March 22, 2023


4 Min.

CRE brokers must catch the digital wave in 2023

LeaseUp CEO Kurt Chisholm writes about tech and CRE for SIOR Report Spring 2023 issue

Dark green background with the LeaseUp logo on the left and text on the right that says "SIOR Report Spring 2023 Tech Corner With LeaseUp"
Dark green background with the LeaseUp logo on the left and text on the right that says "SIOR Report Spring 2023 Tech Corner With LeaseUp"
Article summary: LeaseUp CEO Kurt Chisholm emphasizes the urgent need for CRE brokers to embrace digital transformation. Highlighting the inefficiencies of outdated processes and technology in the industry, Chisholm advocates for the adoption of digital tools to streamline workflows and enhance client experiences. By recognizing the shift to digital and leveraging platforms like LeaseUp, brokers can future-proof their businesses, save time, and ultimately increase their earning potential.

This post was written by LeaseUp’s founder and CEO, Kurt Chisholm. It was originally published in the inaugural Tech Corner section of the SIOR Report Spring 2023 issue.

I’m a broker turned tech entrepreneur, but I’ll always be a broker at heart. Once you love real estate, it’s hard to stray too far.

I turned to tech after over a decade working as a tenant rep, landlord, and investor, and realizing that the right technology can transform how brokers work and make them more money. The need I saw for transformational tech in CRE — and the lack of good tools for brokers on the market — led me to launch LeaseUp, the CRE deal platform.

Over the last three years my team and I have built LeaseUp with an understanding that all brokerages in the near future will utilize a new category in proptech software that facilitates collaboration and enhances the client experience.

The shift to digital and mobile experiences has occurred in virtually every other industry, and the inefficiencies of the old way of getting deals done is becoming more glaring every year. CRE needs to catch up with the times and embrace digital transformation.

The CRE deal flow is stuck in the past

The CRE transaction experience today is outdated, disjointed, and inefficient. We still rely on 30-year-old processes and technology that add unnecessary drag and wasted time to every deal.

Creating market surveys manually in PowerPoint and running broker-client communications across dozens (if not hundreds) of emails, meetings, and text messages is no longer the best way to conduct business. Teams spend an average of 8 hours per deal just searching through messages.

This is a problem for our clients, too. They’re already using software in every other part of their work.

Let’s say you’re working with the CFO of a large logistics company. When they’re running payroll, they don’t rely on PDFs; they use digital software. What about the second most expensive part of their P&L, real estate? All PDFs, all emails, no software. Why?

When that same CFO is buying a house, they’re not scrolling through PDFs compiled from MLS sheets. They access the information online, through an app, just like so many other aspects of their lives.

One broker on our platform said that the side-by-side slide decks they’d send clients were both too big and thin on useful data, like floor plans and photographs. His clients prefer looking at interactive maps and clicking through photos “because that's what they're used to when they're looking at houses on Zillow or Redfin.”

Is 2023 the year CRE catches up with the digital revolution?

It's clear that working digitally rather than face-to-face is the new shape of business. Sooner or later every broker will need to address this difficult change head-on to future-proof their business.

Brokers are happiest when they are able to focus on the deal, not the deliverables they have to create as part of the process. The digital experience saves brokers time and earns them more money.

Just as importantly, clients don’t want to flip through a 100-page PDF; they want to click around a map and cycle through different options. They want technology to make the transaction experience easier and more efficient.

One of our users put the inevitable shift to digital bluntly in a recent conversation: “Everything's becoming digital. The big hurdle was finding a platform that had everything we needed.”

Her result after switching to LeaseUp? An astonishing 50x increase in survey creation speed.

LeaseUp’s impact on broker workflow

Our goal is to remove all of the inefficient and time-consuming parts of the transaction process. The best way to do that, we’ve found, is to create a single platform that supports every part of the deal, from site selection, to touring, to signature.

Our features are focused on speed, like CSV import that lets you build a survey in minutes, and custom survey and tour book PDFs that are auto-generated from your digital surveys.

One broker in Boston told us he is able to create market surveys 75% faster using LeaseUp than he was using the old method — a staggering amount of time saved, which translates to more money on the table.

Another user told us that using LeaseUp was a “no-brainer” after they saw how enthusiastically clients embraced digital surveys shared with links over chunky PDFs lost in criss-crossing email and text threads.

But the biggest impact has been brokers being able to work with data in a completely flexible way: intuitive data import, customizable building fields, complete control over how data is displayed to the client, quick copying of data from past projects. LeaseUp gives brokers the ability to work the way they want, with technology that supports their workflow.

It’s important not to get in the way of how brokers are already working. At the same time, there is huge potential upside in upgrading to digital tools to get the same work done, faster. We want to improve and streamline the broker workflow.

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