The Elkins branch of the Coldwell Banker real estate firm is closing its doors on July 31, but that doesn't mean that it is going out of business.
The real-estate franchise is undergoing a transitioning period leading up to the introduction of its new virtual platform, which will allow clients easier access and communication with the firm. Clients and customers will be able to use their online profiles to communicate with the agents and negotiate in an easier and more immediate way. It also alerts clients of activities like inspections in ways that hadn't been as prevalent as before.
Another major impetus for the transition is that many buyers and sellers are outside of the Elkins community, and it allows agents to work with clients on a more consistent basis and at their convenience.
"This platform essentially takes everything we could do for our customers in our office and puts it online," said Amy White, the associate broker and part owner of the local branch.
Another major perk for the branch is that none of its staff is suffering from the transition. Coldwell Banker is enacting the transition without layoffs. The only thing that they are shedding is the building.
Closing the physical site for a more active online presence comes with its own challenges, of course. One of the most obvious is the lack of immediacy of face-to-face communication. For example, an agent would be able to read the physical cues and nuances of his or her client and track if that client is comfortable or anxious about a certain deal, White said.
One way the new platform remedies this is by updating the profiles in real time and allowing for the focus on other forms of communication.
Another concern is the high-tech nature of the platform.
"This platform is on the forefront of technology," White said. "The challenge with state-of-the-art technology is that it sometimes feels further along than we are. It will take some getting use to, but it is worth the effort to afford our clients the opportunity to get what they need as efficiently as possible."