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Events Apr 25, 2018

Keeping Up with Technology in Commercial Real Estate

Key Takeaways from the 2018 Annual Real Property Retreat/California Lawyers Association Real Property Law Section

Session topics ranged from the practical, i.e., “How to Get your Project Approved Under the New Housing Laws,” to the intriguing, as in the talk on “Real Estate Reimagined: When Tech and Real Estate Meet,” in which the unique needs of a growing segment of commercial real estate (CRE) leasing, the tech start-ups, was discussed. We can vouch for some of the requests being made by these tenants, being a tech company ourselves, with one of the most important requirements being access to free snacks on site!

I was pleased to be part of a panel called “Keeping up with the (Techie) Joneses on day 1 of the conference. We all know that the real estate industry is slowly but surely turning to technology to solve some of their daily challenges, whether it be deal management platforms, or financial/ asset management platforms, or AI software designed to help you extract data, which is what we offer at LEVERTON. I was joined on the panel by Nav Athwal, a former commercial broker and land use attorney turned tech company leader, who founded RealtyShares, a digital platform for online investing in real estate. Michael Sroka, co-founder and CEO of Dealpath, a deal management platform for CRE teams, was the third speaker on the panel that was expertly moderated by Miriam Montesinos, Of Counsel at Pelosi Law Group and Mark Leverette, Partner at BPM LLP.

Listed below are a couple of things that stood out for me the most from our discussion:

1. The CRE law crowd IS interested in adopting new technology but is moving slowly—at least in the US.

At the start of the session, Mark asked attendees how many people were using AI in their offices today. Not one person raised their hand. At LEVERTON, we’re speaking at conferences around the world on the topic of AI and real estate weekly, and notice an interesting phenomenon. When it comes to law firms at least, the UK and Europe are a good year to 18 months ahead in terms of adoption.

2. There’s a demand for an easier way to raise the capital, manage assets, review leases, etc.

Nav spoke about the passion for tech by Early Adopters, an excellent, “first to adopt” audience descriptor from Geoffrey A. Moore’s iconic book on tech marketing, “Crossing the Chasm.” People are looking for simpler ways to get their daily work done in CRE and those with a vision and an innovative bent are giving it a try. What’s harder for most technology companies to achieve is to reach and influence the larger group, the Early Majority, who are more pragmatists rather than visionaries.

3. For those in CRE, technology needs to be easy to implement, work (of course!) and hold data security in the highest importance.

The panel Q&A focused heavily on perceived risks of using these types of technologies. There must have been some pragmatists in the room! For example, many asked about data security, while others were concerned with the quality checks of crowdsourcing a deal or using AI to review leases. Nav, Mike and I all spoke about how our companies are committed to ensuring quality and data security, and that putting these types of standards and measures in place was the only way to appeal to a larger audience and have as sustainable business in today’s world.

4. CRE trends includes the machine learning aspect of AI.

Panelists spoke of machine learning allowing for “the programmatic use of data”, which allows for a faster delivery of insights. Being able to conduct analysis on data which has been historically highly unstructured, coupled with the reality that AI can take away some of the more mundane tasks of CRE legal work, like lease review, means this: technology in the CRE space, for those who embrace it, will lead to access and analyze data faster to make smarter decisions.

Now that’s not such a bad thing, is it?

For more information on LEVERTON or to request a Demo, please click here.

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