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Automating These 6 Tasks Will Drastically Free Up Brokers' Time In 2018

The everyday tasks of a commercial real estate broker can be arduous.

Consider the constant back-and-forth between phone calls and an endless stream of messages and emails, the overseeing of dozens of property listings and the exchange of documentation between the parties involved in a deal — when juggling so many balls at once, it is easy to forget a task or make a mistake. 

As commercial real estate tech continues to advance and new solutions hit the market that make the act of trading and managing commercial properties more efficient, it is making brokers' lives much easier. 

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“Eighty-six percent of startups surveyed around the world said the [commercial real estate tech] space is going to be more competitive in 2018,” MetaProp co-founder and Managing Director Aaron Block said. “This means more new technologists who have a real estate background coming to solve real estate problems. That’s up from 76% in Q2 and 63% year-over-year.”

Below are six tasks traditionally conducted by hand or in person that commercial brokers should automate in 2018 to free up their time for more important tasks. 

Data Management

There are dozens of tools, tips and tricks available to modernize data workflow, Block said. 

Platforms like asset management and leasing platform VTS or Dealpath — which aim to streamline and manage CRE professionals' workflow — could eliminate the need for Excel spreadsheets and streamline communication and the documentation process between multiple parties and clients involved in a deal. 

Data Analysis

Gone are the days of industry professionals sifting through pages of industry stats, market demographics and data to determine industry trends and extract information that will help them make informed decisions. Today, companies like Reonomy, HouseCanary and Real Capital Analytics, which house their own proprietary data and scan thousands of public and private records to stay on top of the latest commercial and residential real estate information, are gathering data and doing the job for you.

“‘Data being the new oil’ is a much-lauded quote and companies in the CRE space are realizing just how much data they have,” The Digital Marketing Bureau founder James Dearsley said. “Equally, this is causing a need for platforms that aggregate the data into a single platform to make lives easier. Take companies like Coyote, a company spun out of M7 Real Estate, which struggled to find its own data and CRM platform — so [it built one]. It was so successful that they spun it out into an independent entity as they realized the industry was lacking a suitable software provider for investment managers and property managers.”

Property Showings

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Technology like augmented reality and 3D platforms have transformed property showings, in some cases eliminating the need for in-person tours altogether. 

“Certainly one of the biggest value propositions that [3D and virtual reality] offers brokers is the ability to operate more efficiently,” Matterport Vice President of Sales and Business Development Mark Tepper said. “By leveraging immersive media, brokers are enabling prospective tenants and buyers to experience spaces remotely from their computers and feel as if they were actually there. This technology significantly aids in the decision-making process and can eliminate the need for multiple follow-up visits to a property, freeing up brokers to focus on other work for their clients and winning more business.”

Communication

Chime Technologies Chief Marketing Officer Matt Murphy said communications via long-term direct marketing drip campaigns across email and text can be automated, which can prove extremely beneficial when it comes to sending follow-ups and reminders.

Another way to manage the influx of calls and messages is to utilize artificial intelligence-enabled chatbots to cut down on time spent communicating with people.

“There is no doubt that artificial intelligence is playing a huge part in the world of chatbots. There are companies who are already using chatbots for lead-generation purposes, filtering out leads to only get to the really important ones,” Dearsley said. “Secondly, and perhaps more interestingly, chatbots are really helping in the property manager space. A sector that is littered with data around the problems with buildings can fuel machine learning algorithms that can begin to second guess issues that our buildings will have over time. Being able to predict problems before they actually present themselves means far better planning, both from an organizational as well as a financial perspective.”

Scheduling

The industry has reached the point of maturity in its tech use where keeping track of appointments via Google Calendar is no longer a stretch. Even using smartphone personal assistant applications like Siri or Amazon’s Alexa to keep calendars updated is becoming common as a more efficient method of entering appointments. 

“You use more tech on a daily basis than you realize,” Buildout CEO Vishu Ramanathan said. 

It can go a step further though. Ramanathan recommends a web tool called Calendly to schedule meetings more easily.

Marketing

“Marketing listings and lead generation for agents can be fully automated and optimized using technology platforms,” Murphy said.

Platforms like Chicago-based Buildout aim to do just that. The company customizes marketing materials like flyers, brochures and proposals for real estate professionals by using a company’s blueprints to automatically populate documents and materials.

Ten-X Vice President of Marketing Operations Nathan Dever said social media is also a major factor when it comes to marketing. Brokers can schedule and blast listing info to followers throughout the day without blinking an eye. Dever said social media can also be a convenient communications tool between clients.