Every week, we ask an Atlanta real estate professional for their thoughts on the top trends in Atlanta real estate.
This week, we talked with Rett Harmon, the CEO and co-founder of Century 21 Novus Realty. Rett started his first business, DJ Retro Mobile DJ Services, when her was 18 years old, and he still operates it today. Amidst numerous other business ventures, he started Duffey Leasing & Management in 2008 to offer an alternative to upside-down homeowners instead of short sale or foreclosure, and he’s now CEO of Century 21 Novus Realty, a full service brokerage that just opened a new office in Carrollton.
Atlanta Agent (AA): What basic things should a real estate office provide its agents?
Rett Harmon (RH): They should provide agents with a sense of welcome, and they also need to be free flowing. Open spaces are much more desirable than closed-in cubicles. They allow you to easily meet with clients and other agents, along with allowing brokers to instruct their agents. Real estate is ever changing, and there are many new ways of doing things; however, getting people together in the same space – even if it’s for something as simple as a webinar – is much more affective.
Such a layout also forces people outside of their comfort zones, a bit, and encourages people to work together and see that their co-workers have things going on in their businesses and lives. A space with separate pocket-offices is so dated, but with an open office, you’re keeping track of who is coming in and who is coming out, and it motivates people to keep up with their peers.
AA: Based on the offices you’ve visited, what do you think is the biggest deficiency in most offices?
RH: In most offices, you walk in and it’s the same thing: there’s a small waiting area; there’s a person sitting behind a small desk who greets you; there are some chairs and magazines displayed; and the whole ambience is that you’re only there to be called back to see somebody else, with no real knowledge of what’s going on behind the curtain. Real estate offices need to be high energy. They need to have things going on. And if somebody does have to wait – that happens in every office – have something that’s a draw, while they wait.
Another big deficiency is how offices are laid out. Most companies try to maximize the number of private offices that you can fit in an area, and that ends up making a bunch of hallways, tunnels and passageways that create a disconnect for the agents and the clients.
AA: Finally, will offices remain prominent in real estate, or will we continue shifting towards a “virtual” office?
RH: The office will always have a place in real estate. There needs to be a “mothership” for the organization. If you’re completely virtual, you end up offering a very cheap, low-value business model. There’s not much there.
For some people, that’s perfectly fine, but for the majority of people who are high-volume producing agents, there needs to be some kind of office structure to provide support staff for all the behind-the-scenes things that take place. There needs to be management helping guide the agent’s productivity, as well as knowing what their needs are and knowing what their inefficiencies are.