Can A Financial Software Company Show CRE The Value Of Tech?
While real estate professionals have made strides toward embracing technology, some aspects of the industry still lag behind. Thankfully, a growing number of tech companies have developed solutions designed to make day-to-day work simpler for brokers, developers and property owners.
Chris Elmore has spent years encouraging the real estate industry to adopt new technology, knowing firsthand that industry professionals have long understood the key role tech will play in the future of real estate.
“Twenty years ago, I would go to real estate conventions and ask attendees if they believed that parts of the industry would be automated in the future, and they would all say yes,” said Elmore, who has worked at accounts payable financial technology company AvidXchange for 20 years. “For decades, people have known that the real estate tech revolution is coming, many just haven’t taken the steps to make it happen.”
Elmore and his team at AvidXchange have made it their goal to prove to real estate professionals that the time to automate the industry is now. Bisnow recently spoke with Elmore to learn why he feels real estate is on the brink of change and how AvidXchange is working to break the status quo.
Bisnow: What has been holding the real estate industry back from embracing technology?
Chris Elmore: Real estate professionals have been challenged to see the benefits of adopting new technology because they work in a very traditional, results-focused industry. Other industries may be swayed to adopt certain technologies simply because they seem cool or potentially interesting, but real estate professionals are more practical. To them, things have been working well enough for years, and they need to be truly convinced that they will see a solid return on their investment before they purchase new software.
Take accounts payable for example. Bills are getting paid, so does the process still create so much frustration for real estate professionals? What they are starting to realize is that they could be using fintech software to automate their invoicing system and save both time and money.
Bisnow: Why is it so difficult for real estate professionals to choose a tech solution?
Elmore: Real estate is such a competitive industry. Property owners and managers are focused on taking care of their buildings, getting them leased up and keeping their clients happy, and often don’t have time to research and vet new solutions.
Bisnow: How exactly does fintech like AvidXchange help real estate professionals save time?
Elmore: We have digitized the entire accounts payable and payment process from the time that an invoice is sent to the minute it gets paid.
When real estate companies go to pay their vendors and suppliers, they are getting into a world of unknowns. Some vendors take only checks, while others will take a credit card or a custom electronic payment method. The problem is that each vendor has its own conditions for taking each one of those methods. For example, one supplier might only take credit cards if the payment is under or over a certain amount. Throughout the course of an average week, accountants may find themselves spending hours tracking down the policies of each vendor they interact with.
At AvidXchange, we have a detailed list of hundreds of thousands of real estate vendor and supplier payment policies that we have uploaded to our software and our clients can access instantly. We have more than 400 employees whose sole job is to make sure vendors are being paid through the right payment method, and we are constantly communicating with suppliers to keep our data updated.
We give businesses back the people, time and effort that goes into getting invoices coded, approved and into the accounting system.
Bisnow: How can fintech companies convince real estate professionals to take the next step with technology?
Elmore: I’ve been trying to answer this question for years, and what I’ve discovered is that fintech companies need to clearly show real estate businesses how new software fits into the goals of their organization.
When our team was first developing AvidXchange technology, we were focused on trying to show people how it worked, thinking that would be the best way to prove its value. Eventually, we realized that the "how" didn’t matter nearly as much as the final outcome of what the solution could mean for their business. We weren’t selling technology — we were selling time.
Our software frees up time and helps real estate businesses grow. That’s what matters most.
This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content Studio and AvidXchange. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.