By: Stephen Cassidy, President of Denholtz Associates
A lot has changed in the 27 years since I entered the commercial real estate industry. One of the more exciting changes I have observed in the past several years though has been the development and application of real estate technology.
New technologies seemingly appear almost daily, each seeking to streamline the processes that make up the day-to-day operations of a real estate company to enable us to operate more efficiently and with greater flexibility. Unfortunately, the commercial real estate industry has historically been slow to adopt latest technologies. For some, technology is seen as an attempt to replace the handshakes and in-person networking that forms the foundation of much of the industry. Sadly, this is often an impediment to adaptation at many firms.
However, at Denholtz Associates, we recognize the importance of those time-tested business techniques, but we also recognize that the adoption of technology can and has increased our efficiency, profitability and our ability to deliver superior client service. We have continually sought to enhance, not replace, the foundational aspects of our real estate business through the novel and cutting-edge application of leading technology platforms.
How are we utilizing real estate technology?
Each of our company’s separate business units have unique needs when to comes to technology whether it’s leasing, investor relations or operations. What they do share is a commitment to our core mission – returning superior risk-adjusted returns to our investors through diversified real estate investments.
Commercial real estate (CRE) as business requires ample amounts of a scarce resource – investor capital. Our ability to acquire or develop projects is determined by how much capital we have to deploy. We have always maintained strong relationships with our existing investors and networked to build additional relationships, however, that type of capital recruitment is limited by it’s one to one nature. With the passage of the JOBS ACT of 2013 by Congress, CRE crowdfunding was made legal. While many in our industry were worried about negative connotations, we immediately saw the opportunity and were early participants in crowdfunding. Partnering with industry leader CrowdStreet has allowed us to add to our investor base and, as importantly, bring technology to our existing Investor Relations. We leveraged this relationship to power our own investor portal. Our investors, from all sources, can now see our offerings, their investments and other valuable information such as annual reports and tax forms from anywhere in the world at any time. The only requirement is a web browser.
The other side of the return on investment story is the management of our portfolio to ensure our spaces are returning maximum profitability. Previously, to check on a building’s leasing status or an individual tenant’s lease, we were required to take multiple steps and create numerous reports just to develop a picture of what our buildings’ leasing situation looked like. For a CRE company that has 5 million square feet of space and employs a very successful multi-tenant strategy across several states this process was needless to say, cumbersome. Our recent adoption of the View the Space (VTS) platform offers us real-time reporting on our leases across our portfolio to provide us with an up-to-the-minute picture of our portfolio that enables us to make faster and better-informed decisions.
Denholtz Associates has long utilized Yardi the leading accounting and asset management SaaS CRE product for many years and have always been quick to adopt new features and processes. Yardi allows our tenants to see payment and work request statuses as well as important building information all through an easy-to-use web portal. Each of these platforms – Crowdstreet, VTS and Yardi – offer us endless adaptation to fit the constantly changing nature of CRE. We have also been able to integrate them into our website to provide investors, brokers, and tenants with transparent and up-to-date information.
Often an overlooked part of commercial real estate technology, we have also made an aggressive push into utilizing social media through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to disseminate important company news, post thought leadership from our executives and engage with influencers. This has enabled us to keep all of our valued business partners informed about Denholtz Associates and helps showcase our substantial capabilities to new investors and project partners.
The Future of CRE Technology
As technology continues to be developed at a breakneck pace, we are continually looking for platforms and applications that enable us to operate in an efficient and flexible manner in line with our core business strategy. Rapidly developing technologies like drone photography, virtual and augmented reality, and blockchain all present highly promising prospects for us to further streamline and enhance many aspects of our business. However, at the end of the day, we recognize that all of these tools are only as good as the people operating them. We take great pride in the team we have built and the substantial in-house capabilities we possess as a result. Our continued adoption of the latest technology aims to equip our team with the tools to create and execute meaningful projects to bring exciting spaces to communities and above-average returns to our investors. Contact me if you are interested in learning more about the Denholtz difference and what technology-driven real estate investment looks like.