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9 Hottest Real Estate Small Business Franchise Opportunities

Aug 30, 2008
If you've been paying attention to current US housing trends, you could very well be asking why on earth anyone would want to get into real estate at this point in the game. With interest rates rising to the clouds, astronomical selling prices, and rent everywhere being cheaper than a mortgage anywhere, there really isn't much reason to try and cash in on real estate right now.

That was the shortest article ever, right? Not really. Let's expand our current notion of real estate. Granted, trying to weasel into a decrepit buying and selling market isn't the brightest idea ever, but there are other aspects to real estate that even in current trends could prove profitable for anyone willing to give them a fighting chance. Three sub-categories come to mind, and all provide small business opportunity: home inspection, home maintenance, and property management.

Home Inspection

By far the largest and most inclusive of the subcategories, home inspection covers more real estate businesses than you can shake a clipboard at, and their value for both owner and client is nearly immeasurable. It may seem reasonable to assume that when the housing market suffers, so does the market for home inspectors, but that, interestingly enough, is not the case. Completely to the contrary actually, the downturn in real estate is in many ways a blessing to the inspection industry, because as independent homebuyers, realtors, and lenders become increasingly choosy about the homes in which they invest their inflated money, the need for an excellent inspector increases dramatically. If you've ever seen the old Tom Hanks movie The Money Pit, you understand what I mean.

There are six home inspection franchises that we would strongly recommend looking into if this avenue seems right for you. Realistically, they all have the same goals: deliver the best possible training and support to the franchisee, always provide exceptional inspections to clients, and become top dog in the industry. Still, some of them excel in specific areas.

For instance, HomeTeam Inspection Service brings an interesting twist to the work, running a business model that--instead of being based on the work of a sole inspector eyeing over a home--uses in a small team of inspectors that work side-by-side to sort through every aspect of the home in finer detail. It lightens the load on the individual inspector and builds the trust of all parties involved in the sale. Another small business franchise in the sector, A-Pro Home Inspection, works its magic in the realm of marketing, providing every franchisee the rewards of having a corporate-sized central marketing team without having to develop it. If specific skills don't interest you, though, and you just want the franchise the pros would use, take a look at Pillar to Post, the home inspection franchise ranked #1 by Entrepreneur Magazine six years running.

Even if you've effectively made your choice, don't miss the other opportunities in this sub-market as well. National Property Inspections, HouseMaster Home Inspection, and Inspect-It 1st are all grade-A real estate franchises well worth your time and consideration.

Home Maintenance

There may only be one business for sale in this group, but that only means that it makes your choice easier. Whether you want to swing the hammer yourself or hire on others to do the groundwork for you, HomeTask.com Handyman Service can teach you how to make that business happen and give you the resources to pull it off. Jobs come in through the franchisor, and you can take or leave them as you choose. Grow the business as large or leave it as small as you like and take vacations at will. Regardless of what you choose, the work will inevitably be there for you, because though home sales has become a tricky business, there is never a lack of people who already own, are buying, or are selling a home who need to have it maintained, fixed, or renovated. Realtors may lose business at times, but handymen always have it.

Property Management

And here's the kicker, part of the reason that our current housing market is doing so poorly is that home prices and interest rates have risen so drastically that it actually costs more, both per-year and in the long run, to own a home than it is to rent one of the same size and quality. Aside from pulling the bottom out of property sales, this reality has made property renting a big business, because everyone and their mother is renting. And with too many owners of rental properties living far from their land and dealing through the internet, the need for responsible men and women to handle rentals and deal with renters is great.

If you have a knack for real estate, a natural charm in dealing with owners and renters, and the responsibility to handle multiple--even dozens--of properties and all the technicalities that come along with them, then consider this growing industry one for you. Whether you go with Property Management Inc or Real Property Management, both great management business opportunities that have already attained national recognition for the skills of both franchisors and franchisees, there is plenty of room to climb the ladder of success.

Truth be told, the real estate industry is not in good shape these days, and there's no getting around that. Like all things, though, it works on a cycle: after it goes up, it comes down, and after it comes down it goes back up. Regardless of what turn it's on at any given time and how long it takes to sway the other way, there are certainly sectors of the industry that retain some degree of constancy despite the sways of the pendulum. These are them, so don't be afraid to give them a go if real estate, in some fashion, is where you really want to be.
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