• Tue. Jun 21st, 2022

How commercial real estate brokers and office users will adapt to the new future


Here in Ontario, we recently learned that physical distancing protocols can be extended for three months or more. Even then, it is possible that people will want to keep their distance until the threat of the coronavirus has been proven to have subsided for good. This sets the stage for a new reality where more employees are working from home than ever before.

“The Ontario government has declared real estate an essential service, in order to allow transactions to close,” President of OREA Sean Morrison said in a press release, adding, “I want to make it clear that this does not mean that business is business as usual for Ontario real estate agents.” This means that we will have to adopt new ways of running our brokerage houses.

This is why, as a commercial real estate broker, it is increasingly important to continue to innovate and to anchor this mindset in your business, cultivating new ways of making the agency work with your team. . From now on, the real estate industry is venturing into uncharted territory, eagerly trying to keep pace in an ever-changing environment. The call for change and adaptation has never been more crucial in order to thrive. I predict that the new real estate infrastructure will unfold in the following manner.

A change away from the square length

There will be a noticeable change in tenants who will strive to reduce their exposure by reducing their retail space. Tenants with teams of more than 10 people will vacate shared spaces, if they haven’t already, until they can safely assemble again.

It is a fact that real estate brokerage firms are already beginning to perceive. The Toronto real estate market has reportedly taken a 37% dive at the same time last year to March 14, 2020.

Users of larger spaces will look to integrate this new work-from-home infrastructure and reduce their reliance on offices, which have become very expensive in the heart of the city. There will be a movement to smaller spaces in these two groups, so expect to see a squeeze in the 1,500 to 8,000 square foot space range when things start to stabilize.

Trade brokers need to continue to follow up with your clients and let them know that there are tech-ready spaces now that may not have worked for them before. Downsizing can save your client much-needed cash, and they’ll be grateful for your help.

Revisit spaces that may not have worked before and really dive into what your client is looking for. Suggest that your client take advantage of opportunities where they can rent cheaply and reconfigure the space with an owner-tenant allowance or even finance furniture sets over the course of a year, rather than paying up front.

New dependence on digital tools

In order for potential new tenants to make quick decisions, they will need verified information and access to units – although they may not or may not visit them in person until the threat of pandemic has passed. Property owners and brokers will need to provide prospective future tenants with quick and detailed information in order to successfully lease their properties using digital tools such as:

• Virtual tours.

• 3D floor plans.

• Customizable space plans according to tenants’ needs (and quickly).

• Plans and prices of integrated furniture.

• Realistic renderings of what the finished space may look like, if it is not already ready to move into.

• Easy access to a lawyer and a notary if a transaction needs to be concluded.

Brokers, with the help of landlords, should be able to show rental spaces virtually and consider allowing tenants to condition their transactions to a final visit to the space. And it seems natural to us to go in this direction. With most real estate consumers locating, searching and communicating digitally today, the smart move would be to move more of our industry online.

For commercial real estate brokers, this is a call to think ahead. The actions we take now as an industry in the midst of a crisis will only add to a more robust real estate landscape going forward – one that transcends the physical world. Until now, real estate has been sorely lacking in the technological realm, failing to take advantage of tools that were once considered unnecessary or overpriced. However, tools such as augmented reality, 3D virtual tours and digitized floor plans will begin to be used on a large scale. In the end, I predict that the real estate sector will emerge from this confinement with innovation, more refined and more attentive to our consumers than ever.


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