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Virtual Offices

A Real Estate Franchise’s Spin on Virtual Offices

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It seems like anybody and everybody is getting into the virtual office industry these days. This time, it’s a real estate franchisor coming at it sideways.

Looking for a Virtual Office?

As Area Pro Realty sees it, there’s a clear market of independent real estate brokers nationwide that are looking at franchising for technology, support and growth opportunities.

The answer, as Area Pro Realty sees it, is an interesting spin on virtual office technology. It’s worth noting because of its target audience of struggling real estate agents and the franchising angle. It’s a trio of factors I don’t usually see working together.

Area Pro’s Proposition
Area Pro Realty is making its move into the virtual office industry in a sort of sideways manner with a mission to change the residential real estate franchise industry. The company plans to do that by giving franchisees tools that help brokers survive and thrive in an economic downturn.

The Concord, California-based actually launched the concept in November, but it’s starting to get attention now that the virtual office hype is in full swing.

Here’s the spin: While many real estate agencies are struggling through the busted real estate bubble – there are fewer agents per office, fewer closed transactions and inconsistent income – savvy realtors are finding ways to adjust to the current market conditions.

For many, that means reducing overhead, consolidating staff and offices and reducing agent support and benefits. Those three tactics work well with virtual office technologies.

Virtual Webmaster
The foundation of the franchise is lead generating Web sites. Area Pro Realty says it uses the latest software language to develop sites that are interactive and search engine friendly.

“Most brokers just don’t have time to keep up with the technological demands of the real estate industry anymore. It’s difficult and time consuming to maintain a lead generating Web site, create marketing material and learn how to blog, podcast and create effective online marketing campaigns,” says real estate technology expert Gene Ward. “Area Pro Realty professionally manages the technology for the franchisee, freeing up countless hours of time and money for the broker to pursue growth options rather than consolidation options.”

Making the Virtual Connection
Can you see the connection? Area Pro Realty franchisees can provide virtual service and a virtual presence for realtors who know little about Web sites and don’t have money to waste trying.

The blogging, podcasting, and online marketing campaigns are virtual services that many businesses need, but they are part and parcel with generating leads in real estate.

“I see brokers being forced to stretch every dollar. It shouldn’t be that way. That is why Area Pro Realty is so appealing to me,” says Marston Myers, broker owner of Area Pro Realty Peoples Choice. “Regardless of market conditions I can focus on business growth every day and not consolidation or cost cutting.”

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About the Author

Jennifer LeClaire

Jennifer LeClaire is a veteran business journalist, editor and new media entrepreneur with a strong niche in real estate and technology. She works from a home office on the beach in South Florida. You can reach her through LinkedIn.

2 Responses

Marcus Hester January 21st, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Hmm. I see the angle. This is like virtual office in the world of the web, and virtual marketing services.

I am not quite sure I get the franchising angle on this one. It looks like Meyers is an agent who brought the technology for his own use.

In any case, this is a category of virtual office technologies that we may see more of. The web is incorporated more and more into every aspect of business.

Elizabeth Sanchez January 21st, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Area Pro Realty has certainly hit a vein with struggling realtors. Like anything else, you have to understand what the costs are. That’s not clear.

What is clear is that most realtors aren’t super tech savvy and that Internet lead generation is huge. Did you read Gary Keller’s book SHIFT? It’s one of the key strategies he outlined.

I can see the connection. Area Pro Realty is tapping into the demand for virtual office services and franchising the idea.

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