Valbridge Property Advisors

Insight: KC CRE pros use tech tools to improve outcomes

By Erik Dolan-Del Vecchio | Content Contributor

On the way to becoming an investment sales broker at CBRE, Holly Mills was a commercial appraiser for over a decade, which explains a lot.

Mills’ analytical background is integral to her approach to commercial property sales and leasing. Clients say her data-driven insights inform and equip them to understand the benefits of different alternatives, be it for an investment property to purchase, a corporate location to occupy or a space to lease.

State-of-the-art technology helps Mills, a CBRE vice president, collect, sift, sort and track voluminous amounts of data and information. She uses the firm’s proprietary commercial real estate relationship management software to track spaces, tenants, properties, owners, buyers and milestone dates of opportunities coming up… “things I need to track to make me more productive,” she says.

Mills also makes frequent use of mapping tools to help clients visualize data points. She tells the story of helping a physical therapy medical practice plan an expansion involving as many as 10 locations in three years. Mapping tools with demographic information overlaying locations and radius maps helped her provide points of comparison for the client to determine the locations that would be accretive to their market.

Accessing Information from Anywhere on the Fly

Bob Galamba, senior vice president of Colliers in Kansas City, agrees that technology propels his business every day, accelerating transactions and reducing friction along the way.

Galamba’s focus primarily is multifamily, including existing assets and land with a multifamily component.

He and his team track people and prospects in Apto, the leading commercial real estate software for brokers, and use Smartsheet collaboration software to share information and facilitate communication so everyone’s on the same wavelength and has the benefit of the intelligence. Historical data on people, and shared documents such as letters of intent, can be accessed from anywhere on the fly.

For deal management with clients, Galamba uses Real Capital Market’s Deal Rooms, in which he can maintain property marketing pieces, confidentiality agreements, offering memorandums and more.

 “As a property remains on the market or a deal progresses, you’re still updating financials each month and rent rolls, and able to share that information with buyers who have expressed interest. It also provides a reason to reach out and contact prospects, and a seamless way to keep all the [transaction] information updated and together.”

Notably, Apto and Real Capital Markets are software integration partners, which facilitates information sharing and reduces redundant data entry between the two services.

Blockchain and Predictive Analytics are Game-Changers for Real Estate

Laird Goldsborough is no stranger to information and technology either. Information is the chief currency of his business, which is determining the value of real estate and advising clients on all manner of real estate and investment decisions as senior managing director of the regional office of Valbridge Property Advisors.

Goldsborough relies on a variety of technology tools and services, including demographic information from CCIM’s Site to do Business. He sees technology as helping to make real estate information more transparent and properties faster to transact.

Goldsborough describes blockchain technology, fast evolving, as a game-changer for real estate. He calls blockchain “distributed ledger technology” that allows all participants in the chain (versus one person) to have access to information. With blockchain, Goldsborough says, everyone owns the information, which removes opacity and thus risk.

If information on real estate assets becomes more transparent, not only will sales happen faster, but more buyers will become attracted to the asset class, which would expand the market for investors.

The commercial real estate sales cycle is too long, Goldsborough says. If you want to accelerate the sales cycle, unmask the information, which would speed up and standardize the process of trading assets, akin to trading Apple shares in the stock market.

The other technology Goldsborough sees as on the verge of benefitting real estate professionals is predictive analytics, a form of artificial intelligence. 

“You have a huge pool of data on real estate and sales and markets — a lake with minnows and trout and sharks. If we allow a machine to go out and fish out what we need, we could make better predictions based on historic data and cycles,” he says.

The result: “As an appraiser I’ll be able to give you a value today and look back and with a much higher degree of accuracy suggest what the building may be worth three years from now.”

Five minutes with Valbridge President Laird Goldborough

Over the past decade, Valbridge Property Advisors in Kansas City has enjoyed double digit growth and seen its staff double in size. Formerly Shaner Appraisals, the company rebranded in 2013 and founded national firm Valbridge Property Advisors. The move led to access to national clients and a 20 percent uptick in customer growth over the past five years. MetroWire Media caught up with Valbridge President Laird Goldborough for insight into the Kansas City market and a look at what's ahead for the company.  

MWM: How did your 2013 founding of Valbridge change Shaner Appraisals?

Goldsborough: We shifted to a national platform. Shaner Appraisals, Inc. was a local company, and we now have national reach as well as access to larger corporate clients. In Kansas City, we were a dominant firm but were not nationally recognized. Now as Valbridge, we have a bigger seat at the table.

MWM: Some are predicting a market slowdown in 2019. What are you seeing?

Goldsborough: I am more optimistic. Kansas City is a low beta market, so there are not a lot of swings. The coasts tend to move up or down before we do. The number of construction cranes is crazy in Kansas City. Single-family is very active, and in the short term the only thing that may start affecting the velocity is an interest rate hike. I don’t really see a major slowdown any time soon. I have not seen any product that has ceased building. It’s been a nice run and cycles do end, but I don’t see the end in the near term.

MWM: You’re celebrating five years as Valbridge, but you’ve been around much longer than that. How has your leadership changed and how will it continue to evolve?

Goldsborough: This is the 40th anniversary of Shaner Appraisals, founded by Bernie Shaner. I purchased the company from Bernie, but he remains very active. We just announced the next generation of leadership with the appointments of Daniel Kann and Jason Roos to Managing Directors. These guys have done everything right. They work hard and are very smart, and we are happy to have them lead the firm into the future.

MWM: How is your role at VPA changing?

Goldsborough: I am seeing my role shift a bit toward mentoring, and I really love coaching and bringing people up through the system. I am a graduate of the HEMP program (Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program), and it is all about giving back and mentoring the next generation. After graduating from that program, this succession planning makes a lot of sense.

Valbridge Property Advisors Principals Bernie Shaner and Laird Goldsborough have announced a new succession plan for leadership that promotes Daniel Kann and Jason Roos to Managing Directors. Pictured above: Bernie Shaner, Daniel Kann, Jason Roos, Laird Goldsborough

Valbridge Property Advisors Principals Bernie Shaner and Laird Goldsborough have announced a new succession plan for leadership that promotes Daniel Kann and Jason Roos to Managing Directors. Pictured above: Bernie Shaner, Daniel Kann, Jason Roos, Laird Goldsborough