by w. keith davis
As Nest Realty gets closer to being able to disclose our new Nest in Charlottesville, we have spent many hours focusing on what real estate offices are all about. We have walked through our new space and stared at some features and wondered how it will work, and how are clients are likely to respond. We keep coming back to part of our core philosophy: Forget the Past.
In the good old days of real estate, clients would be led into private offices with big mahogany (veneer) desks and credenzas. Clients would sit opposite the agent and have contracts read to them, all in an attempt to display some sense of professionalism. But there are a couple problems here.
First off, this is absurdly expensive. Providing an office that is 10′ x 15′ will cost a firm roughly $5,000 a year per agent. That’s a lot of money when most agents spend most of their time outside of the office anyway. In addition to the cost, there is the problem that this appearance of Executive Level is just not that accommodating or comforting. We as agents are professional because of our knowledge, because of our service, because of our experience; not because of our desk.
Banks are the ultimate in the mahogany desk treatment. And you go to a bank hopeful that if you act and say the right things, that you will be deemed worthy, and you can get a loan. But that is not the future of real estate. We are partners in your home search or listing. We work together. Why would we sit in the big chair behind an even bigger desk.
But in today’s world, most real estate companies… well, they caught on to the expense of the mahogany desk, and have opted for the most ubiquitous of all office creations, the Cube Farm. This haven of mind-numbing, cultural wasteland has but one goal, cost effective allocation of real estate. Or in other words, cram as many bodies into a space as humanly possible, and pray someone makes a sale.
Again, this doesn’t really provide a great environment. Fine, it might make for better square foot per agent allocation, but what does it do for business? You certainly can’t take your client to your “office”. You can’t hear your clients on the phone. You can’t create a space that is uniquely yours.
So, where does that leave Nest? Well, like I said in the opening paragraph. Forget the Past. Who are We? What is it that Nest really does? Simple: We are a Marketing and Service Organization. And while marketing and service are certainly intertwined, they are two distinct functions with separate needs.
Service in real estate has historically been managed in the field; inside the homes. Certainly , the product that we sell — the home — is in the field, and not in our office. But that is changing to a certain degree. The amount of focus, time, energy, and money that we at Nest have put into a web site is remarkable. And we have done that to improve the amount of information available to our buyers. We provide this information so that our clients can take control of their own buying process, not so that we can tell them how to manage the process. Consumers have more information than ever, and the office should be one in which we can explore that information and discuss what it means to them.
Our office needs to be a place where we can meet comfortably on a sofa, and watch videos of properties on the market. Somewhere that we can sit and talk about the history that our clients and friends hope to write with their family in a new home. Yes, we will always show properties, but so much of what we do is discussion and discovery, and that is happening in coffee shops today, and in The Nest in just a few weeks.
As for marketing: real estate is about marketing the properties we list. It is about reaching the appropriate buyer in the best manner, and in a way that attracts that buyer to the property. This is about creativity and collaboration. It is about an open space where our team can bash ideas off one another. The design of an office has to further the business objectives and philosophy.
In just about three weeks, our space will be complete. We will be publishing photos of the space as the next few weeks goes on, and things begin coming together. When you walk into The Nest, we expect that you will know instantly what we are about. Our design hopes to prove that out. We spend so much of our day working, we should love that space. It should inspire. It’s about time to love where we work.
And it’s time to Live Where You Love.
Written by W. Keith Davis, Partner, Nest Realty Group
You can follow Keith on his personal blog : Dirt Around Grounds