Preparing for Inevitable Tech Changes to Commercial Real Estate Here in Southwest Florida

Preparing for Inevitable Tech Changes to Commercial Real Estate Here in Southwest Florida

By Gary Tasman

CEO & Principal Broker, Cushman & Wakefield Commercial Property Southwest Florida, LLC

Heraclitus of Ephesus once suggested that the only constant in life is change. For commercial real estate brokers, this change will occur whether they make it happen or not. However, if these same brokers would like a chance to remain top of mind and indispensable, they are best served capitalizing on any untapped assets available to them and adapting to the inevitable advancements of technology that are sweeping the commercial real estate domain and taking hold here in Southwest Florida. For example, Cushman & Wakefield is gaining much traction by posting market analytics, as well as published information regarding transactions and prospective sales, to a blog-like tab on the local chapter’s website and social media pages.

Selling Yourself in Today’s Real Estate Market

Targeted advertisements are already starting to appear right before consumers’ eyes, as social media platforms use personal information to deliver ads to those who want them the most. The next step will be personalized inperson ads, such as those found on LED video displays. When the time comes, brokers should know how and where to do this. The research begins now.

Meanwhile, as listings continue to appear in print or online, great photography is vital to a consumer’s decision. High-resolution digital cameras, as well as drone technology, will increase image capabilities. Brokers may even consider flowing virtual reality into 3D software to alter how the consumer experiences commercial space. Those revolutionized listings can and should be sent before, during and after business hours, as Wi-Fi is continuing to take the real estate industry far beyond the physical office, a topic explored in a later section.

Leveraging Technology is a Company-wide Effort

Brokers can leverage their business with an invaluable network and meaningful sources of agent training and collaboration. This grants them access to a comprehensive dataset of real estate listings, transactions, agent recruitment opportunities and consumers. Those same consumers often separate brokers based on their brand, as well as the services and relationships those brokers establish. Therefore, Cushman & Wakefield has linked the national and regional projects that make up said brand to multiple platforms.

This brand can be molded through technologies such as advanced analytics, cloud computing and 3D printing, as well as partnerships with existing startups. Right now, startups based on the sharing economy (renting or borrowing goods versus owning them) are disrupting the way firms apply commercial real estate. A sharing economy could generate revenues of $335 billion by 2025, eating up revenues and market share from the traditional real estate business.

A partnership would allow for a new approach toward lease administration and space duration, as well as drive said company’s technological advancements forward through diversification of their core business focus without threatening the future of brokerages. This includes catering to the needs of an aging population and the increasing unpredictability of today’s consumers.

Affectively Promoting Change

But the question remains, how can brokers encourage their agents and clients to embrace these technological advancements? First, this network should be introduced to Apps that provide in-depth detail regarding finances, risks, property values and demographics, as well as how each of these items are critical to everyday investments.

To better understand just how helpful and convenient these tools can be, brokers may want to provide both inperson and online support to staff members, depending on their needs. Also, playing up the convenience of this new technology offers one’s network a true reason to embrace it, especially as digital technology forces jobs of the future to be more flexible and connected despite the diverse age groups that fill those positions. Recently, Cushman & Wakefield tried their hand at webinars as a way of generating an interactive experience with clients and demonstrating to the in-house team that experimenting with innovative technologies can work in the firm’s favor.

Going Beyond the Call of Duty

With the technological shift of commercial real estate has come other types of movement that will force brokers to step outside of their job description. For example, keeping in mind the quality of infrastructure systems as they invest in urban development.

Brokers should pay attention to strong telecommunications systems, such as high-speed internet, as well as strong roads and bridges and reliable and affordable energy. This includes observing the coordination between various planning teams, as well as becoming an advocate of sustainability, the circular economy, and smart solutions, especially as climate change comes even further into play. Within the last few months, Cushman & Wakefield has taken on two brokers with decades of experience in Southwest Florida real estate investments and real estate activities for regional shopping centers as a way of growing commercial property locally while considering how that property assimilates itself to various locations.

Do Not Forget About Obsolete Space

With the uncertain future of the real estate profession, brokers need to adopt skills far beyond what they learned in school. This includes creating one’s own job by thinking like a modern-day entrepreneur with the ability to socially interact and improve upon emotional intelligence.

As hyper-connectivity and work flexibility increase, and therefore, leave a lasting impact on property prices, brokers must also consider how their traditional office space is currently being used. If brokers and agents are spending more time outside than inside, they may want to combine the spaces in which they live and work. For example, parking takes up 6,500 square miles of land throughout the U.S. Just think of how much more productive that space could be.

Real estate firms and brokers themselves should look into virtual space as a way to improve the mobility of businesses and consumers, hence reducing the interdependence of physical and virtual spaces, advancing relationships, and staying ahead of the competition who may fight to integrate space when it is too late to remain a relevant company. This is a subject Cushman & Wakefield calls ‘Clicks vs. Bricks’ and has incorporated into its first webinar, as well as internal reports.

In short, brokers should consult with their team, do the research and let clients know they are fully prepared to guide them through the complex obstacle course that is becoming commercial real estate. Then, Realtors® will be ready to put their money where their mouth is.

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