Information Technology is Changing the Business of Selling and Leasing Commercial Real Estate

Commercial real estate will never be run by two or three global companies like it is with Facebook, Amazon, and Google in advertising. While it’s true that real estate marketplaces such as Redfin are a success in the residential market, the dynamics of the commercial real estate landscape are quite different. As of now, not a single real estate tech platform can boast even one quarter of the global market share. At this point, every brokerage has its own listing portals but none are ready to see competitors listed on their own platforms. For real estate marketplaces and property listings, one thing is certain: information is power harnessed by brokers to get the client’s attention.

It’s true that brokers had kept the monopoly on intel in the past. Now, the data aggregation software has taken over most of this function, but agents are not out of the picture just yet. Reason number one is that the company still needs to negotiate the prices and there is no better person to do this than the broker. Reason number two is that someone needs to operate the data management tools, and brokers are the ones (or at least should be) with that expertise. 

Brokers are here to stay but the job has definitely evolved. It has a lot to do with IT. Most clients transact properties very infrequently. This means that they don’t have the tools or processes in place to extract the wide array of available data, process it, look for trends, and ultimately use it to help them make better decisions.

Another force changing the way properties are transacted is that communication has gone online. Don’t believe me, just think about how many phone calls you get every day compared to how many emails, texts, social media mentions, Slack threads notifications, and chat group replies. No longer do people want to discuss the details over the phone. They view it as a means of urgent communication and prefer talking via text messaging. According to the report by the National Association of Realtors, nearly all millennials are screening their properties online. In the past few years, they’ve taken more than half of the real estate market with 58% perusing via mobile devices. As a result, brokers have adapted accordingly with 90% of agents using text. Among these, 94% talk over email and 34% utilize messengers. Phone calls are reserved for the final stages of the deal. 

Take a look at the bigger picture though, audiences spend massive amounts of time online. In doing so they leave huge data traces that reveal insights into their preferences. All this data can be used to uncover the upcoming hotspots in the property market and be among the first to seize new opportunities in advance. As I mentioned before, most people transact real estate very infrequently. This is why brokers always need to keep fighting for new leads. The main competitors who do this are, of course, the listing services showcasing the “goods.” Right now, the market is too fragmented for one company to take charge. The unwillingness to unite all offers under one banner keeps this from happening. This comes at their own expense since evidence from other industries shows that customers prefer all-inclusive marketplaces rather than having to use multiple different ones (I am thinking of the A-word here).

Still, it is a reasonable sentiment to not want to display competitors listing on your own platform. Luckily, it’s not the only way to get the upper hand. Another viable option to win those audiences is offering a superior user experience. Most real estate marketplaces don’t go beyond the basics. They offer maps with location lists, prices and, occasionally, photos. That is all, and yet there could be so much more. Property listings can go far beyond displaying the prices. With geographic information systems, you can provide a lot of helpful data layered into the area maps. Functionality can set listing sites apart. That is the main idea behind our platform Aspectum. It collaborates with teams across sectors like retail, real estate and urban development to create data-rich online maps that contribute to educated decision-making both for businesses and their clients.

For commercial real estate lead acquisition we enrich those property lists with data on infrastructure. To get more details on a selected property, the client often has to go through the back-and-forth of talking to the broker behind the listing services. By taking as many of these details as you can and putting them on the map, you grant a massive amount of intelligence to the client out-of-the-box plus it saves brokers the grunt work of answering these questions.

To give a better understanding of what kind of information can be utilized on a real estate listing let’s look at some of the options. We will use Kiev, Ukraine for our example. You can see an extensive set of layers that display things like vegetated zones, levels of noise, roads, objects of infrastructure and much more. 

Multifaceted map data is complex and not everyone is equipped to process so much information at once. Correct visualizations can highlight the core data and make it understandable to the end-user. This is why all of our insights go with proper visual cues. For instance, the areas affected by noise are portrayed through highlighted zones that show the exact buildings suffering from this type of pollution.

By providing data-rich listing maps, you provide important information that will drive the decision-making of your client in a positive direction. While we might be a ways off from one platform taking over as the go-to place to find commercial real estate sales and lease listings, technology is able to help brokers increase the functionality of their online listings and further promote themselves as trusted advisors. As the role of the broker continues to change we will no doubt see much more tech-forward offerings from the most innovative, starting with the way listing are displayed. 

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Propmodo is a global multimedia effort to explore how emerging technologies affect our built environment.

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