Are Real Estate Offices Converting To Internet Cafes?

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Dynasty

  A few weeks ago at the CAR Expo in Anaheim California, there were mentions of real estate offices in china that have about 300 agents in an office no bigger than 20 x 20 space. It would seem very hard to do if every single agent show up to office at the same time. In reality the agent does not have his/her desk space but would reserve the space for a certain time period, say for an hour to do the work or meet the client to finish signing the paperworks and clear up the desk for the next agent.

Are Real Estate Offices turning into Internet Cafes?

  This concept is highly efficient on not only on overhead cost but have agents constantly being out in the field. This mean no more water cooler conversations. No more agents idlely surfing the net or chatting with friends on the computers. The real estate Internet cafes is becoming more common in the Asian countries because of the way the contract is written and less law suits. Many agents have the capabilities to work outside of the office but interesting to see if this type of setting would work in the US.

Comments (40)

Richard Iarossi
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Crofton, MD
Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate

On a day like today. There are probably less than half a dozen agents in an office with over a hundred desks. Such a waste of space.

Nov 02, 2010 03:01 AM
Ann Cordes
Century 21 Randall Morris and Associates, Waco - Waco, TX
Home Ownership is Not a Distant Dream

I have been discussing this with agents in my office too. Our broker got an offer to sell his building that was too good to pass up, so if the deal goes through, around the first of the year we will be looking for a new office. We are waiting to see what the broker does. I think he will get some kind of brick and morter office, but since very few of the agents go to the office and we don't have office meetings, an office for him, a conference room and space for a couple of decks are probably all we really need.

We will probably buy stackable storage drawers for people to keep stuff in. Then you just take your bin, set up and work. Clear the desk when you leave! 

Nov 02, 2010 04:17 AM
Bryan Robertson
Los Altos, CA

Most good agents are out in the field in this area.  However, we still need an office so we can connect face-to-face with fellow agents.

Nov 02, 2010 04:57 AM
Julia Odom
Select Realty Professionals - Chattanooga, TN
Chattanooga Homes for Sale

In my current brokerage, we have about 6 private offices, several of which are taken by support staff for our REO business. Most of the agents work from home and only come in to use the conference room to meet with clients.

We are planning to open a branch office closer to the market where I primarily work. It will consist of one small office for me as the broker and a conference room. Nothing more. And I don't think any of the private offices will be missed.

Nov 02, 2010 05:01 AM
Scott Petersen
Client First, Realtors - Canton, MI - Canton, MI

Work from home, meet clients at their home or coffee shop, do paperwork at a cubicle in the office... works for me.

Nov 02, 2010 05:02 AM
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!

Very interesting.  There are some experts/consultants who indicate that the average real estate office has too much space for the number of agents.  I'm aware of some brokers in other parts of country moving towards this model, but not quite as aggressively as noted in this post.  Thank you for the information.

Nov 02, 2010 05:10 AM
Eric Kodner
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes - Minnetonka, MN
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island

I have one "brick-and-mortar" office (for my Wisonsin business in a recreational community) and a home office in my primary homes market.  But my true office looks like this:


Nov 02, 2010 05:22 AM
Aaron Seekford
Arlington Realty, Inc. - Arlington, VA
Ranked Top 1% Nationwide 703-836-6116

I like the idea of using space wiser. How much space do you really need if you're working with a computer?

Nov 02, 2010 05:28 AM
Michael Meyer
Better Homes and Gardens- Bighill East - Reynoldsburg, OH

I see the mobility of our agents as a plus for our business. They have started to use our office as an "internet cafe" for some time now and it seems to work. Our full time and especially our part time agents need a place away from the home and all the distractions that can come with it. We also provide an internet cafe for the people we do business with such as mortgage brokers, title companies, accounting services and more. Its becoming a place to meet and do business. We have other small companies pay a small monthly rental fee to use the office for business. If an office is not being used you just set up shop and do your business. So far it seems to be helping with the overhead and creating a kind of social network workplace. Not always perfect but it works for us.


Mike Meyer Obvious Choice Realty

Nov 02, 2010 05:53 AM
Elizabeth Cooper-Golden
Huntsville Alabama Real Estate, (@ Homes Realty Group) - Huntsville, AL
Huntsville AL MLS

I actually have virtual agents working for me.  I opened my firm last year with this in mind. 

How is this actually cutting down on lawsuits though?  I'm not sure I understood that statement.

Nov 02, 2010 06:06 AM
Brent Wells
The LivingWell Team - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Broker serving all of North DFW


Our agents pay to rent dedicated offices or they may use a drop in space as you describe. We never run out of space, but time will tell how effectively this design works in the US market.


Nov 02, 2010 06:57 AM
Song San
Coldwell Banker Dynasty - Rosemead, CA
Broker, MBA

 Farooq:  That would help save cost. Thanks for sharing.

Pamela:  Being out on the field is one of the best proactive way to generate business.

Michelle:  I agree.

Kathy:  My office have a similar setup. Works fine.

David:  The Internet help us move toward changes whether we like it or not. The ones that can cope and take advantage of it will reap the rewards.

Nov 02, 2010 07:09 AM
Real Estate Photography - - San Diego, CA

I can see this type of office arrangement happening more in the future for many different industries.  As we get better at communicating via the net with each other, it will be less important where our office is.

Nov 02, 2010 07:30 AM
Chris Rooker
Kline May Realty - Harrisonburg, VA

Interesting! I guess it would make sense to reserve space for a short period of time in an office to get work done. Many times we meet clients at coffee shops anyway... to catch up and network. Writing contracts, though, should occur in a more private space like an office. With wireless communication the way it is now, I don't see why this wouldn't be able to work, if everyone "in the office" was on board.

Nov 02, 2010 07:44 AM
Jeani Codrey
The Learning Jeani - New Braunfels, TX
If you're not learning, you're not living!
That is the kind of office I run. I selected the model for a reason...agents don't get sales by sitting on fancy furniture eating donuts and gossiping about how bad things are. I like it!
Nov 02, 2010 07:57 AM
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

Broker supervision would be infinitely more difficult, wouldn't it?  How on earth would a broker or office manager be able to satisfy that requirement under the law? 

Nov 02, 2010 08:24 AM
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Song, your thoughts remind me of the 'drop in cubicles' we hear so much of in corporate America where the workers have been so much more mobile nowadays.

Nov 02, 2010 10:17 AM
Eileen Liles
970-216-0530 - Cedaredge, CO
Macht-Liles Real Estate Group - Cedaredge, CO

I worked for a company for 2 years with this business model.  Actually, we were located on the opposite side of the state and I never met my managing broker face-to-face.  We started our own real estate company in March of this year and have a "brick and mortar" again.  In a small town, this seems to work better than the work from home model, but we run a lean machine, too. 

Nov 03, 2010 02:37 PM
Song San
Coldwell Banker Dynasty - Rosemead, CA
Broker, MBA

Cheryl: On a weekly basis I started to see offices around my area reduce the staff or closing the office in favor of the virtual offices.

Ruthmarie: I agree that we need to get lean.

Fernando: This will hit most of us like when the Internet came online in the early 90s to the public and everybody is scrambling to find out what all this Internet is about.

Mike: If most phone company copy the iPhone Face-to-face technology to have video conference, this would be a reality within the next two years.

K.C: The home office is great unfortunately refridgerators, beds, and sofas are districtions.

Nov 03, 2010 07:27 PM
Keith Strawn (Ballenger Realty) - Beaufort, SC
Song, What a fascinating concept. I see no reason why this concept couldn't work in the United States. I think it would have the potential to make the average real estate office much more efficient. Thanks for the great information.
Nov 04, 2010 03:23 AM