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RISMEDIA, September 17, 2009—In an ongoing series of articles examining the virtual culture, I thought it might be time to examine the culture within the virtual culture. After operating one of the only true national virtual culture real estate brokerages in this country (no brick and mortar offices) for 20 months now, we are starting to get a very good feel of what this virtual culture business model is all about. 

First, I’d like to start with the similarities to the brick and mortar culture. We have found that the issues in the virtual culture are exactly the same as in the brick and mortar culture. We still have to stay on top of some Realtors to get all their paperwork in on a timely basis. We still get calls from other Realtors not being able to reach one of our Realtors, and we still have the same recruiting and retention issues that all real estate brokerages have, board fines for lack of pictures and listings not entered in a timely basis. However that is where the similarities end. 

In the virtual culture we tend to have less of the issues that we had with the brick and mortar business model. I dare say that in these past 20 months, I have found the virtual culture Realtor to be more conscience in regard to their career and discipline. This is just my observation, but with 38 years in the business, with 35 of those years spent in the brick and mortar environment, this sure appears to be the case to me. This business model just tends to attract the Realtors that are doing quite a bit of business, the go-getters, the Realtors who are independent and just get things done. In the virtual culture, we have found that the Realtors actually love to hear from the corporate office in most cases. Without the brick and mortar office, we bring a sense of community to the virtual culture Realtor by personally calling them once a month and by keeping them informed through our Monthly AJI eMagazine. 

The big surprise had to do with supervision. Even though when we started this business model, we firmly believed that with today’s technology we could provide superior supervisory efforts, it is actually easier than most people would envision. Supervision is, by and large, the overseeing of contracts and paperwork to make sure the public is protected and everything is disclosed and all files, contracts and correspondence is cataloged in a detailed and organized fashion. We now believe that the quality of our supervision, with the software and systems that we have developed to make it easier for the Realtor and broker to stay compliant, is not only comparable to the typical brick and mortar environment but in many cases exceeds its capabilities. 

In the virtual culture, the Realtor gets to keep 100% of his or her commissions and the broker still can make a reasonable profit. As most brokers know, keeping just 5% net is a challenge. A broker under the virtual culture concept can keep 20% net and have no expenses. By providing a win-win position for both the Realtor and the broker, the customer wins as well. No more deals dying because a Realtor has to spend the time to go back to their broker to reduce the commission by $5,000 for a roof repair in order to close the sale. The Realtor has sole discretion to make these decisions. 

All in all we have found the virtual culture to be a highly charged and professional business model in the real estate industry. 

James A. Crumbaugh III is the CEO of Allison James Estates and Homes. Crumbaugh may be reached by calling 1-866-463-5780 or emailing him at