As more real estate agents rely on technology to work from home offices, brokerages across the Chicago real estate market are adapting. The latest to do so are RE/MAX Vision of Elmwood Park and RE/MAX Vision 212 of Chicago, two offices with common ownership that recently consolidated to a single location.
As a result, 62 agents are now based at the RE/MAX Vision 212 office located at 1500 W. Chicago Ave. inChicago. Most of these agents, however, do much of their work from home offices or cars, relying on smart phones and laptop computers to serve their clients. That trend is the reason Jason Palermo, owner of RE/MAX Vision 212, decided that operating two brick-and-mortar offices was both redundant and an unneeded expense.
“This is just an example of the ways in which the industry has changed,” Palermo said. “There was a time when you did need two offices. That’s not the case today, not with so many agents working from home offices. It no longer made sense to spend money on maintaining two physical offices.”
Palermo already has a plan for the savings he has generated by merging his two offices: RE/MAX Vision 212 has hired a full-time paralegal and attorney. These two staffers will help agents sort out the legal complexities of short sales and foreclosures.
This, too, is an example of a brokerage adapting to changing times. Short sales have become an important part of the housing market. They are also an important part of RE/MAX Vision 212’s business. Palermo notes that short sales currently account for half of all transactions closed by the agents in his office.
“Being able to adjust to the way the market changes is an extremely important part of being successful today,”Palermo said. “I don’t think it matters how long you’ve been in business. If you don’t adjust, you won’t succeed.”
Palermo points to technology as an example. Agents who quickly mastered the art of using e-mail to communicate with clients, customized their personal web sites on illinoisproperty.com and equipped their online home listings with virtual tours succeeded.
Today, agents need to adapt to a market that is becoming crowded with short sale opportunities. “Technology was the first ice age in the business,” Palermo said. “Now it’s the distressed properties. That’s not a niche anymore. It’s a large part of the business.”
The agents at RE/MAX Vision 212 appear to be doing a good job of adjusting. The Chicago office notched 276 sales from January through early October, while the Elmwood Park office agents closed 204 during the same time. Together, the two offices are at a sales pace that is 30 percent better than during the same period in 2009.
Palermo emphasized that the agents in his office who were formerly based in Elmwood Park will continue listing and selling homes there and in nearby suburbs, taking full advantage of their expertise in that market. Those agents led the Elmwood Park market through the first half of 2010 by listing more than one of every four homes sold in the suburb, Palermo said.
RE/MAX is the leader in northern Illinois real estate sales. It has been number one in the metropolitan Chicago real estate market since 1989, closing more than $6 billion in sales last year. The RE/MAX Northern Illinois network consists of 2,500 associates and 120 individually owned and operated RE/MAX offices that provide a full range of brokerage services throughout the northern one-third of Illinois. Its www.illinoisproperty.com and www.remax.com websites are leaders in consumer visits among real estate brokerage brands. The northern Illinois network is part of RE/MAX LLC, a global real estate organization with 91,000 sales associates in 83 nations.