Stop obsessing about the ROI of your CRE tech

assistant-503046-edited-1.jpegWhen it comes to purchasing new technology for your commercial real estate brokerage, return on investment shouldn’t be the main focus.

That might sound like a pretty absurd claim for a CRE tech company to make, but hear us out. With many industries that have more established tech tools, it’s easy enough to calculate the ROI of a new technology purchase. You invest X in upgrading to a tool and receive X+Y in return within a reasonable time period.

In real estate, however, the deal timeline is pretty long. You’re not going to see a calculable ROI in the first few months of trying a new tool since you’re not going to suddenly close 10 more deals. But with relatively large commissions, chances are, if you close just one extra deal thanks to the help of technology (which usually costs a small fraction of your commission), then your investment already has a huge return.

That’s why, when considering the purchase of tech, there’s way more to consider than just the money you’re putting into it.


Commercial real estate is almost never a 9-5 job. Brokers don’t get the benefit of collecting a steady paycheck regardless of time or effort put into the job.

That’s why your time is the single most valuable thing you have, and you can either make it count for you or against you.

Let’s say you spend 10 hours searching for and evaluating properties for a client using your manual processes. That’s 10 hours you can’t spend meeting with new prospective clients, visiting spaces with other clients or eating dinner with your family — all things that require your direct presence. Searching for spaces that match your client’s needs doesn’t need your presence, however. In fact, certain CRE technologies can do the matching for you in a fraction of the time. Find tech that can automate or streamline tasks that otherwise take you away from more pressing engagements.

Strategic thinking

Many Americans are seemingly obsessed with being busy. We work long hours and take little vacation, all, supposedly, so we can get more done. But being busy does not equal being productive. In fact, busying ourselves with repetitive, manual tasks zaps our creativity and bars us from seeing the big picture. That’s why some of the most successful business people set aside time for just thinking. Warren Buffett has famously said, “I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think.”

CRE technology is designed to make you less busy and more productive. Not only can you save time, but many tools have built-in dashboards and reporting that let you draw insights you might have missed if your data wasn’t connected. Look for technology that gives you time to think strategically and helps you execute that strategy quickly.


Most brokers have at least a few mobile tools to use on the go. In a single day, you might find yourself shuttling between meetings with potential clients, viewings of properties, and of course, your office. That’s why the last thing you want is for the availability of your tools and resources to tie you to any one location. By storing all of your data and client info securely in the cloud, and having the functionality to use that info effectively, you can work anywhere you need to be.

In addition to adding flexibility to your workstyle, many technologies provide cost flexibility as well. While most desktop tools require a large, initial investment,
cloud-based software tends to work on a subscription model, meaning you only pay for the tool for as long as you need it.  


The question you might want to ask yourself isn’t “how much return will I gain from purchasing a CRE technology?”, but “how much will I lose from relying on outdated manual systems?” Miscalculating an agent split or failing to follow up on an unpaid invoice could cost you thousands in lost income. And the truth is, as humans, we make mistakes. But using the same system with the same information from initial pitch all the way to payment helps reduce the rate of user error.

Competitive edge

Don’t forget that adoption of CRE tech is only increasing. The longer you wait to invest, the more time you’re giving your competitors to get the edge on you. CRM and other CRE tech can help you keep track of your market and give you the intel you need at a moment’s notice. And if you don’t have that, someone else probably will. Don’t be the one that falls behind.

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Topics: CRE Tech