How to Write a Real Estate or Property Business Proposal

Published: 05th January 2012
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If you work in the field of real estate, knowing how to write a business proposal will help you compete and close more deals. You might be a realtor, a property investor, a developer, work in property management with commercial leasing or property rentals, or work for an agency that deals with housing issues. Or perhaps you want to write a proposal to apply for a government grant for housing. To be successful at any of these jobs, sooner or later you're going to need to write a proposal.

You've no doubt written business letters, and maybe even advertising fliers and brochures—those are all big starts on writing a proposal. So don't be intimidated by the idea—proposal writing can be easier than you might think. That's because every proposal has some standard sections and a standard structure. Basically, you will introduce yourself, explain what you're proposing and why, describe any costs involved, and convince your boss, investor, prospective client or grant committee that you can be trusted to fulfill the promises you make. You can find proposal writing advice on the Internet and in dedicated proposal writing packages. Using a proposal product like this can speed up your process because instead of starting with a blank screen on your computer, you begin with pre-designed templates and lots of samples to emulate.

If you want to pitch your ideas, properties, or services to multiple parties, you may be tempted to send out a batch of form letters along with some brochures or fliers. That would be easier, but that approach is not as likely to succeed as creating customized proposals. The goal of a proposal is to persuade the client, boss, investor, or grant committee to endorse your idea and give you the business or the money. That means that you need to gain their trust and demonstrate that you know what you're talking about and can deliver on your promises.

To get started in any sort of proposal writing, your first step should be to gather information about the party who will judge your proposal. You want to present a proposal tailored to that party's specific needs, situation, and knowledge level. In other words, try to put yourself in the other party's shoes and study the situation from that party's point of view. If your proposal is aimed at your boss or your company executives, you may already understand their concerns and attitudes. But if you are pitching to people at another organization, then you will need to do a bit of work researching who they are, what they do, and what their needs are. If you are responding to an RFP, then of course you need to study the RFP's written requirements carefully. Yes, all this research can take some effort and time, but putting in that effort will make your proposal much more likely to succeed, and that's what it's all about, isn't it?

So, first collect the basic facts about the party you are pitching to, and from then on, writing the proposal will be a fairly straightforward process. Proposals generally follow a four-part structure: 1) an introduction of yourself and your proposal, 2) a summary of the situation and needs, followed by 3) descriptions of the ideas or the properties or services you are offering, including all the important details and associated costs. Finally, the proposal should conclude with 4) information that will persuade the proposal reader to trust you. This might include your Experience, Credentials, Education, Capabilities, Awards, and so forth.

The introduction is the shortest section, with just a Cover Letter and a Title Page. In the Cover Letter, write a brief personal introduction to explain who you are and provide your contact information, including a website URL if you'd like the reader to go there for more details. The Title Page should be exactly what it sounds like: a page with a title that states what you are pitching. Some examples might be "Proposal to Develop the Windlass Division", "New Office Buildings Available for the Madelain Corporation", "Proposed Property Management Services for the Kartiss Buildings", "Investment Proposal for the Ridge Highlands" or "Funding Proposal for Low Income Housing in Casco County".

Following the Cover Letter and Title Page comes the client-centered part of the proposal. Here you'll write topic pages to demonstrate that you understand the position and needs of your proposal reader. If your proposal is complex, you might need to begin this section with a brief summary highlighting the most important points you will describe in detail in the following pages. This summary is generally called a Client Summary in a fairly casual proposal, or an Executive Summary if your proposal is targeted to corporate clients. Include all the topics you need to describe the needs, goals, and desires of your client (i.e., the party who will make the decision about whether or not to accept your proposal). Don't describe anything about yourself or your offerings yet; in this section, you must show that you understand the other party's position and needs.

Next comes the all-about-you part, where you describe your ideas, what you are offering, and why you can do the job. You might need to add pages with titles like Location Analysis, Properties, Amenities, Renovation, Facilities, Rentals, Services Provided, Cost Summary, Return on Investment—the topics you select for this section will depend on what you are proposing. Include all the data you need to describe your properties, ideas, and/or services, along with all the associated costs and benefits. Finally, at the end of this all-about-you section, it's time to convince your proposal readers that you can deliver what you've promised. To do this, you add pages like References, Credentials, Experience, Testimonials, Company History or About Us, Our Clients, Awards and Achievements, and so forth. Your goal is to conclude your proposal by persuading your readers that you have credibility and can be trusted.

Now you've got all your proposal text written and structured. You're close to finishing, but you're still not quite done. Take a little time to make your proposal look good. Consider incorporating your company logo, using colored borders, or introducing special bullet points and fonts. Keep it professional, though—any graphic elements should match your style and the tone of your proposal.

It's crucial to spell-check and proofread every page. It's very easy to overlook errors in your own writing, so it always a good idea to use a proofreader who hasn't read your proposal before.

Congratulations! The proposal is done, and all you need to do is deliver it. Print it out, or save the proposal in a PDF file, or both. The best delivery method will depend on your relationship with the party who will receive your proposal. You may want to attach a PDF to an email message for a long distance client, send a printed proposal via delivery service, or even personally hand off a printed, signed proposal.

To sum up, you can see how the specialized topics in a real-estate-related proposal will vary depending on what you're offering, your goals, and the needs of your prospective client, boss, investor, or proposal committee. But now you also know that all business proposals follow a similar format and structure. And remember: you don't need to start from scratch. No matter what your proposal is about, you can find all the elements you'll need in Proposal Kit. The templates include explanations and examples of the information that specific topic pages should contain; they will guide you in writing and formatting all parts of your proposal.

As well as hundreds of templates, Proposal Kit includes a wide variety of sample proposals, many of which are real-estate-related. For example, the samples include business proposals for real estate property development, property management, property sales, commercial real estate sales, real estate investment proposals, real estate occupancy, and a sample government grant proposal for the Department of Housing, just to name a few. The sample proposals will give you great ideas and a big jump start on creating your own winning proposal. Oh, and it works great for business letters, fliers, research studies, and lots of other documents, too.


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Ian Lauder has been helping small businesses and freelancers write their proposals and contracts for over a decade. => For more tips and best practices when writing your business proposals and legal contracts visit http://www.proposalkit.com

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