A provider of consulting and lease administration services, [they’ve] implemented a system that can work with any property management software. As a result, “When one of the operating units wants information about a leased or owned location, they simply log on to the site, enter their password, and have access to their abstracts, image copies of the legal documents and even reports.”
And this review of a CRE tech info site:
[It] offers what are arguably the industry’s best reviews of real estate-related sites, rating them from one to five stars through a solid methodology that’s explained in detail in the [site’s] FAQs… [The site] also gets major props from this corner for refusing to join many web sites’ lemming-like run toward indiscriminately throwing reams of content online with no concern for quality.
If you didn’t catch on from the post title, these are excerpts from a 1999 article. But if you didn’t know that, you’d have no trouble believing it was written today.
I was working in CRE tech in 1999 and from what I’ve seen, most of today’s new CRE tech is basically a re-hash of what’s been done before. There just seems to be more of it, in large part because the entry barrier is now much lower for developers. New general purpose technologies, simpler programming languages and cheap storage make it possible for anyone with a few bucks and some time to become a CRE startup.
The difference between the apps on display at my first CRE tech convention and the last one I went to this year? Some new features and slicker interlaces, but for the most part, it’s deja vu all over again. CRE apps for automated marketing, mapping software, property management, alternative data providers and lease administration…not to mention the same “per agent” pricing. Yes, there will be a few that rise to the top – just like LoopNet did back in the day. But, as it was then, the best most can hope for is to corral a handful of smaller brokerages to keep them going for a few years.
But! National brokerages are investing in CRE tech companies so there’s hope for broad industry buy-in, right? Brokerages invested in the dotcom days, too, throwing a lot of money at emerging technologies but ending up with not much to show for it. Today, it seems like the support is more moral than financial. Because at the same time the big brokerages are recommending new software, most are sticking with established players for major technology outlays. Companies like Oracle, Microsoft, Salesforce or Argus for back office operations, CRM and agent/client process management.
In the meantime, my pet issue (data) is mostly standing still. When I started writing posts 6 years ago, I really believed CRE was on the cusp of getting a handle on their data issues. That someone was going to find a better way to collect, maintain and share data. Alternative aggregators were all over the place, but most of them failed due to a lack of imagination. CRE doesn’t need a LoopNet/CoStar clone. It needs something different.
I read a post a while ago where the author wrote that he got a headache every time he heard Uber used in the same sentence with commercial real estate. He felt that the Uber model had nothing to do with CRE. But he’s wrong.
I’ve always believed that CRE’s adoption of tech changes only when mainstream tech companies create something that agents or brokers can use (like the cellphone, Salesforce) – or when users and owners demands it. While Uber’s claim to disruption fame is its market based pricing it really caught on because it put the user in control.
That’s what people want. Control. Services on demand. And while real estate transactions may not be at the top of the list of “things I want to control”, this thinking will eventually permeate everything. For CRE, the trick will be figuring out just how much of the process users and owners want to control and how you can give it to them. And that includes agents and brokerages, too. They want control and information or services on demand just like everyone else.
The CRE tech winners of this round will be the ones who capitalize on today’s trends like the demand or sharing economies as well as personalization, omnipresence and a host of others bubbling below the surface. 1999? It’s over. So stop thinking and developing like it isn’t.