The best tools for CRE: How to pick the right ones from your digital utility box

by | Insights & Guides

I’ve considered whether too many cooks spoil the real estate deal. And if fewer cooks resulted in a speedier, more efficient deal. Now I wonder, at the risk of over-extending this metaphor to breaking point, whether too many whisks, or the wrong type of whisk, spoils the RE deal? Or, in layman’s, are the best CRE tools being used?

Over the last couple of decades we’re all increasingly using a variety of digital tools to do our jobs. Many of us rely on Microsoft Office for day-to-day tasks such as document creation in Word, calculations in Excel, and email using Outlook. Our use of digital tools accelerated during the pandemic, as we turned to Teams for video conferencing, OneDrive for document sharing and e-signatures in place of wet ink signatures so we could get deals done.

These digital tools undoubtedly make us more efficient: emailing a document instead of couriering it, for instance. Or reviewing track changes on a Word document vs retyping amends made on a hard copy of a contract and then shredding the out-of-date version.

But the reality is that these are all one-size-fits-all for any industry and any purpose. Is there any merit in instead looking to newly emerging bespoke digital tools designed specifically for the real estate industry? And will these drive increased efficiencies, overall customer experience and dramatically improved deal velocity?

Some considerations to bear in mind here are:

→ More or Less: While more tools can certainly mean more efficiencies, an increase in the number of tools used means more integrations are needed. This is always a pay-off to consider: fewer tools that “more or less, but not exactly do what you need” vs tools that do one thing extremely well, but are pointless unless you can easily manage inputs and outputs from the tool.

→ Inevitably: Because this has happened in other industries – as more CRE specific tools are developed we’re going to be spoiled for choice. As everyone chooses the tool that works best for them at the right price, we’re going to have to hand-over between each other’s tools as well as our own. Of course the industry is likely to consolidate around a few key tools – look at how we all mostly use Teams or Zoom for video conferencing, even though there are many alternatives. But nevertheless it’s worth factoring in that some automation of tasks and workflows between apps, using tools such as Zapier, is likely..)

→ Industry Specific: We are seeing the emergence of CRE-specific digital tools that will allow for the nuances of the industry. For instance, in our industry it is unlikely there will ever be one standard document template. But what is possible is the creation of a framework to allow for any document to be created with a consistent structure and the ability to extract the key terms easily.

Why fix something if it’s not broken, you might be asking. Why even consider any of these CRE-specific tools? And that is a good question to ask. However, the more important question is how can we use technology to overcome inefficiencies?

The thing that is currently lacking from the one-size-fits-all tools we are using is a CRE-specific structure that includes the proper controls and permissions to ensure everyone has trust in the process from start to finish. A smoother deal-making process benefits everyone. It’s always better to start off on a good foot than to sour a potential long term relationship with a painful deal process. Brokers can focus on providing their clients support before and after closing the deal instead of facilitating a deal that’s gone sideways due to miscommunications.

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