No, it’s not to exercise and get your steps in (though that’s a bonus benefit!).
Whatever your specialty, you can’t consider yourself a true commercial real estate expert until you’ve learned the ins and outs of your city or submarket. Location is everything, and there’s no excuse for not knowing what’s going on in the area you’re working.
In the age of technology and big data, though, some CRE professionals are taking shortcuts to gathering information on their local markets. But scouring Loopnet will never replace taking the time to truly learn the energy and feel of your chosen area.
It’s essential for CRE professionals to stay on top of their city and position themselves as contributing members of the community. Doing so will not only increase credibility with clients, it will open up a world of new business opportunities.
Consider these strategies for becoming an expert on your local CRE market:
1. Walk the neighborhood.
Junior brokers are often given the assignment of walking their local market to document all of the properties. While some might roll their eyes at this, thinking, “Don’t they know I can get all of this information online?”, the smart ones understand that it’s not about the information itself, it’s about the process and the nature of experiencing a place firsthand.
Whether you’ve been in the commercial real estate business for a decade or a day, make walking your neighborhood or submarket a consistent part of your routine to keep up with changes. That might mean walking home from work a few days or week, or trying out new restaurants on the weekends. And with a smartphone in your pocket, it’s easier than ever to document your experience on the go.
2. Attend community events.
“What’s so special about this area?”
As a CRE advisor, you should be able to answer this client question with firsthand information. Keep an eye on your local government’s event pages and newspaper social channels for info on events and community gatherings.
Consider checking out:
- Business meetups and networking groups
- Farmers markets
- School board meetings
- Sporting events
- Town hall meetings
- Local celebrations (parades, block parties, parties)
- Rallies and political events
Commercial real estate is dramatically impacted by current events; being there when they unfold is a great way to stay ahead of the curve.
3. Get involved.
Volunteering is a great way to experience your CRE market from a new perspective. With online databases like VolunteerMatch.org, it’s easier than ever to find meaningful ways to get involved in your community. Just search your desired location and select the cause that interests you most and you’ll be presented with a range of volunteer opportunities to choose from.
Aside from the feel-good benefits of helping others, you’ll be adding new connections to your network.
4. Crunch the numbers.
While technology is no replacement for gaining true knowledge of your market, data can help fill in the gaps and give you a deeper understanding of the trends affecting it. For intelligence on your market, check out REIS, LoopNet, or Tableau.
5. Share the love.
Once you’ve done some digging and uncovered the noteworthy trends impacting your market, why not share what you’ve learned on social media? By posting relevant data on your social channels, you will be positioning yourself as a leader within your industry and market. Not to mention, you’ll be opening yourself up to engagement and new networking opportunities. Be sure to tag and mention the appropriate entities so your efforts are discoverable. From there, you’ll want to monitor your accounts and respond to every engagement.
6. Host your own event
Once you’ve gotten a feel for your market through walking the streets, attending events and getting involved, it may make sense to start hosting your own gatherings. Doing so will solidify your stance as a leader in the community. Start by evaluating where you can add the most value. Do you have powerful connections in the business world who would benefit from meeting one another? Are you passionate about philanthropy? Or do you want to get into politics? Hosting networking gatherings, benefits and fundraising events are a great way to bring people together and enrich your community in the process.