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 or money to establish themselves in an office.
What is Your Anticipated Client Mix?
Whether you're planning on working mostly with buyers or sellers can be the most important factor in whether you need a full physical office or not. Generally, you'll probably find that you're meeting buyers outside the office anyway. 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.
Sellers, however, probably will value a "brick and mortar" business location more. There is a perception issue here, and listing their home with someone who can't show them a wall full of listed home photos will be asking a lot of the average seller. Of course, showing them MLS reports that present how your listings sell faster and for a higher percentage of asking price than your competitors will go a long way.
Are You Equipped to Be Mobile?
Let's say you've done your research, set appointments, and you've just met your buyers at Starbucks. They spring on you that they want to add a home to the list that they saw in a homes magazine.
They have the MLS number, but you can't look it up on the fly, as your access is on your home or office computer. You must consider this situation as the norm, rather than the exception. If you want to be mobile, have a wireless computer and a portable printer and scanner to do the job.
Do You Need a Conference or Meeting Room?
Whatever you may think will work for you personally, if you want agents to hang their license with you, have a professional place 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 presented to their clients and prospects. At the very least, provide a rented conference room set up with an internet computer for them to use to meet and serve their clients.
Can You Get Signatures Digitally or With a Pen on a Screen?
Many of the documents we use in real estate transactions today can be acceptable with digital signatures. Some cannot, and some states do not recognize them, so check your area and laws. However, with the equipment already mentioned, you can fill in the document blanks on a computer or tablet and print them out for signatures, including a copy for your clients.
It's All About Client Service
As your prospect and client base becomes more technology and internet oriented, there will probably be less value placed in a physical business location. However, particularly with listings, the ability of the local client to walk into an office to discuss their property will probably always be important.