Well now it's official. You've known it was coming for years, but you weren't sure who exactly would be looking and through what vehicles the search would be carried out in. Commercial Real Estate is a funny business. For an industry so lucrative with billions of dollars switching hands every year, it seems to be very slow to adapt to change and technology. Most experts (real estate professionals who understand digital marketing and the technology behind online advertising) say that the residential side of real estate adopts changes in technology faster than the commercial side, and is about 3-8 years ahead of commercial when it comes to adopting technology and using it to increase productivity and source prospects.
Using Google analytics and other data capture tools like Compete.com, our research team found that today there are over 175,000 unique monthly searches for commercial real estate leasing information in Houston alone, and over 3,500,000 commercial real estate searches per month nationally. According to compete.com, Loopnet alone gets almost 2,000,000 unique visitors a month. This represents a steady increase of 10% from January 2011 to today. Landlords who typically rely on walk-in traffic, signage, and word of mouth referrals to source new leases are experiencing a dramatic shift in how their tenants are finding their properties. Some are even seeing the number of leases being sourced online eclipsing those deals that are originating from other avenues like walk-ins and signage in any given month.
What's the big picture? Well, it seems as if commercial real estate is undergoing a rapid and robust change right before our eyes. Just like almost every other industry in the world today, commercial real estate products and services are now being sought through various channels online. We see that the shift is well under way on the residential side, with websites like Trulia, Zillow, Redfin, NuHabitat and Apartmentlist, where consumers are given access to educational tools to become "informed" with the ability to then easily discover and connect with all of their options.
Because the trend of the consumer looking online for space is pointing up, professionals and providers within the industry are starting to think about how they can effectively reach that captive prospective tenant audience. They know where things are headed, now is when listing agents and regional managers of brokerage houses begin vetting how to tap into the steady stream of tenants looking online for space. What will they find out and which industry professionals will make the first moves?