Have you ever lost a real estate deal because you failed to reply to an email? Do you spend hours prospecting and updating your contacts? Do you feel like your work is generally disorganized?
Most real estate investors can answer “yes” to at least some of those questions. And with the commercial real estate landscape undergoing tremendous changes in the past few years, your workflow and technology need to adapt to the new realities.
Real estate investment deals are chaotic by nature. Your firm may follow a straightforward process to close deals, but there are countless stakeholders, tasks, and details to manage throughout the process. Without the right tools and resources in place, it can be overwhelming; as a result, organizations in this space should invest in various software solutions, starting with the right type of commercial real estate software that solves the unique pain points faced by investors.
From lease administration, lease accounting, cash flow analysis to managing work orders, many software players are dedicated to solving the many pain points faced by CRE firms through the lifecycle of a deal.
In this article, we will explain the basics of a new crop of software that leverages the power of your network to manage your pipeline and find the best professional for any step of your deal process. In addition, we will review various use cases and how relationship-centric CRE software can add value to you and your firm.
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What is Commercial Real Estate Software?
Commercial real estate software allows firms to organize their real estate contacts, streamline portfolio management, manage pipelines, and improve prospecting, among other use cases. CRE software is usually delivered via software as a service (SaaS). This subscription model provides flexibility by allowing users to access the software from any workstation, android, or iOS device via a mobile app.
CRE software is much more than a generic Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. However, CRM functionality is a core component of relationship-centric CRE software. This novel software enables commercial real estate professionals to streamline their prospecting, rely less on other non-purpose-built systems like Microsoft Outlook & Excel, and automate tasks such as data entry to enhance productivity and save time.
Why Do You Need Commercial Real Estate Software?
Like most real estate investors focused on large commercial property deals, you may manage your deal pipeline with spreadsheets and your contacts with just your email system. These tools have their place, but they can be inefficient as they are not designed to address the unique pain points of a commercial real estate business.
Let’s review why your firm would benefit from having the right CRE software in place.
1. You Need Multiple Contacts to Close Real Estate Deals
As an investor in the commercial real estate industry, your network can be your best source of new business opportunities. To be successful in this space, you need access to a large pool of property owners, buyers, real estate brokers, and multiple specialized vendors. Depending on your typical deal sizes, timeframes, and needs, this group of professionals can easily climb into the thousands.
For example, suppose you are working on a deal involving acquiring and leasing various rental properties, and you happen to require the services of a specialized property valuation advisor. In that case, the last thing you want to do is to turn to Google to find an appraisal professional. Instead, you want a professional (or a firm) you trust that has a track record of delivering high-quality work. Ideally, you would like to find someone from your network or leverage your network to find the right professional for the job.
Commercial real estate software can store these contacts for you in an organized manner so you can access them at any time. Or even better, it can mine your network in real-time to find the right contact at the right time. This way, your network will work for you, instead of you spending hours working your network.
The software in this category uses an AI-powered scoring system to rank your network based on the strength of their relationship with you and the rest of your team. As a result, manually having to sort through and reaching out to your contacts for referrals is no longer necessary.
2. Failing to Reply or Engage is Unacceptable
With real estate transactions moving quickly, the consequences of a single missed email or call can cost extra time, money or even result in the loss of a deal. Failing to reply to an email is simply unacceptable, and having the right tools and processes in place will make sure it does not happen.
For example, let’s say you have a question about a particular property. You send the question to your agent, who passes it along to the seller’s agent, who then consults the seller. Then the reply has to come back up the chain. The whole interaction could take a week or more if you miss the final message. These delays can have adverse effects on your firm’s revenue forecasting and even the investment management process.
Relationship-centric commercial real estate software ensures you are aware of every interaction with your contacts. You can reply immediately or take action in multiple ways. For example, you might assign a task or reminder to another team member to ensure critical follow-ups don’t fall through the cracks. Likewise, you can swiftly pass messages along to lawyers, asset management professionals, property managers, etc. You can also integrate your email marketing system to send out specific automated emails using the various templates your team has used before.
3. Data Entry is Tedious and Time-Consuming
Every commercial real estate deal involves considerable back and forth between multiple parties. The various stakeholders include brokers, clients, potential buyers, asset managers, among others. It all adds up to hundreds of emails, calls, and other touchpoints that require a considerable amount of organization and data entry to stay up to date. Having all this correspondence and data is crucial to keep deals flowing and open the doors to new potential opportunities.
As an investor, however, your time is best spent searching for opportunities and working on deals. You should not spend your time entering data into your software tools.
As a result, your firm needs tools and processes that use automation to minimize as much of that data entry as possible so you and your team can be more productive by focusing on more meaningful work. Software like 4Degrees for Commercial Real Estate gives you back the hours you would spend in other traditional CRM systems that require manual data entry. In addition, with just an email address, 4Degrees can enrich the data about deals in your pipeline and suggest relationships to help close them and add value.
4. It’s Easy to Become Disorganized
When dealing with complex real estate deals and multiple parties, it’s easy to lose control of all the minutia involved. This is especially true if you’re trying to organize other areas such as financing simultaneously. There’s a lot to take in. A miscalculation in one place could affect the return on your investment.
Issues are compounded if your data is kept in multiple tools. For example, you might have some data in personal spreadsheets, bank data in a client portal, documents in a firm document system, and – of course – your email inbox and text messages. It can be hard to find what you need when everything is so spread out.
You need a system to track all of your deal-related data in one centralized location. That’s where commercial real estate software comes in. It centralizes your workflow so you can focus on just one platform- a single source of truth.
Most CRE solutions integrate with the other tools you are already using, allowing you to pull data from other sources automatically. For instance, you might link it to your project management tool so you can assign tasks to your team. Or you might link it to Airtable or Google Sheets, where you store financial projections. This way, you can get much value out of your commercial real estate software, and with pricing based on the number of users, there is a high ROI.
For instance, 4Degrees integrates seamlessly with Outlook and Gmail. This integration adds precious data to the sidebar to help you compose messages without having to leave your familiar email system.
5. You Need to Visualize your Pipeline
Your real estate deals are complex projects with dozens of unique components, milestones, and deliverables. You may have a grasp of the intricacies of one deal, but it becomes far too complicated if you’re trying to work multiple deals simultaneously.
The solution is a visual representation of your firm’s pipeline so you can see where you are in a deal’s journey, what’s holding you back, and what deserves more of your time and attention. Unlike a standard project management tool, AI-powered commercial real estate software is designed specifically for real estate investors.
By enhancing your workflow with the right tools and processes, your firm can punch above its weight and increase its efficiency and the number and quality of deals it closes.
A relationship-centric CRE software is just one piece of the multiple tools available for the various needs of the commercial real estate industry. Once a deal has been completed, and the real estate owner needs to manage the property, commercial property management software or a property management solution can be used.
If you would like to learn how CRE can increase your firm’s productivity, request a personalized demo of 4Degrees. This purpose-built commercial real estate software has been designed from the ground up to help you solve your firm’s pain points.