AUTHORED BY COLE STERR
This week, technology in real estate is the focus. Ah, technology. What a concept.
It certainly goes without saying that technology has become a major influence in the real estate industry in the past couple of decades. The industry has seen an evolution from the fax machine and stationary phones to cell phones, robotics, and virtual reality. Technological advancements have transformed the real estate landscape, allowing companies to efficiently manage their operations, teams, and assets.
Now, because technology is continuously evolving, it’s virtually impossible to examine all technological advancements. That said, let’s examine some of the most unique technological contributions to real estate.
Tele-advancements in the industry have certainly been instrumental in improving the means of communication between companies. Take an early advancement like the fax machine, for example.
VP of Construction Management Bill Jundt remembers the benefits – as well as the unexpected struggles – of the device. In the 1980s, he remembers, “The construction industry started to move more swiftly, being able to exchange information faster, a huge plus.” However, the ink on the heat pressure paper that the fax printed on would evaporate into thin air, leaving him with a blank piece of paper. After the fax machine printed, one had to hand cut with scissors to make 8.5-by-11-inch sheets and then hang them on a piece of string with a clothes pin for the paper and ink to dry.
What a process.
Speaking of process, other communication advancements included word processors, desktop computers (and eventually laptop computers), along with mobile devices and the accompanied fingertip access for faster decision-making information.
The World Wide Web certainly changed the game in several ways, too. In its early years, having access to marketing information about clients, colleagues, and partners, changed the way we all marketed our organizations. Today, we are seeing how the internet has also contributed to the development of more industrial assets. The impact of ecommerce and the new emphasis of online shopping has “caused a major boom in industrial real estate,” according to Real Estate Associate Connor McCarthy.
Construction & Imagery
Visualization is a critical component of real estate and another area where so much change has taken place.
Google Earth is just one of the many advancements that has allowed visualization to flourish within the industry. The 3D service can allow a real estate professional to calculate property square footage and acreage, analyze the terrain of a potential site, view a property’s surroundings on a screen (replacing the outdated method of driving to a site), and give tours of a building (also replacing the outdated method of driving to a site).
Drones have also proved successful in propelling real estate forward. The aerial vehicle can capture beautiful aerial shots of properties and track information about large portions of land. They can capture footage in hard-to-reach locations, like in between downtown high-rise buildings and/or around natural barriers. These handy dandy inventions can also inspect skyscrapers and power lines to save businesses money to avoid harming its employees.
Additionally, many of our construction plans have transferred to the digital world, calling for tablets in the field instead of paper plans. Other tools like Procore, for example, a program that supplies design and construction teams with the ability to share and update plans live, cultivate collaboration and give rise to virtual reality. Bluebeam is another helpful software that’s used for marking up and revising construction drawings, which encourages innovation and possibilities in construction and design planning.
Technology is great, right?
Sustainability & Automation Systems
Another fascinating advancement in real estate is the rise of automation systems, or the use of various control systems for managing facility-related matters on a property.
According to Development Project Manager Carrie Eggleston, there have been strides in CFFM systems – services that employ cost management techniques down to the penny, deploy, track, and close out work orders, and implement preventative maintenance programs to effectively manage assets and lower costs.
Building automation systems also contribute to efficiency and sustainability. From an international location, buildings (referred to as “smart buildings”) can be controlled whether that’s turning the lights off or locking the door. Additionally, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are constantly improving to maintain sustainable, lasting properties.
Smart buildings also enhance the human experience. For example, if an employee likes to work in a 72-degree office, the building’s automation system can automatically adjust to the desired temperature when that employee swipes their badge walking into work. This smart feature decreases automation and electricity costs, acting as a sustainable and environmentally-friendly building, too!
High tech stuff!
Rise of Social Media Marketing
The rise of social media has beefed up the real estate arena, too. Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook allow developers to capture aesthetically pleasing photos of projects, share construction updates, and recruit tenants to lease up buildings .
Additionally, the media has been crucial in recruitment efforts to attract the new generation of professionals. Maintaining a brand identity, aesthetic, and social media presence, curating content for thousands of people to see, and tailoring content for niche audiences are all methods companies can use to attract the best real estate go-getters.
Financial Reporting & Investment Analyses
We have made strides in financial reporting to improve the efficiencies of our monetary record-keeping. A few years ago, we migrated our accounting records from our servers to the “Cloud.”
Ooh, the “Cloud.”
Anyway, because of this switch, we’re no longer having to spend so much time maintaining our databases, and we can focus on improving our properties more quickly.
A tool used by our finance and accounting teams – called Spreadsheet Server – can pull data out of MRI, our accounting system where all our financial data lives, ensure more accurate data, and anticipate tedious transactions so that they can eventually be automated. This tool eliminates hundreds of manual data entry hours, allowing us to make better and more timely decisions, expedite negotiations, and maintain our status as a leading developer in the Twin Cities.
We are always imagining possibilities of technology in real estate. With superior leadership and IT direction, our technological advancements have positively impacted our development and asset management tactics, while incorporating a forward-thinking dynamic to our work.
Technology’s Lasting Legacy
Clearly, technology has already left its mark in the real estate world. In a fast-paced, always changing industry, there’s no doubt that technology will keep up to better help developers and asset managers do what they do best.
Technology’s lasting legacy? Creating more efficient, human-friendly, and sustainable properties to ensure that value is created, communities are strengthened, possibilities are imagined, and of course, legacies are left.