If you were an experienced real estate agent looking to set up shop as a new independent brokerage, what would you do to set yourself apart from the crowd? If you’re Troy Palmquist, who works in the high-end Ventura County, California, real estate market, then you create an office space that makes passersby do a double-take — and stop in for a drink and a chat.

  • New broker-owner Troy Palmquist is using his office space to differentiate himself.
  • The Address features a Kegerator tap with two kombucha, one nitro coffee and one beer option, which draws in passersby.

If you were an experienced real estate agent looking to set up shop as a new independent brokerage, what would you do to set yourself apart from the crowd?

If you’re Troy Palmquist, who works in the high-end Ventura County, California real estate market, then you create an office space that makes passersby do a double-take — and stop in for a drink and a chat.

Why an office space?

After spending more than a decade building up his understanding of the Ventura County market — working at Re/Max, Help-U-Sell and Engel & Völkers franchises as well as with an investor — Palmquist opened The Address, his brand-new brokerage, with a specific focus: to create an office environment where clients (and agents) want to spend time.

He says that his philosophy about the importance of a brick-and-mortar spot in real estate emerged when he started working at a “little mom-and-pop real estate and mortgage company” as his first real-estate-related job.

“I was 20 years old,” he remembered, “and my friend and I were getting haircuts next door. He went in to look at a house and, after talking to them, they ended up offering me a job to be a transaction coordinator.”

Not only did he learn about the mortgage side of the business, but he also noticed the company’s ability to drum up business simply by being located where it was.

“It was next door to a barber shop,” he said, “and every morning there would be a walk-in because we had properties hung up in the window, and barber shops always have a long line, so people would come in because they had nothing better to do.”

After spending a couple of years driving across state lines to help manage transactions for an investor (Palmquist is a licensed agents in four states and a broker in three) he says that he became weary of the sub-par service many agents offer their clients and was ready to stop traveling so much so that he and his wife could start a family. (Palmquist actually found out that his wife is pregnant almost immediately after he decided to launch The Address.)

Standing out from the crowd

Palmquist knew that he was going to have to create a space with a draw. Instead of a typical real estate office environment, “I wanted something that felt more like a lounge, with a couch and chairs and tables and a bar,” he explained.

That bar is a four-tap Kegerator system that has a nitro coffee, two kombuchas and a beer on tap. “So when people come in, they’re just getting a different experience than they’ve ever gotten before,” he noted. “They walk in and see the tap system, and it creates a conversation. Everybody wants to try it.”

He says that they offer sample pours of the beer, but he’ll happily pour a kombucha or nitro coffee for anyone who walks in the door.

“People are used to coming into a real estate office and getting a bottle of water or a cup of coffee done out of a Keurig. That’s not anything special,” he said. “When an agent’s in here and buyers come in and they want a cup of coffee, we have a Chemex.

“For me, I’m using it as symbolism,” he adds. “My level of dedication, my commitment and attention to detail starts with a cup of coffee. We’re making you the perfect pour-over coffee; this is how I express how we’re going to market a home.”

Palmquist has been open about a month and a half and says the work put into the branding — consulting with a naming firm, hiring an interior designer, getting a patent on his listing signs — has paid off so far.

“People have loved it,” he said. “Agents love the concept. I was talking to someone who said, ‘I come into the office to get work done, not to get a lead’ — but I expect to build at least one relationship every time I come into an office,” Palmquist said. “Whether that relationship is going to buy or sell a house in the near future doesn’t matter.”

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