Miami-based online brokerage the Zilbert Realty Group announced today that it is launching a series of storefront brokerage offices in order to give consumers a more genuine face-to-face experience. Zilbert will open a Miami Beach retail and corporate office location in the Shops at Fifth and Alton complex by the end of the year, founder Mark Zilbert told The Real Deal, with other locations to follow in North Miami Beach and Coral Gables.
“From the very beginning we’ve been focused online,” Zilbert, who founded the company in 2002, said. “I previously worked for EWM Realtors which has a huge traditional street presence and I really wanted to go entirely online. Since then, we’ve been perfecting the online model. We’ve built a base business in that.”
Now, with 20 employees working out of an office on Lincoln Road, Zilbert said expanding into retail locations was the most obvious direction to move in.
“My focus was to enable the consumer to look at a property in the way that they choose,” he said. “With non-local buyers,” who makes up an increasing amount of Zilbert’s business, “they like to sit down and meet people face to face… they want to look you in the eye.”
The new locations themselves will simulate a retail products store. Properties will be packaged, organized into categories and presented on retail shelves. The shopper will be able to grab a box off a shelf, look at it, turn it around and scan its barcode for further details. Digital kiosks will be integrated with Zilbert.com.
“We want it to be engaging,” Zilbert said, “not just a desk.”
With the first Miami Beach store currently under construction, Zilbert is scouting out other South Florida locations and preparing for a major recruiting spree. The company has been able to function comfortably and maintain a high revenue stream per agent with a small staff online, but retail locations require more bodies. “We aim to recruit 100 agents by the end of the year,” Zilbert revealed, “and 200 by next year.”