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Got Tribe? Virtual vs. Brick & Mortar

Real Estate Agent with Fathom Realty West Sound WA State 52404
Today, at Inman Connect in NYC, Compass CEO Robert Reffkin told attendees that agents 'must' come back to the office if they want to thrive in a rough-and-tumble market. After two years of being mandated to work out of their homes or other virtual locations, now suddenly, because the market has shifted, agents & brokers are being alerted that they need to return to the office. “I see the home office as the killer of culture and the reduction of potential and opportunity," Reffkin warned.
Let me begin by saying 'One-Size-doesn't-Fit-All.' Some people need an office, for whatever reason. Some don't. I know just as many high-producing brokers who are crushing it and never darken the confines of an office, as I do those who perform equally well and work out of a company location.
For the past 6 years, I have been affiliated with a virtual brokerage, Fathom Realty. It's been a really good fit for me. We're up to over 30 brokers here in the West Sound. While we don't have a brick & mortar location, we do meet intentionally, once a month, for a breakfast get-together. It's a great time of fun, laughter, encouragement, and learning.
As humans, we need meaningful connection and interaction. We were not designed to be islands unto ourselves. We were made to be in community.
The people in our business who I find to be the most productive, reaching their fullest potential, and finding the greatest fulfillment in their real estate careers, are those who have surrounded themselves with a tribe or community of encouraging & generous supporters/cheerleaders.
Do you have a tribe or community for your business?
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Rich Jacobson is a REALTOR® and licensed Broker with Fathom Realty. He's a Crab Hunter, Clam Digger, and Oyster Shucker, skilffuly vanquishing anything in a shell! He is the Social Media Evangelist for Life on the Kitsap Peninsula & The Western Puget Sound in scenic WA State.

Comments (13)

Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hello Rich - I agree "one size does not fit all" especially in something as personal as finding the business model that works for you.  How were Mr. Refkin's remarks received?  

Jan 24, 2023 06:53 PM
Rich Jacobson

He had a mixed reception, as one would expect. It's a challenge to pay for all those premier location offices if no one is using them!

Jan 27, 2023 06:02 PM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Prop. Mgr, Wenatchee, WA

Hi Rich,
We definitely need "connections" to thrive or even survive. I didn't find the office atmosphere to be that. I preferred to get out with my tribe of like-minded people, who often turned into clients.

Jan 25, 2023 09:53 AM
Rich Jacobson

Hiya Carol! Some office environments don't offer healthy, meaningful connections. Some are incredibly valuable. But I agree, we need to be out and about, connecting with our sphere and potential clients, not hiding in an office....

Jan 27, 2023 06:04 PM
Margaret Goss
@Properties - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

Way back when I first started in the biz, I loved the office culture. I went in almost every day and we all gleaned so much information from one another. I work beautifully in my home office, but I am now dedicated to going in a minimum of once a week to see what's happening. 

All agents are a tribe together - some just share more than others.

Jan 25, 2023 01:12 PM
Rich Jacobson

My experience was the same. My first office here in WA State was incredible! Lots a really experienced agents willingly sharing their advice and tips. Now I'm with a virtual brokerage, and that suits me just fine!

Jan 27, 2023 06:06 PM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Hi Rich I think we all need connections outside of our sphere for many reasons! I used to have an office but that ended years ago now.  How times flies.  Many of us have operated our business from a home office but that doesn't mean we stay isolated.  Quite the contrary!  There are lots of ways to connect with new and already known folks for inspiration and good ole fashioned fun!

Jan 26, 2023 12:37 PM
Rich Jacobson

I agree! We humans were designed for community! We need personal connection and interaction!

Jan 27, 2023 06:07 PM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Rich. What works for one is a horror story for another. Find your niche and fill it well. Enjoy your day.

Jan 28, 2023 04:43 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Rich,

Working from an office isn't for everyone but because of the last 2 years I think  it might be important to return to feel the synergy of your office (if you have it). For some I see who continue to work at home they are not thriving and literally dying on the vine. For others its works. Our office culture is one I would not want to miss and I thrive.  I see first hand the home office as the killer of culture and the reduction of potential and opportunity for many who are just not motivated!

Jan 28, 2023 05:15 AM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
The Grit and Gratitude Agent

My sense is this one word "culture" may be the reason some agents don't want to return to the "brick and mortar" office. From my observation a "collaborate, interactive, positive emotionally charged culture" is lacking in many brokerages. This may be due to the rise of teams at the expense of non-team members.

Here in NW AZ, our brokerage firm works remotely because of the size of Mohave County. The county is nearly 100 miles wide and nearly 140 miles in length excluding the area call the AZ Strip which is on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. However we do have Zoom calls twice each month and every six months have a face to face meeting.

Jan 28, 2023 05:36 AM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Absolutely correct - There is no one size fits all. I am also at a virtually based company (exp) and we also get together with local agents in person and there are in-person events with larger segments of the company as well. I feel much more connected now to my real estate team than I did when I worked at a physical company

Jan 28, 2023 05:46 AM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®
Carmel by the Sea, CA
Rothwell Realty Inc. CA#01968433 Carmel-by-the-Sea

I just love the small office I have in downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea. Fabulous location and the cornerstone of Rothwell Realty Inc. for the past 10 years. That doesn't mean I spend a lot of time there, but it's where I keep my company books etc. all in one place. Plus it's my statement that I'm part of the one-mile-by-one-mile community of businesses.  Next door in location is high end Pebble Beach where most of my business has been.  It is rare that I actually have clients come to my office, but my competition has pretty substantial brick and mortar offices here and I don't see me competing with them without my brick and mortar office. 

Jan 28, 2023 11:06 AM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

I'm a must work in the office kind of gal.  I never paid a bit of attention to mandates to stay home. I stayed home for three weeks (when I had covid) because I didn't want to share it.  However, the rest of time I practiced a little social distancing, had clients follow me instead of getting in my car... generally talking on the phone between homes to "hear" their thoughts on the house we were leaving.

I'm a very "peopleie" kind of person.

Jan 28, 2023 01:33 PM
Hannah Williams
HomeStarr Realty - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-820-3376

Hello Rich Jacobson Home office for me also! If you have self-discipline and can work from home this size works well but not all agents can fit into this mold. Some agents need to have the feel of a brick-and-mortar office. Let's face it the big companies want us in their offices. So glad Carol Williams featured your post as I missed it  

Jan 28, 2023 01:35 PM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

As an agent, I appreciate the flexibility to work from the office nearby or my home.  I do think the conversations, comraderie and physical act of going into the office on  a regular basis has a lot of perks.

Jan 31, 2023 12:19 PM
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

I am not a "loner" and have always loved being with like-minded people ... whether in the office, or wherever I find myself in life.  I make it a point to go to extra-curricular activities and/or make one-on-one appointments (or coffee meet-ups) with old friends, family, clients and past clients and prospective clients, and fellow Realtors ... these opportunities to share great conversation and exchange information, ideas and knowledge?  So Worthwhile!

Feb 04, 2023 09:42 AM