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Understand Your Subject

To be a successful commercial real estate broker, you have to be a market expert. Period. This isn’t an innate quality, nor does it happen overnight. It’s done client by client, property by property.

Being an expert positions you as a trusted advisor to your clients. You do this by knowing your subject inside and out—and that should be on full display during your pitch or proposal.

To even be in the proposal position means you’ve done your job so far. The proposal process is your time to seal the deal, so fine tuning and ramping up the research on your client or their property is essential.

The deal is in the details

Have you ever been giving a presentation and noticed a typo on your slides? Ever had the wrong address, or misspell a name?

It happens all the time. Don’t be that person.

Pitching for new business requires a great deal of preparation. It starts with knowing who and what you are dealing with, and this information should be stored in your system of record: your CRM.

At every point in this stage you should be double checking your contact, company and property information. Take care to confirm the major details and clean up the minor ones that may have some bearing on your proposal.

Depending on the type of deal you’re trying to win, there are different data sources that will help you prepare your proposal. Whatever the source though, Apto is your place for cataloging that data.

The Contact record is a no brainer, just be diligent to make sure everything is spelled correctly


The Property record can get a little trickier to nail given all the variables and characteristics. Apto has lots of fields and places to add details, the trick is to get them right. Keep reading to see how to source and catalog to ensure your database is the best database.


Getting it right (sourcing & cataloging)

We know that your CRM is where you track this information, but where do you go to source and check your information? You likely have everything at your fingertips, it’s just a matter of finding and adding the data to your CRM.

  • Property books & records

    Pro Tip

    Take the time and catalog your subject properties’ latest leases and last sales. Top performers make it a habit of recording and maintaining their own comp database. See our Don't Compromise on Comps article for more details.

    These come from your client, and include the rent roll, profit & loss statements, debt (sometimes) and other important documents. Make sure to double check when you can, as these come in varieties of cleanliness and accuracy.

    Once you receive them, fill out the essential fields in your subject property and get to work on your financial due diligence so you can execute a broker opinion of value.

    The rent roll should be entered in as spaces. To a space and the current lease information, open the subject property under the Properties tab, scroll down to the Spaces section and click "New".


    If you are already tracking tracking the property spaces, then logging comps against the space, (or the property itself) will automatically update the current lease details or sale details on the property.


  • Property Details

    You likely already have the basics, but for more details you can look at your local appraiser’s or assessor’s office and snag anything you might be missing. If the public record is light on details, have a look at a third party data provider like Costar, LandVision, RealQuest, Xceligent or the many other providers out there.

    Don’t rely on one source, either. It may not be accurate, and you’ll likely have a more complete record if you check multiple sources. The end result is the most complete record in your system, in turn making it the best, most reliable record available. It’s easier to be confident when you know what you’re talking about.


  • Tenants

    Building a tenant and lease database is not the easiest thing you’ll do, but it has one of the biggest payoffs. Do the math: for every one office building, there are multiple tenants. They have a tremendous impact on a property’s value, and make up the largest pool of clients in the commercial real estate market. Tracking them in your CRM is a must at the proposal stage, and before and after as well.

    Methods of building a tenant database range from walking the market and snapping photos of a building’s directory to using a third party data solution like Compstak or Costar to reviewing the personal business tax records on the county assessor/appraiser’s website. Chances are you’ll use a combination of these sources, but no matter what the method, Apto has a place for that data. Use Apto’s Property record with Spaces, and Lease Comps to store this information for use in your proposal prep, and for later down the road.



    Pro Tip

    How strong are the current tenants? Do some initial research by analyzing their tax history and check to see whether they are up to date or behind. The local tax authority stores this information and makes it fairly easy to find.

  • Liens, titles and debt

    Make sure there are no deal killers out there by pulling the deeds and title. Like tax data, this is relatively easy to obtain through the county’s recorder’s office, or can be obtained through third party data sources like LandVision, DataTree, CoreLogic and the many title services in the market. You likely already have your source and a trusted title rep, but once you have the data, it’s on you to catalog it for immediate and later use. And as you probably already guessed, Apto is the place.

    There are several fields on the property record and any associated sale or lease comps where you can store the property- and transaction-related information gleaned from the deeds and title. There are also places on the company record where you can store information. Additionally, the “Attach Notes” and “Attachments” lists are great places to store the actual documents for safekeeping. The last thing you want to do is go through the trouble of obtaining all the documents and then misplacing them.



  • Past deal contextual details

    There’s no shortage of coverage on sale price, lease rate, property details and tenant information, but one thing is missing when you focus solely on the empirical data points—context. Short of calling the players in a lease transaction or a property sale, such contextual details may be sparse. Of course there are the notable deals that get air time via news outlets or announcement letters, but there’s another source very similar to these that will help you frame your proposal conversation—the previous advertising and listing information.

    Learning how a property was marketed previously and how much it was listed for offer tremendous insights into why the property sold and how the space was (or was not) filled.

You can be the best in your industry and still make mistakes. The key to minimizing risk is to develop a process that employs these best practices. Do it every time, regardless of the deal size, to increase the probability of winning your next proposal.