After 22 years in the Calgary office of a global commercial real estate firm, Steve Vesuwalla started his own company, Clearview Commercial Realty, in 2019. A year ago, he established Clearview Industrial Fund, with all capital raised though Alberta investors.
The property technology universe, once studded with a handful of stars, is now strewn with countless constellations. Technologies from artificial intelligence (AI) to augmented reality, driverless cars to big data, blockchain to smart buildings, are transforming the real estate value chain. In turn, savvy Canadian real estate players are setting their priorities on advanced software solutions to help meet tenant needs and mitigate risk while adding efficiency across business operations. These trends signal that the adoption of sophisticated software systems is likely to accelerate in 2022.
PwC Canada has noted, “Digital transformation can play a significant role in both delivering efficiencies and creating the services and experiences customers want. Key areas of focus for real estate companies include embracing construction technology, digitizing operations and increasing their data analytics capabilities.”
Regardless of whether you’re a beginner or a behemoth, understanding the competitive real estate technology landscape can be the difference between merely surviving and thriving amid the coming waves of change.
AI built for CRE management
Most digitization strategies begin with platforms that automate only one aspect of the operation, resulting in spot solutions or siloed problems. Fully integrated systems powered by machine learning, on the other hand, offer the most value for commercial asset managers by capturing, centralizing and analyzing portfolio-wide data.
Developers seeking new properties, for example, can use AI analytics to assess their potential use, pricing and other factors. Asset managers can evaluate their pipelines and match deals with investors, tie capital calls to investment data and generate reports. Retail mall owners and investors, meanwhile, can combine property-level operational data with sales data from mobile sensors, social media and physical store sales, then use machine learning algorithms to analyze key steps in the investment lifecycle, from deal sourcing to portfolio management and risk management.
On another front, technology developers have responded to the rise in demand for shorter leases and flexible space by designing new platforms for visitor and workspace management. These solutions accommodate the tenant’s comfort and risk-aversion expectations with mobile-enabled capabilities for employee announcements, hotel desking, visitor check-ins, amenity marketing, touchless property access, rent payments and maintenance requests.
Accessing a single source of truth provides real-time insights into assets, driving more informed decision-making and enhancing construction project oversight, deal execution, investor reporting and other operations.
Tech designed for multifamily
In the residential sector, 2022 promises more seamless automation in advertising, apartment touring, rent applications, screening with e-signatures and CRM tools. The key differentiator is integrating the marketing and leasing technology with property management to equip managers to attract and convert tenants, confirm which sources garner quality leads, understand the speed of unit turns and identify opportunities for increasing net operating income.
Other innovations on the horizon include chatbots that “learn” with experience and adapt to the subtleties of human conversation with the assistance of AI, which improves subsequent interactions with residents and prospects. This tool will be crucial in attracting and engaging with Gen Zers, the largest and most diverse generation ever, as they enter the rental market.
Forward-thinking owners and operators who implement these platforms will have an advantage over the less tech-savvy competition.
New realms for energy
As operators prepare for GRESB and ENERGY STAR® submission deadlines, best in class managers rely on technology that can simplify Energy and Water Reporting and Benchmarking (EWRB) reporting. In Ontario, EWRB reporting will remain unchanged for 2022 but reporting regulations in other provinces like British Columbia are still being formulated.
Energy management can be much more organized and efficient with different building control system functionality and data points incorporated into one platform. This type of system leverages utility bill data, real-time master and submeter data, demand and consumption analytics, and fault detection and diagnostic alerts, all of which are powerful tools for optimizing building performance. Such solutions also help satisfy tenants and investors for whom ESG and sustainability are growing in importance.
Data is changing the role of real estate professionals and uncovers new opportunities that help monitor operations and increase revenues. New technology innovations on the market can help property managers attract and retain tenants, work more efficiently with automated operations, mitigate risk and cut costs with a unified enterprise platform that runs on a single database. Property managers’ adoption of these solutions will establish new best practices and create a frictionless experience that will propel the industry in 2022 and beyond.
Yardi® develops and supports industry-leading investment and property management software for all types and sizes of real estate companies. Established in 1984, Yardi serves clients worldwide. For more information on Yardi is Energized for Tomorrow, visit yardi.com.
Irish Real Estate Returns Drop Amid Higher Interest Rates – Bloomberg
Bank of Canada comments offer light at the end of the tunnel for real estate, mortgage markets, experts say
Canada’s struggling real estate sector is breathing a sigh of relief, but it wasn’t so much the size of the Bank of Canada’s Jan. 25 rate hike as the language that came with it that was cause for optimism.
That’s because while the central bank boosted its benchmark overnight interest rate by 0.25 basis points to 4.5 per cent, its eighth consecutive increase, it also signalled it would put the hiking cycle on pause — at least for now.
“A 25-basis-point increase or no increase was what we needed, along with the kind of language … that indicated we were essentially where we needed to be” Royal LePage CEO Phil Soper said in an interview. “What’s important at this stage is that we’ve clearly come to a point where interest rates aren’t going to be in the news.”
Soper said the realization that rate hikes will be stopping or slowing should draw what he called the “missing transactions” — those with the capacity to buy but who have remained on the sidelines — back into the market, though it may take some time.
Those buyers, he said, have been reluctant because they understand the link between rising rates and prices, and “they don’t want to buy a house today that will be worth less tomorrow.”
Having some price certainty will make it easier for them to enter the market, but they’ll still need to be comfortable knowing they are paying five or six per cent on their mortgages while others are locked in at two per cent.
“There’s still many, many people out there with two per cent mortgage rates. Your sister or your cousin might have a two per cent mortgage rate but you’re going to have to pay five,” Soper said. “This will harm consumer confidence until the market has more time to adjust to it.”
As a result, he said he saw a “muted recovery” in the cards for the spring.
The pause also signals a light at the end of the tunnel for variable-rate holders, according to James Laird, Co-CEO of Ratehub.ca and president of mortgage lender CanWise, even if it means another dose of short-term pain.
Clearview Commercial Realty’s investment funds help expand portfolio
Mission 19 is a luxury 67-unit apartment block that will welcome tenants this fall, designed by Gravity Architect and being built by Triumph Construction in the trendy Mission District at 320 19th Avenue S.W.
Last month, Vesuwalla embarked on a fourth — the Clearview Alberta Opportunity Fund — with a goal of raising a pool of equity that will allow his company to act quickly when commercial real estate opportunities arise.
Acumen Capital Partners handled the equity raise and the first round of financing closed last month. A second round is scheduled to close at the end of this month.
The first purchase — in cash — by the new fund is the former Economy Glass building at the corner of 17th Avenue and Centre Street S.W. in the Beltline district.
The 11,500-square-foot building on a .33-acre site has drive-in overhead/roll-up doors, existing office and retail showroom improvements, and highly usable and accessible lower level space.
Vesuwalla is working with a restaurant group and fitness operator to take over the spaces, but the location is ideal for future development as a multi-storey commercial-residential building. That will be planned on the completion of the extension of 17th Avenue across Macleod Trail, giving direct pedestrian and vehicular link access into the Stampede grounds, the BMO Convention Centre expansion and the Victoria Park/Stampede LRT station redevelopment.
Doug Johannson, executive vice-president at Clearview who joined the company in 2021, has also been busy completing some commercial real estate deals.
Explosive growth in development of commercial real estate in the Balzac area has continued with the sale of 33.85 acres on the south side of Highway 566.
Located between the successful developments of High Plains and Wagon Wheel industrial parks, it was sold by Johannson on behalf of the Abbotsford, B.C., owner to a local developer for $8.8 million.
He was also the broker for the sale of a 17-acre parcel in Frontier Park to Remington Development, and has an unconditional contract to close on the sale of a 43,500-square-foot building on Enterprise Way, between Stoney Trail and the eastern city limits.
Vesuwalla and Johannson continue to look for interesting value-added opportunities to increase Clearview’s rewarding portfolio.
President and CEO of Bow Valley College, Dr. Misheck Mwaba, has been appointed to the board of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce for a three-year term. “I look forward to working closely with the board on strategic initiatives to address the evolving needs of the Calgary business community,” says Mwaba. “I am acutely aware of the urgent need to develop and retain a world-class talented workforce, nurture a diversified economy and grow our digital ecosystem. Mwaba is a champion of Workforce Integrated Learning (WIL), re-skilling and up-skilling, and takes pride in liaising with Calgary businesses to understand their labour demands.
David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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