Intero’s Real Estate Center at Santana RowIn the early months of 2007, we embarked on an ambitious plan to create a new kind of real estate office that better suited the working habits of today’s mobile, high tech REALTOR®. What we came up with is a radically new idea for what a real estate office can and should be: The Intero Real Estate Center.
We chose for our location a popular, high-end retail/residential development in Silicon Valley called Santana Row and created a hybrid space that is part real estate office part retail showroom and part café/meeting place.
We’ve integrated the coolest technology we could find—tablet PCs, flat screen plasma TVs, a high speed Wi–Fi network, and web–based transaction management software that empowers our agents to work completely paperless. And, we designed the interior in a minimalist, modern style, getting rid of the cubicles and replacing them with leather sofas and chairs, café tables and a large central bar where agents can work or meet with clients.
The floors are polished concrete, and the main conference room and two smaller meeting rooms are separated by glass walls that reach from the floor to vaulted ceilings. The design is more akin to an upscale gallery than real estate office (complete with a full espresso bar and wine or beer) and that gives our clients a better experience when they come in.
The concept for the Intero Real Estate Center came about when we realized that REALTORS® today are working very differently than they did 10 (even 5) years ago. Laptops, mobile phones and wireless modems are commonplace, and this is changing the real estate business right before our eyes.
Many agents now maintain home offices and use the branch as simply a professional base where they can meet with clients and finalize deals. We started thinking, if technology has evolved so that agents don’t have to be in the office 100 percent of the time, why have cubicles? Let’s just give them an inspiring, open space to work in with a few secluded areas and all the necessary technology they need, and let them use it as they see fit.
The Real Estate Center has become our greenest location. We’re very proud of this, as we encourage all of our agents to become EcoBrokers. The space itself has one of the smallest footprints of all our locations, taking up a mere 2,100 square feet. Less space meant fewer materials and construction waste and less impact on the surrounding environment. It also means less energy consumed in maintaining the office as we move forward.
We’re empowering all of our agents in the Center to go paperless. We’ve integrated Relay™ into our workflow. It’s a web–based transaction management software for managing transactions and collaborating with clients and affiliates online through a centralized web site. Admittedly, this is a process because being completely paperless depends as much on the agents we’re working with on the other end as it does us. If they’re lacking the technology to receive paperless documents, we still have to print and deliver the old fashion way.
From our perspective though, we can manage entire client files online, and at the end of the transaction, we either burn them a CD or print out the final paperwork for their files. Clients are able to sign directly to a PDF using our tablet PCs and the signatures are as secure and official as a contract someone hands you on paper. We’re then able to store and access those files easily down the road, if necessary. Not having to store boxes and boxes of files means less space and energy consumed all around. It’s definitely a greener way of doing business.
Our locations is in one of the hottest retail developments in the Bay Area, which means the Intero Real Estate Center is also a great showcase for the properties we represent and gives us an excellent way to promote our partners and their projects.
We’ll talk more about that in next week’s posting.
If you’d like to stop by, we welcome visitors. We’re on Olin Avenue (across the street from the movie theatre). If you’d like to know more about joining this Intero office, please email Brian Crane at email@example.com.