Moving Beyond the Spreadsheet
SAN FRANCISCO—Information management is central to leasing a property, yet central online sources for leasing information have been missing until very recently. Cloud-based, mobile-optimized platforms for leasing are now connecting the dots, allowing landlords, their brokers, and their prospective tenants to share data more effectively.
Two platforms, which both started in the past two years that are demonstrating the potential of these technologies include Hightower and VTS. These platforms are gaining significant traction, as demonstrated by the $16.3 million in venture capital funding they have collectively received. The value proposition behind these platforms is simple: they save time (shortening the leasing cycle), enhance communication, and empower brokers and landlords to make better data driven decisions.
The components to these platforms are integrated. Core components of these portfolio-wide & analytic platforms are the following elements:
- Structured Database—Users can track tours, listings, assignments, space inventory and even files as a digital drop box(ex. floor plans or lease contract)
- Centralized Relationship Management (CRM) —The platforms track who is involved in the deal process
- Integrated Space Marketing—Brokers can quickly share relevant property/space information, even initiating a “lead” to be tracked in the system
- Dynamic Reporting—Traditionally, leasing reports are static, sent out only when the property owner is meeting with their broker or when specifically requested. These platforms allow owners and brokers to view real time information on spaces and buildings, even including push notifications for activities like new tours or a lease execution.
Adoption of this technology is growing among both institutional owners and major brokerage firms, including institutional owners like Hines, Shorenstein, Brookfield, and Equity Office. Traditionally, owners have relied on leasing comparables to understand the market. The difference, according to Ryan Masiello, chief revenue officer at VTS, is that “comps show you what already happened. This [also] shows you what is happening.”
Most major brokerage firms have teams testing the technology. Brandon Weber, CEO at Hightower, explains, “We are now as an industry talking a lot about data-driven leasing. The ones who walk into investors’ offices and make pitches that are more data-driven, they’ll just win more listings.” As this technology is still in its infancy, it remains to be seen whether it will fundamentally change the way properties are leased, but there is significant potential.
The possible impacts of these platforms are wide-ranging. Some immediate implications may include:
- More consultative role for brokers—less paperwork; more value-add and relationship time
- More data-driven decision making—aggregating data on property and portfolio levels will help owners and users quickly and effectively direct resources and see correlations
- More substantive dialogues leasing activity—everyone can quickly understand the “What” (data via dashboards) enabling them to focus on the “So What” (implications) and the “Now What” (actions)
This technology is making a traditionally static data management process more dynamic. Effective communication is critical in establishing trust and ensuring successful relationships. The way owners, brokers, and tenants communicate and manage data is moving beyond the spreadsheet.
Pierce Neinken, western region solutions director at CBRE and organizer of CRE // Tech Intersect. The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CBRE or of GlobeSt.com.
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