Between home inspections, open-houses, and client meetings, real estate agents are perpetually on the move.
Add to this the fact that there’s very little a computer can do that a mobile phone can’t, and we may begin to question why a real estate agent would even bother with an office.
The idea of totally nomadic working conditions is pretty foreign even to young professionals, but it’s rapidly becoming reality in many industries, including real estate.
Tracy Bold, Principal at BeBold Properties, already operates entirely without an office, opting instead to work from phone and laptop.
“I have a virtual office front – an office phone answered by a switchboard,” she says.
“And I meet clients at the properties, or anywhere comfortable.”
Bold says offices simply aren’t used anymore, so it made sense to lose the lease and ‘go mobile’.
“I closed the office because no one uses shop fronts now to look for properties, and no one comes to pay rent in the office anymore.”
She also uses cloud-based software so she and her staff can log in from any device to work.
On the move
The sharp rise in proptech is making the transition out of the office easier than it’s ever been before, so here are some tips to help get you started.
It should go without saying that you’ll need a smartphone. A tablet and/or laptop is a bonus.
There are a lot of fantastic mobile CRMs that allow agents to access all of their important data and documentation while out of office – so this is a must for the mobile agent.
If you need to have a meeting with clients, there are plenty of options available to you. As Bold says, you can simply meet them at their homes, or somewhere comfortable – usually a nearby café or other social area.
For meetings involving more people, there are a host of options available for online conferencing, including Google Hangouts, Zoom, GoToMeeting, and a lot more. If face-to-face is more your style, meeting rooms can also be hired from companies with excess office space. The REIQ offers such a service at its Brisbane office.
While there’s no problem with working from a mobile phone number, it may seem more professional or ‘proper’ to have a dedicated landline.
Of course you could simply use your home phone and have it redirect to your mobile, but this may create confusion when taking calls, as it would be difficult to differentiate professional and personal calls.
The other option, while not free, is to have a virtual office front using a switchboard – much like Tracy Bold has. This way you can have a voicemail message tailored for your business, and you’ll know whether an incoming call is from your ‘office’ or not, to always know if a call is business-related.
Finally, if you really do need a desk, simply do what thousands of other professionals are doing in the 21st century, and set up a workspace at home so you can work from there when necessary.
Real estate’s mobile future
There’s no single step from analogue to digital in any profession – it’s a constant evolution as new technologies are created and improved upon.
At the moment, it’s difficult to say what real estate will look like when this evolution comes to an end – if indeed it ever does – but it is beginning to look as though all real estate offices and agents will exist and operate within the incorporeal world of the internet.
We often hear talk of being ‘left behind’ by technology, and while the reality is rarely as ominous as it sounds, it is important to be aware of where the profession is headed.
Switchboard virtual offices, virtual meetings over the internet, app-based CRMs, internet listings, etc., are all evidence of the inexorable shift away from office spaces, and if you haven’t thought about making your workplace more mobile, it might be time to get started.