The DNA of #CRE survey: CRE pros are not embracing technology

brokerlist survey chart
by Dan Rafter

Only 32 percent of commercial real estate pros responding to an industry survey by theBrokerList and Buildout say they use LinkedIn. Most surprising? According to the survey, LinkedIn is the most popular social media tool used by commercial real estate professionals, with only 18 percent of respondents saying they use Facebook and just 15 percent Twitter.

The companies behind the DNA of #CRE survey – a comprehensive look at the makeup and work practices of commercial real estate professionals across the country — pointed to this minimal use of social media as one of the biggest surprises of the 2015 survey.

Ewa Baska, marketing director with Buildout, said that these findings were especially unusual considering that 71 percent of the survey’s respondents said that personal relationships were their most important tool in winning business. Considering this, it would make more sense for commercial real estate professionals to embrace social media as a way to build these personal relationships, Baska said.

“I think the number using LinkedIn should be much higher than 32 percent,” Baska said. “They might be so focused on building their relationships that they don’t give technology enough credit to actually help them win listings, earn new business or make a sale. They don’t seem to be open to embracing or learning about how social media can help them.”

Linda Day Harrison, founder of theBrokerList, pointed to the fact that only 27 percent of respondents say they use sites such as RealMassive, LoopNet and CoStar to find or list commercial real estate space. Only 18 percent said they used e-mail marketing programs to do the same.

This, along with the minimal use of social media, would suggest that commercial real estate professionals are still reluctant to use technology to its greatest potential, Harrison said.

“I don’t think the brokers know how to use this technology to generate business and they haven’t stopped to learn how to use these tools,” Harrison said. “They don’t believe that social media has the power to help them make connections. They don’t believe in that yet.”

And where do brokers find the most commercial real estate information? Only 34 percent said that they rely on CoStar, the most popular response. A total of 28 percent of respondents cited “self-sourced,” meaning that they found their real estate information by their own means.

Again, Baska and Harrison said, this seems to point to an industry that isn’t overly accepting of tech tools.

Other surprises from the survey? Harrison said that she didn’t expect there to be a nearly 50/50 split between brokers who spent most of their time as seller reps and most of it as tenant reps.

“You always think that tenant representation might be a smaller piece of the pie,” Harrison said.

Another key finding is that the southern part of the United States was cited by 31 percent of respondents as being their top source of business. The Midwest and western portion of the country tied for second in this category, each with 24 percent of respondents pointing to them as the largest source of their business.

How much money are commercial real estate pros earning? A total of 27 percent said that they made under $100,000 every year, while 23 percent said that they earned from $100,001 to $150,000. Only 3 percent said that they earned from $1 million to $2 million a year, while 1 percent said that they made $3 million to $5 million annually.

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