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Portals offer a window to new efficiencies.

Achieving competitiveness, convenience, and green objectives requires that real estate business owners, clients, tenants, and service providers perform their complex interactions as efficiently as possible. That's why portals--secure, seamless conduits between a website and operating databases--have emerged as commercial and multifamily real estate participants' method of choice for gaining selective real-time, point-to-point access to crucial business information and transactions.

Today, top real estate software providers offer an integrated portal solution for website content management, design, and an expandable Web presence as part of their suite of real estate products. This solution delivers numerous marketing and customer functions while simultaneously capturing data directly into a property management system.

Used to their full advantage, portals can drive efficiency into every transaction, delivering a significant competitive advantage.

Portals are highly useful to commercial property managers in several ways, including:

Building calendars Tenants can post upcoming cultural and entertainment events on building calendars, creating a sense of community. They can also contain key information such as construction updates and fire drills.

Concierge services

This marketing-oriented feature lets property managers increase revenue by advertising additional services ranging from package pickup to securing tickets to sporting events.

Emergency portal Activating an "emergency portal" is critically important in fires, floods, and other catastrophes. They provide evacuation plans, shelter data and other important information, along with a message board.

Green orientation Portals support green initiatives by letting you eliminate the costly storage and distribution of property management documents. Lease-specific documents can be uploaded securely for access by authorized users. Tens of thousands of investors can receive financial reports online. If you're generating a hundred-page report, how much time and money could you, the property owner, save by avoiding production and mailing costs or enlisting third-party help in compiling such a document?

Retail sales data recording If you have retail tenants, portals eliminate the hassle of collecting sales data by giving tenants the "Input Sales Data" form. Ten ants can enter their information online in seconds. This information is entered directly into the property management software system, streamlining the billing process by automating the percentage rent calculations and reconciliations.

Security Commercial property managers seeking to streamline entry procedures for visitors can activate the security pass application feature, which notifies the security desk and the guest of the date/time of visit and the type of identification required to enter the building.

Space availability Portals let owners and operators expose available space to the public or to selected brokers. Top-of-the-line real estate software packages transparently handle such back-end tasks as options and encumbrances, ensuring that availability status remains updated. In addition, requests for space can be added to tracking applications that let managers assess their deal pipeline.

Tenant ledger Tenants, with proper authorization, can review their base rent, common area maintenance obligations, and ledger information for the current month or any prior period.

Integrated solutions for multifamily properties

And just what can portals do for multifamily managers? By uniting all participants--prospects, residents, employees, investors and service providers--in a common site, they promote efficiency through:

Automation All communications and transactions, including AP and AR, can be done automatically, cutting time needed for manual input.

Fruitful collaboration Each participant--vendors, owners, residents--can have a dedicated portal. A resident portal, for example, accommodates rent and bill payments, message posting, personal information updates, maintenance requests, and other functions ordinarily performed by accounting, personnel and other departments. Gaining residents as collaborators this way promotes pride of ownership, which is as important in multifamily as it is in commercial

Marketing Driving your business's critical mass--residents, vendors, investors, employees, service providers, etc.--to portals offers an opportunity to deploy effective messaging for sales, services, and other actions. Illustrating buildings and space/unit availability, giving prospects virtual tours, booking appointments, and generating prospect records directly to a production database, in real time, are other examples, of portals' utility as a marketing tool

Reporting made easy Investors receiving financial reports can number in the tens of thousands. If you generate a hundred-page report, for example, how much time and money could you, the property owner, save by avoiding production and mailing costs or enlisting third-party help in compiling such a document?

Resident empowerment Portals give residents the power to pay rent, view ledgers, load work orders, access forms, manage documents, lodge service requests, and perform a myriad of other functions quickly, at any time, with minimal paperwork.

Service made easy Service providers can go online to load invoices, bid on prospective jobs, and check maintenance requests.

Forward-thinking real estate interests are quickly grasping portals' significance in streamlining operations and unifying stakeholders.

Competitive advantage, efficiency, customer service, environmental sustainability, return on investment--portals can be a significant factor in helping residential and commercial real estate owners and managers attain all of these business goals.

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Comment:Portals offer a window to new efficiencies.
Author:Malpica, Richard
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jul 9, 2008
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