As the world around us becomes more and more technology oriented, businesses must evolve to keep up. This is especially true for the real estate business.
With websites such as Zillow, Realtor.com, and Redfin, many potential home buyers have already vetted the market well before they reach out to a real estate agent. And technology doesn’t stop there. Once you are working with a client, you may communicate via email and text, and documents can now be signed digitally to speed up the process. If you belong to a trade association, you may have access to digital tools or applications at a reduced rate.
With all of this technology, do you still need a physical office for your real estate business? There really isn’t one right answer. Ask yourself these questions to help decide whether a physical or virtual office is right for your business:
What is the demographic of your client base?
Many real estate experts predict that 2017 will be the year millennials begin to dominate real estate. Zillow predicts they will soon make up 33% of the market. And because many millennials prefer to meet agents at the listed property and communicate through digital channels, physical office locations become less relevant when working with this younger population.
If you work with an older population, a brick and mortar office may lend credibility to your business. While some agents report that up to 80% of transactions are completed without face-to-face interaction, 20% of an agent’s customer base is still interested in traditional in-person meetings. Office space also provides a neutral place to complete the large amount of paperwork required with a real estate transaction for those who prefer physical documents.
What is the overhead cost your business can afford?
A negative aspect of a physical office is the cost. Renting or owning office space is often expensive. Many agents spend their time in the field showing homes or attending educational seminars. If agents are connected digitally, they can complete much of their work in a virtual office. A coffee shop can serve as a great place to meet clients who crave the personal interaction achieved with a face-to-face meeting. Some agents have also bought into the co-working office model. This type of arrangement, often utilized by startup firms and entrepreneurs, provides amenities such as conference rooms, printers, fiber optic data lines, and high-end furnishings at a reduced rate.
How comfortable are you working with technology?
Going digital can take some training. The technology involves Internet-based webinars, video conferencing, uploading pictures and information to websites, and using social media applications. Figuring out how to use all of this technology in the most effective way for your business will involve a learning curve. You may ultimately decide that some things work best for you the old fashioned way.
First and foremost, the real estate business is about serving your customers to the best of your ability. You earn business through your reputation. While there are positives and negatives to a physical office, as long as you are providing your customers value and helping them feel confident in their decisions, you are doing your job. Where these interactions take place is up to you!
This post was written by Deidre R., a Product Analyst in the Commercial Lines Marketing Department at Acuity. Deidre’s experience also includes nine years as an Account Manager at an insurance agency. She received her bachelor’s degree from St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, and her master of organizational behavior from Silver Lake College in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Her hobbies include volunteering and event planning for a local women’s shelter, yoga, crafting, reading, and biking. She also enjoys spending time with her husband and dog.