Do Independent Real Estate Brokers Need an Office?
When an independent broker first strikes out on their own, it's important for them to determine whether it's worth the time and money to establish themselves in an office. If you're in a position to start your own real estate business, consider the tips below before you commit to a brick-and-mortar office space.
Anticipate Your Client Mix
The most important factor when considering a physical office is whether or not you're planning on working mostly with buyers or if you're hoping to work with sellers. Generally, you'll meet with buyers outside the office, showing homes, supplying paperwork, and delivering excellent customer service. Many real estate professionals meet their buyer clients at locations near the area in which they're showing properties. There's less need for an office in this scenario.
Seller agents generally derive more value from a brick and mortar location, as they need a place to have prolonged conversations with clients, and to reassure them of past success. Perception is an important variable in selling real estate, and businesses with an office have traditionally been perceived as more legitimate.
A wall full of listed home photos and awards is a selling point for timid buyers, but it's less important than MLS reports that show how your listings are selling faster and for a higher asking price than the competition.
The Importance of Mobile Access
Let's say you've done your research, set appointments, and you've just met your buyers at a coffee shop. They spring on you that they want to add a home to their list that they saw in a local magazine. They have the MLS number ready—but can you look it up on the fly?
You would be wise to consider this kind of variability as the norm, rather than the exception. To close deals properly without an office, it would be foolish to depend on your desktop computer, or other technologies that can't readily join you on the job. If you want to be able to give customers instant satisfaction, have a wireless computer or phone, as well as a portable printer and scanner on standby.
Conference and Meeting Rooms
Sign up for whatever situation you may think will work for you personally, if you want agents to hang their license with you, it's better to have a professional setting in which for them to meet clients.
Generally, those who hang their license with a broker do so because they want a certain level of support and business presence for their clients and prospects within a community. At the very least, provide a rented conference room or co-working space set up with an internet computer for them to use to meet and serve their clients.
Getting Signatures Digitally
With the mobile technologies mentioned above, you can fill in the legal fields on a computer or tablet and print them out for signatures, including a copy for your clients. Many of the documents used in real estate transactions are legally legitimate with digital signatures, but some are not. Some states do not recognize digital signatures, so check with an attorney about your local real estate laws.
It's All About Client Service
As your prospective clientele grows more technologically driven, there will be progressively less value placed on brick-and-mortar as a hallmark of real estate professionals. This doesn't change the fact that the space can be an edge when meeting with clients for the first time.