When a young couple recently came into Davenport Agents’ new Real Estate Row showroom, a one-stop shop for homebuyers and homesellers in Huntsville, Alabama, they were, frankly, a bit clueless. All they knew was they wanted a new build — you can still do that in Huntsville, Alabama — but they couldn’t say where, exactly, or what they had in mind.
With a selection of builders operating out of the 8,000-square-foot New Home Showroom, they were able to find something they liked and narrowed it down to three neighborhoods with the help of a Davenport agent also operating on the premises. They also grabbed some help from an on-site mortgage broker, who organized pre-approval, and a deal came together nicely.
These millennials are just one of 29 new clients — walk-ins to the showroom — who have bought homes through Davenport since Daniel and Chastity Davenport launched Real Estate Row two months ago. They estimate they have had 200 walk-ins so far.
What’s in Real Estate Row?
Clients are just dropping in at the central business location. There, they have access to agents — the head office of Davenport Agents, which operates at the back of the building in 7,000 square feet of space.
Also on-site, they can find an attorney, a mortgage broker, insurers and young tech companies in the real estate industry. And local service providers can advertise in the showroom even if they are not operating on the premises.
“We are wanting to bring the value of the Realtor and real estate broker back into the crosshairs of the consumer,” said Daniel Davenport, Real Estate Row president. “Because information is so readily available, we are trying to be a center of specific information.
“We are wanting to bring the value of the Realtor and real estate broker back into the crosshairs of the consumer.” – Daniel Davenport, Real Estate Row president
“We are trying to be information-first, hyper-local and industry-specific. Regardless of all the information out there, you still need the experts to pull it all together,” he said.
Davenport Agents, which the couple set up in June 2012, targets millennials like themselves, largely in the Huntsville and Madison area of North Alabama.
“Our market is very tech-oriented. Huntsville is Rocket City,” said Davenport.
Women especially enjoy the experience of the showroom, he said.
“They like the shopping atmosphere.”
Men seem to prefer the coffee bar and sitting area. One of the Davenport agents — an excellent marketer, said Davenport — is also a trained barista and interior designer, so she gets brought in to help on both counts.
A big step
It may seem like a big step for a brokerage to take on 15,000 square feet of space, but Davenport said it is “completely self-sustaining.”
The showroom has “awesome” tech, said the Real Estate Row president. “We are completing our set-up for displaying homes through Matterport and Google Street View aerial shots. There are projector screens so the whole family can sit down and go through a home.”
While Davenport Agents have their offices at the back of the building, complete with their own “re-boot” recreation room, many of them spend their day in or around the showroom, which includes a large, open-plan kitchen with bar seating for local chefs to come and present shows.
“We sell tickets, and we are leveraging big on social media,” said Davenport.
“With the kitchen, we knew we had to get traffic through there. We are good at putting together events; we make it seem like an open home.”
Real estate schools and rolling out Real Estate Row
“The agents are loving it,” he added. “When people come in, our agents are prospecting like they normally would. With the showroom they meet new clients, and all of a sudden, they are signing contracts three days later.”
The couple has also renovated a corner of the space for a real estate school called the Seed Academy which has seating for 100 and external trainers coming in to teach classes.
With increased business, thanks to the initiative, Davenport said he and Chastity are planning to double their number of agents in the next six months. They set up Davenport Agents in June 2012.
Meanwhile, the former engineer is looking at rolling Real Estate Row out in other parts of North Alabama. He also sees potential in states like Tennessee, Georgia and Florida, and he said he would be open to the idea of setting up replicas and then handing the office over to another brokerage.
“This design is needed in every marketplace, so we are already looking,” Davenport said. “This ecosystem is nothing new; we’ve just slightly twisted it to accommodate the information.”
In the Huntsville location, the company has accommodated space to market new homes in its showroom — but if new homes are not selling in other areas, then the showroom could offer inspiration for remodels, he said.
“What we did on purpose was, we separated the real estate office as the caboose in the back,” he explained. “There’s nothing to say that Coldwell Banker can’t sit in the back using our recipe. We are getting ready to grow and duplicate.”