October 11, 2011

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Franchising the Virtual Real Estate Office

Online real estate agents have been increasing in numbers over the last few years. It’s not only because agents are trying to cut the costs associated with having a bricks and motar premises. The advent of mobile technology – phones, PDAs, laptops – and Internet listings can replace and enhance the scope of the old ‘shop front’ window.

While some believe you can’t put on price on having a front door a consumer can walk through, others argue there’s just no pressing need for a physical office any more.

The virtual or online office is the logical extension of working from home. But what about an online real estate agency that is being franchised?

Larry Whited launched WebMLS.net in the US in 2003 as a full-service, low-cost, real estate brokerage company, operating online.

Larry had come up with the idea having worked as a Re/Max agent in Cincinnati, Ohio. He realised that like most of his colleagues he was rarely in the office, as he was either working from home or visiting clients.

WebMLS.net had few overheads, and offered commissions as low as 2%, with all the usual features of a brokerage. By the end of the year, Larry had attracted 26 agents to join the company.

As he writes on his website:

“The key to the success of the business is that all parties involved – clients, agents, and the broker – all benefit from the financial arrangement, which is predicated on a low cost, highly efficient operation. Agents and brokers are free to run their business and charge commission they and their clients agree on using the following chart as a starting point, not a dictate.

After closing, agents retain all commissions, less $300 ($400 starting 2009) paid to WebMLS.net. This enables the agent to offer the same service at a lower price than other agents, which generates more property listings, the key to success for any agent.”

Larry’s virtual real estate office idea is not unique. Many agents all over the world work from home, or are giving up their real offices and embracing the virtual.

But what might put him ahead of the game is that after 6 years developing the virtual realtor concept, he’s back with a new project – a virtual office franchise model called maxUnet.com, which offers the same low commissions and savings on a larger scale. He’s aiming to use maxUnet.com as the franchisor, to grow the concept of the virtual brokerage.

Initial costs are said to be around US$10,000. Agents who join are given software, training, and other facilities, and will have to contribute to advertising and branding funds.

According an interview in Inman News, Larry hopes to launch the first franchise in January.


Related posts:

  1. Virtual Real Estate
  2. Technology Trends from the NAR Conference: Part 2 – Video and Virtual Tours
  3. Real Estate Marketing Report Card
  4. Bug! Real Estate Unveils New Website
  5. Would You Buy a House From a ‘Virtual Auctioneer’?
  6. Create Your Own Real Estate Shows
  7. Real Estate Goes Green for Earth Day
  8. Fight for Global Real Estate Market Share


  1. Tom Stanley says:

    I was on Yahoo and found your blog. Read a few of your other posts. Good work. I am looking forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Tom Stanley

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