A Discussion on Virtual Brokerage

by Mike Audet on February 23, 2012

We have the opportunity to work with many different software companies providing great products to the real estate industry.  Some of these companies are geared to serve both the traditional real estate model as well as a virtual brokerage.  It is clear to us, as well as these software providers, that the future of real estate companies will be different.  It will be leaner, lighter and in many cased “virtual” with a heavy emphasis on the broker providing great, integrated software products to agents that often work remotely.   I wrote at length about this shift in the white paper, “The Shift in Real Estate Technology”.  What will virtual companies look like and how would someone go about setting up this type of company?

To explore this whole concept in more detail I interviewed Christian Broadwell, a broker himself in Phoenix, AZ who is also the CEO of a software company called Realty Pilot that provides a number of products to real estate companies from their free offer product, called “Offer Runway” to their enterprise system called “Concourse 360”.

Christian and I were talking about the shift, the fact that many companies will become more and more “virtual” and I asked him to explain what the process would look like in creating a virtual brokerage from scratch. Here is Christian’s response.

Christian Broadwell – CEO Realty Pilot

Your first step in setting up a virtual brokerage would be to understand your working model of a brokerage. Like putting together a model plane there are certain steps that must be done first prior to moving forward. If some of these steps are not completed in order then the result could mean doubling your workload. I am going to assume everyone has a company name and is licensed with the state.

To begin, you need to establish a business model and create a work-flow chart. This workflow chart will give you a road map of all your steps and once you have this model test it out. There are normally three starting points:

  1. Client introductions
  2. Receiving a property as an asset.
  3. Marketing to potential clients. From these three points there are some slight differences in progression. Here are the basics to the work-flow:
    1. Marketing
    2. Lead Management
    3. Listing/Purchase Management
    4. CMA or BPO Valuation
    5. Document Management
    6. Tasking (signage, preservation, client follow-ups)
    7. Photo Management with Mobile Interface
    8. Inspections
    9. Expense Management (bid/work order to invoice)
    10. Offer Management
    11. Transaction Management
    12. Messaging and Notation
    13. Broker Required Signatures
    14. Reporting and lastly Commissions or Accounting.

Research

Once you have all of your information in front of you there are still many other things to consider. How large do you want your brokerage to grow? How do you stay compliant with the state regulations and finally how do you recruit agents? Can all this be built into and track via software? Yes, it is with a few exceptions. Those exceptions are being tested as we speak such as digital signatures built into the software, drip email marketing and agent recruiting.

Converting to a Digital Business

Converting to a digital system is a tough process but it can be much smoother with the right software. Bulk upload is an important part of this process because you want to have access to all information when ever and where ever you are. The bulk uploads would include importing all listings or a CSV (comma separated value) file of all properties, all documents, notes, photos and client information.

Training/Support

Training and support is critical to building and maintaining knowledge of how to use the software to your benefit. The software must have rules built-in so auto reminders can be setup and made to adhere to the state regulations or act to replicate their guidelines. Let’s face it we do more today than we would have ever imagined and most of it is busy work. Work that does not make us money.  The more these operations can be handled by our technology, the better.

This is a simple overview of what a virtual brokerage must look like but obviously there is much more than just these few steps. If anyone would like to know more about the process or test drive the Realty Pilot software more information is available at  Realty Pilot’s website. 

 

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