Guest Post by Matt Giffune, Co-Founder at Occupier

The commercial real estate industry has been notoriously slow to adopt new technology. In the not-so-distant past, a smartphone and a robust Excel spreadsheet were more than enough for tenant rep brokers to conduct business. Today, however, neither tool is sufficient — far from it, in fact.

Though the proptech industry started a decade or so ago, only now have tenant reps been exploring commercial real estate technology in its many forms to assist in the various phases of a given asset’s lifecycle. In all likelihood, this is why venture capital investment in the proptech space skyrocketed to $32 billion in 2021, a 28% increase from the previous year.

The increased adoption of proptech solutions is at least partly out of necessity. The pandemic revealed how real estate and finance processes aren’t as savvy as they could be, thus unnecessarily exposing organizations to risk not often found with the more modern tech stack. Moving the needle further are the tenants themselves — both prospective and existing tenants. Like the modern consumer, they expect digital experiences that simplify the real estate process, from deal sourcing to portfolio management.

This isn’t to say that tenant reps are no longer the keepers of commercial real estate insights. Nor is this to say that they no longer serve as confidants to their tenants’ real estate portfolios. That much hasn’t changed and likely won’t. Commercial real estate brokers and their market knowledge are still essential to securing the best possible real estate spaces at the best possible prices. However, clients now expect more commercial real estate data, in-depth market analysis, and intelligent collaboration tools throughout the entire lease life cycle.

A Better Tech Stack for Commercial Real Estate Businesses

Naturally, the onus is on tenant rep brokers to lead the charge on the adoption of innovative proptech solutions. A tall order in some cases, but the move is advantageous for all parties involved. For one, commercial real estate technology provides real-time data to more effectively and strategically analyze deals and real estate spaces. In a matter of a few clicks, tenant reps can pull up the information necessary to better identify potential growth areas to locate a client’s new retail space.

Depending on the proptech solution, space utilization data can help measure everything from capacity and density to usable square footage and even cost per person. Property owners get a better understanding of the value of a space and its security and maintenance requirements. At the same time, potential tenants can make data-driven decisions about whether a space meets their needs from a variety of perspectives.

Proptech solutions can also expand the reach of a commercial real estate business beyond the local area. Should a client be looking to make moves into another market, the functionality is available to not only conduct virtual tours, but also provide space inspection information in said technology platform. So, there’s no need to jump from one tool to another. It’s all accessible and convenient, ultimately helping improve both the lessor and lessee experiences.

Besides, technology in and of itself enables more effective communication — commercial real estate technology included — not only between lessors and lessees or tenant reps and tenants, but also with maintenance teams, repair workers, property managers, and so on. All the details of correspondences can be captured and stored, ensuring timely responses and nothing gets missed throughout the lease lifecycle.

Using Proptech to Its Fullest Capabilities

Like any technology, proptech solutions are what you make of them. Tenant rep brokers must first take the time to understand the platform to ensure they’re able to use commercial real estate technology to its fullest capabilities. Here are some benefits to expect when investing in the right proptech solution:

1. Informed deal strategy.

The goal of every tenant rep broker is to close more deals. But between building sales pipelines, managing client relationships, and overseeing transactions, deal strategy can go by the wayside. Proptech solutions enable tenant reps to automate task management, comp data points, and much more.

With more time available to devote to deal strategy analysis, tenant reps can provide better advice to their tenants. They also can negotiate with landlords from a more informed and competitive perspective. Proptech solutions open up the opportunity to elevate the role of the tenant rep broker to that of strategic advisor.

2. Automated transaction management.

In the past, tenant rep brokers would track proposals, negotiations, and comps in spreadsheets. Thanks to proptech, gone are the days of manually emailing PDFs, updating spreadsheets, and managing tasks in a calendar. That’s because many proptech solutions act more like real estate transaction management software.

In fact, proptech can serve as a single source of commercial real estate truth that can optimize deal processes. The technology also allows tenant reps and their teams to conduct business from anywhere and at any time, which can minimize disruptions should someone need to be offsite for an extended period of time. Those collaborative sessions never have to take a backseat, as they are enabled virtually through the cloud.

3. Improved tenant experience.

If there is one major takeaway from the pandemic, it’s that tenants expect frictionless experiences. Traditionally, leasing commercial real estate spaces was purely transactional. Today, modern tenants require tech-enabled experiences at their fingertips — if not the palms of their hands. They want convenience, quick data insights, and efficient processes.

At the end of the day, an exceptional tenant experience is foundational to the tenant rep and tenant relationship. Leveraging intelligent software enables better collaboration and clearer client communication. Everyone is always kept in the know, and little guesswork is left in the equation.

As the commercial real estate industry embarks on the proptech revolution, tenant rep brokers have become tech-enabled strategic advisors to their clients. Proptech offers the commercial real estate data analytics necessary to make more informed decisions on not only site selections, but also negotiations, terms, and lease agreements. The whole lease lifecycle process has become more seamless, a real benefit to all parties involved.

Matt Giffune is Co-Founder at Occupier, a lease management software platform.