Sydney agency Di Jones Real Estate has opened a virtual office in a regional area after following the trail of business out of the city.
The prominent boutique, which is based in the eastern suburbs, has now employed three mobile agents in the Southern Highlands, which is 110 kilometres south-west of Sydney.
General manager Kylie Walsh said the expansion came about because a substantial number of Di Jones clients have bought weekenders in the Southern Highlands or moved there.
“For a long period of time, the customer base has been asking us whether we would list and sell property out there,” she told REB.
“We’d not wanted to deviate from our core market, but what’s prompted it is that one of our key producers [Kate McCullagh] had a baby last year and relocated home to the Southern Highlands.
“So it became the light bulb moment where we thought, ‘she’s a local, she knows the business, perhaps it’s time to move into the area.’”
Di Jones has also recruited two other agents: Anita Roelevink has come across from another Southern Highlands agency, while Elizabeth Tregear is a non-industry figure who previously worked in the eastern suburbs.
Ms Walsh said Di Jones will still be able to build roots in the community without a shopfront – for example, it is sponsoring the upcoming Southern Highlands Sevens rugby event.
“I think the way consumers search for real estate now and how they select their agent no longer warrants a street front,” she said.
“Community integration is really important, and if we’re spending the equivalent in the local community to what we’d be paying in rent, that’s allowing us to integrate.”
However, Ms Walsh said the long-term plan for the Southern Highlands is to build a rent roll, at which point Di Jones will open a shopfront.
Ms Walsh said one reason the agency is able to manage an office in another market is because of the investment it has made in its digital marketing systems.
“We’ve also done a lot of work on our technology platform, particularly in the last 12 months, which allows us to service a much bigger area from a centralised point,” she added.
Di Jones has 48 staff and plans to open a second Sydney office in January, according to Ms Walsh.