Commercial real estate owners, and the lenders and vendors who work with them, face a common, and vexing, problem: missing records. These misplaced records can leave real estate professionals with unnecessary expenses and lost opportunities.
Chad Wiech, founder of Minneapolis-based The Asset Record Company, wants to solve this problem. It’s why he’s launching his new company, one that sells software designed to connect commercial real estate owners, lenders and vendors and the information they need to complete deals and efficiently manage properties.
The goal is to simplify the process of owning a building, reduce the costs of managing it and make it easier for owners to sell these properties when they’re ready to place them on the market. The Asset Records that his company offers provide a single location for property information, a location that the important players involved with the property can quickly access if they’re given a secure log-in.
Each Asset Record is loaded with certified reports and important documents created from information provided by credentialed professionals familiar with the property, real estate agents, appraisers, architects, engineers, surveyors, accountants and others. Each Asset Record also features a historic deposit record that tracks the source and specific moment in which data has been entered or downloaded.
Wiech, a real estate appraiser, registered broker and investment consultant, recently spoke to Minnesota Real Estate Journal about his new enterprise. His plan is to officially launch The Asset Record Company in mid-October.
Minnesota Real Estate Journal: How serious of a problem are missing or lost records to commercial real estate owners, lenders and vendors?
Chad Wiech: Most of these people are juggling a lot of contacts. I’ve developed real estate. I know how it is. When I got information from an architect or land surveyor, I had to find a place for it. Then I had to remember where it was. Then I had to try to connect back to the person who gave it to me and connect my lender back to that person. The main bottom-line problem was that instead of spending my day looking for deals to make more money for me and my partners, I was spending my day looking for information and trying to connect my people to the other people who needed it.
MREJ: So you were drawing on your past experiences when you came up with the idea for The Asset Record Company?
Wiech: Most inventions are born out of necessity. We use our solution here, and it works wonderfully. We have used other software that stores documents. But they don’t connect to the professionals that provided the documents. It doesn’t offer the option to allow me to immediately connect those other people to those documents through a session ID.
MREJ: Part of the challenge for commercial developers and owners has always been managing all the information and documents involved in the real estate process.
Wiech: We always refer to data silos. There are different silos of information that all of keep. Unfortunately, these silos are not connected together in any way. That’s why we spend so much time looking for the people who have the information that we need. Or worse yet, we spend valuable time looking through our e-mail messages for that one e-mail that has a document that we need. We were going to send the document to someone but we got distracted and didn’t do it. Or worse yet, you didn’t back it up on a cloud system at all. Now it’s somewhere in a hard drive in an office PC in a file that’s not standardized. It coudl take hours, tens of hours, to find information about your property so that you can deliver it to someone else.
MREJ: Your company’s Asset Records, though, changes this?
Wiech: With an Asset Record, each piece of information is deposited in a secure file. And every time someone adds a piece of information to that file, that person’s name is attached to the new piece of information. There is a time and date stamped on it that shows when that person added the information.
MREJ: Could you describe your company to our readers?
Wiech: We are a non-competitive third-party administrator. We are not a software solution that has analytics attached to it. We are not a replacement for ARGUS software. We are not a property-management software tool. We accent those other programs. As a third-party administrator, we offer a place for the market to connect. We have created a way of bringing value and credibility to owners’ information by providing a place for all of their vendors and professionals to connect with data and documents about that property. We are a facilitator of what we refer to as an Asset Record, a point-of-infomration convergence always related to a specific parcel of real estate.
MREJ: Is there anything out there now that you can compare an Asset Record to?
Wiech: With LinkedIn, you have a private portal. In our system, you as a user have a private Asset Record access. You as an owner of that Asset Record control who else gets to see it. With LinkedIn you can control what other people see, too. You can control how other people communicate with you. With an Asset Record, the owner, who is our customer, is in control of who sees what and for how long. Our system transforms random information into a standardized interaction platform where owners can save data and interconnect with all of their vendors and lenders. That platform is our product.
MREJ: You’re testing your product out now?
Wiech: we’ve been testing a beta system in the Minneapolis market. We are going to launch our formal offering in mid-October. Sine the first of August, though, we’ve been testing our beta system. We have hundreds of properties already interested in signing up. We have letters of intent from owners. Some of those same people are on the beta site now. There are many of them who have signed up for the subscription.
MREJ: What does a subscription to your service cost?
Wiech: It ranges from $100 a year to $1,000 a year. It depends on the size and complexity of the property. Residential properties are the lowest-priced properties. A Class-A office complex of 100,000 square feet would be on the highest end of the scale.
MREJ: Why are people interested in this service?
Wiech: They want to position their properties to be more marketable, to be more manageable. When refinancing, our service allows owners to access data easily. They can shop multiple lenders without having to send e-mails over and over. Instead, you just tag one link with all the information on that property. If you imagine yourself sending an e-mail to a lender, rather than attach large documents one at a time, you can simply send the lender a link to your file. The lender can then do its due diligence on that property. Our clients will benefit from having quick access to the people involved with their properties and the information that they need. The faster that they can deliver information, the faster they can get a deal done. Speed to market can increase liquidity, too. I’ve heard it from a lot of people, time has never increased the value of a deal. Deals don’t get any better with time. What happens instead is that they die. We are trying to reduce the time that a piece of real estate has to be on the market. Once a buyer and seller come together, we want to reduce the time to closing.
— Dan Rafter