For Local Market Knowledge, Choose a Broker Who Works from the Car

No doubt about it—the Internet has changed the commercial real estate industry for the better. Information that might have taken a broker days to gather is now available in minutes with just the click of a mouse. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that every detail about a local market is available online. Some information requires pounding the pavement, or in the case of commercial real estate driving the pavement. That’s why commercial real estate brokers who spend hours behind the wheel can give their clients information you won’t find sitting at a desk.

The Value of Drive Time

Commercial real estate brokers who are dedicated to their local market spend hours and hours behind the wheel. According to Jim Breitenfeld, a Vice President in the Office and Industrial Division at Henry S. Miller, “windshield time” is key to knowing what’s really going on in a market.
“People rarely see me in our North Dallas office,” Jim says. “I focus on Plano and Frisco, so I spend most of my days driving from property to property there, touring or identifying opportunities from the road. You’d be surprised what you can find out just driving around.”

Drive Time Information on a Local Market

One of the scenarios that a broker can only see onsite and not online is progress of a project under construction. While there may be attractive architectural drawings of a project on a marketing platform such as CoStar or LoopNet, that doesn’t necessarily translate into brick and mortar on the ground.

For instance, let’s say a broker sees that construction has stopped or stalled on a project. This may mean there’s a problem, such as a disagreement among the developer, municipality, general contractor or a subcontractor. Seeing this, a broker would then dig to learn more about any underlying problems—and how or when they’re likely to be resolved—before presenting the property to a buyer or tenant for consideration.

“Technology cannot always tell you what’s actually happening on the ground,” Jim explains. “The property listing looks good online and the seller’s rep will probably give you a good story, but reality may be different.”

Access to More Options in Commercial Real Estate

In a metropolitan area as large as Dallas-Fort Worth, there are literally thousands of locations that might be right for your business. Finding the one that is best often depends on having the inside track with property owners and developers. And that cannot be accomplished just on the phone.

Face-to-face meetings may lead to information about properties or spaces that are not available on the broad market, but are being quietly marketed instead. A broker that spends time out in the field has opportunities to connect in-person with landlords, tenants, sellers and buyers, learning about commercial real estate possibilities that may not be on any websites.

Mobile Technology

Thanks to mobile applications for smart phones and tablets, brokers can now take their work with them wherever they go. Both CoStar and LoopNet have quality apps that provide updated data and information in real time. Sitting in the parking lot of a retail strip center, these apps provide a broker with the listing agent’s name and firm, current tenants if there are any and whether or not space is available.

In addition, mobile apps help a broker answer a client’s questions without delay. For example, if a broker and client happen to pass a property that is not on their planned tour, the mobile app will indicate the reason. Perhaps the tenant is looking to lease space no larger than 1,500 square feet, but the property only has 5,000 square feet available that is not demisable. Similarly, a property may not match a buying client’s budget.

Combining windshield time and mobile technology, your commercial real estate broker can give you the best of both worlds—insights into what is really happening on the ground and up-to-the-minute data from the Internet.


The information contained in this article is general in nature and should not be construed as financial, tax or legal advice.  As with any financial or legal matter, consult your tax advisor and legal counsel.