At TheSquareFoot, we have been discussing our launch with many members of the commercial real estate agentcommunity. Most importantly, since our first product will be geared towards commercial real estate industry in Houston, their feedback is of paramount importance. You should already know based on our posts, we believe the smartest way for a tenant to find space is to use qualified commercial real estate brokers in Houston.
However, the first question we get when sitting down with some brokers is, "Will this site make me a dinosaur?"
Our answer is an emphatic "No!" Our goal is to help the prospective tenant and there is way too much information tightly protected and a broker's expertise is needed.
The comparison is often made between what has happened to stock brokers in past fifteen years and what could happen to commercial real estate brokers in Houston as more and more information comes online. We believe that tenant brokers our here to stay (at least for the next 15 years..) and here is why -
A share of Exxon is a share of Exxon - all information available to a stock broker to understand the fundamentals behind the stock are publicly available to any individual on numerous websites because the company is....public! In addition, the share of Exxon which Goldman Sachs is buying is the exact same as the share I can buy through E-Trade. This is not the case in commercial real estate as a space in Williams Tower is not the same as a space in downtown Houston. In addition, information tenant brokers may have on specific property or market details are not publicly available to any person looking for space.
Buying a stock requires clicking a button - There is no complicated long term commitment associated with buying a stock. Once purchased, I own it and can sell it whenever I want. In addition, the market price has been set by a massive number of buyers and sellers. When leasing office space, the search is just the beginning. You have to negotiate the actual lease, understand clauses and rates, and provide vast amounts of information to the landlord in order to execute the transaction. In addition, the landlord has a broker on their end of the deal, ensuring their best interests are protected. These are wildly different dynamics at play than when buying a stock.
This really just scratches the surface as to why commercial real estate brokers in Houston won't became dinosaurs because of our site or any others.
What do you think?
P.S. - We should really come up with a new name for tenant brokers, how about Space Maven!