By Marie Ruff with Matt Ahrens | NAIOP

Time is money and businesses can save both by making the best possible use of technology in commercial real estate transactions. At CRE.Converge 2017 in October, Rising Realty Partners Executive Vice President of Acquisitions Matthew Ahrens will moderate a panel examining how investment firms can use technology to optimize real estate transactions from start to finish. In his role with Rising Realty Partners, Ahrens has led the acquisition of 5 million square feet of office investments with a capitalized value of $1.5 billion. In advance of the conference, NAIOP asked Ahrens for his perspective on using technology to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of real estate transactions.

NAIOPWhat are some of the common issues in commercial real estate deal flow that technology can improve?

Ahrens: Real estate transactions are all about communicating information and making sense of it, so any communication technology greatly impacts commercial real estate transactions. To that end, email, smartphones and mobile technology have greatly impacted the speed of transactions. Additionally, analytical software like Excel and Argus have allowed for greater complexity in real estate transactions through detailed analytical and scenario analysis. In the next generation of technology, we will see a convergence of the analytical, work flow and communication tools into seamless platforms that allow teams to work anywhere at any time with their entire information base at their fingertips. We will discuss some of these innovations on our panel at CRE.Converge.

NAIOPHow can CRE investment firms identify which technologies are worth their time and investment?

Ahrens: The key to evaluating technology is to first have a very strong grasp on your existing workflows as well as deal team roles and communication. Payroll is generally a real estate service firm’s largest cost by far. Anything that will maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your workforce is usually worth the investment. But don’t invest heavy upfront costs into a platform unless you really believe the service provider will continue to innovate and provide a better experience year after year; the last thing you want to do is jump from platform to platform annually. Always do the demo, but lean on start-up software providers to prove their product to you before investing time and energy.

NAIOPIn what ways could technology change the transaction process in the future?

Ahrens: Technology will continue to increase the speed of transactions and the breadth of market participants. It will allow for more complex transactions and smaller, more efficient deal teams. If you’re not adopting to the change in technology, you won’t be able to keep up.