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national   /   February 9, 2018

Dennis Kaiser
By: Dennis Kaiser

Building Blocks Series: Ready to Learn About Blockchain in CRE?

Connect Media is stepping into the world of blockchain to learn about the technology, the role it plays in commercial real estate and how it affects everyone from brokers executing lease transactions, to investors evaluating the performance of an asset. We asked ICO Alert’s Ryan Dennis, a leader in blockchain tech, to share what he has learned from his various roles in CRE in the first of a series of thought leadership articles on the topic. This piece is not so much an introduction into actual technical processes, as an appeal for everyone to open their minds and hearts to taking time to learn about blockchain


By Ryan Dennis

First things first, real estate is a transactional business. Whether your niche is commercial real estate, property management, building engineering, brokerage, or anything asset-related, you know it’s true. Yet, like many who do not understand how to buy, sell or manage a property, some may be afraid to approach blockchain.

If you’re in real estate and don’t understand blockchain, you’re not starting from zero. Blockchain is a transactional software. I’m writing this article to you because real estate and blockchain are a match made in heaven.

Blockchain’s unlimited potential turns professionals into one of two types of people. The first, are those who find interest in discovering how they may make money off of it. The second, are those curious about the unlimited potential of its operational capabilities.

If you’ve yet to experience an episode interacting with blockchain, consider where you stand. I’m the latter. I believe blockchain will replace cloud computing, turn networks into markets, and catapult real estate into real solutions.

Three years ago, I began selling software to property managers and building engineers. Like you, when I entered the world of real estate, my first thoughts were: how complicated does this stuff get?

It seemed an impossible task. Grab the attention of real estate professionals who don’t have enough time to see their kids after work, let alone hear my sales pitch. Property management professionals are inundated with workloads and office anxieties above their paygrade. Why? A simple vicious cycle which I like to call the “CRE Conundrum.”

Put simply, property pros have zero time because they don’t have the time-saving tools of other industries. Because they have no extra time, they are unable to vet, let alone implement, effective tech tools into their arsenal, which would save them time. Screwy, I know, yet undeniably true.

Real estate management professionals have some of the most complicated and important jobs in the world. They also have the least technologically adequate tools of any comparable operations professional. If you work in a real estate organization, ask yourself, is an industry that still accepts using pencil-drawn chicken-scratch on clipboards to deliberate millions of dollars in power usage really ready to implement cutting edge tech solutions? I’ve expanded on these points two years ago in “The Scariest Question in Commercial Real Estate.”

If you’re still reading this, you are enough to transform the future of real estate technology through blockchain. Together, we can end the CRE Conundrum.

So, what the heck is blockchain technology?

By mid-2016, I’d spoken to thousands about real estate technology. I’d even been published in several news outlets as one of the top personalities in commercial real estate online. Yet, I still knew next to nothing about blockchain or bitcoins or anything like that. My first experience with blockchain was in the context of real estate with the International Blockchain Real Estate Association (IBREA). I was going to speak publicly about Blockchain adoption in real estate.

Was I nervous? Yes. Is blockchain complicated as heck? Yes! Ragnar Lifthrasir, then president of the IBREA asked me to speak on a panel about tech adoption in CRE. Not only that, I would be sitting beside the Godfather of CRE Technology, Duke Long. Here’s how it went:

Chris Groshong (CEO of CoinStructive): What do you think is the number one thing holding back adoption of technology in real estate?

Me: “In general, it’s trust. I mean, people in general do not trust the systems around them like they used to. For example, why aren’t millennials buying homes?

Millennials are scared of buying homes because they’re entering adulthood during a stage, right after a recession that was caused by the failure to successfully buy homes, safely. They’ve seen their parents, and family and friends lose homes.

For commercial real estate professionals, at least. These people do not trust [software providers] because they are bombarded with vendors and technology companies giving them options. Frankly, options which they don’t understand — so we’ve got to make it more clear.”

Later on in the interview, Chris challenged me again with a question about a starting point.

Chris: Where could we start, who could we go after, who are the people we need to approach this with and you need to do this with?

My answer centered around giving facilities management service providers a chance of your trust. I said: “I’m going to go first, because I don’t want to follow up Duke Long. Actually, the first time I spoke to Duke about blockchain technology in real estate, we were discussing, “how do you verify data, for example Building Information Management (BIM) data, or any sort of verifiable energy usage or utility usage for an actual office building, how could you use that kind of data on the blockchain?

Down to the kilowatt, so that every single kilowatt that’s overused, the demand, the plug loads that are generated, everything is documented on the ledger of the blockchain. That kind of data being tied to an actual property could be very valuable to a property owner because now you know every single dollar you’ve spent, where it’s gone and why, over the past few years.”

The fountain of youth is an open heart, and an open mind for what the youth are saying to us all. Put the baby back in baby boomer and acquire a youthful spirit for new ideas. You’ll find your wildest dreams, or real estate tech solutions, may already be on the blockchain, like mine. Check out a project called Power Ledger, which has already begun making my dream a reality. Or SpaceHQ, which is using decentralized processes to innovate, workplace productivity, operations and more.

Moving forward, I will be catapulting my thoughts on blockchain software during a series with Connect Media. Join us, as we venture in the world of blockchain by making it easy to understand, sector by sector, function by function. If you’re smart enough to tackle real estate, you’re more than equipped to use blockchain software to your advantage, too.

Ryan Dennis is a visible business personality who comes with nine years of experience in corporate management and communications design for Fortune 500 firms and bleeding-edge startups. In his current role, Dennis serves as the Client Relationship Manager for ICOAlert.com in Pittsburgh, PA and the city’s Chair for the International Blockchain Real Estate Association. Having worked in 10 different states throughout the U.S., his management experience spans from traditional roles in executive recruiting and operations, to leadership positions in Internet of Things (IoT) software marketing, real estate technology, and blockchain journalism. In 2015, he was named one of the Top 10 Most Influential Online Commercial Real Estate People, and in 2016 he was recognized as one of The 15 Most Influential CRE Property Management Thought Leaders Online.

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About the Author

Dennis Kaiser is Vice President of Content and Public Relations for Connect Commercial Real Estate. Dennis is a communications leader with more than 30 years of experience.
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