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Commercial Real Estate

How Disruptive Technology Is Changing Commercial Real Estate

By Rebecca Hinds
Commercial real estate at the precipice of rapidly accelerating with the help of technology. In the first quarter of 2018, real estate technology saw approximately $1.7B in financing activity (across 62 companies), as well as 28 M&A transactions, according to a recent report by GCA. Recent technology advancements have impacted every angle of commercial real estate (CRE) professionals' workflows.


1. Property development

The most successful CRE professionals are constantly on the lookout for ways to design and construct properties more quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively. Technology has liberated CRE professionals from needing to rely on traditional methods of erecting structures.

Advancements in 3D printing, pre-fabrication, and modular construction processes have been especially impactful, enabling the construction of building components in controlled environments--unhindered by unpredictable forces such as weather.  Katerra, for example, leverages building information modeling (BIM) software and modular construction to manage pre-fabrication, architectural, and construction services. It enables CRE professionals to quickly transform a concept design into a finished product, thereby eliminating costs across the entire supply chain. Earlier this year, Katerra raised a $865M investment round, led by SoftBank.

2. Property management

Technology is also helping CRE professionals gain transparency over their properties. Advances in smart sensor technology and cloud computing, for instance, are enabling property managers to improve their operational efficiencies. Smart building sensors from providers such as Irisys, Building Robotics, and Honeywell can monitor humidity, air quality, traffic patterns, and identify potential issues remotely. Aquicore has been received especially favorably by CRE property managers. The company automatically reads and compiles data from utility meters and submeters in real-time, allowing them to gain access to comprehensive property energy analytics.

3. Sales

Real estate portals have infiltrated the CRE landscape in recent years. From Redfin to CoStar to REA Group to Lifull, big data has revolutionized the ways in which buyers are connecting with sellers. Personalization technologies have transformed property portals from simple classification databases to personalized search experiences, in turn increasing the quality of the experience. Purplebricks has gained notable traction in the CRE sector, recently securing a £125M strategic investment from Axel Springer.  Purplebricks drastically reduces the time associated with negotiations and sales processes, enabling offers to be made instantly without waiting for a broker.

CRE has also benefited immensely from relationship intelligence software, such as Affinity. Using Affinity, CRE professionals are able to effortlessly map out their networks and identify new key relationships that can translate into big opportunities. From building smart lists of tenants, landlords, development firms, property managers and beyond. Affinity empowers CRE professionals to forge and strengthen the relationships that will drive bigger opportunities. Adopting AI-powered CRE software will enable a CRE team the ability to stay on top of their biggest deals and find new warm introductions and referrals. 

Affinity is like having another player on the field. The ability to uncover opportunities through warm introductions makes our prospecting far more accurate. It’s a game changer.”

Mark McGranahan
Vice Chairman, Cushman & Wakefield

4. Marketing

Disruptive technology has been especially pronounced in the CRE marketing arena. Advancements in virtual and augmented reality, for example, are enabling buyers to dynamically view and analyze properties remotely. These technologies are especially valuable in the pre-construction stages. Virtual and augmented reality technology can morph design concepts into buildings right before buyers’ eyes. Sage Realty Corp has embraced virtual reality technology with its VR tours feature that allows potential buyers to view a building currently under renovation.

Disruptive technology is becoming a non-negotiable in the world of CRE. According to a recent report by PwC, “the evidence suggests that a market’s trend toward technological advantage is correlated with superior real estate performance.” Top CRE performers will embrace disruptive technology such as Affinity and the ones listed above and use it to transform buyer experiences.
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Commercial Real Estate