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Real estate is a local business, right? Well, maybe not so much. Technology has flattened the world and now allows us to hire whom we want for what we want, for whatever we want, largely unimpeded by geography. Why should commercial real estate brokerage and be any different? Can we have a world in which virtual real estate brokerage exists for commercial real estate?
Let's look at some examples of services you can now get through the internet:
Luke's Place a virtual legal clinic through Skype. Perfect for people who live in rural communities and find it hard to meet with a lawyer.
Vet Partners - yes, you can now be hooked up with a veterinarian through Skype - perfect for emergency situations in which you need on-demand advice for an emergency with your pet.
VarageSale why go to garage sales in your neighborhood when you can go to virtual garage sales?
Clarity.fm a marketplace of all kinds of experts collected in one place...you can search by topic, pick an expert and schedule a call on a pay per minute basis to reach out to an expert that can answer a question on just about any topic.
Kim Doyal book 1.5 hour session with Kim and she will talk you through your website strategy. Kim specializes in Wordpress and marketing. Your business can get unstuck in just 90 minutes.
Virtual Assistants through a service like Virtual Staff Finder, you can hire a full-time assistant for as little as $500 - $1,000 per month.
Virtual High School get your high school education from anywhere in the world.
Talkspace has over 1,000 licensed therapists to choose from to help you through tough times.
Virtual Yoga take a yoga class with others online.
Financial Advice Katie Brewer of Your Richest Life offers fee-only financial advice for a monthly retainer. All of her advice is provided virtually through Skype sessions.
Udemy learn virtually anything you want, taught by individuals from all over the world.
Joinreal.com offers high commission splits to their agents, a powerful app that allows realtors to conduct all of their business through that app, and does not offer an office.
As an agent at their brokerage, you pay either $40 per month or $100 per month, and then enjoy taking home 85% of each commission.
Their model is to attract enough agents through the high commission splits and save money on the costs associated with running an office.
The agents and real estate service themselves are not virtual...the agents of the brokerage will still meet up with you and show you homes to buy...they just all work from home (or Starbucks).
Basically any service that is advice-based can be transmitted through text, audio and video from anywhere in the world.
So long as the provider of the advice has credibility, location should not matter.
So how does this tie into commercial real estate?
Shouldn't a commercial lease review company have local market knowledge?
Well, in the case of a small business owner looking to renew a lease...not really.
You see, if a commercial tenant is negotiating a lease renewal and not involving a real estate broker (which is the most common scenario), then where is the business owner getting their market information in that case?
The answer is that either the business owner has paid attention to where the local rental rates are at, or has not, but in either case the business owner has made the decision on whether the price (rent) is fair or not.
The problem is the rest of the items in the lease. The stuff the business owner is not even aware of.
Think of the rent as the tip of the iceberg and all the other issues are beneath the surface.
That is the stuff that typically a real estate lawyer would advise on.
But if the small business owner did not want to hire a real estate broker to assist on a renewal, chances are they may not want a real estate lawyer, either.
The problem with the conventional lawyer model is that there is an incentive to build billable hours. And those hours are usually at a high price per hour.
Lawyers serve their purpose and this article is certainly not designed to discourage anyone from hiring a lawyer to assist with their lease.
But in our experience most commercial small business tenants view lawyers as a bit too expensive for something they are not sure about. They are just not sure how much value a lawyer will add to their lease, so many small business owners tackle the commercial lease negotiation all by themselves.
In seeing over 500 commercial lease transactions, there are plenty of cases in which a lawyer's comments seemingly were not in proportion to the bill.
So why should a tenant's choice of advisors be restricted to commercial real estate brokers and commercial real estate lawyers in their town?
What if there was a virtual commercial real agent that could offer a lease abstracting service for a one-time fee? What if that one-time fee was at a reduced rate, given the reach and scale of the internet? And what if this advice given to the tenant was behind the scenes, so the tenant could still be in control of the negotiation?
And most importantly, why should a tenant not have access to the best agents. Agents the tenant chose by experience or specialty, rather than geography.
That is why Lease Ref exists. To provide the future of commercial real estate today.