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Industry finds bytes newest critical asset.

During a recent board meeting of the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), an animated discussion was sparked when Executive Director Dan Margulies reported he would be getting a new computer system for the office.

Margulies remembered: "And I said, |Wait a minute. Who here would rather talk about real estate than computers?' And no one raised their hand."

Welcome to the information age where the real estate industry, based on negotiating skills and creative thinking, has embraced computers as everyday tools.

From the hand held HP-12Cs that developer Richard N. Kalikow blames for speeding up deals because numbers can be crunched in laps to sensors that track building temperatures to personal computers (PC's) that maintain rent rolls for management companies to mainframes that calculate tax bills for entire cities, no one remains untouched.

National Realty Committee Board Member Robert C. Larson of the Taubman Companies has been quoted as saying the 80's were caused by Lotus 1,2,3 because the program allowed profits that never materialized to be projected in seconds. Now, the 90's program updates are helping to work out the 90's over developments.

Press a button for an elevator and a newly patented Otis Elevator fuzzy logic program will determine how many people are waiting and which elevator should stop.

Want to buy an apartment? The Corcoran Group has touch-screen computers to help people find listings and information at its street level store, the Real Estate Gallery.

"It's like a retail store and people can look up apartments and buildings," said Linda Falk, The Corcoran Group's communications director. "It's a user-friendly atmosphere."

Soon, a lending library of videos will be available on a selection of apartments.

Management Software

Recently, Newmark & Co. researched the outsourcing of its backoffice functions. After talks with Regal Management, which provides computerized services for residential firms, the two merged and Newmark's management capabilities were significantly enhanced.

Martin O. Cohen, a principal of Genesis Computer Consultants, Inc., has found a niche servicing many property managers, tax certiorari firms and appraisers in New York City and Nassau County. The firm is involved with large data base management. The certiorari systems alone can contain records on 1 million properties.

"Everything runs on an IBM type - PC," said Cohen. "The system does comparison runs and prints forms - everything you need in a certiorari practice."

Additionally, the Genesis property management system keeps track of both residential and commercial space. It generates leases and everything is tied into the accounts receivables.

Another turnkey vendor for property management systems is B.J. Murray Inc. They have an integrated property management system that tracks tenants, handles general ledger work and accounts receivable.

"It will streamline operations and helps management to get rid of clutter and paper and generate reports on demand," said Joel Cohen of B.J. Murray's installation services.

HUDware is a new Housing and Urban Development subsidy reporting system and is designed to run on multiple hardware platforms from IBM compatible PC's and Novell networks to the IBM RISC System 6000.

Wolf Computer Systems of Clifton, New Jersey, represents Timberline's Property Management software, another full-blown management package that develops leases, has clauses for common area payments and real estate tax pass-throughs. It also handles accounts payable and work order tracking. The package was recently sold to the New York Teacher's Annuity and Insurance Company, which is insisting it be used in the management of its properties nationwide.

Tom Bradshaw, regional vice president of Wolf, said this complete package is PC based and works in a graphical user interface, (GUI) for a single user or a network.

Timberline also provides job cost construction solutions software for estimating major construction jobs and tenant fit-up.

Bradshaw sees real estate computer work moving toward client/server systems with a graphical user interface environment and run by a PC network.

Checking Tenants

Worried about midnight moveouts? The Registry keeps track of deadbeat tenants by computerizing courthouse records into its own data base and also acts as a central compiler of information about tenant move-in and moveout dates. Sabrina Adams, vice president of marketing for The Registry, said if an owner has a PC, information can be sent through a modem in seconds.

Their system will also check similar names and aliases. Adams said their service helps to keep industry rents down because people are less likely to be delinquent when they know they are being tracked and it makes it harder for the marginal people to obtain apartments. The Registry also brokers credit reports.

Want to look up something yourself in the highly computerized public records but are unsure how to go about it? REyn, Inc. teaches real estate professionals how to use area governmental systems and also publishes two guides to public records.

Investigative attorney Fred D . Knapp teaches the methods of retrieval in conjunction with a 15-hour continuing education course that will be given this coming Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 27 and 28, and includes a field trip to the records offices on a later date.

About 50 percent of the people just take the course for non-credit, Knapp said, including investors, attorneys and owners.

"We teach not only how the systems work but how to use them to achieve real estate goals such as buying distressed property," explained Knapp.

Records of potential tenants and buildings can be checked for liens, payment histories, motor vehicle infractions, judgements, mortgages and other items.

The city recently made available its landlord/tenant computer and, Knapp said, an owner can now see if the person has previously been evicted or is a problem tenant.

Knapp also teaches people how to use the newly installed systems in both Nassau and Westchester Counties.

The guidebooks, The Complete Public Records Guide to Southern New York and Northern Central New Jersey from Trenton North, are available separately at most bookstores and libraries or can be ordered from (800) Get-REYN.

Heating Controls

U.S. Energy Controls' devices not only control the amount of heat in buildings but monitor the boiler functions which includes stack temperature - that is an indication of efficiency - fuel consumption and water consumption by the boiler and by the tenants.

Gerald Pindus, company president who is also an owner of residential. property, said a special fuel gauge detects when oil is delivered and records the time duration and date as well as the volume delivered to ensure the building obtains an honest fuel count.

"It also tells you how much oil you consume on a daily basis," he noted.

A dial-out alarm for boiler problems can also tie into motion detectors or other devices and alert management to unauthorized entry.

Reports that summarize each day's activities are generated in the customer's office. While in the past, the oil companies have not been supportive of the controls, Bauer Oil Burner recently obtained U. S. Energy Controls systems for their own building clients, so they will be alerted immediately to any problems. "They are a forward thinking company," noted Pindus.

Optimum Applied Systems' Vice President David Suthergreen said their heat systems are also being used to monitor the water mains and the domestic hot water. Reports are run that show the water usage every 15 minutes and can be helpful in determining leaks and tracking repairs.

Another Optimum device automatically logs the oil delivery. Suthergreen said this dial out system calls and tells the owner that they have received a delivery and the amount of it, based on the height of the oil. It will also call at a predetermined level to say a delivery is needed," explained Suthergreen. "You can also call up the system on your PC and see what is in your tank."

Suthergreen sees computers providing more analysis for the building owner to compare the efficiency of the buildings. The addition of water metering is also a key area.

Optimum's systems are being used both by New York State and private firms to study energy and water use as well as heating patterns. "The usage in many buildings is much higher than the design criteria (for hot water heating) is calling for," noted Suthergreen.

Computers and high-tech solutions are being employed throughout the industry and every day, people are discovering more ways to make life easier.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Technology; real estate industry relies heavily on computers for business management applications
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Sep 22, 1993
Previous Article:Building sold in New Jersey.
Next Article:How to save more energy in multi-families.

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