Agents spend their days helping clients find real estate, but do real estate agents need a physical office? A recent study by Flexjobs found that telecommuting has grown by 115% since 2005, and nearly 4 million Americans work from home at least half of the time. Should the trend be any different for real estate agents? To help you decide if you need a little more real estate for your own home office, follow this guide.
Most agent work happens away from the office
In the last decade, I’ve bought three homes and sold two. In those five real estate transactions, I never once set foot into my agent’s office. In fact, going back to my first home search, I can’t think of a single time I ever steppe foot into an agent’s office outside of a quick stop once in the seller’s agent’s office (I was the buyer) to pick up the keys.
Most of an agent’s work doesn’t happen at the office, it happens at properties. If you are a seller’s agent, your work happens at the seller’s property. If you are a buyer’s agent, the work happens driving around to various properties that are a potential fit. It is more likely a client will see your car than your office, so why waste money on office space?
Agents need to be accessible
One reason agents choose to have a physical office is the tradition of it. Another reason is to work closely with a broker or other agents in a team. But just because something is tradition in the workplace does not mean it has to continue. Just like the 4 million Americans who regularly work remotely, agents may be able to enjoy the luxuries of a home office.
Outside of getting papers signed by a notary, virtually all of an agent’s office work happens on a computer or the phone. The agent who recently helped me purchase my new home in Southern California lives and works about two hours from the home I bought. When he drove up, he came with a cellular data connection for his laptop so he could work just as easily in his car, a coffee shop, or inside of a potential property with the same ease as his office.
As long as clients can reach their agent where it is convenient and when it is convenient, it doesn’t matter if the agent has a physical office in an office building.
Home offices mean less privacy
One downside of a home office is having to share your home office address and location with clients and other agents. Unless you use a PO box to mask your mailing address, your home office address becomes public information when you work from home full-time.
Between a PO box and a cell phone, you can do quite a bit to hide your personal home address even if you work from a home office, but you can’t keep it secret 100% of the time. If you ever need to host a client in your office, that means they are coming to your home. There is no conference room or secretary available. This is the biggest downside of a home office for real estate agents.
A professional appearance is important
Ultimately where you work does not matter. As long as you are accessible and professional, your clients don’t care if your commute is a 20 minute drive or a walk down the hall. I personally prefer my commute, which I can do in my pajamas, to reach my home office. It is much better than my old commutes that took up to an hour depending on traffic.
If you maintain a professional appearance, always respond quickly to client calls and emails, and can stay on top of the many demands of a career as an agent, you can work wherever you want. A career in real estate has many benefits, and work location flexibility is high on the list. Weigh the pros and cons for your specific business and work style, then decide what’s best for you and your business. That may mean a desk in a real estate office, but it may just as easily mean a desk in your home office. The choice is yours.