“One tech trend that has piqued my interest is virtual reality. In
addition to significant data analysis, investors looking to purchase
commercial real estate invariably ‘walk the property’ to get a
beyond-the-numbers look at its condition, the neighborhood, etc.,”
redIQ CEO Elliot Vermes observes. “With the significant strides
virtual reality has made, most of the benefits of exploring and
examining a property can now be conducted from one’s own
desk—a huge benefit that saves the associated time, cost and hassle
of traveling to look at deals.”
Throughout the CRE spectrum, mobile payments are now the
norm and encrypted electronic signing is the standard for secure
contracts. For example, SmartContract.com enables smart con-
tracts to securely connect with external data sources and off-chain
payment methods. Smart contracts can expand beyond being used
as token sale mechanisms, such as through ChainLink, a new
approach to securely connecting smart contracts with real world
data, APIs and traditional bank payments.
One tech provider, iOFFICE Marketplace, advocates the use of
an open system single database to tie into existing systems to
improve productivity and provide reporting. The Marketplace not
only provides information in real time to complete and track daily
tasks via a dashboard with analytics, but it also allows businesses to
plan and project into the future.
Another, LiquidSpace’s altSpace program, re-imagines how
office space is designed, delivered and occupied. altSpace is a new
option both for companies to secure creative office space and for
landlords to fill unused spaces. altSpace combines curated office
fit-outs with LiquidSpace-approved landlord spaces, enabling tenants to move into a new office tailored for teams within 60 days or
less, and stay as long as needed.
FROM DATA TO DOLLARS
Data extraction, analytics and valuation tools are used by real estate
investors and brokers to analyze data to gauge the health of multifamily properties prior to acquisition. Via redIQ, information is
captured in Excel or PDF financial statements and then converted
into users’ chart of accounts and on a dashboard. The platform
includes valuation functionality, enabling users to generate institu-tional-quality cash flow projection models using rent rolls and
operating statements. It also features data visualization (think
Google analytics) to help make the information more digestible.
“Acquisition teams and investment sales brokers expend sig-
BEYOND RENT COLLECTION
nificant time analyzing the rent rolls and historical operating
statements of properties,” explains redIQ’s Vermes. “What makes
this process so tedious is that there is no industry standard for
how property data is compiled and formatted. An analyst evaluat-
ing four properties might be looking at rent roll PDFs compiled
in three or four distinct formats. redIQ brings efficiency to multi-
family underwriting and helps investors make more informed
In the multifamily rental arena, the application of technology in
existing communities speaks to the evolving preferences of
Kass Management Services is a third-party property management and brokerage firm with nearly 9,500 residential units
throughout Chicago. While Kass manages larger luxury apartment
buildings that are newly constructed, it also has extensive experience with older communities. Even though rents in these properties are lower, resident expectations for service and technology are
much the same. As a result, Kass has partnered with third-party
vendors such as Doorman and Blue Crates to offer everything from
package delivery to on-demand storage and online rent payment.
Other initiatives include Waterton’s Innovation Portal, launched
last year. Using a web-based platform, Waterton associates across
the country share ideas for new technologies and processes to create efficiencies.
NEXT GEN’S EARLY START
Finally, for those starting out in the industry, there are numerous
degrees that allow the interplay of technology and real estate.
Universities are adding data science divisions at a rapid pace.
Across the University of California system, campuses are quickly
adding programs in response to soaring workplace demand in a
variety of industries.
UC Irvine was the first to create a data science major in fall
2015. Since then, UC San Diego, UC Davis and UC Berkeley have
followed suit. And at UC Santa Cruz, a new D3 Research center—
data, discovery and decisions—pairs students with companies to
work on research projects.
To be sure, the influence of technology on commercial real
estate is mind blowing. It enhances processes and allows for efficiencies not considered even five years ago. Each day brings
something new and while it is challenging to keep up, it is also
exciting to see how tech will change our industry for the better
with each innovation. ◆
Bishop Ranch recently launched the Intelligence Innovation Accelerator in San Ramon, CA. It provides early-stage entrepreneurs in the San
Francisco Bay Area with the resources to start companies fueled by
machine learning, AI, natural language processing and related tech.
Drones play a part in many commercial real estate activities, from
mapping potential land acquisitions to delivery of retail goods.