How Are Real Estate Pros Finding Creative Uses For Tech?
It's no secret commercial real estate lags behind other industries when it comes to embracing tech. This can lead some pros to either overcompensate in their attempts to catch up, or continue to ignore tech advancements. But tech is here to stay and can be beneficial if you know how to use it.
That's what 200 guests learned from our expert panelists at Bisnow's Future of Real Estate Tech: The Built Environment event at Bradley Business Center. Here are a few of the takeaways our panelists shared.
Zeller Realty Group COO Bob Six says when it comes to embracing tech, the first question should be how it will maximize efficiency in the office and across your portfolio. Bob's got a long list of software Zeller uses in its daily operations, and says the firm's software decisions are made with better use of manpower in mind. With tech advancements in building materials improving by the day, Bob adds he's constantly challenging Zeller's technical operations team to make one of the buildings in its portfolio carbon neutral. Could that be the Wrigley Building? Bob says that's a long way away, even though Wrigley is Energy Star and LEED certified.
Instead of installing obsolete landline phone hook-ups, Centrum Partners managing partner John McLinden says Centrum partnered with Everywhere Wireless to install microwave antenna systems capable of providing 50 Mbps Internet speeds in its multifamily properties. It's an Internet alternative to AT&T and Comcast for renters. Centrum is also using tech to identify empty parking spaces at its properties, providing a new revenue stream. We asked John if the Centrum/Everywhere Wireless partnership would be available in office properties like Centrum's under-construction 412 N Wells. John says downtown office is a different beast because of its strong fiber optic infrastructure.
Hansen Realty president John Hansen says developers need to stay on top of what today's office tenants want in their workspace. What is that? Raw space, with fully loaded amenities offered throughout the building. John says Bradley Business Center will have full-service amenities, allowing it to compete with the downtown market for tenants. He added one prospective tenant even spec'ed out the size of the bike room it wanted. On his wish list, John sees a day where driverless cars will revolutionize real estate in the same way the train and automobile did.
Snapped: our panel of Zeller Realty COO Bob Six, Centrum Partners' managing partner John McLinden, KIG Analytics principal Susan Tjarksen, Hansen Realty president John Hansen, Unikey CEO Phil Dumas and Baroo founder Lindsay Hyde. Susan says better data won't replace relationships or intuition when real estate pros do their job. Data shows intangibles that are still important to build-out costs and rent spreads, such as dog ownership among renters and how long a Millennial will commute to work. She adds that KIG Analytics looks at new startups as Trojan horses. What KIG Analytics really wants is the data these startups are offering. Because technology is constantly evolving, KIG Analytics has learned patience and due diligence before making decisions.
Speaking of dog ownership among renters, Baroo's Noreen Zobel and Tara Jacob says the company is growing rapidly. Baroo, a pet concierge service, has partnered with Greystar, Magellan and Golub to provide custom pet care and dog walking services for renters, and adds the flexible workday of today's office worker means Baroo's services will be in greater demand in the future.
Sometimes, the best tech looks to the past for inspiration. One of Bradley Business Center's tenants is Collectors' Car Garage, an automobile storage facility dedicated to the care and preservation of antique vehicles. Collectors' Car Garage leases 58k SF inside Bradley Business Center. Pictured: a vintage Ducati motorcycle and a Fiat coupe, parked outside the restrooms. Nothing like a side of envy as you go to wash your hands.