Nintey percent of searches for commercial real estate begin online. Gone are the days when people first hopped in a car and drove around to check out potential buildings. Those who are looking to make residential real estate investments can find lots of tools to guide them through the marketplace online. But, the online evolution for commercial property is not yet complete.

The breadth and depth of products available for residential investors is not online in the commercial real estate market, yet. Experts in the field predict such tools will soon be widely available. So, what can investors do to help prepare for a coming wave of change in this market?

  • Watch tech. Keep an eye on evolving tech. It is very likely apps (e.g., Zillow and Redfin) will gain substantial market share in the online commercial real estate search sector in the near future. Investors can prepare for this change by testing out these tools and incorporating them into their practices as they become available. Potential tech competitors in this space need to be well funded, nimble and ramping up quickly.
  • Shift focus. The composition of commercial real estate will likely continue to shift away from retail and toward warehouses, logistics operators and re-purposed former retailers converting to residential, office or other commercial spaces.
  • Find comfort in the process. It is unlikely the actual transactional process will change much, although online transactions and blockchain-based transactions may soon be common. Many investors will likely still go through a traditional offer and negotiations process, though some may shift to iBuyer and other approaches online.

Whether moving forward with a transaction through an app, online or in person, it is always wise to have a professional review the contracts and make changes as needed. A commercial real estate attorney experienced in these negotiations can help to better ensure your interests are protected.