“We’re working to become the neighbourhood real estate office, and [have potential clients] look at us as the local Realtor, the broker of choice,” John King, a broker in Ottawa, tells REP. “Brick and mortar can be in different capacities… We can promote our listings in our windows. We capture some walk-by interest, and that’s going back to small town real estate.”
Indeed, as the World Wide Web plays an increasingly important role in the industry, agents often neglect the bricks-and-mortar offices that are crucial to a successful business. Clients, and especially potential clients, appreciate the professional image that comes with four walls and a desk. However, King says typical real estate offices also need an update.
“Some of the traditional real estate offices, I don’t think they’re as needed as they were before, that’s why we’re switching style,” he says. “That approach is old school. More people are working from home, the traditional cubicle and closed offices are a thing of the past.”
As agents increasingly take advantage of the independence of the profession, physical brokerages – and the high desk fees that come with them – are quickly becoming a thing of the past. For his part, King says his new brick-and-mortar office in Ottawa is a way of revamping that old perception of the real estate office.
“My business is augmented because of [the walk-in traffic] and I think it is because we have a local geographic presence in the neighbourhood,” he says. “We’re a professional business and we want to look like professionals. We spent a lot of money to have a good physical presence. When our clients come in or people come in off the street, it sets the bar for who we are.”
As some agents push to make their businesses almost entirely virtual, one broker is taking a different approach, urging his peers to heed the benefits of a physical office.