Love: I absolutely love the perspective Long has developed around commercial real estate and technology. I love what he sees, and the potential he describes, from broad frameworks to granular moment-by-moment experiences. There is a powerful optimism and vision to the way he writes and I believe that he is steadily lifting the expectations re: what our industry can become.
Annoyance: Lately I have felt something between non-plussed and totally annoyed - verging on dismissive - re: Duke's recent posts which read as 120% ragey, critical, without any semblance of constructive ideation. My annoyance comes from disappointment, because I expect more from Duke. Jody Rosen's recent NY Magazine re-cap of Jay Z's Magna Carta captures some of how I feel about talent without applied discipline - he is often mailing it in. He could do so much better. Tone also matters. There is a fine line, but a very important distinction between:
a) Seeing opportunities for improvement and using the delta between where things are, and where they could be, as fuel for good work
b) Contempt for "the market" or worse, the customers. Over time, lack of respect is poison to any relationship.
Managing these two ends of the spectrum is a constant balance. When any of us (Duke included) cross the line, it makes it hard to listen seriously to what is being said.
Given my own ambivalence re: Long - I cheered out loud at this week's posts about the potential applications for tech and opportunity search in Commercial Real Estate. Stories are powerful and in these he paints a phenomenal picture of what COULD be, how it is becoming that way, and why that is the case. These resonate for me because I believe completely that a more collaborative approach to data and decision making, greater transparency in real estate is better for everyone, and Duke shows us why. Three cheers - good work Mr. Long! Thank you for coming back around.
For the full post, read on below...
You receive a message.
Did you miss a phone call? Was your phone on vibrate? You tap the message icon on your phone and listen. “Hey Mike this is Eric I just passed this building off of Tech Center Drive and I pulled it up on the Every Commercial Building in the World is For Sale or Rent app (ECBWFSR ) and I had a few questions for you.” ”Hit me back when you get a chance.” Your first response is WTF is the ECBWFSR. The problem is that the only apps you are even remotely familiar with are Flashlight and AARP Mobile. You sit back for a minute and think. How in the hell do I find the apps thing on my phone again? Wait you have the quick and simple answer. You call your daughter at school and hope she is in between classes. Ten minutes and a “Dad just tap that button that says download and let it download” from your daughter and you have found it downloaded it and sit staring at it with no idea what the hell this thing is.
Simple english please.
After staring at the thing and hitting some buttons you still have no clue what this thing really is. So you make your second big tech decision of the day and call in Alex the company tech guy. Yes he needs a haircut always wears jeans and occasionally will put on a jacket over his t-shirt at company functions. You look past these things because his is so brilliant and can explain what any tech thing is and what it does to anyone in plain english. Alex leans in your door and says “so Mike what have you crashed today?” ” Come on Alex I only crash things maybe twice a month and that’s just when I am watching golf tournaments online ease up.” ” A client called me about a building and wanted to ask me some questions and mentioned he pulled up this app and I have no clue what the hell this thing is.” Alex grabs a chair and looks at the app on the phone he then reaches for the computer “let me see what this mysterious app is Mike.” Alex twists the laptop around and starts clicking, adjusting his glasses he squints his eyes together and cracks a little smile. After about ten minutes he looks up and pushes back the laptop. Mike can’t stand it “so Alex what the hell is this thing and why is Eric on it and why did he not call me first?” Alex leans back in his chair ”well Mike you always mention to me that you love the way I explain these things in simple plain english.” ”Yes, Alex I do so cut the suspense and educate me my friend.” Alex pulls his glasses to the top of his head “its crowdsourced building data from the actual users and owners online for free.” ”Alex that is not plain english.” ”What in the hell does that mean?”
“Let’s walk over to the coffee shop across the street.” I am only on my third cup of the day and it looks like it’s going to be a long one.” “Alex how can you live on that stuff?” “Dood it’s not coffee it’s life show some respect.” They sit at a far table in the corner and Alex starts ” Mike think about every building that has occupants or owners on the planet.” “How many people can that be?” “Hell Alex I can’t even begin to imagine what that number can even be.” “Ok fine just think about the buildings that are residential or commercial in this market.” How many is that?” ”Let me think in commercial I have heard some numbers thrown around like fifty-five to sixty-thousand and residential has to be one million plus and that’s just a guess.” ” Ok Mike so some of these buildings obviously have multiple tenants and multiple uses right?” “Yes sure.” “They are all owned by people who use them to either live in or work in right?” ”Generally yes.” “Now Mike what if someone wants to sell that building or rent that building out?” They usually call you or a residential broker right?” ”I bust my ass to make sure they think of me first and then pick the phone up and call me.” “Ok fine what if they have access to the property and building information without calling you first?” “Look Alex I am not worried I have the most updated data on any building in this market and I use that data to help my client get the best deal.” ” I have heard all of this shit before and nothing has changed in the last few years to even get my attention.” ” Mike I see your point.” “What if all of this information was put online and in a mobile environment by the owners the tenants and the occupants of the building?” ”Again Alex I have heard this before and I am not buying it.” “Mike what if they have no intention of selling or renting the space at all?” “What if they are just showing what the property is and what wonderful features it has?” ” What if someone who is maybe in the market to rent or just wants to make a comment about the building?” ” What if they just think it’s cool and want to make a comment?’ ” What if they want to buy it and just say so?” “Alex I don’t get your point and what in the hell does this have to do with Eric my client?”
“Your Client.” “His name is Eric.” ” Ok Eric drove past a building and for some reason wanted to get more information about that building.” ” So what there are probably thousands of apps with building data on them.” ” Agreed but he chose this particular one because it had people’s opinions on it.” ”It had people who took the time to comment about the building the neighborhood and the community.” “It had people on it who want to buy sell and rent space.” ” Eric does not need you to help him with any part of this initial information gathering process.” “Alex come on that’s all bullshit he knows I know and the owner knows he will need me to help him and the owner create a safe and successful transaction.” “Really Mike are you sure of that?” “Call Eric back and see what questions he wants to ask.”
“Eric how the wedge working this week?” “Mike you know my wedge is always working and you have a couple of trophies at your house because of it.” “So true Eric so true.” ” What kind of questions did you want to ask me about this building you drove past?” ” Well, not really that many.” “I was talking to someone at our office and they heard that the building may be up for sale soon.” ” How did they find that out?” ”Mike I think their wife is good friends with the comptroller’s wife and they were doing lunch,you know how that goes.” ” Yea sure Eric the ladies always know.” ” What’s the address of this place anyway?” ” Mike I already have a bunch of info on the place from the owner and the people occupying the building.” “Eric did you call them first without calling me?” ” No everything was on the ECBWFSR app and it had links to the public information sites to help verify.” “It was quick and easy.” “Eric give me the address and let me check my database.” ” Sure Mike it’s 4110 West Inverness Parkway.” “Hang on Eric and give me a minute.” ” Wait ok here it is four stories forty-five plus thousand square feet on site parking .” ” Yes Mike I know all of that.” ” I know all the stats all the tax info all of the utility info basically everything I need.” “Eric did you get that from the owner?” ” No I got it from the comptroller of the company.” “Eric you just called him and he gave that all up to you without hesitation?” Yes Mike why would he not?” ” I don’t see any problem with it and neither did he.” “Eric you and I have teed it up for many years I thought I was your go to guy for this stuff.” “Mike it’s no big deal to me really it’s all out there anyway.” “Eric does the owner know you have this information?” “Sure he does Mike I told you we already talked and had a very cordial in productive conversation.” ” Productive in what way Eric?” ” Productive in that we may have some interest in the building if he wants to sell.” “Eric according to my database he has not indicated any want or need to sell.” ” Well Mike that’s not what it sounded like in our conversation.” “Eric let’s meet for lunch tomorrow pick a spot and a time and I will be there.” ” Mike let me check my schedule and I will get back I promise.” “I’m in my car and don’t want to dig into my phone while I’m in traffic.” “Sure thing Eric hit me back soon.”
The In between.
“Alex he didn’t really ask me anything.” “So Mike why did he call you?” “Well we have known each other for years and have done some serious business together.” “Do you think he called you out of professional courtesy” “Alex don’t patronise me.” “Mike I would never do that.” “Why are you so sensitive all of a sudden?” “Alex I’m all good don’t worry sorry if I seemed a little edgy just then.” ” No worries Mike you have always been the man.” “Do you want me to give you the outsider some what tech users point of view on this?” “Let me have it Eric I’m all ears.” “Mike almost every property every space in this world can will be and is for sale or rent.” “Mike if I offer you seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars for your house right now what is your answer going to be?” ”Well Alex it’s not for sale but I am sure the wife and I would consider it if it was a serious offer from a qualified buyer.” ” But Mike you just said it’s not for sale.” “Alex seven hundred and fifty K is a decent number for my house.” “The wife and I may want to look at some positive options if we were to make that deal.” “Mike do you care where they found out where your house was what condition it was in how much it may be worth or whether you even wanted to sell it?” “Honestly Alex no as long as their cash was green and good.” “So why do you think that information needed to come from you on the building that Eric was looking at?” “Hell Alex it’s my job to analyse that data.” “It’s how I have been able to do hundreds maybe thousands of deals.” ” Eric doesn’t seem to think it’s that important anymore Mike.” “I have a question for you Mike.” “You said Eric called you back and set a lunch date for tomorrow.” ” What is that purpose of that lunch?” “Alex it’s simple if there is going to be a transaction between Eric’s company and the owner of 4110 West Inverness Parkway I need to assist and represent Eric with that transaction.” ” So Mike you did not find the building you did not give Eric any valuable data you have had no contact with the owner but you think you can bring value to the transaction and get paid by the owner who already found the potential buyer himself.” ” Alex it is a lot more complicated than that.” “Mike tell me what you are gong to do that Eric’s companies big legal firm and the title company will not be able to accomplish?” ” Well shit Alex all of this because of a phone app?” No Mike all of this because of people’s willingness to interact and communicate with each other about their spaces and their environments.”
“Alex so the question I must ask is where in the hell does that leave me?”
Is Almost Every Building In The World Always For Rent Or For Sale?