A franchise-based real estate agency has boosted its residential and commercial shopfront presence on the back of robust walk-in traffic and strong consumer interest in its touch screen listing displays.
LJ Hooker North Sydney, which celebrated the opening of its new commercial and residential offices in September, has invested heavily in its shopfront presence at two locations.
The commercial real estate arm of LJ Hooker North Sydney has been relocated to a ‘ground floor’ location, while the residential LJ Hooker North Sydney is now located separately in the nearby suburb of Kirribilli.
Garry Burling, principal of LJ Hooker Commercial, said moving the commercial operations from an office to a shopfront is part of his desire to make commercial real estate more accessible to people.
“By returning commercial real estate to a street-front type business we are encouraging people to walk in the door without an appointment and talk to us about their commercial real estate needs or simply the benefits of commercial real estate investment for example,” he said.
LJ Hooker North Sydney chose to locate the residential arm of our business in Kirribilli after the purchase of Deborah Richardson Real Estate.
Mr Burling said there was a growing need for residential street-front agency presence within the Kirribilli and North Sydney area.
“Deborah Richardson Real Estate was predominately a residential property management business,” he said. “We have refurbished and re-staffed to handle all forms of enquiry including sales, leasing and property management.”
Mr Burling told Real Estate Business that shopfronts were a must when a number of factors were present. While some were obvious – such as a prominent main street location – choosing the type of businesses you were located next to was equally important.
In his case, being positioned adjacent to a pharmacy, dentist and travel agent gave him access to a constant flow of people. Nearby restaurants and a train station also helped, particularly after hours when it wasn’t uncommon for diners to puruse the touch screen displays in his office window, he said.
“We have a constant stream of people wandering in,” Mr Burling told Real Estate Business.
“And sometimes it’s two or three people deep on the touch screens. You’d be surprised how many people stop.”
Mr Burling's investment comes not long after the new principal at Richardson & Wrench's office in the inner Sydney suburb of Pyrmont, Nick Countouris, also spent big on his own shopfront.
While some in the industry question whether shopfronts are necessary in an age where most homebuyers use online portals to source properties, Mr Countouris said having a shopfront helped generate interest amongst passers-by.
“I completely agree that shopfronts are becoming less important. But that’s the reason why we wanted to really push this office to another level,” he told Real Estate Business in September.
“We still have properties up in the windows, but that’s not what attracts people anymore. We want to attract the attention of locals by having a presentable and tidy office.
“You really need to make people stop as they’re walking past and say, ‘Wow’ when they see the office, and having a café and a pub close helps, too.”