How many parties play a part in leasing negotiations? The customer, the agent, the asset manager, the property manager and the lawyer are the common participants – but often there are many others. The leasing process itself can also be convoluted for the customer - from the difficulties searching for the right space, the initial enquiry and viewing the space, all the way through to agreeing terms and completing a lease. The journey is beset with opacity and inefficiency that can lead to delays or, at worst, loss of the deal.
How can landlords improve efficiency in their leasing process using technology?
Taking the customer out of the equation for a moment, how can a landlord ensure that they provide a medium that delivers clear communication and sharing of information among their team to reach a shared goal? The answer lies firmly in technology.
I recently attended Accelerate in New York City, a conference hosted by VTS, a US technology company, whose flagship product provides a cloud-based asset management platform that helps landlords manage their assets to monitor income profile and deal flow in real time.
At Accelerate, I was given an insight into how the conventional lease transaction process is being both revolutionised and digitised. This centred around four key themes embraced by other industries which have yet to gain a foothold in the property sector.
VTS aims to address these issues for the real estate sector. Its product enables open communication and the ability to share documentation in real time via cloud-based technology. This is enhanced by in-built budget and pricing information that is accessible to those who need it, when they need it. The result is that all parties remain up to date on the latest deal status, while risks of mispricing or reliance on outdated information is mitigated in a dynamic and ever-changing scenario. Simple but effective.
In the 12 months since implementing VTS, we have seen notable improvements in our transaction bandwidth – deal volume and speed of completion. But it isn’t just us who have gained in efficiencies. The biggest advocates have been our transaction partners, notably our agents and our lawyers. They endure less repetition and gain clearer direction which leads to better results, reduced friction, transparent pricing -all powered by technology.
What lies ahead?
The property industry is at the inception of technological change. How space is both offered to the market by landlords and leased by by customers will continue to evolve.
Sourcing property online is more advanced in the residential sector, but commercial property is hot on its heels. Online portals are the first step but soon leasing commercial premises online will become as common place as shopping online. The proptech sector continues to have a greater impact on changing day-to-day processes for all users of buildings, and companies such as VTS are at the forefront of that change in how landlords and their customers engage and contract with each other.
What benefits can technology bring to the customer?
Turning back to the customer - how do they benefit? Ultimately quicker delivery means they can access their space more quickly enabling better business planning.
But technology should also deliver further benefits to the enhance customer experience when finding new space.
How customers source space is changing. While letting agents and ‘To Let’ boards remain paramount to the industry, the internet has unlocked new avenues to source available opportunities. Online portals such as Realla and Rightmove Commercial enable customers to source space directly from the landlord – a shift toward B2C (or Business-to-Consumer).
We have embraced this B2C pathway on our Industrials assets. Our customers can source space directly from us via our website and online portals without the need to employ an agent. They can see real time space availability that is supplemented with more engaging content such as drone footage, floor plans and 360-degree imagery that is priced per month and year to give more context to business budgeting rather than the traditional £ per square foot basis.
This can all be achieved from the comfort of the home or business using a smart phone, tablet or laptop.
In case you missed it - you can read our blog on How Should Property Companies Use Proptech here.