Technology and Commercial Real Estate

August 10, 2016
Written by: Judi Hanf, CREW Las Vegas

Technology has given us so much — computers, the internet, virtual reality, smart phones, tablets, and more. The commercial real estate industry utilizes software and programs to handle operations such as accounting, property management, work orders and lease administration. Websites are used to market, sell, manage and maintain properties and clients. Systems such as instant messenger, video conferencing and chat rooms are being used as communication solutions. The commercial real estate industry not only takes advantage of this, but is often an early adopter of new technology.

Today, clients and prospects are connected wherever they go. This means that companies and brokers must develop and implement an effective mobile strategy. A broker can work from anywhere — and needs to be able to show properties with the same versatility.

Social media has presented new channels for communication and allows for companies large and small to build their brands, expand business and connect with prospects. Brokers are able to present properties and provide feedback as questions are posed. Clients and prospects seeking information actively peruse these platforms. Although there are many options available, the four platforms most commonly used are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Facebook offers a medium where properties and agents can post information and photos and respond to questions promptly with useful feedback. Boosted posts and paid ads increase the chances of bursting through all the clutter.

Twitter allows for a rolling conversation, but many complain about a lack of real engagement. How much can you actually say about a property in only 140 words?

LinkedIn is ideal for building a brand and gaining exposure in the business world, which is imperative for the commercial real estate industry. Information can be garnered about the company, and the reader can leave feedback about his or her experience. NAIOP called LinkedIn “…a live Rolodex, brand builder, professional database, personalized marketing platform and social networking channel.”

Pinterest and Instagram can also be platforms of preference for commercial real estate. Both provide an opportunity to create visual pages for sites and highlight their benefits. Instagram also allows for “geo-tagging,” which places your site on a photo map, and uploading short video clips.

There are hundreds of apps designed to improve efficiency. Need to see what is happening in the world of real estate? The News Funnel App has one of the most comprehensive collections of up-to-date real estate-related content on the internet. Want to keep track of available space, negotiations or prospects? Download the Hightower AppApto can assist you in building better relationships, close deals faster, and manage your brokerage. Other apps being used within commercial real estate industry include SaleforceVTSSitewise and Planimeter.

Virtual reality, via drones and digital video, is one of the new technologies making its way into commercial real estate world. Forbes reports that there could be 30,000 drones in the skies by 2020, and the cost is much less than hiring an aerial photographer.

“The new Commercial Real Estate revolution will be airborne,” said Carl Sims, Executive Director of Cushman & Wakefield/Commerce in Las Vegas, Nev. “With the total package, a tenant or buyer will be able to get a complete understanding of the property and the area. All without leaving the comfort of their air conditioned office. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the drone is worth a million!”

The medium is use of drones, and the accompanying videos are easy to share and viewable on smart phones, tablets or computers. This technology enables a broker or tenant to see what is planned or possible before the end product is ready. Instead of just seeing a rendering or representation of what a building might look like, now you can see the building, explore the interior and view how the surrounding area will look, all while still in the planning phase. The djigo app assists with photography and drone videos. This app lets you view exactly what the drone is seeing as it is in flight. Do you want your drone to follow you as you walk a property? Download litchiDronedeploy is an app that allows the real estate professional to explore map data directly from the app or take a 360 degree image of the property and send it to a client.

Virtual reality (VR) technology reduces time in the design phase, allowing for changes and decisions at a faster pace than in the past. Is it impossible for you and your client to meet at the location at a reasonable time? No worries — virtual tours are available from a number of options from free Google Earth to paid services, many of which offer full 360 degree views. Cushman Wakefield/Commerce has taken advantage of this technology with the Santa Fe apartment home project in Las Vegas. Click here to view the tour.

Even the Pokémon Go phenomenon has an effect on CRE. The game, originally developed in the late 90s, is an augmented reality game that guides people to travel through the real world searching for Pokémon. As a result, foot traffic for retail businesses, office buildings and malls is growing at a remarkable rate. Increased spending at the businesses, some of which have seen as much as a 75 percent increase over usual traffic, and sales is another perk of this game.

The days of fax machines, film cameras and VHS tapes are gone. Soon, printed property brochures and tour packages with two-dimensional photos will follow. By the time you have finished reading this article, another technological breakthrough may already be in the works. You can either lead the pack or follow, and the view is much better in the front.

Judi Hanf is Marketing Manager for NewMarket Advisors, Nevada’s largest retail real estate company. NewMarket represents more than 40 retail centers in Nevada and over 50 national and regional chain store retailers. There she manages all marketing, graphics, demographics and mapping for 10 brokers. Judi joined CREW-Las Vegas in 2014, where she serves as the Marketing & PR Manager.