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Internet Leads to Quicker, Better Informed Decisions

Realtors, Buyers Have Access to Local Property Data

E-commerce and the Internet are redefining how all businesses operate. Barriers to entry are being eliminated and competition is emerging from non-traditional sources. And a new set of rules is forcing traditional business to adapt. That’s true for everybody from brick-and-mortar retailers to technology firms to traditional manufacturers.

That’s why even the most mundane businesses are reinventing themselves and attempting to figure out how to embrace the Internet. It’s an absolute necessity, because the Internet is arguably one of the most dramatic technological advancements of the past century. Quite simply, it is an empowering vehicle that is changing the way all businesses operate.

The commercial real estate industry, while very much an old-school business, is no exception. In order to function efficiently, the real estate practitioner must have and provide access to a variety of information resources, which are readily available to a widespread and diverse group of clients and prospects. This is exactly what the Internet facilitates.

Today’s residential and commercial real estate participants are not only able to access information quickly and cost effectively, but they and their clients also have access to a level of detail previously unavailable.

– Industry Begins To Feel

Power of the Internet

For whatever reason, other industries have adopted the World Wide Web and its many uses more quickly than the real estate industry. For example, individual investors in the financial services industry are gaining greater access to information and benefiting from improved transaction capabilities despite the industry’s continued domination by institutional players.

Retail investors of all kinds have gravitated to the Internet because they realize the depth of information available and speed of disseminating that information is empowering. Corollaries can be drawn between the maturation of the financial services industry as an E-business and that of the commercial real estate industry, which is just now beginning to benefit from the efficiencies brought on by the Internet.

To a great extent, these new efficiencies are the result of having informed and educated participants. If a real estate practitioner can spend less time educating all relevant parties involved in a transaction , everyone from potential buyers and sellers to lenders, tenants, lessors and even investors , the practitioner becomes more efficient by concentrating his or her efforts on structuring and closing deals.

A recent National Association of Realtors’ study found that an Internet-educated residential property buyer typically looks at four houses and does a transaction within four weeks of contacting an agent, which is roughly half as long as a buyer who has not educated himself on the buying process. The same is certainly true in the commercial real estate arena.

In San Diego County there is a wealth of local data sources on the Internet, providing everything from traffic counts to demographic profiles to environmental information, as well as substantive information on specific real estate transactions. Although some of these sources are not strictly for use in the real estate arena, their relevance is unmistakable. The progressive nature of the local government, business community and work force has brought many of these Internet resources into the mainstream.

– Sites Offer Local Property Information

Anybody involved in a local real estate transaction, both professionally or on a personal basis, would be well served by a visit to the county’s site at (www.co.san-diego.ca.us). Here, one can find specific property tax information and parcel maps, as well as tertiary information that might be relevant to a specific transaction, such as beach and bay advisories or hazardous materials and environmental assessment areas.

Another site that provides excellent mapping tools and aerial photographs of San Diego is (www.terraserver.microsoft.com). Through aerial photos of the county, one can see population density or the type of growth patterns that are already established in a specific locale.

One can also identify the ingress/egress and the arteries leading in and out of the community. These issues might be particularly important to a real estate developer or retail site selector.

Real time graphical representations of traffic conditions available at (http://traffic.maxwell.com/sd), may be useful for anybody about to jump on the local freeways.

And anybody who has ever traveled the local freeways knows that historical traffic patterns could easily sway a decision in a real estate transaction.

Finally, Southern Californians also need to be aware of environmental disasters more than most people. The Environment Systems Research Institute provides local information on floods and earthquakes that is searchable by ZIP code, county or even congressional district at (www.esri.com/hazards).

All these sites, while not typically thought of as real estate tools, are of relevance to anyone considering a real estate transaction in the San Diego area.

– Information Empowers

Real Estate Practitioners

With these resources available just a point-and-click away, the commercial real estate practitioner has a foundation for making an informed and quick real estate decision.

And with information comes empowerment. The availability of information and the Internet’s ability to reach a greater audience has clearly changed the nature of the real estate business. Real estate practitioners who leverage the many resources available on the Internet will find themselves with a strategic advantage and the ability to provide a truly value-added component to the real estate transaction.

Gallagher is vice president of San Diego-based Comps.Com, a national provider of comprehensive commercial real estate sales information both off-line and on the Internet.

Bill Richardson

104149

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