A great name for your real estate team can increase your deal flow, nurture a loyal community, and build a quality reputation for your company. On the other hand, a poor or thoughtless name could get you sued.
Below we provide a set of guidelines to help you think through developing the best name for your real estate team. It should accurately reflect your culture and abilities, target and respect your specific audience, and support your future goals for growth. At the same time, you want to select something that will be visible online and isn’t already trademarked.
We start by laying out variables to consider when initially brainstorming a name that reflects your team. We help ensure that the name(s) you come up with is available for marketing via a web domain and social media channels. If you’re less interested in selecting a unique name, we also provide several formulas for developing highly successful names with less effort. Finally, we wrap up with an updated series of advertising regulations — helping ensure your team is not in violation of any state laws.
Brainstorm a Relevant Name for Your Real Estate Team
While you might be tempted to start with the first names that come to mind (e.g., Springfield Real Estate Partners, Sally and Kent’s Home Sales) based on your founders, area, and/or business model — you can add depth and relevance by taking time to consider some key variables.
The following are important points to consider when beginning to brainstorm a name that’s well-suited to your team:
- Who is your audience? Who exactly are you trying to reach via your company name?
- How ambitious is your company? Are you looking to scale and/or sell your business soon?
- How critical is your brand? Do you operate in a niche?
These answers will help you choose a compatible name that supports your team’s present and future operations.
Who is your audience?
If your team is looking to reach a local audience, consider an eponymous name (e.g., The Jane Smith Group). A name that includes the name(s) of your founder(s) and/or agent(s) may be more familial for customers. If customers are looking to buy within their existing community (or looking to move to the community where you operate), a personal name can be welcoming and inspire trust and reassurance.
At the same time, an eponymous name can have its disadvantages. Customers could expect that they will be doing business with Jane Smith herself — as a recent article in the Harvard Business Review notes. If your volume of inquiries is too much for Jane Smith to field, customers could become frustrated with a lack of personal attention.
In some cases, particularly if a name or combination of names is somewhat prestigious (e.g., John R. Wood) the potential to appeal to a broader base of customers, seeking a level of elite service, is greater.
How ambitious is your company?
If you are looking to scale and expand outside of your community, a name like Massachusetts-based Greylock Realty might not be as useful as a name such as “Leverage Global Partners,” for example. Greylock Realty might make it difficult to sell or open operations in a region or country where the name “Greylock” doesn’t ring a bell.
At the same time, if you’re aiming to be top-notch in your specific region, catering to your demographic with a name like Southern Vermont Lakeside Homes could be an easy search for buyers with a clear picture of what they’re seeking.
How critical is your brand?
Do you need to be distinct in order to drive sales inquiries? Some niche teams might require a name that matches their area of expertise. For example, a name like Florida Luxury Realty is ideal for reaching the specific demographic of wealthy buyers looking to invest in the Florida market.
However, as with company ambition (above), if you’re looking to grow outside of your present boundaries such a name could be limiting.
Overall, these questions will help get your creative juices flowing as you consider which aspects of the team and business you’d like to showcase.
Reserve Your Team Name’s Domain and Social Media Accounts First
It’s important to think early on about obtaining an available domain name. If you’ve brainstormed the perfect, most true-to-your-brand name using the questions above, but you can’t use it for your website — is it practical?
Most domain names will cost you $2-$20 per month, which should encompass a range of solid options. While many .com domains could already be taken, before you opt for a catchy .net or .me URL, try searching for a decent set of .com selections. More people and search engines trust .com sites over the alternatives as the likelihood of their being flagged as spam is lower.
A .com site will likely generate a steadier stream of traffic — although exceptions do exist. For example, the domain tool Viable (see below) chose the domain viable.af — a direct reflection of one of its core search results. The sports training team Fast Twitch uses the address fasttwitch.training.
A word of caution, however: in addition to being less reliable, these vanity sites can also be pricier.
To narrow your universe of options from the get-go, saving your creative energy for domain names you can actually work with, try testing the following tools:
- NameMesh: https://www.namemesh.com/
- NameMesh generates common alternatives of your search string, along with “fun” and/or “short” ideas.
- Naminum: http://www.naminum.com/
- Enter a word. Naminum spits out a list of relevant domain names you can try — and allows you to filter them by a particular geography.
- Domainr: https://domainr.com/
- If you’ve hit the end of the road with .com options, Domainr does offer a variety of creative alternatives, including .rentals and .homes.
While available domains are a great starting point, it’s important to take the extra step to ensure the names on your list are also not already trademarked. The following tools will help you weed out ideas that could subject your team to a legal battle.
- Viable: https://viable.af
- You can use Viable in desktop and mobile app versions. After you type in your potential name, Viable returns a score, derived from its mining of Domainr, Twitter, Facebook, Markify, the App Store, Product Hunt, and AngelList. If your name already exists, Viable can offer new suggestions.
- Naming Matters: https://www.namingmatters.com
- This tool is helpful in checking for similarities between your ideas and existing, trademarked ones.
- BrandHunt: https://brandhunt.co
- BrandHunt offers insight into social media handles you might want to use alongside your domain. If your preferred domain is available but the Facebook name is taken, you might consider one of BrandHunt’s alternatives.
Instead of individually googling all of your best ideas to see if they’re taken, try using the tools above to quickly generate your starting list. Then narrow this list further by making sure the ideas are distinct enough from what’s already out there.
Formulas for Developing Your Best Real Estate Team Name
While it is possible to come up with a name that is truly unique, you often don’t have to. Studies show that many people prefer brand names that are familiar to them. The following set of formulas can give you the starting blocks for developing a successful team name with less effort. If you’d prefer something a bit more tailored, we offer ideas for variations as well.
1. [FULL NAME] +[REAL ESTATE/REALTY]
Start with the single, full name of a founder or owner, followed by a more generic term, such as “Real Estate.” A full name can convey a sense of prestige and a legacy of success.
John. L. Scott Real Estate, for example, had the 16th highest volume of transactions in 2017 ($6,706,816,358).
The website, along with the team’s name, evokes a sense of historicity. Including a middle initial here also augments the sense of dignity and status, which appeals to the team’s set of customers.
2. [CO-FOUNDER] & [CO-FOUNDER] + [REAL ESTATE/REALTY]
Start with a combination of the two names of your founders or partners in crime, followed by a “Real Estate” variation. This structure conveys a sense of teamwork, along with a personal touch. It can also echo powerful legal and financial firms, like Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs.
As a buyer, a name that includes its co-founders evokes a sense of a tight-knit group or a hardworking family. Together, the Crye-Leike partners have built a network of 3,200 realtors, 125+ offices, and closed 32,583 sales last year in 9 states + 1 island.
3. [GEOGRAPHIC REGION] + [REAL ESTATE/REALTY]
Including your farm area or specific region up front (e.g., Bay Area) conveys a sense of expertise over your domain. This formula can be particularly powerful if your team stays within its borders.
For example, North Charleston, SC-based Carolina One Realtors are able to market themselves as go-tos “whether you’re buying real estate in Charleston, SC, selling Isle of Palms real estate, or relocating to Mount Pleasant.”
The site’s quick search tool and interactive map features underscore its ability to zoom in on the best local properties. This ability allowed Carolina One’s team to transact a stunning $2,783,712,401 in 2017.
As mentioned above, one downside of this formula is that it could be less convincing for a more global audience.
VARIATIONS ON the BASIC FORMULAS
The three above formulas can be excellent launching pads for your real estate team. Additional ideas to mix things up include replacing “Real Estate” or “Realty” in titles with “Properties” or “Company.” For example, Charlotte, NC-based Allen Tate Companies was highly successful last year with $5,452,160,075 in transactions (the 23rd highest team nationwide).
You can also incorporate nature words like hill top, riverside, lake view, and beachfront. People have positive associations with nature, which can help inspire peace and tranquility during a potentially stressful buying process. The Waterfront Team at Sotheby’s, for example, grounds a high-profile name in its local environment.
These formulas and their variations can cut down on time and energy when developing a successful team name. While they might not stand out as extraordinary, they can correlate with very high transaction volumes.
Complying with State Laws Around Real Estate Team Names
Several states have specific laws governing the advertising practices of real estate teams, including their names. It’s important for any team developing a name to know if they are in violation of these regulations.
In 2018 these specific state laws are as follows:
- California: Team names must include “the last name of at least one of the licensee members of the team, group, or association in conjunction with the term ‘associates,’ ‘group,’ or ‘team’”; and may not include “’real estate broker,’ ‘real estate brokerage,’ ‘broker,’ or ‘brokerage.’” See here for more info.
- Colorado: Team names cannot contain words or phrases that could imply a separate entity from their affiliated brokerage firm, including: realty, real estate, realtors, company, Corporation, Corp., Inc., LLC, LP or LLP, or similar terms. More info here.
- Illinois: Teams “may not operate under an assumed business name other than the assumed business name of their sponsoring broker.” More info here.
- Louisiana: Team names cannot “suggest to the public that the team is offering brokerage services independent from its sponsoring broker” and cannot include the phrases “real estate,” “brokerage,” “real estate brokerage,” “realty,” or “company.” More info here.
- Maryland: The team name also cannot include the terms “real estate,” “real estate brokerage,” or any other term suggesting the team provides “real estate brokerage services independent of the real estate broker.” More info here.
- Nebraska: Team names must include “team” or “group” and may not use the following: Realtors, Company, Corporation, Corp., Inc., LLC, LP, or LLP. In addition, team names can only include the words “real estate” or “realty” if these are immediately followed by “team” or “group.” More info here and here.
- Nevada: The team name must contain “the last name of at least one of the members of the team or group.” More info here.
- New York: Team name must include the full licensed names of the brokers, associate brokers or real-estate salespersons. If these are omitted, the name “must be followed immediately by the phrase ‘at/of [full name of broker/brokerage].’” Non-licensed names are prohibited, along with the words “associate,” “realty” and “group.” More info here.
- Ohio: Team names cannot include “Realty” or “Real Estate” nor can they be shared by multiple brokerages. Further info here and here.
- Oklahoma: Names must be approved by the associated broker. See here.
- Tennessee: Team names may not include: “Real Estate,” “Real Estate Brokerage,” “Realty,” “Company,” “Corporation,” “LLC,” “Corp.,” “Inc.,” “Associates.” More info here.
- Washington: Name may not include: “Inc.,” “LLC,” “LLP,” “Corp.,” “firm,” or “company.” Names also may not be “commonly understood to reference a firm or an office, such as ‘realty,’ ‘realtors,’ ‘firm,’ or ‘real estate.’” More info here.
Given that these laws are subject to quick changes, your team should always check for updates in your state.
The National Association of REALTORS® is also strict on how its members use the REALTOR® trademark and logo in social media. If you are a member, it is critical to read up on this, too.
It’s Your Turn: Develop Your Own Best Real Estate Team Name
Coming up with the best name for your real estate team is a multi-pronged effort that requires an honest understanding of your team’s audience, current operations, and goals for future growth. To ease the process, try using title-generating tools that quickly let you know if a particular domain and/or social media handle is open. Vet these available ideas to be sure they aren’t already trademarked.
If you’re looking to create a familiar name, try some of the basic formulas we outline above, along with their variations. Many have impressive track records of success.
Finally, read up on your state laws to ensure you’re in compliance before putting your best name out there!