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Now is the time for CRE to embrace mobile

People are getting out and about again as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, with their mobile devices in hand, but the commercial real estate industry might not be ready for the surge, GlobeSt.com reports. While some CRE firms have embraced technology such as artificial intelligence and 3D virtual tools, many have not.

“You would think that in today’s world where everybody’s doing everything from their phone that we’d have the capability to do everything from the phone,” J.C. de Ona, southeast Florida division president of Centennial Bank, told GlobeSt.com.

“In my experience, most commercial real estate agencies are far behind the times when it comes to website technology, especially when compared to the residential market,” Mike Willman, owner of digital consultancy Willman Web Services with experience creating sites for real estate purposes, told GlobeSt.com. “Many do not have a website that works on mobile at all, and those that do tend to use outdated technologies.”

Willman noted that a number of CRE firms’ sites aren’t responsive. In other words, their websites don’t easily adapt to various devices, operating systems or screen sizes that users employ. Companies are using a dedicated mobile site instead. Doing so is an issue because just using mobile sites confuse people and is not deemed adequate from technical and design perspectives.
“In addition, page speeds tend to be terrible,” Willman said, in terms of how quickly a website loads onto a browser. “This decreases time on site and leads to a poor user experience.”

Meanwhile, operating on a dedicated mobile site can negatively impact search results because search engines like Google considers download times when they assign rankings. Regulations can also play a part in the problem, according to James, Rogers, CEO of AI-augmented home-buying site Torii.

“A residential mortgage loan in most states right now has to be closed in person,” Rogers told GlobeSt.com. “There just isn’t another option. And pretty much every real estate website has the same information because everyone pulls listings from the same place.”

When every real estate website grabs information from the same source, it’s hard for anyone to create a competitive advantage. That’s why it’s critical CRE companies leverage the technology that’s available to them more often. Mobile apps could help firms cut costs as they could digitally provide information that investors need to make decisions. It will be even more helpful to investors if that information is readily available on their mobile devices.

Tech-related problems have also moved into property development, GlobeSt.com reports. Mobile infrastructure company MD7 said before the COVID-19 pandemic many jurisdictions required site applications submissions be done in person. That policy had changed, but it’s unclear if the situation has improved.

Many companies have come up short when it comes to mobile marketing because even when they leverage mobile capabilities, they don’t know what their users’ preferences are. A lack of recognition of what customers want in other areas is a potential sign of poor marketing and strategy. Just 13% of office space tenants feel that CRE owners can meet their new demands, according to a recent survey from essensys and compiled by Verdantix.

So, until CRE companies gain a better understanding of how investors, tenants, developers and others want to work, any app of web development they create could end up being useless.

Joe Dyton can be reached at joed@fifthgenmedia.com.

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