Hyperbole? Maybe. Reactionary? Quite possibly. Inevitable? ABSOLUTELY!...if...
...If we as commercial real estate practitioners continue to collect proprietary data, GIVE it to a third party for them to package the data and SELL IT BACK TO US (and, by the way, sell it to our CUSTOMERS)...how much longer will commercial real estate brokers be necessary?
I know, I know, I know ALL of the retorts...remember I have been doing this since the Reagan administration...the industry will benefit from a standardization of data, its all about a relationship, owners of CRE will benefit because their properties will be more widely exposed, this will help the next generation of CRE brokers get a foothold in the biz so that the proverbial "torch can be passed"...etc.
Hmmm. I believe that we are potentially innovating ourselves out of a job.
Now, before you write this off as another old white guy ranting because he can't use a Rolodex anymore...check yourself. I LOVE innovation! In the early nineties, I pushed my company...kicking and screaming...(them not me) into the computer era of CRMs, collecting market information and creating stats, and fax blasting. Flash forward, in 2008, I was an early adopter of ALL things social media...blogging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc....so I get it!
What I wonder is...where is the point of NO RETURN?
In my opinion, we are approaching the POINT of NO RETURN. Let me pose a simple question for you to ponder. Would you GIVE your CUSTOMER LIST to a third party and ask that they polish it up, re-format it, and SELL it back to you?...with no strings attached as to how YOUR data can be used? I certainly hope not!
Then why, oh why, do we continue to do this in the name of innovation, disruption and efficiency? Are you feeling a bit uneasy? You should be.
Whenever our quest for efficiency crosses into the realm of GIVING AWAY proprietary data with NO rules...we as an industry are vulnerable. Yeah, but...it's still all about a relationship. Fine. HOW do you believe relationships are created? Have you ever tracked a lease expiration and centered your prospecting around expiring leases in your market? ABSOLUTELY! Until very recently, lease expirations were proprietary and you needed a CRE broker to unlock the walled garden...not so anymore. If we as an industry allow our proprietary customer lists (lease comparables) to become a commodity...what's left? Available inventory is already available on-line, countless "how to lease a space" posts are available on line...heck, I've even written those blogs..., JLL has a site where small space users can complete a deal without a broker...you see where I'm going?
Need a will or an LLC...LegalZoom.com...no need for an attorney
Want to buy ANYTHING...Amazon.com...no need to visit a store. How's that taste, Best Buy?
Want to complete a commercial real estate lease...NoNeedForABroker.com
By: Allen Buchanan
Principal | Lee & Associates
Follow Allen on Twitter @allencbuchanan
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