Millennial Observations of Commercial Real Estate

Background:

As a millennial working towards a career in Real Estate in Indiana and Michigan, I often wonder what real estate will look like in 5, 10, and 15 years. It seems that this oldest and most foundational industry is bracing for a greater wave of disruption and innovation than it has ever felt before.

I tend to think real estate is like my road bike, but it has a flat tire. As it is, I can still ride, it just takes a long time and not without considerable effort. I love that bike to death, but if I could just fix my flat, it would run so much smoother and faster.

Many other young professionals feel similarly about the real estate industry (sans flat tire imagery). The saying goes, the American economy is “housing led, and housing fed.” But what if we pumped a little air into it and made it run just a bit smoother?

Threats are Opportunities:                                                                                                 

According to Forbes, investments in real estate technology broke $5 billion in 2017, over 150 times the $33 million invested in 2010. Some of the major areas of research include robots, autonomous vehicles, big data, online retail, and blockchain technology. Each of these have the potential to dramatically shift the way real estate is purchased, sold, and used; effectively changing the way real estate professionals interact with their profession.

That is a veritable threat and opportunity.

I remember not five years ago when retail stores would claim online retail could never be successful because there isn’t a human relationship between the buyer and the seller. People would say things like, “online retail doesn’t have a salesperson catering to your every need, asking you what you want, how much you can spend, and if you stayed dry on your way into the store because ‘it’s nasty out there!’” And yet, despite the charming salesman eager to help me in store, I still order new bike tires from Amazon instead of the brick and mortar bike shop.

Change is coming whether we like it or not, and we need to be informed so that we can stay ahead of the wave. Blockchain technology can digitally transfer ownership of real assets, automatically generate, execute, and terminate contracts, and act as a currency itself. This will disrupt the real estate industry by changing how we interact with buyers and sellers, how financing is secured and transferred, as well as how ownership is transferred. Will brokers still have a job? YES. Will our jobs be the same as it they are now? No.

Cressy Commercial Real Estate has impressed me in the brief time that I have worked with them. They have shown they not only are willing to change but strive to be the most technologically advanced real estate firm in our market. Already, they have teams researching new technology and ways to implement it within their culture. Cressy Commercial has dedicated itself to be a leader in the industry.  They prove it every day by being willing to change their own practices to fit the evolving industry and with their continual evaluation of innovative options.

While it is scary to anticipate the changes coming for our industry, as a young real estate professional I am far more excited than I am scared. Change is opportunity; we just need to adapt and learn to be the best at what we do as real estate professionals.

Sam Cressy is a 4th year real estate student at Indiana University, Kelley School of Business.  Cressy Commercial Real Estate was pleased to have Sam work as an intern this summer on several ground-breaking projects.  After he graduates we are excited to have him join our team.