doubles space as part of expansion

By Guelda Voien | May 23, 2012 06:30PM, the online residential brokerage and listings consultant started in 2010, has doubled its space in the tech-laden Chelsea area and has hired additional agents, which it calls “neighborhood guides,” the company told The Real Deal.

The new office, at 19 West 21st Street, replaces the technology-focused firm’s space across the street, where it shared space with other companies in a sublet, RealDirect CEO Doug Perlson said. The firm has added 3 agents this month and plans to hire an additional 15 to 20 agents by the end of the year.

The move also marks the company’s expansion to represent prospective buyers, instead of just sellers, Perlson said. The new agents RealDirect expects to hire are going to focus on Williamsburg and brownstone Brooklyn, and will be welcome to work in the new 2,000-square-foot Chelsea space, but not required to, Perlson said. He encourages agents to be out in the neighborhoods they are experts in, he said.

The company currently has 10 in-house agents, including the new hires — Ari Martin, formerly of Town Residential; Leia Furer, previously with Prudential Douglas Elliman; and Olga Alexander, who comes from Citi Habitats.

The new space is also as much technology center as it is real estate brokerage, Perlson claims.

RealDirect provides traditional brokerage services, but also gives sellers a personal account on the site, through which they can check how often listing clicks result in appointments, a tool similar to Google Analytics, but for real estate. They also provide a team of marketers and brokers who provide advertising, the tracking system, and act as agents, for a percentage of the sales price — 1 percent for owner managed sales and 2 percent for agent managed sales, wherein RealDirect provides the agent, not just the online tools to market the property. Or, a seller can opt for the $395 monthly fee.

“Our new office exists for a number of reasons, one of which is to have our tech team all under one roof, because we are a technology company as much as we are a real estate company,” Perlson said. “It was important for us to have a large conference classroom area where we can explain to our agents how we are targeting the market.”