Four Benefits of Innovative Technology in Commercial Real Estate
Over the last decade, particularly during the pandemic, we have increased technology use as a population. Historically, the commercial real estate industry has been slow to adopt some of the advances that our residential counterparts had already put into use. However, we’ve seen a major shift over the last few years, and as a result, the technology has become more readily available and affordable. It has become crucial to the growth of the company and changed the way we do business.
Access to Data That Drives Decisions
Access to information is now more readily available through information services that not only offer valuable analytical data, but a myriad of other tools as well. What previously might have taken hours of research, is now just a few clicks away with programs like CoStar, LoopNet, LandVision and more. This arms brokers with knowledge to better inform their client and help them make the best decision possible.
Not only has the industry adopted the use of these real estate intelligence tools, but the systems continue to improve and become more sophisticated each year. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, but overall, they help brokers and clients gather information efficiently. Brokers can use these tools to search for clients and assist in the process of conducting due diligence. One example is the ability to check on various environmental factors for properties. With this tool, brokers are able to make a preliminary assessment to see if there are any environmental factors that have been reported, and this can be invaluable for the client while planning.
Marketing with Modern Tools
Technology such as drones, virtual tours and Google Earth have also made a major impact on the industry and how we are able to market properties. High-quality footage from drones and Google Earth can help us identify potential issues or benefits. The aerial views allow both brokers and clients to see the site from a bird’s-eye view and gather information. With the advances in drone technology, we no longer need to hire a pilot to use a plane to capture aerial images, and many brokers even pursue a certification themselves.
Additionally, the ability to accurately market and showcase a property through high-quality virtual tours for office, industrial and flex spaces help assist clients in their preliminary research. During the tour, clients have every detail of each space at their fingertips, making it easier to compare and contrast the properties. This allows them to eliminate certain options and create a shortlist for in-person visits. Not only does this cut down travel and make better use of everyone’s time, it helps the client make a better-informed choice overall.
Placing Higher Priority on Streamlined Systems and Safety
Another industry trend we’ve seen is the shift to building out in-house information technology departments. We’re in the business of data, and that data is what drives our success. Our internal IT team is able to continually monitor and solve problems, keeping us online and operational at all times. It also gives us peace of mind knowing that they are doing everything possible to keep our data safe and making sure all of our systems are working correctly. From building out our own platform and file hosting service, to constantly monitoring and testing our emails to protect against phishing and hackers, having an internal IT department has proven to be extremely beneficial for our company. With the systems available to us and the support of an expert in-house, our brokers are able to stay ahead of the competitive real estate landscape, both locally and nationwide.
The Ability to Better Prepare for the Future
Using technology such as artificial intelligence can also help us find answers to difficult questions and better prepare for the next step. One AI-powered tool that we’ve experimented with can help predict the likelihood of a business needing to expand or open new locations, and even predict where in the country that should happen. These analyses are based on hundreds of industry-related factors, and so far, it’s been very accurate. Another tool we have can help determine things like foot traffic, how to save money on electrical bills and which areas of a property will wear out fastest. This technology enables brokers to better advise their client, ultimately saving them time and money. The information puts us in a unique position to provide accurate answers to clients’ questions and help them move through the decision-making process faster.
While all of these technologies will continue to expand in CRE, there’s one thing I feel will remain constant, and that is the concept that the broker-client relationship cannot be replaced by a computer. In this industry, a large component of success is building meaningful relationships with clients, other brokers and landlords. At the end of the day, people will still want to do business with someone they trust. By adapting and staying ahead of trends with new technologies, brokers can more efficiently answer questions and better advise their clients. Doing this can help cultivate a stronger relationship. Ultimately, technology can’t replace human interaction, but it can help us become more efficient and knowledgeable and gain the resources necessary to excel.
By: Mike Spears
Lee & Associates – Houston is a fully-integrated, commercial real estate company. Our business-minded brokers specialize in office, industrial and land real estate investments. As the fastest-growing, broker-owned firm in the nation, we are uniquely qualified to support our clients’ needs in the local, national and international markets. To learn more visit www.lee-associates.com/houston.
Mike Spears, SIOR, CCIM is a Managing Principal at Lee & Associates–Houston. He has established a remarkable career spanning over 19 years with more than $1.1 billion in transactions. He specializes in the greater Houston area, primarily focusing on the north and northwest submarkets.