A lot of CRE tech types claim that 2016 will be a big year for CRE technology adoption. I’m not sure what that means since I don’t know any agent or brokerage that doesn’t use technology already in their work or within their company. I suspect it means that everyone will upgrade whatever it is they’re using. Get their acts together or whatever.
That may be true in major markets. They have little choice since they’re working with a level of clients who are demanding more data for better decision making. Or transaction consistency that’s both digital and more streamlined.
National brokerages also seem to be trying to bring more order to their internal operations – particularly pipeline management. I see this in smaller markets, too, and in both cases brokerages are looking to CRM to do it for them. With the other benefits company-wide CRM can offer (lead generation, for example) it seems like a good idea but I have my doubts. CRM relies on agent data input. And we know how agents feel about entering data. Misspelled owner names, bad addresses, a few extra/missing numbers here and there. It’s what happens when you make people do something they’re not cut out for (and don’t understand that good data entry people deserve a lot of respect…).
Nine times out of 10 if you mention data input – even if the app is free – it’s a deal killer. So is price especially when agents are brokerages are being squeezed by CoStar/LoopNet – or any other longstanding essential technology they use. It doesn’t help when all you’ve got to convince them to spend on essentially untested technology is that it “saves time.”
Plus many apps seem to be developed for a certain type of agent and it’s not the jack of all trades one that you’ll find in smaller markets. The one who have to find most of their own leads and do their own marketing for both owners and tenants or buyers with industrial, office and retail properties or land.
They’re not managing properties, working solely as tenant reps and rarely deal with investor types. Their clients don’t want to log into a portal. They want an email, text or phone call.
As for data, they’ve already got their own channels to figure out who’s qualified and who’s not, who’s moving out and who’s moving in. Everyone knows what everyone paid or got. And no one really cares about absorption or vacancy rates in low velocity markets.
That’s not to say that having something no one else has isn’t a good thing. But technology or even data aren’t the only things that make the difference. And if you choose technology to gain an advantage, it’s got to be the type that works for your market. It’s not a transaction portal.
Most people I’ve talked with about this believe that, especially in the smaller markets, there’s a wait and see attitude. They’re standing still, waiting for someone else to figure out the winning tech that will spread or trickle down to them. If they see demand, they’ll answer it – but rarely a moment before.
So maybe those predictions are just for the major markets. Because what I see in my markets for 2016 is the same thing I’ve seen for the last 10 years when it comes to tech. Agents and brokerages looking for better solutions that work for the way they do business, finding few and struggling to use or make do with what they have.