Real Estate Brokerages Meet And Adopt Tech They Like

Stephen Rutchik went paperless when he joined Colliers International 1 ½ years ago. That’s big deal for a broker in the commercial real estate field, an industry that has historically lagged behind others on the digital front. Colliers has begun to fill the disconnected line between the commercial real estate industry and technology. The fourth-largest real estate brokerage in the nation joins global companies CBRE Inc., JL.L and Cushman & Wakefield in what agents describe as a speedy digitization of a traditionally old- school industry. Companies large and small are placing a priority on software upgrades.

Rutchik and his South Florida team were early adopters of View the Space, or VTS, a cloud-based leasing and asset management platform. Both property owners and brokers have access to VTS, which allows them to manage property from any device 24 hours a day.

Colliers also uses similar software called Hightower to streamline reporting and communication among its brokers and clients. On Hightower, agency brokers instantly share updates like new lease deals and property tours with clients on the collective platform.

“It’s about getting more time with your clients and spending less time at your desks.” Rutchik said.

Now that information is easily accessible on both platforms, the Miami-based broker said he no longer needs to call his team members every morning and ask, “What happened yesterday?”

Blanca Commercial Real Estate uses Hightower across its entire portfolio,(JLL’s Alan Kleber is amazed at the speed of tech transition in the real estate industry and the focus on innovation. one of the first companies in Miami to do so, said chief marketing officer Diana Pubchara, who advises on the company’s tech initiatives. The company manages over 25 buildings with the software and gives landlords complimentary access. Pubchara applauds the company’s adoption because it has helped boost Blanca’s market intelligence. She said Hightower streamlines communication between brokers and clients, tracks building performance and helps identify trends. If several law firms have signed leases or are touring space in a particular market, the software picks up on that and hands over the data to its users.

Brokers who were at first hesitant quickly embraced Hightower, Pucbchara said.

“They like the comfort of being able to do it from their phone, “she said. “ Aside from logging tours they can share floor plans and spaces with other brokers. It makes the exchanging of information so easy. They get hooked on it once they start using it.”


Leading the commercial real estate realm in high-tech investment are brokerage giants JL.L. and Cushman & Wakefield, which have spent large sums adapting to the newest software and creating proprietary technology

“It is very amazing how quickly the business has transformed and how organization like JL.L are focusing on technology and innovation, ”said Alan Kleber, who became a managing director at J.L.L’s Miami office when the company acquired Cresa South Florida late last year.

Kleber left Cushman & Wakefield to join the smaller Cresa in 2011. The Broker said “his jaw hit the floor” when he joined JL.L. four years later. He Said it’s almost “mind-blogging” how quickly the company is “involving into a tech savvy real estate services organization.”

The industry has realized that different results are achieved when data is leveraged to inform brokers and client, he said. And that data is now available anytime at your fingertips.

“It’s too important to not innovate and evolve. Kleber said.

JL.L launched its own innovation team to sift through the latest and greatest, and began acquiring tech companies, he said. The company recently purchased BRG, which helps companies successfully integrate new technology systems, and Silicon Valley-based Corrigo Inc..,a web-based facility management software.

Both JL.L and Cushman also have invested heavily to develop their own proprietary technology.

Kleber is Most excited about Blackbird, a JL.L-created tool that gives clients a virtual 3-D tour of individual markets while visually integrating relevant data points for prospective buyers, landlords and tenant.

“Think of Google Earth on Steroids with lots of real estate data,” the broker said.

Meanwhile at Cushman & Wakefield, brokers operate on the company’s own web portal coined Fusion. Mark Paterman, a director at the company’s West Palm Beach office, pointed out the new tools are only as good as the data entered by brokers.

“The more we rely on technology, the more accurate data should be,”Paterman said. Paterman predicts mega-partnerships will form between fledgling businesses like Hightower and long-established customer relationship management or CRM, systems like Ultimately everything will merge onto one collective CRM platform, he said. If those partnerships crystallize, very broker in the country could one day be looking at same screen.


The vast availability of online data has heightened competition in a notoriously competitive business, especially with the rise of virtual marketplace like LoopNet.




Which give owners the ability to list properties for sale without broker. LoopNet-like platform are making it easier for building owners to sell directly, said Greg Matus, regional managing partner with Franklin Street. Tamp-based Franklin Street tracks LoopNet listing on a daily basis. Rather than wait for an owner to contact the company, he approaches sellers listing properties on the site, saying, “We’d like to market this property for you, We have a buyer.”

“Because of technology, it’s easier now for investors to cut a broker out of transaction, “Matus said. “ But smart clients understand that a good broker will add value to a transaction. That’s why groups like [Ten-X] don’t market property without a good broker.”

Ten-X is an online marketplace that partners with brokers to market their listing nationwide. Formerly known as, the Irvine, California-based company is dominating the online real estate transaction arena.

“We’re positioned between the seller, the brokers and the buyers in the market,” said Justin Latorre, vice president of business development in Florida. When Matus scores a listing, he shares it with Ten-x, which markets the property to its expansive audience. Ten-X does everything a broker would traditionally do to market a property but on wide scale. The company also underwrites the deal and completes an environmental assessment and property condition report and it’s all done online. Matus said connecting with out -of-state buyers interested in his clients’ properties is easier than ever before. At times, the relationship between and online platform like Ten-X and brokerages gets characterized as competitive, but Latorre said that’s not the case. “we’re not replacing brokers. “ he said. “We’re re-enabling more transparency in the market for sellers, buyers and brokers.”

LoopNet-like platforms are making it easier for building owners to sell directly, said Greg Matus, regional managing partner with Franklin Street.

Every piece of real estate is different, so Ten-X highly leverages brokers for their local market knowledge. While brokerages are evloling into data-driven machines to stave off competition, brokers say relationships are still key. Because at end of the day, a client will always look beyond the data for behind- the-curtain information, said Paterman, the Cushman & Wakefield brokers. For example, an investor eyeing an office building will want to know if law firm occupying the top floor will stay or go when the lease expires in five year.

“Technology can’t tell you that, “Paterman said, But an agent who has spoken to the firm’s junior partners can. A mobile app also can’t negotiate lease terms between a landlord and tenant with competing interests. “I get that a broker’s job can become more commoditized,” he said. “But there’s a part of the job that I don’t [think] can be done by software-yet.”

Contact Carla Vianna at On Twitter:@CarlaOVianna

Companies Seek Next-Generation Office Space to Attract, Retain Millennials

September 6, 2016
With millennials currently positioned as the largest demographic of our nation’s workforce, a growing number of traditionally conservative companies, including law firms, financial services firms and other professional services firms, are trying to court them with new, innovative workspaces that speak to this generation’s unique desires.

In doing so, these firms are quickly learning that developing next-generation office environments is more complex and requires more strategy than merely finding a modern-looking space in a trendy neighborhood. Here is some insight and a methodology proven to help companies align their real estate decisions with their business goals.

Begin by considering a base set of criteria:

1. Your decision makers: Get consensus early and establish a small group of decision makers to select the space. It also may help to assign an office selection committee to develop a narrow list of potential properties for the decision makers to consider.

2. Your brand identity and business goals: This should be a main filter as you evaluate your options. The right office space will integrate with your overall brand experience and support your business goals by appealing to your target audiences. How well is your brand currently positioned to attract millennials, who seek forward-thinking companies? To what extent should you reposition your brand to appeal more to millennials while balancing the preferences of legacy generations and/or more traditional demographics you also seek to target? Skilled marketing and business-development consultants can help you answer these questions.

3. Your budget: Do not assume a relocation or reconfiguration of your existing space will have to cost more. On the contrary, an efficient workplace design incorporating features that millennials seek can often reduce your footprint and maintain ample room for growth while increasing productivity. The key is to work with experts, including experienced commercial real estate brokers, architects and space planners, who can identify creative, customized solutions to meet the needs of your workforce and clients.

4. Your firm culture: Your office space is a vital part of your firm culture. Increasingly, professional services and tech firms are creating environments that foster teamwork and utilize workspace concepts where team members can collaborate at high levels. In addition to boosting productivity and client and employee satisfaction, these environments are supporting recruitment of millennials.

Knowing that millennials like working collaboratively, taking mental breaks throughout the day, accessing the latest technologies, and enjoying amenities like fitness centers, collaborative spaces and open floor plans with natural light, you should determine the extent to which these elements should be incorporated into your office experience. How would these features impact your company dynamics?

5. Your advisers: Finding the right office space can be a daunting task for business owners to assume alone, so it is important to identify the right advisers, including a commercial real estate broker with a proven track record working with companies like yours. Your broker should conduct a comprehensive assessment, including a thorough financial analysis and forecasting to understand your current situation and identify solutions to support your business goals. Your broker should guide your key decision makers through a brainstorming session to help define your needs today and in five, 10 and 20 years. As part of the process, the benefits of being connected to mass transit and having convenient vehicular access and attractive on-site amenities also should be evaluated.

Better Positioning

After this preliminary work, you should address your office search in three phases:

Phase One: Your leadership team should reach consensus on vision, space criteria,timeline and a recommended strategy. You may want to issue a request for proposals to identify an architectural firm to conduct an occupancy analysis and confirm your optimal space programmatic needs. At this stage, it is important to build internal consensus on the ideal design and utilization plan.

Phase Two: Create a scorecard that informs your decision-making process and helps you make the best selections. This scorecard should evaluate numerous factors including geographic location, parking, onsite amenities, tenant services, walkability and access to public transit. These are all critical components in attracting and retaining the millennial workforce. At this point, engage the market with your office requirements. By touring your top options and creating a short list of locations, you can position yourself to secure the best outcomes and seize immediate opportunities. You also can obtain leverage for your future tenancy and strengthen your position in negotiations with your current and prospective landlords.

Phase 3: When you have consensus on the top two or three options, your broker should negotiate terms based on the filters established in phases one and two. Then your broker should help you complete a lease or renewal amendment, and remain engaged with you until you move into your new space. Transitioning to the workplace of the future is an exciting, transformative endeavor. If done right, it can provide you with a significant competitive advantage and better position your company for continued success.

Tere Blanca is CEO and founder of the Blanca Commercial Real Estate brokerage. She may be reached at