Sophisticated technologies are empowering boutique brokerages and CRE newcomers to compete with industry titans.

Most seasoned commercial real estate brokers will tell you that the nuts and bolts of the industry haven’t changed for decades. Deals are largely structured the same way they’ve always been structured, and negotiations proceed in the same way they always have. Thanks to the rise of CRE tech, however, the pace at which these interactions take place is rapidly accelerating.

Today, commercial real estate investors, brokers, and appraisers can search properties anywhere in the world using only their phone. Transactions are completed at the speed of light. CRE professionals are expected to be plugged-in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Competition is global, competitors are incredibly well-informed, and nearly everyone is leveraging the rise of social marketing tools to gain a competitive edge.

Adding to the power of those now-familiar resources are some emerging technologies that boutique brokerages and independent CRE professionals can use to rapidly scale their business — tools that, in ages past, they might not have had access to outside of a legacy firm. Let’s take a look at the digital trends and technologies that are leveling the industry landscape:

The Democratization of Big Data

The democratization of big data has had a transformative impact on nearly every industry, and CRE is no exception. Platforms like Reonomy aggregate public information alongside proprietary data sets, streamlining the way in which CRE professionals can research and discover commercial properties. Using Reonomy, CRE professionals can seek out properties using hundreds of different search parameters like property type, mortgage maturity date, or market demographics — information that five years ago would have been inaccessible to those not working for a major firm.

Cloud-Based Information Storage Security

With the onset of the information age comes an unprecedented need to securely store massive amounts of data — personal, professional, and otherwise. Innovations in cloud storage allow CRE professionals to access property information, financing details, zoning regulations and innumerable other deal points from their phone or laptop. The move toward centralized data libraries has also spurred the development of numerous tools that can streamline internal workplace processes like workflow and bookkeeping — saving independent brokerages valuable resources that might previously have been spent to employ an operations team.

Tenant Relationships and Property Management

Commercial real estate investors and property owners have leveraged digital property management solutions to improve relationships with tenants. Using these tools, landlords can now accept rent payments online, automatically send reminders about late rent, quickly disperse pertinent property updates to tenants, and dispatch property service vendors. In fact, many management firms have now automated the entire rental process, from initial tenant applications to lease termination paperwork, eliminating the time consuming legwork that might previously have rendered small teams and independents less competitive.

The Rise of Virtual Reality

From video game developers to journalists to fashion designers, everyone is on the lookout for new and innovative ways to leverage virtual reality. In today’s global and transitory CRE market, investors may be interested in acquiring assets that are located thousands of miles away. While digital photos have long been considered adequate in facilitating online property viewing, they’re understandably limited in how closely they can replicate the experience of an in-person tour. Virtual reality technology can bridge that gap for anyone with access to headset.

Online Investing

Perhaps surprisingly, the rise of crowdfunding also stands to transform the the way relatively small CRE investment outfits can grow their portfolios. While platforms like GoFundMe and Kickstarter have long been reserved for tech startups and creative endeavors, the strategy behind them is now being applied to CRE, meaning would-be investors with limited funds can buy small shares of new developments.

These are just a smattering of the new technologies that are leveling the playing field for small and independent CRE brokerages and investors. Because competition between agents at big firms is so fierce, the pressure to perform often outshines the resources made available by objectively bigger budgets. Digital tools have at last democratized the information necessary to make smaller players truly competitive.

Looking for up-to-date, comprehensive commercial real estate data? Reonomy offers CRE professionals real-time access to the data points they need to grow their business — from debt and sales history to zoning and building owner information. But don’t take our word for it — try Reonomy National for free.

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