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‘The physical office is now completely redundant in real estate’

04 March 2021 Grace Ormsby
Peter Powell

An experiment that led an agent to open up a bricks-and-mortar office has proven to him that it isn’t the be-all and end-all of running a real estate business.

Trafalgar-based @realty agent Peter Powell recently decided to conduct the “experiment” of sorts, by opening up a physical office – after 10 years spent working predominantly across digital platforms.

His hypothesis? “I thought it may result in more walk-in business that I wouldn’t otherwise pick up online.”


The results weren’t what Mr Powell had expected.

“What I have learned for the experience is that while people may have dropped in to an office for a chat 10 years ago, now clients reach out via phone or email and want you to come to them for the initial meeting and contract signings.”

In addition, he noted purchasers as “more than happy to conduct virtual inspections”.

All in all, Mr Powell’s finding was that the running costs associated with a bricks-and-mortar office “did not result in an uplift in business”.

He has also observed a change in the way people are choosing their agents.

“Ten years ago people would look at listings in a shop window – now they look at your listings online and decide if they like the way you are marketing your properties.”

According to him, it’s created an extremely competitive digital marketplace: “People want to see that you are able to offer a full suite of services, including virtual tours on all your listings, to help capture a broader audience of potential buyers.”

It’s led the agent to the conclusion that “the physical office is now completely redundant”.

“Not only is it costly to upkeep, but it can actually limit productivity by tying you to one location for the majority of the day.”

He said: “Without this limitation, I can spread my work much further afield, taking listings up to 50km away and running a schedule that best suits the client’s needs rather than mine.”

He’s also flagged the benefits of digital-only marketing for his own business; Mr Powell managed to sell a $3.5 million property using just digital services and strategies.

From his perspective, it “shows the level of confidence people have when you combine technology and the right level of service”.

While some of the trend towards such sales strategies may be attributed to COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, Mr Powell does not believe it’s the only driver, concluding that “the preference for and benefits of going digital are here to stay”.

‘The physical office is now completely redundant in real estate’
Peter Powell reb
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