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The Technology Behind the Deal

Three ways to find deals in your current database

When we think of prospecting it often brings to mind the practice of cold calling. Indeed, this is still a foundational part of a good prospecting strategy. In order to make the most of the time spent on that process, it’s smart to craft your prospect list with solid leads rather than a hit and miss collection of names.

Prospecting takes consistent, targeted effort that pulls contacts from a range of sources. Your professional network and referrals from former clients are both critical elements for bringing new clients and deals into the pipeline. At the end of the day, CRE is a business that’s based on relationships.

As technology has become more and more specialized to meet the needs of brokers, there are opportunities to be found within your database as well. Information that’s available within your CRM or from some of the excellent data aggregation services out there can be key to identifying people who are ready to do business and are looking for the properties and services you can provide.

Identify your ideal prospect

Keeping in mind what you have to offer, build a list of attributes that an ideal prospect will possess. This is the way to ensure that your list only includes qualified prospects. Length is not what makes for a good prospect list – quality is.

Keep in mind the attributes of qualified prospects:

  • need commercial real estate services
  • know they need commercial real estate services
  • have the authority to act on their need
  • have the budget to back up their authority
  • feel a sense of urgency to act
  • know your company and has had a positive experience in the past
  • know you and likes and trusts you
  • are willing to follow your guidance

 

Match needs to data

When you’ve identified existing needs, consider how your data can point toward contacts with those needs. For example, you might focus on finding companies likely to be looking for new office space in the near future. You can use property leasing and mortgage information to generate a list of firms whose commercial lease will expire soon.  Also, remember to pay attention to things like acquisitions. If a company has recently expanded, it’s likely they will need additional space or possibly need to relocate entirely.

Once a list of new prospects is generated, you can identify the decision-makers through data as well, then gather their contact information and establish a profile of their activities, connections, deals, and interests. This profile can serve as the basis for making meaningful contact that is vastly more effective than a one-size-fits-all sales call.

Categorize and update

As new prospects are identified, group them strategically to save yourself time later. You might categorize people according to their location, industry, or even how long they’ve been in their current location.  A single prospect may fit into several categories.

If you’re using a good CRM, it can be painless to update information on these prospects. Details can be gathered into one place, and notes and changes will be automatically updated throughout the system.

Identifying top-quality prospects is well worth the time and effort, and utilizing the data that you already have on hand can streamline the process.

Leadership of RealNex and AREAA Combine to Honor Veterans

 

Kil22On Wednesday, July 20th, 2016, RealNex Chairman, Mark Kingston, in concert with AREAA (Asian Real Estate Association of America) leadership, presented a check to 22Kill, an organization aimed at honoring veterans and bringing to light the growing problem of veteran suicide and mental health issues. Kingston’s fundraising effort, launched by former Marine Lance Corporal Jordan McBryde on behalf of 22Kill, began with a #22Pushup challenge – an awareness-raising initiative that is gaining a foothold around the country.

22Kill has set a goal of 22 million pushups to honor America’s veterans and to highlight the urgent problem of veteran suicide. The challenge involves recording a video of pushups along with a statement dedicating those pushups to a person or issue. The website’s current pushup counter shows 5,002,557.

Kingston and McBryde worked in concert with Young Ahn, Jim Huang and Peter Park of the Greater Los Angeles AREAA chapter – an effort rewarded by an endorsement from Leyna Nguyen of Kcal9 (CBS Los Angeles), who completed 22 pushups during her evening news report. On a Wednesday afternoon in July, over 25 members of the AREAA Dallas chapter joined with Kingston and McBryde to add their support and their pushups. At the conclusion of the event Kingston remarked, “Our work in real estate is interesting and rewarding in its own right, but coming together with friends and colleagues to support our nation’s heroes puts our priorities in the proper perspective. It’s incredibly fulfilling. Semper Fi to Carl Sagan.”

To support 22Kill or to participate in the #22 Pushup challenge go to www.22kill.com.

The one thing real estate tech companies are doing better than anyone…

Guest Blog by Michael Beckerman

One of the most profound trends I have seen in a very long time is happening in the commercial real estate tech sector. And it’s not what you would think. Most people would assume I am referring to some big tech innovation, massive disruption, etc. But actually… it’s none of that.

I’m talking about marketing!

As someone who has been in the real estate marketing field for almost 30 years, I have witnessed countless trends in the industry. Most of the really important marketing innovations typically came from the largest companies or the ones with the largest budgets. Whether it was the massive, glossy brochures they created, splashy parties, glitzy websites or the push into video… most of the marketing innovation was top down.

Today, real estate tech companies have completely turned this phenomenon on its head. The smallest companies, those that are just coming out of the gate with the least amount of money to spend, are actually the ones driving innovation in the real estate marketing sector.

Here are a couple of observations and thoughts on this trend:

1) A large budget is no longer required for really effective marketing. The tactics that are working today are either free or require very little investment. I am talking about blogging, social media, content marketing, etc…These are all the best ways to build a brand, engage customers and generate sales. And NO ONE, is doing this better than the real estate tech sector.

2) DIY. Almost all of the companies that are kicking ass in tech marketing are essentially doing it themselves. Sure there are great PR firms and marketing agencies that add a great deal of value, but almost all of the content marketing and social media is being done internally by the companies themselves. Additionally, a lot of this great content is actually coming from professionals within these companies. This is an amazing development since it has historically been like pulling teeth to get professionals to write for themselves in the past.

3) It’s all unique. Typically a clever ad, great brochure or an awesome website was rather generic. You could slap any company logo on it and it wouldn’t change things. Now, every bit of content I see out there is, for the most part, incredibly unique and reflects a company’s own brand identity and voice.

4) It’s working. So many of the startups I talk to are getting real traction with their marketing efforts. And, unlike the past, everything is measured and studied for effectiveness and monitored daily. In the “old days”, marketing wasn’t always so easily measured and often times money was spent without much of an expectation of an ROI. No longer!

5) It’s where the world is heading. Outside of the real estate world, the greatest innovations in marketing are taking place in the social, content and digital platforms. But it’s not coming from the tech firms, it’s coming from big brands, Fortune 500 companies and global companies. And if the most successful companies are using these social and digital tools with great success, then it’s usually a strong indication that it will trickle down to other companies. In the real estate sector, it’s actually reverse….the smaller, more nimble tech companies are the ones driving innovation up the food chain.

Which are the ones, in my opinion, that are doing an awesome job with their marketing in the real estate tech space? Here’s a few that come to mind…

RealNex

Hightower

RealMassive

WiredScore

Placester

PivotDesk

Property Capsule

ProspectNow

Apto

MetaProp

Ten-X

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About Michael

Michael Beckerman is the founder and CEO of The News Funnel, a leading real estate content platform and content marketing agency.

Connect with Michael

blog   |   @m_beckerman   |   michael@thenewsfunnel.com

User Spotlight: Hayim Mizrachi Uses RealNex to Streamline CRE Tasks

Hayim Mizrachi Uses RealNex to Streamline CRE Tasks

In our continued effort to better understand the needs of our clients, we sat down recently with Hayim Mizrachi, President of the MDL Group, a Las Vegas CRE Brokerage and Property Management Service. Our talk focused on Mizrachi’s take on CRE tech tools and what he sees as their most significant benefits.

The MDL Group offers a wide range of services to institutional and private investors, property owners, sellers and tenants on a local, regional and national level. Some of these include tenant prospecting and retention, marketing, rental rate analysis, lease negotiations, buyer and seller representation, and site selection, among others. The company’s services cover a lot of ground, and they need tech tools that can come along for the ride.

Ideally, these tools include features created especially for CRE. Mizrachi notes that this type of platform has become a hot topic in the industry in the last year or two:

“The biggest recent change I see for tech in CRE becomes apparent at industry conferences. For some time there have been panel discussions on various tech platforms, but in the last 12-18 months, those panels are no longer about using LinkedIn or Facebook. Instead, they are now talking about CRE-specific solutions.”

His comments hit on an important point. In 2014, $605 million was invested in startups focused on developing platforms and apps specifically designed for the real estate industry.  That’s up from $241 million the year before. The last quarter of 2014 set a record: 32 real estate tech companies raised nearly $300 million in that period.

Technology for CRE can address a multitude of tasks and challenges, including property management, research and analytics, listing services, mobile applications, and lending.

The fact that there are so many disparate concerns in the CRE business was what led Mizrachi to adopt RealNex. He knew his business needed a CRM, but wanted a solution that could cover the entire office, to “make the whole greater than the parts.”

Being able to work in many different areas via one platform is key to streamlining your work, according to Mizrachi. He recalled that before adopting RealNex, the company was using separate tools for different tasks:

“Before RealNex pulled these companies together there were separate log-ins and passwords. The data was all separate. Now I can be working in the CRM, pull up a rent roll, publish a listing all from the same place. And the value is exceptional. This has really streamlined my business.”

Another benefit of an “all-in-one” solution like RealNex, according to Mizrachi, is cost savings:

“Where RealNex has done a great job is that it delivers a complete solution at a great price. You have to have a CRM, you have to have software to do analysis, you have to have a listing site, and RealNex has those tools in one spot and for a great price – you are saved from paying separate subscription fees.”

Technology tools built specifically for CRE that integrate a range of tasks and services AND provide added value –these seem to be what the industry needs. We’re glad to know we’re on the right track.

10 Truly Awesome CRE Tech Blogs

Guest Blog by Michael Beckerman

 

I am a huge fan of blogs. I write one myself. My news platform features hundreds of them. And I preach to anyone that will listen that blogging is one of the most effective ways to build a brand, differentiate yourself and build a prosperous dialogue with your client base.

In my mind, a good blog does five things well:

  1. It provides insight.
  2. It makes you think about how you are doing things in your own world.
  3. It makes you want to share with others.
  4. It is short, concise and reflects its author or brand’s personality.
  5. It makes you anticipate the next blog.

While it’s really great to see so many amazing blogs now being written in the marketplace, I see a great many mistakes bloggers make that prevent them from developing a good following or having an impact. Here are the top five mistakes I see all too often:

  1. Lack of consistency. If you can’t write on a consistent basis, don’t do it at all.
  2. Too self promotional. If you make your blog into a sales pitch, people will get turned off.
  3. It is too long and reads like a book.
  4. It has nothing new to say.
  5. It is cookie cutter.

Outside of real estate, three of my personal favorite blogs are Gary VaynerchukFirst Round Capital and Ben Thompson’s Stratechery.com.

In the real estate sector, I think these 10 blogs do an amazing job when it comes to creating content about commercial real estate and technology.

  1. RealNex
  2. Duke Long
  3. Jonathan Schultz
  4. Hightower
  5. Neuerspace
  6. Allen Buchanan
  7. CREoutsider
  8. The Tenant Advisor
  9. RealMassive
  10. Real Estate Tech News

It’s so refreshing to see how many real estate sites have begun to embrace Content Marketing as a business tool. While I am a big fan of dozens of others, I mention the ones above because I think they set a good example of how professionals and companies can use blogging as a way to build their brand and generate leads.

//

About Michael

Michael Beckerman is the founder and CEO of The News Funnel, a leading real estate content platform and content marketing agency.

Connect with Michael

blog   |   @m_beckerman   |   michael@thenewsfunnel.com

 

Has the Commercial Real Estate Market Reached a Peak?

Jeffrey D. Fisher, Ph.D.

Partner, Pavonis Global Strategic Advisors

 

Commercial real estate in the US has had a great run during the past five years as the market has been recovering from the financial crisis. As shown in Exhibit I, the values of institutional grade commercial real estate have recovered to be slightly above its pre-recession peak and slightly above a trend line since 1978.

Exhibit I: NCREIF Price Index for Institutional Real Estate

EX 1

The recovery has resulted from improving rent growth and occupancy as the economy has improved, coupled by a steady decline in capitalization (cap) rates that have been largely due to low interest rates. As a result, returns to investors have been exceptionally high in recent years. Returns for institutional real estate as measured by the NCREIF Property Index (NPI) have been running in the double digit range for the past five years (see Exhibit II).  These are unleveraged returns for existing properties at the better locations that are held in funds managed by large institutional investors who contribute data quarterly on the performance of about a half-trillion dollars of commercial real estate.   The index includes apartments, retail, office, industrial warehouse and hotel properties.[i]

Exhibit II: Returns (unleveraged) for Institutional Real Estate

Ex 2

While the price increases and returns for commercial real estate have been quite good, investors are increasingly nervous about how much longer it can last. The quarterly returns for the NPI have been dropping for the last five quarters (see Exhibit III). It could be argued that the returns have returned to a level that reflects more of a long term average for commercial real estate. But we also know that markets tend to be cyclical and move below the long term average after a period in which they have been above the average.

Exhibit III: Quarterly Returns for NCREIF Property Index

Ex 3

This does not necessarily mean that values will fall. What it means is that they may plateau at their current level meaning that source of returns will be primarily from the NOI generated by the properties. Rent growth has been strong in recent years with occupancy near record highs for most property types. NOI for the properties may continue to increase, but with little or no change in value. This means cap rates may start to rise. Cap rates have been at historic lows due to the low interest environment and the Fed has indicated that it would like to start raising interest rates as long as the economy keeps improving.

That said, the rise in interest rates could be accompanied by a higher level of inflation in the economy. Historically, commercial real estate has thrived in an inflationary environment as inflation pushed up replacement costs and leases included provisions to protect the landlord against the impact of inflation on rental rates and expenses. This could keep cap rates down even if interest rates rise as investors are more willing to pay a higher price for current NOI in the expectation of higher future NOI and price increases due to inflation.

A recent survey of investors by the Pension Real Estate Association (PREA) forecast returns for the NPI to steadily decline until they level off at around 7 1/2% in 2019 (see Exhibit IV) with most of the return coming from income rather than from any price appreciation. If this is the case, most investors would feel that returns had simply returned to a level where we would expect them to be for institutional grade commercial real estate. So we have to hope that there isn’t some unexpected event that would trigger a more significant decline in returns and even a decline in values during the balance of this decade. There is nothing currently on the horizon to suggest that may happen, but it is always unexpected events that upset market equilibrium.   We will try to keep readers informed of events that we believe might have an impact on commercial real estate.

Exhibit IV: PREA Consensus Forecast of NCREIF Returns

 Ex 4

[i] See www.NCREIF.org for more information about NCREIF.

5 Reasons Cloud-Based CRE Platforms Change the Game

Taking a rearview look at business tech developments show us just how far we have come. Electronic spreadsheets were a huge step, both in terms of efficiency and accuracy. Certainly, communication capabilities have been revolutionized by email and mobile phones. In recent years, however, cloud capabilites have changed the game for the CRE industry.

Working in the cloud simply means using platforms and software that are housed on a remote server that is maintained by the vendor.  This type of technology puts the job of updating and maintaining software on the desk of the provider rather than the user and also provides access from any location or device.

Cloud-based technologies have touched every sector of the business world, and CRE is certainly no exception. In fact, in some ways cloud computing seems custom-made for an industry where very few of us spend most of our time at a desk.  CRE demands mobility, and being able to manage things on the go is a tremendous boon for busy agents.

There are really 5 major areas where cloud computing is moving the industry forward in a big way.

Efficiency

Working in the cloud makes us more efficient because it allows completion of pretty much any task or process on the go. From their tablet or mobile, brokers can assemble and submit offers, supply detailed property information to clients, and even get contracts and leases signed in a matter of hours. Property management software streamlines things like advertising and filling vacancies, handling maintenance requests and calendars, and collecting rents.

Transaction cycle times can be considerably reduced when the job is handled in the cloud. At Realnex, for example, brokers can create instantaneous and detailed analyses for a given property and then set up a transaction management deal room where negotiations and offers can be managed.

Efficiency also means eliminating wasted time when completing routine tasks. Keeping all of these processes together on a cloud-based platform eliminates redundant data entry, since figures are instantly and automatically updated across the platform.  No more worries about using the correct version for marketing purposes or spending any time double-checking that your numbers match.

Access

Documents and information stored in the cloud are instantly accessible, to multiple users, in multiple locations, and on a variety of devices. Many of the all-in-one platforms also integrate relevant data and market information, so in depth reports can be compiled in a few clicks.

Cloud applications can provide access to data from a huge variety of sources, including “unstructured data” like social media, transaction logs, websites, video and more. It’s all there, all up to date, and all compatible with any device.

Transparency

Particularly with regard to transactions, transparency is essential for progress. Cloud-based technology creates an easily traceable history of the entire process, from listing to closing, that’s available any time to everyone involved. Authorized users can review offers, property specs, market information, financing, and all of the relevant documentation.

Transparency helps to streamline the process –both by providing access and by enhancing the confidence and understanding of all the players. Being able to find answers quickly and easily reassures investors that everything is being well managed.

Security

For some, it seems counterintuitive to think that documents stored online would actually be more secure than those on a laptop or printed on paper and stored in the office.

Understanding how cloud-computing works helps us see that this is absolutely true. Laptops can be lost or stolen; papers can be inadvertently destroyed or picked up by an unauthorized person.  Several layers of encryption and security, set up by experts, protect documents that are stored online, and they’re easily shared with authorized users.

Accuracy

People make mistakes. In the course of routine tasks especially, one second of distraction can cause an error that may take weeks to identify and correct. There is really no comparison between the level of accuracy possible via an online platform and what can be expected when those tasks are done by hand.

Using cloud-based software, information can be entered once and then automatically distributed across the system, updating dozens of data points instantly. Figures and information are up to date, accurate, and instantly usable.  

3 Tips for a More Efficient Real Estate Team

Teamwork. At its best, it sparks creativity and results; at its worst, it can cause frustration, delays, and missed opportunity.  The many relationships and processes that are part of the everyday in CRE demand collaboration to get the job done, but keeping teams running efficiently can be a real challenge.

The challenge can be met when basic strategies are adapted to fit the team format. When everyone is in sync, the team can manage a remarkable workload and look good doing it. It’s all about 3 big ideas.

Clarify Goals

Having clearly stated goals is a must for any enterprise, but it’s particularly crucial for a team. The interconnected mission of all team members means there must be detailed understanding of procedures and responsibilities. This has a tremendous impact on performance, because it helps everyone stay focused, but it also boosts confidence and enthusiasm for the work to know you’re on the right track.

It’s important to revisit goals regularly and to use them to inform your planning as well.  Use relevant data to evaluate performance and adjust your strategy.

Communicate

Once again, here’s an obvious priority that becomes even more critical when multiple people are working closely. Regular communication, by phone, email, or via a cloud-based application is a must. All team members should prioritize staying in touch and being accessible.

In addition to facilitating individual channels for communication, it’s important to establish regular times when the whole team checks in. This doesn’t necessarily mean a traditional, face-to-face weekly meeting, although that’s not a bad option.  It can be a conference call or Skype session if need be. Whatever format works best for the team, a regular meeting keeps everyone on top of developments.

Communication with clients is also a concern for real estate teams. It should be clearly established who is responsible for keeping the client informed, as well as sharing information with prospects and former clients via social media or scheduled emails. Responding promptly to client communication is key to customer satisfaction.

Embrace the Cloud

Your team may be scattered across the country or based in a single office.  Either way, the nature of CRE demands that critical documents and information be available wherever we happen to be. Meeting with a potential tenant on site need not prevent our access to property details that the tenant wants to discuss. Getting a contract signed does not require a trip back to the office.

The time saved by basically having your entire office in your pocket is huge. The dynamic CRE team does not spend time chained to a desk. The opportunities are outside. Powerful CRM platforms allow teams to share documents, data, and listings around the clock and from anywhere. Updates are made in real time, so everyone has the “current version” of whatever they’re looking at.

Cloud storage is a major factor in increasing a real estate team’s efficiency and effectiveness. Our clients expect it. Our competitors use it. There’s no time like the present.

10 CRE Bloggers and Social Media Gurus to Follow Today

Staying on top of CRE trends and best practices means being connected. Things move quickly and online sources can help keep you in the loop, but time is limited. Luckily there are experts out there whose business it is to curate the content that’s significant and timely for you.

Follow some of these excellent sources to stay informed and connected with the vital core of CRE. Appoint these industry experts as your personal information gatherers and rest assured that you’re getting the news and analysis that counts.

Coy Davidson

Davidson is a Senior VP at Colliers, based in Houston. In addition to news about technology developments, he writes about tenant representation and corporate real estate strategy under the name of The Tenant Advisor. Recent blog topics include managing transactions in the cloud, using market research, and what’s disrupting CRE (or not). Follow him on Twitter: @CoyDavidsonCRE

Duke Long

Indianapolis broker and social media expert Long writes extensively on content marketing and trends in technology. His style is entertaining and outspoken. He’s recently posted information on CRE crowdfunding, smart building technology, and a whole pile of industry conferences and events.  

Linda Day Harrison

Based in Chicago, Harrison is the founder of Brokerlist.com. She writes about innovation and technology in commercial real estate and shares content from other influencers as well. She specializes in bringing people together and utilizing technology to make that happen.

Bill McBride

If you’re looking for information on the financial and economic side of the industry, make it a habit to read Calculated Risk, McBride’s no-nonsense blog that’s absolutely packed with useful statistics and insights. Follow McBride on Twitter: @calculatedrisk.

Chris Clark

This IT consultant from Syracuse specializes in technology, with an eye for CRE. She tweets as CRE Outsider, and that can be a good thing. Look to her for information on the tech side of things and a sneak peek at things to come. Her twitter feed is content-heavy: @CREOutsider.

Ben Osgood

A tenant rep at Dunhill in San Francisco, Osgood writes about industry innovations, including sustainability issues and green building. He tweets and blogs as The Tenant Advocate. His “Cool New Things We Love” series is all about technology and new applications.

Bo Barron

EVP of the Massimo group, Barron is based in Kentucky and speaks and blogs extensively on productivity in CRE and related topics. Check with him for ideas on improving prospecting practices, establishing your brand, and tools to use for increasing performance.

Michael Bull

Bull is the radio host of The Commercial Real Estate Show, which features industry guests discussing a wide range of CRE topics. This is a great way to hear from some of the big players in the industry about investment, development, and CRE trends. Follow on Twitter: @CRE_show

Jay Rickey

For an inside and in depth look at CRE in NYC, follow this well-rounded and connected industry feed.

Bigger Pockets

This site serves as a social network, with more than half a million members, as well as providing informative posts from a talented writing team. Their blog addresses topics related to real estate investing, including industry trends, property management and much more.

 

Who would you add to this list?

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