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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Commercial Edition   |   December 2016

Tech Is Just a Click Away

Help clients maximize the benefits of marketing and funding properties online

Tech Is Just a Click Away

In today’s fast-paced commercial real estate market, it is now possible to market a property to thousands of qualified investors and financial sources. This type of speed to market is heavily dependent on accessing the right technology to help streamline the process and deploy essential information. Commercial mortgage brokers should stay abreast of the technology-driven solutions that are available in the market and understand their impact on their intermediary role between borrowers and lenders.

In the past two decades, technological advances have changed significantly, bringing many options to real estate investment, which has changed the way borrowers look for funding sources. Key technological advances in this industry include the followings:

  • Searchable online property marketplaces that catalogue real estate inventories and availabilities. These marketplaces have properties that total hundreds of millions of square feet from the East Coast to the West Coast, from the Canadian border to the Mexican border and beyond.
  • Global technology-based online virtual platforms for connecting buyers and sellers — and their brokers — to commercial real estate and notes through conventional acquisition and disposition means as well as auctions.
  • Online war rooms that house all of the essential documents necessary to perform due diligence, make intelligent property-acquisition decisions and work through the acquisition process.
  • Electronic property-management solutions that track, allocate and invoice building operating expenses to tenants in a single building and in portfolios across the country.
  • Smart building technologies that monitor water and energy usage to ultimately reduce the costs associated with those operating expenses.
  • Online lending platforms that allow principals, exclusive listing brokers, mortgage bankers and equity sources to gain access to the productive and cost-effective ways to acquire, dispose, finance and capitalize commercial real estate.

Benefits

There are common features and benefits among many of these technological advances. Speed and efficiency, for example, can be increased. What used to be some of the most complicated and labor-intensive activities within the real estate ownership life cycle can now be executed in an instant and with a few short keystrokes. Marketing a property and sourcing development, construction and acquiring capital can all be done online.

Technology also allows for more transparency. The ability to share information with and demonstrate productivity and results to clients has never been more important. In a world of constant change, technology makes it easier for clients to maintain compliance directives, access reports, gauge significant benchmarks and key performance indicators, and securely share them within an organization.

As a byproduct of speed and efficiency, the activities performed by those technological systems are more cost-effective because of tasks that can be performed more easily and redundancies that can be eliminated. The precious commodities of time and money can be preserved and protected.

The ability to integrate information and reports across multiple offices
and disparate systems within an enterprise makes the company more valuable.

With many technology companies popping up and serving nearly every niche in commercial real estate — buying, selling, brokering, financing, leasing, valuing, etc. — and claiming to be the best, the most comprehensive or the most secure, it can be daunting to determine which solution to choose. When evaluating technology providers and their programs and systems, there are important questions to be asked and considerations to be made, including:

  • Response and integrated solutions. Although companies have to start somewhere, clients are best served when a platform can address more than one issue and solve more than one pain point. Further, the ability to integrate information and reports across multiple offices and disparate systems within an enterprise makes the company more valuable. 
  • Support for tools and systems. State-of-the-art programs and systems are only as good as the support network that stands behind them. It is important to have system support that is accessible and will be there when and where your clients need it. It also must be available 24/7.
  • Potential growth. Few new technologies are overnight sensations. Instead they take time to develop and build subscribers and users. As time unfolds, improvements may be necessary to enhance the usability and effectiveness of a tool or system. Technology providers should have the ability to respond to a fast-paced and evolving industry so that more issues are solved than created.
  • Investment and commitment. This is perhaps best exemplified by longevity in the industry and the depth and breadth of services that are offered and conceptualized. Equally as important is a company’s strategy to offer products that build on and integrate with what already has been developed, offering end-to-end capabilities. For example, products should integrate with other industry-leading technology to improve efficiencies and maximize performance.

Additional considerations

Commercial mortgage brokers should be able to help their borrowers make a decision regarding which provider to select based on informed research. Technology providers also should be able to answer many questions and demonstrate to clients what is necessary to stay ahead of the curve and to remain relevant in a highly competitive and fast-changing environment.

To do so, technology providers must first explain how they respond to clients. Technology companies and service providers create demand for their products and services by providing solutions — and subsequent updates — to client problems. Clients have varying sets of issues and priorities. To live up to expectations, providers should offer a flexible and customizable solution that provides tools for everyone.

Technology providers must also embrace innovation. Many of the successful technology-based companies in this industry were formed by real estate people with an idea that was driven by their own experiences. The most successful of these companies are ones that recognized the importance of recruiting tech experts who could transform ideas into products and platforms and build a foundation for long-term success.

They also must maintain a razor-sharp focus. The old adage “you can’t be all things to all people” may be truer in the field of technology than anywhere else. Straying too far from core competencies dilutes and destroys companies. Instead, companies must remain laser-focused instead of being a jack of all trades but master of none. 

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The commercial real estate industry moves at a fast pace, making speed to market and rapid response critical components to any providing technology solutions as well as the investors who rely on these solutions. As commercial mortgage brokers help their clients examine the various technology solutions in the market, they first should understand their unique needs, then ask providers detailed questions about the best way to solve those issues more efficiently and effectively.


 


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