Is a Virtual Office Really the Answer?

50565978_10217758466584220_481617768349696000_nThere are a lot of changes in the real estate industry, just like in so many other areas of our economy. Technology is changing the way we live and the way we do business in real estate and other areas. And there is a lot of competition in real estate; competition for listings, for buyers, and for agents to join a brokerage–and it seems there are nearly limitless possibilities. I have some real estate friends who swear by a virtual platform for their real estate brokerage, and they claim it is working wonderfully for them. In fact I have been asked by several of them to join their virtual world. They claim to make more money, have more freedom, and they can interact with other people in the company via an avatar in an online platform. But then I just scratch my head when I see that they are opening up a physical location. If virtual is really the answer, why have an office?

Real estate has been and always will be a relationship business. People depend upon their agent for advice as they traverse the minefield that can be a transaction. Sometimes it is just nice to sit down and talk over the issues face to face. It’s even better when you can sit down face to face and just talk. I know we can meet in a coffee shop, or at their home over the kitchen table, but having your tools close at hand in the office and a quiet space to communicate can go a long way toward getting the deal done with a little less stress. If virtual brokerages really are the answer, there would be no need for office space, or an annual in-person awards ceremony and celebration. We need human contact, in fact most people crave it. That happens in person, and let’s face it–an agent who meets their clients in a professional work space when needed shows their clients that they are worth the cost of having an office. For those who work exclusively from home, that is your choice. I personally prefer to have my CPA, my attorney or my financial advisor to have a place we can sit down in a professional setting with no distractions. So today I am grateful for my work space, for my 100-year old building in a quaint downtown. I am grateful for the relationships that are built here, with clients and with my fellow agents. For me, virtual simply isn’t the answer.