Going Virtual Permanently: How Agents Can Do It Successfully
Many real estate agents have been working remotely since the pandemic began, trading their morning commutes to the brokerage for coffee and checking emails at the kitchen table.
It was challenging at first, sure, but now, agents are finding themselves enjoying the new arrangement. There’s more flexibility. There’s more time with the kids. And more importantly, there’s more freedom.
Nine months in, and some agents are even considering a move toward remote work permanently.
Thinking about keeping your real estate business virtual, even once the pandemic has passed? If so, these tips can help you do it successfully
1. Have a designated spot to work.
You don’t need a huge home office or dedicated study for your business, but you do need a spot that’s for work and work only. Sitting down at the dining room table may cut it for a few months, but it will soon be overrun with papers, contracts, and marketing collateral, and you’ll find yourself frustrated and in disarray.
Instead, carve out a small space that’s just for work. Get a basic desk from IKEA, and use that extra closet as a mini-office. You can add hanging shelves to increase your storage, and use a curtain to give yourself a little privacy for phone calls and meetings.
2. Get the right tools.
Remote work calls for a whole host of digital tools to keep you organized, secure, and on track.
You’ll need tools for:
- Document storage (Dropbox, Google Drive)
- eSigning (DocuSign, HelloSign)
- Project management (Trello, Asana)
- To-do lists (ToDoist, Evernote)
- Meeting scheduling (Calendly, Doodle)
- Password storage (LastPass, Keeper)
- Virtual floor plans and walkthroughs (Matterport, BoxBrownie)
- Virtual tours and meetings (FaceTime, Skype, Zoo
- Phone meetings (cell phone, Google Voice, Skype)
You should also spend some time getting familiar with each new tool you adopt, so you can use it more efficiently when the need arises.
3. Separate the personal from the professional.
This one’s more about scheduling that anything. If you’re going to be at home, then you need to have clearly delineated “work” times and “personal” times — especially if kids, spouses, or pets are there with you.
Designate a lunch hour and a few breaks here and there (maybe to walk the dog or get some fresh air)? And talk with your family about when you’re available/unavailable during the day. Setting these expectations early can make things easier on everyone.
4. Get a good accountant.
Once you start working from home fully, you’ll have some new tax deductions you can take advantage of — and a good accountant can make sure you do that. They’ll also be able to help you determine what qualifies as a business expense and can help you make accurate estimated tax payments quarterly.
5. Make sure your WiFi connection and cell service are good.
You’re going to be relying on those almost entirely when working remote. If you often have calls drop out or a slow WiFi connection, you’ll want to get these issues addressed ASAP — well before you make the permanent transition to home. (This might be as simple as adding a WiFI extender box somewhere in your house or changing up your data plan).
6. Have a plan for relationship-building.
One of the biggest things you’ll miss out on as a remote agent is the networking. Without attending events, hosting open houses, and participating in other in-person opportunities, it can be hard to get your name out there, let alone cull new buyers and sellers.
For these reasons, it’s important to have a plan for how you’ll replace these traditionally in-person aspects of the job. Virtual happy hours and online conferences can be a good option, or you might look on Eventbrite for virtual networking events in your market. Your local real estate agents’ association may have options as well.
7. Make sure you have the quiet you need.
Unless you have a home office with a door, then you’ll need to come up with some way of canceling out the noise of your house — especially if the family will be home while you work. Noise-canceling headphones can be a good option, as can a white noise machine or loud fan.
Tools like Krisp are key, too. This app mutes background noise when you’re on a phone or video call.
The bottom line
There are a lot of benefits to working remotely as an agent. You can skip the morning commute, start work faster, and see more of your loved ones in the process. But the arrangement does have its challenges.
If you’re planning a move to remote work permanently, make sure you prepare as much as possible. Find tools that can help ease some of the pain points of working from home, and be sure to see clear “do not disturb” times with your family. As long as you have a designated time and place to work, there’s no reason your business can’t thrive — no matter where that desk may be located.