Amber Weitzer offers clients an Uber-like experience through her real estate business. She has forgone the traditional office in favor of a customized Mercedes Sprinter high-top van. For the past three years, Weitzer has been fully operating her brokerage, Couture Real Estate, from the van that she drives across the Dallas–Fort Worth metro area. She does everything you’d do in a traditional office from the van, including listing presentations, contract negotiations, and offering up a cozy hangout for customer outreach events.
“It’s exciting to get up and go every morning,” says Weitzer, speaking to REALTOR® Magazine from her desk inside her parked van at a local park. She’ll drive to wherever clients are to conduct business from the van, or she’ll find a spot around town to park as she works in her fully outfitted office in the back.
For a broker who is always on the go, Weitzer has found working from a vehicle offers plenty of advantages. Every morning she gets in her van “dressed and pressed,” she says. Weitzer then heads to a spot with a lake view, to downtown historic Grapevine on Main Street, or to one of the local city parks that’s in close proximity to her first appointment. During high traffic times, she makes calls, sends emails, and prepares before going to her next appointment. “It allows me to maximize my time and be more efficient,” she says.
Weitzer works with a lot of customers relocating from out of state, so the van has proven to be a convenient meeting place whether they’re at an airport or hotel. She also specializes in new-home construction, and the van offers a spot to meet while on a construction site, free of dust and dirt.
Moving her real estate business to a van was an advantageous business move, she says, crediting the van not only for its drive-up convenience but also for allowing her to build name recognition for her independent brokerage. The van is a moving billboard across town for the 14-year industry veteran.
A Souped-Up Ride
Weitzer paid careful attention to how her luxury brand would translate as an office in a van. She homed in on details to make sure it felt luxurious, comfortable, and functional.
At first, Weitzer explored recreational vehicles and other van styles. But she settled on the Mercedes high-top sprinter passenger panel because she felt the larger windows would help open up and brighten the interior space. Also, the high top allows enough extra space so you can stand up comfortably inside.
The interior is fully customized. She had the rows of bench seating removed and teamed up with a custom automotive company, graphic designers, and a project manager to reinvent the inside for a workspace and seating area. The van boasts white washed-wood grain luxury plank flooring and black Corian countertops, and the walls and ceiling are covered in a snow-white suede. Her high-gloss white lacquer desk with chrome legs overlooks a window, and a faux white brick accent wall lines the back of the van’s interior (the brick is actually a soft foam texture so no one can get hurt bumpimg into it). Also, along the back wall is a flat screen TV with speakers for viewing home tours and 3D models or watching webinars. She can seat five comfortably inside.
Just like any real estate office, Weitzer offers simple amenities—except she’s also mobile. Her van has a stocked mini refrigerator and freezer with snacks and beverages, including a leather cased mobile mini-bar kit with a Keurig coffee machine and a custom-designed compartment for her two-toned Couture Real Estate coffee mugs. She has Wi-Fi, electrical outlets, LED lighting on a dimmer switch, HDMI for a video system, and plugs for a printer.
She paid careful attention to the exterior of the van, too. She wanted the van’s outside to resemble a building, so she used architectural decals that fully wrap around the car. The outside also includes her real estate brokerage name and web address.
A vanity Texas license plate in the back reads “OFFICE.”
Weitzer hasn’t always favored the open road over a fixed office space. A second-generation real estate broker, she grew up playing “office” in the basement of her father’s Century 21 brokerage in the 1980s. She also worked in a traditional office environment for other real estate companies over her career. But when she decided to venture down her own path with an independent brokerage, she wanted to do something different that would address some client pain points in a transaction, like the need for convenience along the way.
Clients are busy, and squeezing in appointments to meet their real estate agent can add to that, she says. A meeting at an office or coffee house does not often provide convenience nor privacy, she adds.
“At the time I was exploring office options, I represented a client who was preparing to build a 20,000-square-foot home. During the builder interviews, an onsite construction trailer was mentioned” to hold meetings in, she recalls. “The Texas climate is vast and ever-changing, especially during 18-month projects. It would be nice to have something more mobile.”
Soon after, the idea for her company came together while she was attending a brokerage conference in New York, which happened to coincide with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
An extra bonus, “the office”—as she refers to it—has proven great for word-of-mouth marketing. Weitzer rattles off the many events she’s used the office to host, including a girls’ night out karaoke event for charity, Halloween “trunk-or-treats,” and a gathering spot for participants prior to a citywide parade. She’s even used the van for events that aren’t directly tied to real estate. The brokerage recognition from the van’s billboard exterior has been a pillar to her marketing, she says, and at no extra cost than the initial investment for her van.
“People tell me ‘I see you driving around town all the time!’” Weitzer says. “It truly allows me to serve my clients at their convenience. The office is very functional, and it really makes a statement. It’s an eye-catcher for sure.” A woman at a gas station spotted her van and pulled up beside her. She was in need of a real estate agent, and she told Weitzer that she saw the van as a sign.
“The office was my vision to start a brokerage that was all about serving the client,” Weitzer says. And the office allows Weitzer to always keep her business on the move—literally. After all, as this Texan quotes the famous phrase: “The squeaky wheels get the grease!”
Have a creative brokerage? Email writer Melissa Tracey, firstname.lastname@example.org, on what makes your brokerage so unique and you may be featured in a future article.