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At Home or At the Office?

A New Broker

A few months back, I started a search for a new broker. Now, it is close to the end of the year and I have decided to stay with my current broker. I figure the option is always open to search for greener grass, just probably not in the winter, especially in Indiana. Our grass is usually buried in snow or turns a really strange straw like color. I’m thinking just before Spring would be good. I’m still not convinced there is greener grass; just a different shade of green.
In the process of searching for a new broker, I found many brokers believe the agent who shows up at the office everyday is the most likely to succeed. One broker even told me he believes the agent whose office is close to home outperforms his peers. Now, I am still working through all this knowledge and am not sure if the belief is based on accurate data or a broker’s hope the information will provide them much needed dollars for their office space.

The New Way

Times have changed; most of our clients don’t even know where our office is located, nor do they care. We can meet them at the local coffee shop, their home, their office, a Title company, the lender’s office………just about anywhere. So, how important is a physical office, in a building, with your broker’s name on it?
In my previous brokerage, which is now one of the largest in the Southwest, most agents worked from home. We faxed or emailed all of our contracts, addendums and supporting documents to the office. They were uploaded to our online file and checked off by the broker. We knew before we went to closing if the office had a complete file. I never went to the office except to pick up a check; even that could have been mailed to me. I was happy with the system.


A Loner

I am a bit of a loner, some say an introvert, as it pertains to socializing. I don’t need to know all the office politics, or the latest gossip. I don’t like the busyness of the hallways or waiting in line for a computer, fax, or printer. I find floor duty an absolute bore and a huge waste of time. I don’t need an office to make me feel important. I prefer my own company and the company of a few close friends. If I ever need to know what’s new in real estate, I have my friends at AG.


The Perfect Office

With the perfect office at home, why would I travel or pay for an office? I have everything I need; printers, scanners, three computers; I fax by email and have a back-up fax, just in case. Our new home has a built in office, with more filing cabinets and storage space than I know what to do with as well as work space for three computers. It seems I would be working double to have two offices.
I also have a team. Should a team leader have an office in a building where all the team files are in one place? Do I owe it to my team to be “in the office”? Could my home office serve the purpose just as efficiently? I really feel like there is more wasted time in the office than anywhere else in this business. I would love to know your thoughts. Do you feel you are more efficient in the office or at home?
I wonder, could I show up at the office in jeans and dance on my desk? I can at home 🙂

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Written By

Paula is team leader for The "Home to Indy" Team in Indianapolis . She is passionate about education and client care and believes an empowered client is better prepared to make good decisions for themselves. You'll find her online at Agent Genius,Twitter and sharing her insights about her local real estate market at Home To Indy.



  1. Heather Elias

    October 23, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    I love it! I agree with you completely…I *love* working out of my office at home. Haven’t danced on the desk in jeans yet, but that sounds like a really good idea…maybe we could designate Fridays as dance on your desk day? (grin)

    You took the words right out of my mouth: “If I ever need to know what’s new in real estate, I have my friends at AG.” Indeed.


  2. Matt Richling

    October 23, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    Paula, I am in the middle of this exact same thing! Should i work from home, should I even have an office? My home is too far from any sort working location. my office – no productivity (too many people/distractions), my home – too far, not perfect productivity…. hmmmmm But yes my broker thinks I’m crazy for not being at the office and he thinks that I will suddenly be some super agent if I was there 24/7. I definitely laughed at the picture, and I’m very jealous of the chair!

  3. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    October 23, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    I prefer any situation that lends to my drinking coffee and/or wearing flip flops, preferably simultaneously. I’m not a Realtor so being mobile is a luxury I can readily enjoy easier than most people, but I have an amazing boss who has led a mobile brokerage for many years and advocated the practice for others so I imagine it would be a luxury I would enjoy regardless!

  4. Matt Wilkins

    October 23, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    I have worked from a home office for 4 yrs and now run my own firm from my home (yes they do allow that in my locality). I ifnd that I am MUCH more productive/efficient with my time. The largest gripe I had with the office I did work in was the lacking of working equipment. The copier, printers, and computers worked intermitently and there was no urgency to fix them.

    Besides, a home office offers (or can offer) SO many on-site perks that traditional offices just can’t: private restrooms, laundry facilities, full kitchen facilities, and (my favorite) garage parking :D.

  5. Jim Duncan

    October 23, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    I like working from home, but the part I miss is the camaraderie that the office offers and the sharing of inventory/contract issues, development stuff … I can get the socializing done online, but the local stuff still requires an office.

  6. Steve Simon

    October 24, 2008 at 4:55 am

    A vote for home office:
    no travel time, or gas or parking issues, no restaurant food, your own bathroom, no clothing issues, no jackass you have to have in a nearby room (well maybe), private use of all equipment (no waiting, all settings your way), no security issues (believe it or not, more than a few students over the years have had them in large offices).
    What you give up:
    a potential for social interaction with your office peers.
    However you must have a self-starter mind set and some discipline…
    Just my thoughts:)

  7. Paula Henry

    October 24, 2008 at 4:58 am

    Heather – Friday’s it is! AG keeps me on top of what is happening.

    Matt R – I have a perfect home location and my office is further from where I do most of my business ( a merge last year). I also find more distractions at the office. I find it a unique mindset which thinks someone will be a superstar by sinply showing up at the office. Don’t be jealous – it’s not my chair 🙂

    Lani- The joys of working in the South/Southwest – wearing flipflops all day everyday; I do miss that, It doesn’t work here in the winter 🙂 I love mobile brokerage; maybe I’ll trade it all in for my own. Now there’s some green grass 🙂

    Matt W – Private parking is definately a bonus, as well as all the other perks. Another one; I can make my own lunch and still work. There’s also the time and gas savings of not going into an office.

    Jim – The comraderie is definately missing at home, but I like my own company, I agree wth myself, and am easy to get along with 🙂 Seriously, though, I don’t find the same comraderie as I did just five years ago. I have a few great mentors who I get together with, which works for me. Occasionally, I’ll go to Board functions and brokers open house to talk shop.

  8. Paula Henry

    October 24, 2008 at 5:06 am

    Steve – I have all the same thoughts about working at home and security issues are definately one of them. I don’t really miss the social interaction. It almost always turns into a whining session about how bad business is or a gossip session. Discipline is definately required.

  9. Chuck G

    October 24, 2008 at 5:23 am

    Tough call on this one. Since we’re doubled up in our offices, it tends to get noisy and productivity drops when other agents (and title reps) are coming and going constantly. If I have tasks that require stretches of absolute focus and concentration (like creating a podcast, or writing this email) I do it from my home office.

    But there are benefits to the work environment that I’d sorely miss if I were 100% home based. Our office has been #1 in the local area for many years, and there’s stuff you “absorb” in that office that you’d never get at any other brokerage, and definitely NOT at home. But luckily, the office is a whopping 1.2 mile drive from my home office. And our broker is very flexible– if we’re doing the shorts and flip-flops thingy at home, it works at the office too. After all, we work for ourselves, don’t we???

    So my vote is split — there are benefits to both, and I use whichever option suits my needs at that moment.


  10. Steve Simon

    October 24, 2008 at 5:53 am

    Chuck G, “Both is good”…

  11. Elaine Reese

    October 24, 2008 at 6:14 am

    I switched in Feb 07 to become a mobile agent and I love it. My home is closer to the area I actually work, so I drove 3000 miles fewer last year. I still may go into the office 2-3 times a week for a meeting or major copying/faxing, but that’s all. The office is usually nearly empty when I’m there because many other agents have become mobile.

    I disagree that one should sit behind a desk at the office to be productive. You can’t be with the people (clients/prospects) when you’re sitting at the office desk. Plus, as someone noted, being in the office can easily turn into a depressing conversation and a horrible waste of time. I can be a lot more productive on my own, but it does require a self-starter mentality which may not be for everyone.

    My day starts at 7:30am when I turn on the laptop and ends around 11:30pm when I turn it off. I don’t stand on my desk in flipflops, but I DO love working in jammies!

  12. Mack

    October 24, 2008 at 6:28 am

    I am a huge advocate for the home office, after all if you need to meet a prospective client for an introductory meeting you can always use a conference room at the brokers location. Several years ago my broker’s office manager asked why I didn’t spend more time around the office. I told her that there was no one in that office that was going to list their home with me and no one that was going to use me as a buyers agent so other than turning in closing documents or picking up a check, there is really no reason for me to be there.

  13. Holly White

    October 24, 2008 at 6:44 am

    Working from home is the deal. My team and I joke all the time about where else you would be able to work from 6:00 – 10:00 am (or whenever) in your pj’s and get rewarded the way we do. And I agree with Steve, having your own bathroom is a total bonus.

    Besides, if I needed to use a fancy schmancy color printer or high tech presentation room I can always just pop over to my brokers office that’s only 25 miles away… Good grief I must love my broker!

  14. Larry Brewer

    October 24, 2008 at 6:54 am

    I have done both, and would say that most people are more productive in an office environment. But it’s mostly in your head. To most people, associating work with home is a bad thing, they come home to relax not work. If you get in the real work mode from hoem, when do you stop working. For me, I found out that you never stop. So after working from home for 2 years, i’m going back to working in an office.When I come home, work initiated by mw will stop. I’ll still answer the phone and help people when they ask, but my lead generation will stop when i walk throug the door on my house.
    Just my 2 cents
    I work in a very successful Keller Williams office, and the most productive people seem to work from the office. They do have an office at home, but they spend time in the office every day.

  15. Ben Goheen

    October 24, 2008 at 6:58 am

    I’m completely down with the home office. I’m also an appraiser and had a home office 4 years before I became a Realtor so I was already used to it.

    According to Google maps my office is 59 minutes away from my home, but since the purchase of my Bugatti Veyron ( I can make it in 10 minutes. I literally stop by my broker’s office once every 2-3 months, just to get the mail. All the forms can be found online and if I have questions I can call my broker directly to get answers. He picks up his phone 95% of the time or if I get voicemail he typically responds within a few hours.

    I’ve worked for a broker who had an office just 5 minutes from my home. Yes it was easy to run up there quick for some paperwork or to ask a question, but after a few years of getting my feet wet I didn’t need that. I absolutely don’t miss the weekly meetings, mainly because the agents with ADD would monopolize the entire hour talking about their transactions.

    I’m comfortable at home in slippers (no flip flops here in Minnesota) but it definitely takes discipline to make it work.

  16. Kevin Sharkey - IBR Broker

    October 24, 2008 at 8:25 am

    Hey Paula,
    Love the photo!
    Here’s the weird part about the home vs office discussion: Other than the thirteen people ahead of me in the comment farm, most agents still prefer the traditional bricks and mortar business model.

    I have brokered a company since 1989 that offers a blend of virtual and traditional models. Agents work primarily from home but can use our multiple, boutique offices any time they would like. We offer great splits and maintain a robust culture. On paper, it sounds like a no brainer. But it is still an uphill battle to bring agents over from the traditional shops.

    It seems that many agents, even in today’s mobile environment, prefer the safety net of hanging around the water cooler and complaining about the market. Old habits are slow to change.

  17. Lisa Sanderson

    October 24, 2008 at 9:43 am

    I have always preferred going to the office and have noticed that the agents who ‘work from home’ do not have the discipline it takes to make that work. I am sure that those who commented here are the exception, but I’ve seen what I’ve seen here in my area. New agents, especially, need to immerse themselves in the business in order to learn it, so I always recommend they keep ‘hours’. Once you are established and know the ropes, I’m sure a home office works fine for some. Me, I don’t have the room at home to dedicate to full time work there, plus there are too many distractions. Of course I inevitably end up doing lots of things when I am at home, writing, interwebbing, etc, but during ‘regular business hours’ I am at the office, dressed and ready to do business!

  18. Matt Thomson

    October 24, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I have both, but only within the past 18 months did I take out space at our office. I thought that I wanted to be more comfortable, have less distractions, etc., and thought that I could have that at home. In many ways I do.
    BUT…there is no substitute–for me–for the synergy created by a positive office environment. I have gathered some great info here on AG, but the information I’ve gathered just by being part of conversations around our office have been invaluable.
    There’s also something about the professional feeling of dressing up and going to the office. For me, it helps. I think that your office needs to be a positive place, however. I walk into some offices here in town and feel like it’s a library or a morgue or a junior high gossip hall. I couldn’t work in those environments.
    For me, I need the energy of my office…of course I’m writing this in sweat pants, a stained sweatshirt, and my dog by my side in my home office. Nice to have both!

  19. Jim Duncan

    October 24, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Lisa –

    I have to agree with you here, primarily for the newer agents. I learned a ton when I started 7 years ago just by listening to the ambient noise in the office. That’s just not an option when working at home. Perhaps an apprenticeship of 18 months under good brokers’ tutelage and then the agent could work from home …

    And on this –

    I am sure that those who commented here are the exception,

    I would absolutely agree three times over.

  20. Teresa Boardman

    October 24, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    I wrote something very similar here a few months ago. Brokerages don’t have anything to offer agents like me. I have a social life outside of real estate and do not need to belong to an office for social reasons. I have everything I need at home. We don’t really have floor time and things have been changed so that expenses that used to be picked up by the brokerage are now our problem.

  21. Paula Henry

    October 25, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Chuck – In my early years, I was strictly office and being a newbie, really learned a lot from other agents. I don’t see that as much of a benefit in my current office. The benefits of being in the office for me is to meet with my team and having all files in one location when one of us decides to take vacation. Of course, that can be done online, also.

    We recently merged two RE/MAX offices, so the noise level is a bit much. I am talking private office, if I choose to go to the office. There may be room for both in my life.

  22. Paula Henry

    October 25, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Elaine – Your hours sound like mine; of course, I only close the top of my laptop – it really nevers goes off. I do enjoy being home in the mornings, pj’s, coffee, checking email, phone calls, etc. it’s comfortable and a great way to start the work day.

    Mack – Funny – you’re right, no one there is going to be my client. I feel the same way, but my team seems to think we need more “office” time.

    Holly – Exactly how I like my days 🙂 I even use my own color printer while paying $55.00 a month for office supllies. I may have to schedule a printing hour at the office.

    Larry – I hear this often, which is why I ask the question, especially from a team leader position. I do know I never quit working because my office is at home. I do need to learn to shut the door and turn off the phone, so I can enjoy my home.

  23. Paula Henry

    October 25, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Ben – Nice car! That would make going to the office downright fun, especially here in the racing capital of the world. Slap my RE/MAX signs on the side and what buyer wouldn’t want to buy a home with me; for a ride in my car, of course.

    It does take discipline and for me, knowing when to call it a day. I live close enough to work (6 miles) but I really just don’t enjoy it.

  24. Paula Henry

    October 25, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Kevin – Thanks! As an agent who has done both, I prefer the virtual vs. the brick and mortar. At the same time, there exist the mindset that clients care if you have an office. In reality, I have only met three people at my office in the last two years. They were from out of town and we had to meet somewhere. Indiana is a bit behind in the virtual office concept and I have seen many here at AG I would work for in a heartbeat. Maybe I’ll have to pave the way here in Indy.

    Lisa – I hear this and yet I see the same people at the office, all dressed for a day’s work, just sitting in their office; selling nothing. I know it doesn’t apply to all. I feel like I can accomplish that at home. I agree with new agents being in the office; I was when I was new. In today’s virtual environment, though, I wonder, what agents would they learn from? In our office, those who are there, are behind closed doors.

  25. Paula Henry

    October 25, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    Matt – Maybe both is the answer, with limited hours at the office. Our office is neither energetic or a morgue, however, I don’t think it is much different than most offices around town. I am more energized being with or talking to clients discussing their real estate needs or having lunch with good Realtor friends, than dressing up for the office.

    I like my jean days, and I can change quickly if I need to at home.

    Jim – I started about 7 years ago also, and as stated earlier, I wonder who the new agents are learning from today. There are just not that many hanging around the office like there were just 7 years ago.

    Teresa – I remember your post; at the time I was considering a new broker. I am happiest at home also, but regardless of whether or not I choose to have both, I have definitely decided to schedule a printing day. It is one of the things I pay for, which used to be paid for by the brokers. How times change!

    Thanks everyone for your input!

  26. Missy Caulk

    October 26, 2008 at 7:54 am

    I have worked from home for many years and love it. As my team grew I needed a central location to drop off files for the team members.

    I just hired a new assistant and she is handling the contracts to close so she is there.

    My team is spread out all over the county and they all prefer to work from home, but are mostly in the car.

    I had my former broker tell me that agents that come into the office are higher producers. Not so. All of the top producers were working from home in Ann Arbor. Since he lived in a small rural area, it just did not apply. It is all about time management.

    Now not to be sexist in this statement, but I have found most men do like going to the office more and that is who I see there. LOL

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