March 1, 2010

Technology: Turning time into money

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Originally published in the National Association of Realtors RCA Report, Winter 2010

If time is money, then technology is an investment a commercial real estate professional can scarcely afford to neglect. Today, brokers and property managers can produce complex analytical data, transfer the information to an easy-to-read Excel file and present it to clients with a few key strokes. What used to be a laborious, mathematically-inclined and time-consuming process now has been so streamlined by software products that pencil pushing and number crunching are a much smaller part of the job.

Used correctly, technology allows professionals to significantly increase productivity. Of course, this comes with an investment of time and money by the broker or property manager. The benefits of more potential business and greater income usually offset the risk of the up-front investment.

Though it may be easier for larger firms to make the financial leap and allocate human capital, smaller firms may experience greater impact, some say. “We can make a smaller brokerage look bigger,” said Joe Valeri, president of Lucernex Technologies in Plano, Texas. “If you use it smartly, technology levels the playing field.”

Valeri began his real estate career in the IT division at Marriott, where he created and managed the hotel firm’s property development systems. Through his work, he developed software that streamlined the company’s methods of property acquisition and construction. Understanding this could be valuable for other businesses, he struck out in a career as a technology provider.

His firm supplies lease management, lease valuation and cash flow analysis tools, among others. While this software is important to anyone in the business, Valeri admits that some brokers may benefit more from these tools.

The costs can vary, but Valeri believes that a broker can remain competitive with the investment of $100-$200 dollars each month. “Brokers don’t have to be mathematical geniuses, but they still have to look professional, and providing reliable reports adds credibility,” said Valeri.

This is especially true in the investment sales arena.

Read the complete article here.

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