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Archive for May, 2013

Commercial Real Estate Professionals Embrace New Technology

An NREI article discusses how technology can be a huge boon to busy commercial real estate professionals in creating efficiencies and delivering faster and better services to clients. Yet for many the challenge is sifting through the deluge of new tools without getting caught up in a race to have the shiniest new toys regardless of whether they help you do a better job.

Commercial real estate professionals are gravitating to technologies that can assist with key functions such as file sharing, client relationship management, analysis and marketing. “What we hope to use technology for is that we can provide better services for our clients, not just for the purpose of deploying technology,” says Mike Kamm, president of Cassidy Turley in San Francisco.

For example, Cassidy Turley is in the process of implementing a new customer relationship management (CRM) solution that it calls “eClient.” The solution will allow professionals to track their individual client relationships and provide a broader look at who others in the firm are working with. “That is going to be a major improvement in our productivity, and also allow us to provide better client services in a more coordinated fashion,” says Kamm.

For small and mid-size firms, technology has the added perk of helping level the playing field when they compete head-to-head with larger firms. “Our view on technology is that it is only going to make us more efficient in the long run and we are trying to embrace it as best we can,” says Scott Burns, president of Wilson Commercial Real Estate in Los Angeles

Wilson Commercial has 75 shopping centers in its portfolio. “We get calls all week long from people wanting to get in and tour the space,” says Burns. Often, people want instant access to the properties. So Wilson Commercial has posted YouTube videos that provide virtual, 360 degree tours of its spaces. The firm still wants to bring prospective tenants to the physical space, but giving them a sneak peek eliminates some “tire kickers” that just want to check spaces out with no serious interest in signing a deal, adds Burns.

A quick virtual tour can also help tenants form detailed questions about a particular space or shopping center. It is not going to replace the physical walking and touring of the space in any way, but providing that video snapshot of a space on demand to prospective tenants is becoming part of the marketing tenants are expecting, notes Burns.

The next stage videos is 3D models, such as those created with the Floored app.  The tech firm scans spaces with 3D cameras, refines the data and produces models that are available online to be shared with prospective tenants.

Proliferation of CRE apps

There is an app for just about everything these days, and commercial real estate tasks are no exception. Commercial real estate professionals  are utilizing apps that assist with everything, from converting voicemails to text messages to providing immediate access to research reports and property listing services and databases. Apps for property information sites such as CoStarGo and LoopNet Mobile are increasingly popular.

Such technologies can help commercial real estate professionals in the field save time when scouting for investment sales or leasing opportunities. In the past, when they saw an interesting property and wanted to research ownership, they had to phone the title insurance company and ask for information. Now there are apps that provide that same info on demand.

For example, Fidelity Title has an app called Commercial Pro 24-7 that allows users to touch the image of a property on an aerial map and receive title insurance information on terms of ownership, parcel maps and other recording documents.

In the past, it was a challenge to track down ownership information behind properties held by an LLC or other private entity. Now commercial real estate professionals can use apps such as ProspectNow Mobile to find the names of owners behind those companies by conducting a search with a building address or contact phone number. ProspectNow is an online database that claims access to a commercial real estate database of 6 million building owners and 30 million tenants, including phone numbers, mailing addresses and building details.

The process of finding ownership information can now take a commercial real estate professionals four to five minutes compared to several hours of deep digging.  “It makes us much more efficient and lets us leverage technology and apps that literally save us hours of our time,” says Burns. “Where we used to research things manually, we can now click a few buttons, wait 10 seconds, and the information pops up.

Challenges of dealing with technology

Implementing new technologies is not without its challenges. Certainly, making sure you are deploying the right software and technology for what you really want to do takes a lot of vetting. “Obviously, technology is very expensive, and you don’t want to have to redeploy new platforms any more often that you have to,” says Kamm. Technology also is changing very quickly, which makes it more difficult to stay abreast of the latest and greatest tools.

Getting commercial real estate professionals and staff trained and using the technology effectively is another challenge. “You can buy and deploy a lot of software, but if people aren’t using it properly then it is not going to generate the kind of returns that we all want,” says Kamm. Even once people go through the training, there is no guarantee that they will actually use it, he adds.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

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Recent Survey on Tech Trends in Commercial Real Estate Yields Surprising Results

A recently conducted a survey at The News Funnel gauged the commercial real estate industry sentiment as it relates to technology trends. Some of the results were not so surprising, but one thing really stood out. The main takeaway from survey was how many exciting new websites are being launched on a regular basis creating a real tech revolution in the industry. Another things that was really surprising was the amount of respondents who said they are still getting the majority of their news and information from their desktop devices as opposed to mobile. It’s completely contrarian to what’s obviously happening in the tech sector in general as mobile is taking the tech world by storm. Old habits die hard, but if someone can get the industry to adopt to a mobile solution, they will have the field to themselves.

Here were the major findings of the survey:

Which data and information website is used the most by industry professionals?
CoStar was chosen by 60% of the survey followed by Real Capital Analytics and LoopNet in a virtual dead heat for second place.

Which new real estate tech site are you most impressed with?
A virtual tie between View The Space and OfficeSpace.comCompStak was selected as the third most impressive site. Other sites that were chosen were RetailMLS, 42Floors and TheCapRate.

Which aspect of the industry is experiencing the most exciting innovation?
More than half of the survey respondents selected “news”, followed by “marketing” and “space search”.

Which area is lagging the most in regards to tech innovation?
“Data analysis” was the answer most given followed by “marketing” and then “property management”.

When asked which sector of the industry is experiencing the most innovation residential or commercial?
Almost 70% of the survey said “commercial”.

Finally, and most surprising, What type of device you use to access real estate information?
83% said their desktop while only 17% said mobile.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

5 Reasons to Schedule More Business Lunches

Have an important meeting? Here are five reasons to do it over lunch, and some tips to make the most of it from an article at Inc.com.

You finally get connected to the person you have been pursuing. Maybe it’s the client of your dreams. Perhaps it’s the mentor you always wanted. Maybe it’s that perfect recruit or potential partner. It doesn’t matter, you want them to listen and they have agreed to give you time. Now you need to put the odds in your favor. You need to invite them for lunch. Here’s why, and how:

1. You’ll Control the Environment
Their office is their territory: their colleagues may interrupt you, or they may be distracted by calls or emails. Even if they agree to come to your office, you don’t want any distractions there either. Besides, being in your territory may prompt them to put up their guard. You want them at ease. You want the environment to work for you. You can control the entire atmosphere at lunch.

Tell your prospect that you will arrange things and send them the info on where to meet.  Pick a restaurant that is quiet so they can hear you. Ask their food preferences and find an appropriate setting–be it trendy or classic, elegant or casual–that reflects the impression you want to make. Pre-arrange with the wait-staff (pre-tip, and learn their names) to take special care of your table so the focus is on your business at hand. Now everything is on your turf and your prospect can be wowed by your style, initiative, and way with people.

2. You’ll Be on Equal Footing
I hate going to someone’s office and sitting in front of their desk. They sit in the power position and wait for you to perform. Half the time, their chair sits above you, making you feel small and insignificant. With a little planning at lunch, you can keep the power equal or maybe even in your favor. Preview the restaurant you choose and designate a table that you like with the headwaiter. Make sure that you can see the door and have your back to the wall if at all possible. You should be seated so that you are at an equal height and are the most obvious focal point from their view.

3. You’ll Have Captive time
In a typical meeting, the business agenda controls the time frame. If you only have 20 minutes of substantive discussion, you will find yourself dismissed once you make your point. Lunch is different. Eating is an expected social experience and few people schedule a lunch for less than 60 to 90 minutes. Leave the laptop at home. A paper presentation works best at the table and your prospect can take it home. Once you are done with a brief description, move on unless the prospect wants to delve further. Unless you offend, you will both be there for the whole meal, so use the extra time to connect socially. People do business with people they like. Now you have the time to help them like you.

4. You’ll Create a Shared Experience
The two of you are there together. Make your prospect feel comfortable. Make sure your etiquette is refined. Mirror their behaviors so they are not embarrassed. You have the chance to find common ground and bond. Create a memory that becomes the basis for your future relationship. Let it be an awesome experience you both recall with fondness. Clearly address the need for meeting. Find ways to make it entertaining and creatively generate an unexpected moment that wows your prospect. Call the chef in advance and arrange for a special dish.

5. You’ll Do Them a Favor
Pick up the check!!! It may seem obvious but many business people are inclined to split bills today. Going Dutch is not an option if you want retain power. You want your prospect to feel obligated to you even if only for the lunch. Make sure you have that advantage when the meal is finished. The best way to assure this is to give the waiter your credit card privately before the lunch even starts. You can decide whether or not to tell your prospect up front that this experience is on you, or wait until the end as a surprise. Either way, you’ll put them in a position of gratitude at the end, leaving you open to pursue the next steps.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

Five Ways Robots Will Change Real Estate

A recent article from InmanNews discusess how robots could have an impact on real estate. It may sound like science fiction, but it’s not. Robots are about to be everywhere, including real estate. Robots are in the wild, cleaning up nuclear waste, sanitizing hospital rooms, and entertaining us all. How will they impact real estate? It’s anyone’s guess at this point, but here are five ways robots could impact real estate within the next five years.

1. New telepresence robots, like the ones from Double Robotics, will finally let us be in two (or more) places at once. Control the robot from your iPad and communicate face-to-virtual face with co-workers and potential clients. Send a telepresence robot along to an open house. Invite brokers and clients to attend previews from the comfort of their home or office. The possibilities of telepresence are limitless.

2. Robots like Romo could lend a helping hand. Need exterior shots? Send a Romo out to the street for wide angle views. How about a cameraman for your video? Check. Need a BPO? A Romo with some simple software can canvas a street and send back data while you meet with clients.

3. How about a robot who can issue conditional approvals and underwrite loans in real time? Robots with natural language processing could collect data from a client interview and, connected to an underwriting engine, produce financing options and approvals in minutes.

4. The issue of private drones is unfolding in front of our eyes. Federal, state, and local governments are racing to issue guidance on drone use; but no matter the outcome, drones will become fixtures in our skies. Depending on how legislation shakes out, drones could be used for aerial views, home fly-throughs and more. This is already happening with remote controlled quadcopters. The machines will handle it with a few taps on your iPhone tomorrow.

5. Robots could make finding the perfect home a breeze. Imagine a robot that could use information about your client, their Facebook interests along with some simple questions about their income, to query and sort MLS listings for the perfect place for them.

Of course, how exactly the future will play out is anyone’s guess; but one thing’s for sure, robots will be a part of it.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.