’ve stood alongside our clients at every stage of the business life cycle, and we’re excited to do the same with you.
To learn more about how we can help you draft or remodel your real estate business plan, download your copy of, Remodelling your real estate business plan: A guide for entrepreneurs, or reach out to our team today.