There is no doubt that much of the present and future of commerce is on-line. Commercial real estate is no exception. From a world of sandwich signs, brochures, door knocking and hand shakes, the digital age has come into this market as a whirl wind of connection opportunities. There are five major forms being adopted by real estate brokers and private deal-makers alike: On-line Listings, Email Marketing, Digital or Virtual Deal Rooms, Social Media, and On-line Auctions. Each commercial real estate venue carries strengths and weaknesses. Some are largely a sub-channel for primary commercial real estate venues.
Commercial Real Estate online listings
The gorilla on the corner of Commercial Real Estate Listings is LoopNet, a giant commercial real estate marketplace with varying level of membership. Limited access is available free of charge, with full access starting at $39.95 a month. Trial and short-term access are available for less, in order to allow customers to “test-drive” without committing to a period of service. For free services, the current board leader is Commercial Investment Multiple Listing Service or CIMLS. While there is a CIMLS Gold service for $20/monthly, the basic free service is much more comprehensive than the one available through LoopNet.
Email marketing of commercial Real Estate
Brokers and agents who embraced Internet technology early as a means of informing clients have taken the next step of forming e-mail distribution lists to get the word out regarding listings and sales. Email can service to notify of new listings, inform clients of market trends, and otherwise keep commercial real estate on the mind of the people in a brokers email contacts. This provides a means to keep communication open without the appearance of hounding the customer. While more passive and impersonal than traditional contacts, ease and volume make this attractive.
Virtual and digital deal rooms for commercial Real Estate
Virtual and Digital Deal Rooms for commercial real estate are a new way to leverage technology to accelerate the rate, ease and security of a commercial real estate transaction. These deal rooms allow for document banks of all the due diligence documentation required to execute the deal, cutting down the number of faxes, phone calls and other types of interaction that may slow a transaction. The plus side of these types of services is that most are designed to be Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 (SOX) compliant, ensuring that individuals will not be help liable for a failure of due diligence. Rather than bringing the buyer and seller together, these facilitate execution of the deal.
Social media and commercial Real Estate
Social Media is largely playing a role as a sub-channel of Email Marketing and On-line Listings. Sites such as LoopNet have “post to social media site” links to Twitter, Facebook and Linked-In in order to maximize visibility in the users personal network as well as the raise the ranking of their own site on searches. This tool can be a force multiplier for the more “traditional” on-line venues.
This new twist to the old standby of auction is a prime commercial venue. One such site is Auctionpoint.com. Highly user-friendly and having excellent search engine exposure, this current leader is setting the example for professional commercial real estate auction sites. As an added benefit, this site provides tools to link the still-strong traditional marketing methods to the widely available on-line auction.
We are living in the future and online marketing of commercial real estate is part of out present.