John Marshall - FORE!, Specializing in Golf Course Properties (LoKation Real Estate)

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Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate Brokered by Real - St. George, UT
St. George Utah Area Residential Sales Agent

We have a downtown office where admin staff works 5 days a week, brokers have their offices and agents have offices as well with a couple of conference rooms to use when necessary.

I have a small office as well for work and meeting clients. I'm not one to meet people at a coffee shop or restaurant for first meetings. Buying a building makes financial sense, as it does for the owners of our brokerage. No more rent increases.

Jul 20, 2022 07:04 AM
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Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

Owner Perspective:  I would never want to do anything other than fly solo. Never have and never will have agents associated with my brokerage. I love being independent. 

Agent Perspective:  Even when I was associated with a big box brokerage, rarely, if ever, did I go to the office.  I had no use for it. I've always been set up to work from home. 

If your agents don't need the space then why consider renewing your lease of buying an office?  It seems to me you answered your own question. 

All the best to you! 

Jul 20, 2022 07:05 AM
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Fred Griffin Florida Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

 A brokerage with 250 agents...

   You need a storefront, but it doesn't have to be large.  It certainly doesn't need 250 desks or cubicles.  Have an impressive reception area. Have a couple of small meeting rooms for your agents who need an occasional F2F meeting with a customer or client.

  Have the room that we used to call "the copy room", with an extra computer desk.

 

  If you want all 250 agents together for a monthly or quarterly meeting, use a local hotel conference room.  

Jul 20, 2022 08:02 AM
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Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, KW Diversified - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

It does add a bit of professionalism to have a real office to meet clients and recruits vs using a table at a coffee shop where you are not at your best and the client feels that you may not have the infrastructure to handle their project.

Jul 20, 2022 07:17 AM
Rainmaker
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Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co Notary Services retired RE Broker

John Marshall - FORE! Although I am very old school I doubt that it matters anymore these days. Even before the pandemic many offices were already virtual. The pandemic just sped up the acceptance.

That being said I would not care to work with a Brokerage as a Buyer, Seller, or as an Agent who did not have a storefront presence in the community.

Jul 20, 2022 06:35 AM
Rainmaker
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Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

You have answered the question you have posed. Let's expand on it. Decades ago, walking into a large office well-staffed made the maximum impression and the public approved of it. Technology changed the game specifically with cell phones and emails. I remember when it hit me. I was standing in line at a bank during the cell phone start-up years when the person in front of me got a phone call. She answered: Window treatments Janet speaking how can I help you? She was the office! The caller knew no better than that. Bricks & mortar was on a diminishing path from that point on. There was also a time during the transition where it made sense to purchase space or lock up a good lease too. Again, it worked but other ways made themselves known with the economy teaching its lessons well. Today, wherever you are, there is your office. If you have to meet up, the property, library, Starbucks, parking lot, Hotel lobby, restaurant and all the rest works just fine. Working smarter is demanded and no longer an option. Overhead and expense if reduced, refined or eliminated is really an additional source of revenue. These dynamics apply to doctor, attorney and CPA offices. Some chiropractors, all tradesman, hair stylists, manicure/pedicure people will come to you now a days. Only the government, who deals with the masses needs large buildings, parking lots etc. Every agent should have a fax, email, printer, laptop and smart phone plus all necessary office equipment and a reliable car. Meetings via Zoom, public places such as parks etc. to keep in touch. Also, principals should be available and established for consultation, assistance and support as needed via agreed to procedures. Now, the only thing left is to get to work!

Jul 20, 2022 06:29 AM
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Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

As an agent who has worked from home since 1999, I still like for my brokerage to have a bricks and mortar presence. I might not go into the office frequently, but I do at least once a week. I want a place to meet clients that is not a coffee shop... I want a professional conference room. I don't want to go to UPS to make copies of documents, etc. 

Jul 20, 2022 08:45 AM
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Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty Evolution - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Personally, I'm not too fond of virtual meetings and like to have an office where training, company meetings, and support personnel are housed. People are designed to be face to face social and keeping them apart does not build comradery, imho

Jul 20, 2022 07:43 AM
Rainmaker
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Peter Mohylsky
PMI. Destin - Miramar Beach, FL

great timing on this question.  I was gonna ask a similar question.  The state of florida requires us to have a physical office with a meeting room  but other than that requirement I can see having a room for meetings and training sessions 

Jul 20, 2022 11:09 AM
Rainmaker
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Eileen Burns
Trans State Commercial RE Ft. Lauderdale/Miami/Palm Beach - Fort Lauderdale, FL
FLorida Real Estate Connector

"16 Do you have any quirks?

I am sure I do, I enjoy my quiet time, running a brokerage of 230 agents can be non-stop from the time I get up to the time I go to bed, I actually really enjoy it when I am the only one in the office."

I vote buy a building and rent out the space you do not use for your ROI. Make sure you have parking!

 

Jul 20, 2022 10:20 AM
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Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Agent Retired

We have admin in the brick & mortar. I'm saying only a small % come into the office & I think it's just out of habit.

Jul 20, 2022 06:31 AM
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Tony Lewis
Summit Real Estate Group - Valencia, CA
Summit Real Estate Group Valencia & Aliso Viejo

I personally believe that an agent that is new up to three years experience needs a physical office with a broker or manager that teaches ethics and educates about being a great agent.  They need to understand the meaning of being a Fiduciary.  An office of only seasoned veterans loses community prestige if there is no physical office in the community.  An individual can work from home and meet at a home office or Starbucks and get away with it.  A company will lose out if they go virtual.  I wouldn't buy a building at this time though.

Jul 20, 2022 09:47 AM
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7,032,803
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

A smaller office is an economical move if your agents do not need desk space.

Jul 20, 2022 09:29 AM
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Ryan Huggins - Thousand Oaks, CA
https://HugginsHomes.com - Thousand Oaks, CA
Residential Real Estate and Investment Properties

There are several companies that are all virtual these days.  Our office of 2 has been "virtual" since the 90s.

If you only have one agent that comes into the office regularly and 249 that don't I think that answers your question for you.  It sounds like you probably have admin and contract/advertising review down already (a must in my state).

 

You may be better off leasing a small building or one of those shared office spaces.  My only question would be do hold any in-person all staff events/meetings/training where you need a meeting room for those 250 people?  If yes, are they regular enough to justify the rental/purchase expense or are they infrequent enough that renting a ballroom at a local hotel would cover it?

 

If it were me, given that 249 agents hardly ever come into the office and 1 comes in for a couple hours per week, the question would be:
1) What is more important: my money or stroking my ego?

2) Do you ever get walk-ins and can you handle them now?

   2b) If yes, is there enough of that business to justify a physical location?

The cash outlay for a lease is one amount.  The amount you'd need for a purchase plus maintenance is a much larger amount.  I used to help manage our association's building and those 16 AC units are quite a pain when they break.

If you're already doing most things remotely, seems like the Brokerage could save some money by not having any physical footprint, or a very minimal one (Regus shared workspace type deal) if one is required.  If all you need is a mailing address, get a big box at the UPS store closest to your house.

Jul 20, 2022 08:05 AM
Rainer
353,462
Caroline Gerardo
Licensed in 20 states - Newport Beach, CA
C. G. Barbeau the Loan Lady nmls 324982

If I were owner looking to buy I would want space that has great location and flexibility. Here is the list of wants:

A conference room with monitor screens to hook up laptops for presentations. 

Shared desks with window and three chairs for clients upon reservation

Small kitchen stocked with coffee, tea, water, microwave and fridge

Network printer scanners that charge the licensees when printing more than five color sheets a day.

Office that owner broker sits in every day and door is open all the time.

Coach who sits in the bull pen assisting. When coach is not in another person is available

Accounting, legal, staff work remote from home.

Teams can bounce off each other and benefit from working together but are best out doing old fashioned: open house, door knocking, events, and greeting their paper route. 

Embrace that everyone is different. Some people do best in office and some like to wear pajama bottoms and do webinars.

I would lease a tiny space 1000 foot for a year. Have monthly office meetings at locations: summer at Hudson Gardens or the Lake House, winter at a coffee house or something fun. 

 

Jul 20, 2022 06:06 PM
Rainmaker
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Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Big Block Realty is 1200 agents, 1140 working remotely and 60 across 3 brick & mortar sites in SD using office space. You could literally get away with an under 1,000 sq.ft. office with a reception desk, bull pen & conference room these days.

Jul 20, 2022 01:35 PM
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Anna Banana Kruchten CRS, Phoenix Broker
HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000 - Phoenix, AZ
602-380-4886

Broker owner perspective - I would not lease an office now and wish I had not done so back in the mid 2000's. We let the lease go when we could and ran the business from our home which worked out fantastic.  That works here in PHX but there are some towns that an office would be appropriate - as in resort towns and smaller towns perhaps. I think buying a building makes more sense - and perhaps renting out other offices to various businesses.

 

Jul 20, 2022 10:00 AM
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Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi John- interesting question as well as answers. I love Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400's suggestion of also making this a stand-alone post for more exposure and comments. It's an interesting question and times keep changing how we work. 

Jul 20, 2022 09:27 AM
Rainmaker
4,332,572
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello John,  I would think more agents would be working at home but would suggest maybe renting a hall once a month for a meeting.

Jul 20, 2022 07:55 AM
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Susan Emo
Sotheby's International Realty Canada - Brokerage - Kingston, ON
Kingston and the 1000 Islands Area

I believe the pandemic has shown how few people actually need to have a brick and mortar office.  Working from home was embraced and I don't think that will be reversed for many.   I personally have never stepped foot in my Brokerage, ever.  I have no plans to do so.  In the olden days, in another brokerage I was required to attend Monday morning meetings, Wed morning caravans and perform floor duty at least once a week if not more - I hated every minute of it!  I left there and never looked back.  It seems many many others did too and I noticed that Brokerage closing up shop permanently and the Broker now works as a bartender:  sad I know.  He was warned and warned that people were changing including clients who had no desire to attend meetings there. 

Jul 21, 2022 05:16 AM
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Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I am a broker who works with a virtual company (with no agents working with/for me) This works fine for me. I don't need to have brick & mortar. If the agents in my area need to get together in person we do so. For example, next Monday I'm attending an in-person get together all afternoon. I meet clients at coffee shops OR we could utilize space in a few businesses if we needed to. Otherwise, I work out of my home office.

I don't have agents reporting to me, but am mentoring and do so remotely.

It works for me, but I am a very independent person who can be quite productive on my own - and I always have been. It wouldn't work for everyone.

Jul 21, 2022 04:55 AM
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Carla Freund
Keller Williams Preferred Realty - Raleigh, NC
Carolina Life RealEstate & Relocation 919-602-8489

I primarily work from home. I do like to have a nice office space to meet clients. I lease an office from my firm so I can meet my clients there. I also have closings at my office. I like going into the big office for training and seeing my colleagues. 

There are a couple firms who sang the "you no longer need brick and mortar" song a few years ago as a way to convince agents to leave their brick and mortar firm. Guess what, they now have brick and mortar offices. I can't say what changed their minds because I don't know.

I do think there are those agents who feel they don't need to see other people. However, the pandemic has shown us that agents can get lonely. When they get lonely, they get restless. When they get restless, they look for somewhere else to go where there are people. We need people. Even if they're our competitor as we're primarily independent contractors.

Jul 22, 2022 05:10 AM
Rainmaker
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Catherine Emert
Strategic Realty, LLC - Bend, OR
Residential, land, commercial, businesses

We are a small brokerage but we created a shared small office for our brokers to meet with clients at and we all mainly work from home. Reducing our office size means we can focus those funds towards advertising and lead generation.

Jul 21, 2022 12:28 PM
Rainmaker
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Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

I really think a number of Brokers have over committed in the amount of sq. footage they have. Many Agents are thriving in working Virtual and rarely spend time in their Brokers Office .

Jul 31, 2022 06:10 AM
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Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

Remote works; meetings can be done via Zoom.

Jul 25, 2022 08:59 AM
Rainmaker
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Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi John Marshall - FORE! -

I am going to take a different approach to this. I ran offices and areas in another industry.  I did start-ups for the staffing industry.  I had to find the buildings to house the office.  I needed to know where my pool of work staff would be coming from and the industries I would be serving.

Brick and Mortar is essential. Location and traffic (visibility) are key. 

I would never deal with just a virtual agency. PERIOD!

What kind of area are you serving? 

What are the demographics?  Younger buyers and sellers will do more virtual than Baby-boomers. 

You already know how the agents use or do not use the office.  But you do need a place to interview, deal with new clients, etc. 

Have someone on the floor for walk-in clients. 

You should have a receptionist. Calls and walk-ins, scheduling, etc.

How about a conference room?

New agents will need training. How will you provide for that?

How will you mentor new agents?

Many new agents may not have all the tools they need, such as websites, printers, scanners, etc. - How will that be handled?

 

Jul 24, 2022 10:19 AM
Rainmaker
2,849,860
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi John - I think that buying makes sense when you find the right building.  In the meantime virtual will work.  I do much more virtual and now have flexibility.

Jul 24, 2022 06:56 AM