by Geoff Grossman

The internet is GREAT at a LOT of things…

Probably seems like the understatement of the millennium, huh? The World Wide Web has revolutionized communication, spawned entire new industries, and killed off quite a few trades, too.

In short, the web has fundamentally alternated the fabric of our society at large, not to mention drastically reshaped much of the business world, and commerce as a whole.

Real Estate and the Internet…

The impact of the internet upon commerce is CLEARLY evident in real estate.

One of the initial adopters of what, at the time, was a rudimentary form of the internet, early Multiple Listing Services put entire market inventories literally at the fingertips of every real estate agent working that market.

Few in the business now remember a time when there was no such thing as “comprehensive inventory list.” A time when agents relied on manually published lists share office-to-office and person-to-person. And local newspapers SINGULARLY DOMINATED real estate advertising.

Landlord + Tenant Deal-Direct Listing Services

Nowadays, beyond just the MLS, there are direct-to-consumer real estate listing and search tools. Landlords can list retail space and tenants can locate said space entirely online. An approach that ostensibly eliminates the need for a broker.

Marketing Vs Sales – Where an Actual Broker Defeats the Internet

But while this so-called “revolution” in real estate seemingly saves landlords on commissions (and potentially lowers rental rates for tenants based on those commissions savings), it forgets the fundamental HUMAN factors that have driven real estate since the very first property ever changed hands.

Yes, the internet is an exceptional marketing tool. Perhaps the greatest our society has yet to devise. But there is an essential difference between MARKETING and SALES. And in the real estate game, there is no better SALES tool than a real live broker.

How so? Well, friends, that’s the central question at play here. And to answer this query, here are four reasons a why a broker is every landlord’s most invaluable sales tool…

Information on its Own Only Has So Much Value…

The internet is GREAT at cataloging information. You can find ANYTHING + EVERYTHING. In fact, online you can stumble across lots you’d rather never have known even existed.

And the internet is great a making vast stores of knowledge immediately accessible. It’s all there, literally at your fingertips.

But information alone is just a pile of facts… You could exhaustively research the three laws of Thermodynamics. But if you’re like most people, that wouldn’t get you any closer to a thorough grasp of physics. For that, you’d need a knowledgeable expert to interpret and explain the material in language that someone short of Ph.D. in theoretical physics could understand.

Similarly, you could compile a list of every 1,500 SQFT retail unit for lease in Los Angeles. But that wouldn’t tell which vacancy genuinely suited your purposes. You’d need a knowledgeable expert to help you make that determination.

Information Vs. Persuasion

As stated above, the internet makes it easy for tenants to determine space availability. Anyone can hop online and pull up a relatively comprehensive list or the retail space available in a given market or even variety of markets.

But again, that’s just a big pile of info. The internet opens the door and peaks interest. But posting your vacancy online doesn’t persuade, it doesn’t close the deal.

That requires a knowledgeable sales professional…

The Value of a Sales PROFESSIONAL

A sales agent offers far more than just facts. An agent knows a property, intimately. An agent knows the tenants in and around the center. Understands the community and surrounding areas. And has a strong grasp on the type of tenant that will thrive or wither in a particular property and given location.

The qualification process, which is the ultimate deciding factor in any retail lease, resides solely with the leasing agent. The internet can’t help you evaluate a prospective tenant’s financial position, track record, or ultimate viability in particular property or broader location.

A Stake in the Final Outcome

The internet doesn’t care one way or another whether you lease your vacancy. It’s just a catalog of information. The internet persists irrespective of your circumstances.

A leasing agent, on the other hand, has skin in the game.

An agent…

== > Is motivated to lease your property as expediently as possible – because that’s how they get PAID…

== > Has vested interest in placing a viable tenant guaranteed to survive over the long haul – lest they must re-lease the vacancy after a failed tenant departs for little or no additional compensation…

== > Strives to do the best job possible – because they want to earn your repeat business and referrals thanks to you sharing your satisfaction with fellow landlords and real estate investors.

The CBM Difference…

These days, most leasing and sales brokerages provide agents with a phone + computer, and turn them loose. Meanwhile, most of those agents spend the majority of their time hanging around the office, waiting for leads to fall into their lap.

Because it’s the “internet age,” right? So, everything comes to you. Not hardly.

At CBM, “Old School Methods” of retail leasing reign supreme!

So, what does that look like, practically speaking? Our agents are…

== > In the car, driving their territories. Every day. Day after day…

== > Out canvasing, meeting + greeting, glad-handing, passing out flyers, and generally seeing and being seen in their marketplaces…

== > And actively sourcing new listings and potential tenants.

Our agents are NOT…

== > Hanging around the office, playing on the computer, waiting for the phone to ring.

Need Assistance Leasing Your Shopping Center?

If the CBM method of retail leasing appeals to you, find out at: cbm1.com/services.

About the Author

Geoff Grossman, a senior retail broker, joined Centers Business Management (CBM) in 1999. Mr. Grossman primarily handles landlord representation, specializing in retail leasing and investment sales throughout Southern California.