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Real Estate Experts Offer Insight to Help Navigate ‘New Normal’

July 8, 2021
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As a real estate finance pro, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed given how your world has changed in the last year.

Chances are your business operates differently now. Employees are more spread out geographically than ever before and you’re grasping for any sense of control you can find.

The good news is you can overcome all of this. To help you along the way, three real estate executives recently got together to talk about what’s new – and different – in real estate during AvidXchange’s quarterly “Think and Drink” webinar.

The discussion focused on what the “new normal” will look like for real estate once we put this pandemic behind us.

You’ll hear about challenges to overcome, and gain expert insights that’ll help you prosper.

AvidXchange’s Chris Elmore moderated the event that hosted:

  • Brian Zrimsek, industry principal with MRI Software, a provider of commercial and residential real estate
  • Gregg Haverstick, senior managing consultant with RealFoundations, a provider of management consulting and managed services for real estate companies
  • Brian Thayer, vice president of sales for AvidXchange

You can watch the full webinar here and check out a few highlights below:

How You Can Think of the ‘New Normal’

Haverstick: The dam really broke in a huge way towards working from home becoming normal. It was previously a perk for employees, but now it’s almost a requirement for most jobs. Companies that were ready with the technical capabilities succeeded during the pandemic. Everyone else has been playing catch-up.

Real estate industry professionals realize now that having these technology capabilities creates more efficiencies. They’re a necessity going forward. As a real estate finance pro, you’ll need access to collaborative workspaces all the time.

You’ll need to “work over distances.” You and your employers found out in the past year you don’t have to be in one central location with your team to be productive.

Zrimsek: Essential workers such as doctors and facility maintenance employees will generally have to return to work on a full-time or near-full-time bases. The rest of the workforce – meaning most if not all real estate finance pros — will often work from home.

The next six months will be a great experiment to see how many of you work-from-home finance pros continue that routine every day or almost every day.

Here’s an issue to consider as this situation plays out: People generally won’t want to give the time back they’ve gained during the work from home trend having to spend an hour or two driving to and from work.

This time saving benefit will be a major factor in determining how fast — and how many — people return to corporate offices on a regular basis.

Thayer: I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of regret from real estate pros who invested in technology during the pandemic. Technology gives people more control of their businesses. Not many people will go back to the previous ways.

That’s the new normal: the pervasive embrace of technology. Expect this technology upswing and hybrid working model to stick around for several years to come.

How Will Your Life be Different?

Zrimsek: You’ll see people needing more access to flexible workspaces. Some older unused office space will be converted into new types of office spaces with different layouts and designs.

You’ll probably notice real estate companies switching the top floor of an office building into a group of apartments. Across the industry, there will be plenty of conversions of real estate from one purpose to another.

From an employee perspective, you’ll have to be more active in figuring out in advance where you’re going to be each day. You’ll need to be more vigilant about making online office room reservations. This won’t be overwhelming but is something to be aware of that’ll be different.

Haverstick: In suburban real estate markets, you’re likely to see new and different types of floor plans that offer more space for residents. More real estate finance pros will want home offices to work more efficiently. This will be a widespread change.

You’ll also see new talent dynamics unfolding in the real estate consulting business. Expect to see a growing number of talented job candidates seeking consulting jobs because they won’t have to travel four or five days a week to client’s offices. That was a deterrent in the past for many but less so now.

Thayer: The growth in virtual tours of homes during the pandemic was a big change. But many people will still want to go to homes to touch and walk around a residence or office building.

Why? Because the way a property looks on a computer can be deceiving. There’s nothing quite like seeing these places in person.

From a technology standpoint, there’s been a big increase in the use of technology. The pandemic caused urgent demand and fast buying decisions.

Remarkably, many people found technologies were easier to use than they expected and gave them more visibility into their business operations. They became more efficient. So, their attitudes about technology evolved.

Based on all this, you’ll see a whole new stack of technologies used by real estate finance pros over the next few years. Technology providers will become better at providing you with superior technology support and making it easier to use these technologies.

This will be a powerful and positive change throughout the industry.

What Challenges Need to be Overcome?

Zrimsek: There are still some connectivity issues when people work from home. You may have noticed when working from home, for instance, that your company doesn’t have all the right technologies for optimal conference calls.

Sometimes the audio quality is lacking. For you as an employee, the experience isn’t as good nor as simple as it could be. To fix this, companies will focus more on improving technology capabilities to make conferencing experiences more seamless and personalized.

Haverstick: In the hybrid work arrangement, it’s going to be a challenge to maintain strong customer and employee relationships. To overcome this, it’ll be important for a management consultant, for example, to be there in person at the client’s corporate office when a major project kicks off or other big milestones.

I don’t think anything can replace in-person relationships regardless of how good the technology is. Those face-to-face interactions will make your business life more fulfilling.

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