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VOL. 118 | NO. 226 | Tuesday, December 14, 2004

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Commercial Realtors Depending on Internet

Internet Makes Impact on Commercial Sales


The Daily News

The day real estate professionals arent needed to help buyers and sellers complete real estate transactions will probably never come. But the day has come when much of the information needed to make a real estate purchase can be found without the direct assistance of a Realtor.

Commercial listings. With the Internet, prospective buyers can research properties from their own homes and offices. And that goes for more than residential buyers more and more, commercial real estate information is becoming available on the Web.

Technology has impacted our profession just like it has every other one, said Will Barden, principal broker with Barden Commercial Realty. As a commercial broker, there are a lot of tools out there that help us in searching for properties. One of the real valuable tools that we have is the Web-based property listing services.

Online services. That includes the Memphis Area Association of Realtors CommLink service, which was released in October. Available to subscribers and on a limited basis to the public at www.maarcommlink.com, the commercial real estate listing service is the 31st in a national network of commercial information exchanges.

As of Dec. 1, the service included 1,049 listings. That number should grow as more local commercial Realtors become involved.

The membership is growing, said Melanie Blakeney, MAAR technology services director. We are going office to office to demonstrate the benefits to this site. Its not just a database of properties, but it also gives subscribers the ability to create first-class brochures on the fly.

On demand. There are other local sites that serve a similar purpose, including some maintained by Realtors for their own listings.

The Internet is becoming a more important part of what we do on the commercial side, said Scott Barton, vice president of retail for CB Richard Ellis. I think most providers, developers or brokerage companies like ourselves are revamping their Web sites to provide more information. For the purposes of a brokerage company, well have listings available online more that will enable us to get in front of more prospects more quickly without having to rely on e-mail or the regular mail.

Its on demand. They dont have to wait for us to respond.

Impact on Realtors. If clients are doing more legwork for transactions on their own, does that mean the work of real estate professionals will become obsolete? Tucker Beck, vice president/broker with Crye-Leike Commercial, doesnt think so.

People are always going to want a specialist, he said. They want the information and feel good about primarily trying it themselves. Then we get the call, Hey, what about this, and what do you think about that?

Barden agreed.

As far as the long-term impact, I dont see it as a long-term negative, he said. I think folks like the idea that they can look without involving the help of a professional, maybe learn a little more about something that is out there.

But I think you want a professional helping you understand what is out there, so I think it complements what we do, as opposed to displacing what we do.

Speeding up the process. The Internet is certainly making the Realtors job easier.

Yeah, in that I dont have to reinvent the wheel 50 times a day or do the same process, Can you print this, can you put it in the mail? said The Shopping Center Groups Danny Buring. I just have it all on one e-mail, so it saves us a ton of time and, to be honest, money too. Ninety percent of our proposals are sent via e-mail.

The stuff we did 10 years ago, we dont do that now. Its almost all done via e-mail, especially documents leases, letters of intent.

And that electronic communication significantly speeds up the sales process.

The thing its done is it has accelerated the practice, Barden said. It just enables us to acquire important information and then communicate it back to the client much more quickly than could have been done five years ago.

Across the board. There really isnt one specific group going online in search of properties, Beck said.

Youre finding within the last year that not only your out-of-town investors, but your in-town pawn shop guys (are looking online), he said. Everybody is on the Internet, and everybody has e-mail. I e-mail dozens of things a day to prospective buyers, all the way from Class C country store folks here locally to your large industrial investor.

Invaluable tool. The Internet is changing the face of the overall profession, residential and commercial.

When I got started, when I would cold call somebody, I would put it on a white index card and put it in a little box, Buring said. There are no little white index cards anymore. I had hundreds of those little index cards that were impossible to track.

Over the years, if I could have correctly input all that information, been able to use it all, it would have been an invaluable tool. I had lease expiration dates, square footage, I had where they want to grow, and its just impossible to keep up with that if you dont have a computer and you dont have the right tools.


PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751