Which Tech Tools Help CRE Pros The Most?

Posted on October 18, 2016 · Posted in Industrial / Flex, Investments, Land, Multi-Family, Office, Property Management, Retail

At a recent roundtable, GlobeSt.com spoke exclusively with RCM’s Tina Lichens, along with Nick Alicastro, VP of business development at Western National Property Management; Jerre Riggs, co-founder and COO of First Base LLC; Eli Randel, director of business development at CREXi; Meagan Brazil, senior analyst, global sales management at CBRE; and Barry Swatsenbarg, SVP, investment and loan-sale advisory, for Colliers International, about which tech tools help commercial real estate professionals the most.

GlobeSt.com: Which platforms, technologies and products best help CRE professionals conduct business, close deals, provide value, increase revenue and decreases costs?

Alicastro: Yardi is one of the most valuable and innovative software programs that enables us to streamline our operations in order to maximize efficiency and increase revenue. Similar to InfoTycoon, Yardi is an industry-leading software tool with multiple property-management platforms that seamlessly integrate and store data for a variety of uses.

From an operational standpoint, Yardi also offers a revenue-management platform that allows property managers to price leases based on market conditions and rental history. This software enables us to stagger move-out dates and monitor lease expirations in order to minimize turnover and maximize revenue.

In addition to Yardi, today’s industry professionals are turning towards more mobile-based leasing techniques. Today’s Millennials are utilizing mobile devices more frequently than Mac or PC computers, a fact that has transformed the way we market and sign leases. Mobile devices continue to drive a considerable percentage of leases, and as a result, leveraging these digital platforms can increase traffic and lease activity, resulting in greater revenue. In short, more multifamily managers are going mobile, allowing residents to submit electronic signatures and store documents digitally for a completely paperless transaction.

Lichens: In general, technologies, products and platforms that are the most successful are those that provide a truly integrated platform—being able to connect with other technology and an extensive suite of offerings. Everyone is busy trying to make deals out there, so when firms like ours can streamline and integrate the process, we help principals, brokers and everyone involved be more efficient. That all translates, ultimately, to making deals flow more quickly and easily, which is what everyone wants. Our company just released RCM inSIGHT, a centralized portfolio intelligence for investment-sales and capital-markets data, which does just that.

Riggs: Technologies that provide CRE professionals and clients access to what they need, when they need it and wherever they need it by leveraging today’s real-time access to big data and cloud-based platforms deliver real value for everyone involved. Spaceful helps me conduct business. Not only does it provide value to clients, but the books are quick and easy to make, shaking loose time that can be better focused on other revenue-producing opportunities. Also, although it has been around for a few years, Lease Matrix harnesses the power of the Cloud to create a web-based lease-analysis platform. It is user-friendly, eliminates the need for clunkier spreadsheets and can be shared and accessed from a variety of devices, which our clients find incredibly useful. We can quickly show apples-to-apples comparisons on various proposals, providing the financial framework clients need in order to move forward with a specific deal.

Randel: While many concepts surrounding commercial real estate are somewhat intuitive and straightforward, generally requiring street smarts sometimes more so than education, there are complicated nuances that have benefited from tech. Managing large amounts of space as efficiently and profitably as possible can depend on nuanced decisions that tech firms focused on asset management and leasing have helped address (Argus, Floored, Honest Building, VTS, Hightower). Other more high-level decisions that could benefit from tech include wider access to debt-and-equity capital and platforms around maximizing and structuring the capital stack. There are some firms doing some great things in this segment, but we would like to see it continue to advance.

For years, Argus, which is a somewhat simple software from a tech standpoint, has helped acquisition associates and asset and portfolio managers model deals to project returns and make pricing and leasing decisions to maximize those returns. Argus remains a great product. From a leasing standpoint, the previously eluded to VTS and Hightower are helping asset managers and leasing agents manage space more efficiently which has freed up their capacity to spend time in other areas and also helped their decision making process. Firms like Floored and Honest Buildings are helping landlords space-plan and manage properties more efficiently. Then in the more transactional environment there are several platforms developed in the 90s which are good services in what they’re designed to do but need to be rethought, brought current, and made more affordable. We hate overusing Uber analogies but many of those platforms feel like taxi cabs in the sense that they achieve your goal but the service is mediocre and the price is expensive. Perhaps you can get away with one or the other but both doesn’t seem sustainable and we expect disruptors to emerge and some already have.

Brazil: Platforms that do the work of consolidating information and automating workflows for you; platforms that create a tight ecosystem of people, information and processes. Those are the tools that are unlocking the most opportunity for CRE professionals. We have invested in many of these tools at CBRE, integrating our own proprietary data sources and tech products as well. The result: smart, data-driven apps that talk to one another—better connecting professionals and clients at the nexus of accurate intelligence and mobile processes, creating more time for strategy.

Capital-markets professionals are able to advise when to buy/sell with increasing science. We are able to find patterns in dead deal trends, time on the market, capital sources and cap rates to optimize ROI and closing rates with reduced risk. Portfolio service teams are able perform strategic opportunity spotting across all assets—centrally visualizing and analyzing when to renew, where to consolidate and what the implications will be. Occupier brokers are able to not only better identify industry migrations, options for talent proximity, government incentives and the best time for negotiating leverage—but also interactive visualization and mobile presentation tools that are making it easier to build consensus across decision makers, faster. These tools support the rise of the true CRE advisor.

Swatsenbarg: Ten-X, which is the largest of the online platforms by sales volume, facilitates a sale by either “Live Bid” or “Offer Select” processes. Both methods offer sellers the ability to set a strategy on price and leverage Ten-X’s marketing engine to drive qualified buyers to the property’s web page, while also providing a bid/offer environment that is easy, transparent and efficient for both buyers and seller to transact. As a broker, I receive significant support from the Ten-X team, which helps to reduce my costs and saves me time. In most cases, Ten-X helps us transact deals in less than half the time of a traditional sale process. This efficiency provides value to sellers and brings increased annual revenue for my team (i.e., we can do more deals in the same amount of time).

 

Source: GlobeSt.

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