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Q&A with Buildout’s Kris Krisco on the Competitive Edge of Technology

Speed, visibility and transparency are of the essence in today’s multifamily investment sales market, and some sales and leasing brokers have honed their competitive edge by using an array of technological tools. Some does not mean all, though, and Buildout Co-CEO Kris Krisco believes the day is fast approaching when technology becomes an essential aspect of winning deals and seeing them through to closed transactions. Connect CRE recently sounded Krisco out; here’s what he told us.

Q: In the current environment, when it comes to getting listings and marketing listings, is the competitive edge for brokers more important than it ever has been?

A: Absolutely, the competitive landscape in commercial real estate is more dynamic and challenging than ever. While it’s hard to definitively say it’s the most crucial period in history – given the industry’s cyclical nature – there’s no denying the heightened importance of a broker’s competitive edge, especially in times like these with fewer deals on the table.

What we’re noticing is a significant reliance among many brokers on external market forces, almost as if they are waiting for the Federal Reserve to script their success. This approach, though, seems a bit like gambling to me. Sure, there’s a buzz of optimism about potential rate cuts, but market professionals could be a waiting game for months, quarters or years. 

The brokers who are really standing out in this climate are not just waiting around. They’re actively navigating their clients through these tough times. They are not afraid to explore less conventional paths – think auctions, or tapping cash-rich, international buyers. Essentially, their strength lies in their agility or adaptability, almost in real-time, to the market’s twists and turns. It’s this proactive, innovative approach that sets successful brokers apart in today’s environment. And at the speed in which the world is changing, these folks will dominate more than ever during the next bull market.

Q: Along with passively waiting on the market, what are some other factors that might hold brokers back from realizing their potential?

A: There are a few key factors that can prevent brokers from reaching their full potential, but the clearest one is one I like to call “creative effort.” Unfortunately, many brokers and advisors don’t quite hit the mark, especially when it comes to marketing themselves and their listings effectively.

Top-performing brokers are characterized by their high level of activity. However, even among the high achievers, there’s a glaring gap…the broker’s personal brand. They might be stellar at making calls and landing listings, but many times overlook the critical steps that follow. Think about it this way, brokers live in two worlds: one where they’re focused on winning the deal and another where they actually need to close it. And in the transition between these two, crucial elements can fall through the cracks.

Effective communication within a market is key here. When brokers fail to consistently engage with their prospective clients, they’re out of sight and mind. This is particularly true in challenging times like these. The ability to maintain and rely on strong relationships is what drives deal-making. So, it’s not just about the effort in getting listings; it’s equally about nurturing relationships and maintaining visibility in the market. That’s where the real potential is unlocked.

Q: Employing social media on a consistent basis is one of the ways that technology can help. What are some of the other tools that perhaps they’re not using as much as they could? 

A: Consistent social media use is a smart way to leverage technology as it will only become more relevant as millennials take on more leadership roles throughout CRE. In our recent DNA of CRE result where we partnered with the Brokers List to gather broker inputs, 74% responded stating that they use social media today. But there are other tools often underutilized that can make a significant impact. At the very least, every broker should be equipped with some form of prospecting data and a CRM (customer relationship management) tool. These are not optional extras anymore; they’re essentials. I’m naturally biased, but I firmly believe you need a marketing tool too.

Technology currently offers brokers a competitive edge, but it’s crucial to understand that this advantage is rapidly expanding. The gap between those who embrace technology and those who lag behind is widening at an astonishing rate. We’re looking at a scenario where, by mid-2025, a CRE broker simply won’t be able to compete effectively or serve their clients properly without integrating technology into their workflow.

Q: What advice would you provide for somebody who is ramping up their use of technology in their brokerage?

A: Partner with a company that cares as much about how you use their technology as they do about you purchasing it. Ask detailed questions about their support and educational resources. Inquire about their learning and development platforms. Do they have a dedicated customer success team? What opportunities do they provide for learning best practices – are there tutorials, videos, or other forms of content? Also, consider the accessibility and responsiveness of their support team.

You’re looking for a technology partner, not just a provider. A good partner will answer these questions confidently and clearly, demonstrating their commitment to not only sell their product but also to ensure its effective integration into your business. This kind of supportive partnership is essential for maximizing the benefits of technology in your brokerage.

Q: Closing thoughts? 

A: Artificial intelligence (AI) is the buzzword at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos (which was going on during this interview), sparking questions about its implications and impact on various industries, including real estate. Brokers are reacting diversely to this wave of change. Some are eagerly exploring new AI tools for a competitive edge, while others are overwhelmed, unsure of their place in a future dominated by such technology.

At Buildout, we’re integrating AI into every facet of our application. Our goal is to become a trusted ally for the brokerage community, handling the complexities of AI so you can focus on what you do best. The responsibility lies with tech companies like ours to demystify the jargon and make AI accessible and practical for everyday commercial real estate professionals.

We believe that a successful commercial real estate market thrives under the leadership of brokers, but is powered by technology  — starting today. That truly, the broker remains central to transactions, but the value they bring is also evolving. AI tools will empower brokers to have deeper insights into their markets and offer unique, informed advice to their clients, something truly valuable and previously unattainable.

The brokers who harness these tools effectively will lead the pack. So, how should brokers approach AI? Pick a horse (referring to tech companies). Look for someone you can trust to handle the complexities of AI on your behalf. Embrace the change, and partner with a tech provider that understands your needs and translates high-tech capabilities into tangible, user-friendly solutions. This is the key to not just surviving but thriving in the AI-enhanced future of real estate.

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About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 16-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 7-10 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).

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