The realty office: a profit eating beast that must be slain

Paper_office_3 I took this shot the other day through the window of a local real estate office and immediately started calculating the rent. Empty cubicles covered in paper! They made no sense twelve years ago when Brad Inman started talking about paperless real estate and border on insane today.

Why, amid a brutal market, are brokers still paying for desks agents don’t (or shouldn’t) need? Why do they still run on paper, which, like cholesterol, slowly and imperceptibly accretes within the arteries of a brokerage business cutting off the flow of profits? Why, when tools and technologies for working entirely from the field (where both the product and the customer are found) are widely available, do so few avail themselves of them?

I ask these questions rhetorically; I know the whys. I heard them many times over back in the boom days. Agents expect a desk or office. It’s tough to recruit without one. Paper is familiar, even comforting. It justifies administrative support and makes one feel busy.

But that was then. Now, as the fixed costs sunk into traditional offices become major pain points on the P&L, necessity may give birth to some pretty disruptive inventions. I think a new model for the real estate office will emerge soon. One that’s slimmed down and managed as a vital brand touch point with the consumer in mind. And for an increasing number of pros, the office will go away entirely — and won’t be missed.

Through the glass, within the stillness of the empty office, I could almost hear the money burning.

Something’s got to give.

Brian Boero