Is it time to create a Virtual Real Estate Office? Is it more beneficial for specific brokerage sizes or should the single broker and small brokerage firm be the only ones to consider the virtual real estate office concept.
There are many pros and cons to the possibilities of establishing a virtual real estate office but the bottom line always seem to point to money. Yes, money is a motivating factor whether it pertains to the brick and mortar, staffing, equipments, the lack of money, or how the virtual office concept is perceived by your market area.
For the consumer, several factors affect their ability to scout around town for the ideal home such as the price of gas, credit, preferred schools, employer location, etc. However, with a virtual office setup, consumer can benefit greatly using technology made available such as virtual tours of the homes, neighborhood, and area schools, online listing and closing programs such as SURECLOSE, SettlementRoom, RELAY, etc., a property presentation video that also shows a room-by-room virtual tour of the home with the listing agent providing a room-by-room commentary, listing agent presentation of the closing process coupled with a presentation from a preferred title company and lender.
Another benefit for the consumer is that it is not necessary to be present to sign documents. With the availability of several signature programs such as EchoSign and DocuSign, many documents can be signed electronically. For the states and banks that prohibit electronic signatures, IT’S TIME TO GET ON BOARD! Until then, provisions must be made by the agents.
A few of the benefits for the brokers and agents include the elimination of unnecessary large office space. The office space required can be reduce to enough allowable space for the broker, receptionist/assistant, conference area for meetings and signings, and a file storage area for hard copies if required. Otherwise, go paperless. If there is a need for agents to schedule in-office time, then you can setup cubicles.
Outsourcing the office administrative aspects will help the broker/agent cut back on additional expense. If you currently have onsite assistants, working from home or remotely could be a feasible alternative and instead of paying the remote staff an hourly fee, pay a set fee on a per property or per transaction basis. You decide. With your staff now working offsite, you will eliminate the need of office equipment, furniture, and most of the associated expenses incurred when you have employees.
Having a virtual office may not work for everyone and/or it may require a transition phase by slowing making your current setup move into a virtual setup. Do your homework before taking the plunge, it may prove to be very beneficial, financially and a renewed growth in business.