My new Chevy Bolt EV

I’m Charged Up

 12th September 2017    David

Fully chargedEVs, Plug-In Hybrids, and Commercial Real Estate

I’m charged up. Got a Bolt. No, I’m not saying I am going somewhere. That would have been “Gotta bolt” or “Got to bolt.” Do people even say that anymore? No, what I mean is that I just got a Chevrolet Bolt EV a week ago. I’d been driving a Toyota Prius for ten years, and it is a terrific car. It has 190,000 miles on it and has no signs of dropping dead anytime soon. We swapped out our Suburban which was coming to the end of its lease because we only have one child left at home, as opposed to the four we had when we got it. We don’t need something that big anymore.

So far, I am really enjoying the Bolt. It handles great, has fantastic acceleration, it’s comfortable, and has tons of cool features that weren’t available in my Prius. I will admit that for years I’ve had low-grade Tesla envy. There were two things that kept me from getting one, though. The first was the cost, and the second was “range anxiety,” the concern that I would not have enough juice in the battery to make it back home. The Bolt solved both of those concerns for me. Its cost is about two thirds to half of a comparably equipped Tesla Model S and it has a range of 238 miles on a full charge, although as you can see in the picture to the left, it shows a 261 mile potential range. I did need to install a Level 2 charger at home which provides twenty five miles of range an hour, though, otherwise you only get about four or five miles of range per hour of charging on a regular outlet.

This post, however is not a car review. It is real estate related. Driving an EV has newly sensitized me to the general lack of public charging facilities in the New York suburbs. In my town, there are three, all located at the train station. Some of the adjoining towns have none, and these are pretty affluent communities.

On the same day I picked up my Bolt, I got an email from my gym with a survey in it. I’ve been going to this gym for 17 years, it’s a nice place, and there is a great sense of community among its members. The last question on the survey gave you an opportunity to say what you would like to see added to the gym. My suggestion was EV charging stations. The assistant manager just wrote back the following: “Thanks for your continued feedback and loyalty to the club.  I don’t think we have had anyone ask about the charging stations, its something to consider down the road.  Please let us know how else we can help you be successful with your exercise program.”

And here’s my response back to him:

“Thanks for getting back to me. You might want to think about it sooner than later. Here are a few reasons why:

1) EVs are here to stay now. More people will be buying them and leasing them as new less expensive models come to market.
2) You’ve got a new competitor in Lifetime Fitness coming to Chappaqua, and even if they don’t have them, the neighboring Whole Foods will! Saw Mill Club does not offer EV charging.
3) It will enhance Club Fit’s green cred.
4) You don’t have to provide the electricity for free. Most charging stations require payment, done through a mobile system. Check out ChargePoint or EVGo.
5) Club Fit could be the first public EV charging stations in all of Briarcliff. Ossining only has two located on 9A behind the Village building and Chappaqua only has 3 at the train station.

6) Good management knows what their customers want before their customers do.”

I also had the opportunity to talk with one of my town council members over the weekend. As mentioned above, we have three public chargers at the train station, and during the week, you need a town parking permit to use them. I suggested to the councilwoman that the Town Board look into providing EV charging in all of the public parking lots, and use its influence to have chargers installed in the town’s shopping centers and gas stations. As EVs and plug-in hybrids continue to gain traction, their accessibility will be another metric by which homebuyers judge a community before purchasing. She replied that she thought it was a good idea. The board and planning department would look into it, and also see if any public grants were available.

These reasons mentioned above are something every owner of commercial real estate, multifamily real estate and every municipality should take into consideration when deciding whether they should add EV charging stations. And, it’s not just EVs they need to accommodate, but also plug-in hybrids, which almost every major car company now offers. Office, retail and multi-family real estate are going through periods of major disruption. Corporate downsizing, telecommuting or co-working have all had an impact on office vacancy rates in most markets. If the CEO is driving an EV and your building doesn’t have a charging station, chances are she’s going to pick a different property. Online retail and accelerating home delivery times are creating havoc in occupancy at malls and community shopping centers. When someone’s charging their car at your shopping center, they are probably going to be spending an hour there. Don’t you think your tenants want customers to have another reason to shop and hang around your shopping center? When millennials who own or want to own an EV or plug-in hybrid drive up to apartment building and it doesn’t have a charging station, they’ll pick one that does. Potential tenants or customers often have choices among comparable properties, and having charging stations at your apartment building, office building or shopping center may give you the edge you need.

Because of its tougher emissions laws, California is way ahead of most of the country in providing a robust charging infrastructure. A look at ChargePoint’s maps of Los Angeles or Silicon Valley show hundreds of public stations in dozens of locations. No doubt that is where the rest of the country will ultimately get. But if I were an owner of an office building or shopping center anywhere in the country, I would not hesitate a minute to add charging stations. It’s a relatively inexpensive amenity to add, and you can actually get paid for it.

Sure, it’s a lot sexier to talk about self-driving cars and their impact on real estate, but EVs and plug-in hybrids are already here and more are going to be hitting the street really, really soon. Why wait to install EV chargers? Tesla has hundreds of thousands of orders for its Model 3, Chevrolet can make 50,000 Bolts a year, Nissan’s new Leaf will get 150 miles on a charge, Volvo will soon only be selling electric only or hybrid cars. EVs are not going away. Become an advocate in your community for EV charging stations before you run out of juice!

Summertime

Summertime, and the Listin’ Is Easy

 15th August 2017    David_Perlmutter

Summertime, and the listin’ is easy,* or really just easier, but that doesn’t scan as well. I’ll explain. When you sign up for a free trial individual user Premium Membership to QuantumListing, we’ll add your first listing for you.  And we are happy to add more, but we want you to have a little skin in the game, too, and really it is just a little. Right now, you are saying, huh? Have a look at the chart below.

screen-shot-2017-08-15-at-7-46-34-am

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s say you have twelve listings, and you want us to add them for you. First, you register for QuantumListing, and then you are sent to your profile page. On the left side of the page, you’ll see the number of days left in your Premium Membership. Click on the number and you’ll go to a page with payment plan options. In this example, you’ll click on the 3 month/$24.99 option and then the Create Order button. This will bring you to the payment page. Click on the PayPal button to securely complete your transaction with PayPal or your credit card.

If you are doing the free three month trial membership, all you have to do is send your listing flyer or information sheet to [email protected] with the words “Please add this” in the subject line and we’ll take care of it (send us your password, or we’ll give you a new one which you can change when we are done adding your listing or listings). If you choose one of the other membership options, we’ll give you a call to discuss adding your listings.

That’s it! Sounds easy, right?

 

*Sorry about that, Ira Gershwin.

Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary, QuantumListing

 9th August 2017    David_Perlmutter

image-1Happy anniversary, QuantumListing. I can’t believe it has been two years since the QuantumListing iOS app launched on the iTunes store. At the time, I issued a press release. In it, I am quoted as saying, “This app resulted from a need I perceived in the real estate market – access to listings when I’m out on the road – and sufficient technological evolution to satisfy that need in a cost effective manner. When I started as a real estate salesperson in the mid 1980’s, the fax machine was an expensive novelty, which then evolved into a inexpensive commodity. I was the first person at the place I worked to use a personal computer. I’ve run an independent real estate brokerage company since 1989 and have always used new technologies to be competitive and offer services locally on a par with the large national companies. As a result of the consolidation in the real estate information sector, information service pricing is spiraling out of control. As a result of the high prices, those companies often seem more like acerbic partners than service providers. They are rich data sources, but too often, most of that information is not required on a day to day basis, and to use their mobile solutions, users have to pay an even higher premium. Our goal is to provide the information people really need, where they need it, at an extremely cost effective price. Today’s smartphone and cloud technology gives agents and owners the perfect tools to accomplish this goal.” All of this is still true. QuantumListing has evolved since then, with its website becoming equally important as the iPhone and Android apps.

As I look back over the last two years, I am grateful to all of thousands of people that have made QuantumListing part of their work lives, either as members, searchers, ambassadors, advisors, or friends. Thank you. Knowing there are so many people pulling for your success makes the investment of time and money worth it. I will confess that I thought it would be easier to get people to add QuantumListing to their workflow. I thought the combination of convenience, features and value would have users swarming to join from Day 1. It’s more like a steady trickle. Considering that we’re up against an entrenched behemoth that spends untold millions on marketing versus our pretty much non-existent marketing budget, a steady trickle is reasonable. At my brokerage, I received a marketing package from LoopNet and CoStar last week (and I’m already a customer), delivered by FedEx. Inside it was a box with a bubble wrapped envelope and inside that was another box, that when opened, revealed a video screen that automatically started playing a commercial for CoStar and LoopNet. I have to think that they spent more on producing the three videos that the player contained than has been spent on the entire development of QuantumListing. If I were thinner skinned, I would be intimidated by that, and of course by their seemingly unlimited legal budget…

Having been a commercial broker for thirty years, though, I’ve learned a lot about perseverance. Early on in my career, I spent two years calling the in-house real estate rep (shout out to Sey Young!)  from Walmart to get him to visit the site that I was working on for a developer. Finally, he came and we made the deal, although ultimately the center never got built. Experience teaches you how to deal with disappointment, too!

But, I digress. Working on QuantumListing is exciting every day. It reminds me of my experiences developing shopping centers as much as my brokerage business. Outside professionals are an integral part of making the vision a reality. Instead of architects, engineers and lawyers, though it is  designers and a technical team. The one constant is money! You start out investing your own money, and then bring in outside equity and/or debt.

It took six years from concept to construction completion for my development partnership, DKH, to redevelop the Ridgeway Shopping Center in Stamford, CT. There were an incredible number of moving parts, existing tenants, future tenants, partners and professionals. It was as great a concept when it was built as it was when we conceived the project. And more than twenty-five years after we started the project, it is still an incredibly vibrant community center in the hands of its current owner, with the same anchor tenants as when it was built. I have the same level of confidence in QuantumListing that I had in Ridgeway. I know it is going to take time, effort, money, and a great team. The concept is sound, and it is getting enriched as we keep going and add more people to the team and incorporate their ideas.

It won’t be long before the new version of the website is available, and a new version of the iOS app. Concurrent with the new version of the website is a new module which will I think be quite different from anything on the market today, and has the potential to further differentiate QuantumListing from other offerings in the listing service market. Sorry to be so vague, but you’ll just have to be a little patient!

I’ve learned a lot in the last two years, and I’ve met an incredible array of people. I can’t wait to see where we’ll be two years from now. Hopefully, you’ll still be on this journey with me.

 

Barrier

What is the greatest barrier to trying a new commercial real estate listing service?

 2nd August 2017    David_Perlmutter

We understand that people are reluctant to try new real estate technology, and we want to understand better what those reasons are. That’s why we conducted the following poll, “What is the greatest barrier to trying a new commercial real estate listing service?” The results were quite interesting. Only 24% of the respondents said that their greatest barrier was that they were happy with their existing service. That’s hardly an enthusiastic endorsement for the market leaders.

The largest cohort, 48%, responded that they did not try new a new listing service because of the expense. Another 15% felt that the time to add listings was what’s holding them back from trying a different service. 13% answered Other, but did not specify what in reply comments.

 

 

At QuantumListing, we’re trying to remove the friction points for people to try our service. First, we give a three month trial to new users, and after that, we offer several low cost Premium Membership options for individual users and enterprises. Premium Membership comes with an incredible array of features, and it’s all for the same price. We don’t ask you for your payment information up front, so there is no automatic charge if you don’t opt out. You have to opt in to remain a Premium Member. If you don’t want to add listings, it is free to search all of our users’ listings nationwide.

In order to help prospective users with the other pain point mentioned in the poll, the time to enter their listings, we’ve got a solution for that as well. We’ve started offering users “white glove” set up, where we’ll enter your listings for you. However, even if you add your listings yourself, it does not take much time. Yesterday, we timed Eli the Intern as he added a listing on the QuantumListing.com website. It took him one minute and fifteen seconds to add a listing. This was the fourth listing that Eli added, so he knew what he was doing. He’s also competitive and wanted to put up a good time. Nonetheless, it gives you a good sense of how fast and easy it is.

Ideally, we prefer that you pay for a year’s Premium Membership for us to do the white glove set up, and since we offer all new members three free months, it would give you fifteen months of membership. In this particular case, though, we decided to give this user (actually three users at the same brokerage) white glove set up because we had an interesting conversation with him. This company is situated in Rockland County, NY and are members of the Hudson Gateway Association  of Realtors (HGAR). He puts his commercial listings on HGAR MLS site. He feels that the MLS has one thing going for it that other listing services (including QuantumListing) don’t. They require that the brokers send a signed exclusive agency agreement (and extensions if/when applicable) before they’ll permit a listing on their site. As a result, the information is more accurate and reliable. All of the commercial listing services have bad information of one kind or another, either naming an agent who isn’t the current exclusive agent, or having a property that is no longer available. I wrote about this issue back in November of 2015 in a post, The Fallacy of Accurate Information Services.

One of our objectives at QuantumListing is to keep the cost of Premium Membership low. We don’t have the infrastructure in place to review listing agreements for each of our users’ listings, and since that is not the current standard in commercial real estate, I think there would likely be substantial resistance to requiring that. We are working on a new module that will help with the issue and accelerate user acquisition but I prefer not to discuss it until it’s ready, which will be quite soon.

So, what should be your takeaways from this post? 1) Not many people are happy with their commercial listing services, but don’t want to change because of the expense and time required to change. 2) QuantumListing can alleviate those two pain points. 3) We have something in the works that is really exciting!

Twitter Poll

UPDATE: Other Than Social Media, How Often Do You Use Apps For Business?

 13th July 2017    David_Perlmutter

I was on a conference call on June 27th with Linda Day Harrison from The Broker List, Howard Kline from CRE Radio & TV, Kateri Osborne from The News Funnel and CRE//Tech, and Zach Watkins from RealMassive. Linda asked me the question, why did I decide to pivot QuantumListing away from being an app only to being an app and website. My answer was that most people don’t want to do data entry on their phone.  Additionally, the youngest Millennials are native phone users, but, they are not necessarily in the position of influence in their work environment yet, and can’t necessarily make their older peers use an app. That inspired me to run a poll.

The result is the poll running on Twitter, “Other than social media, how often do you use apps for business?” The early results for the frequency of use of apps for business on at least a weekly basis is 43% as of this writing. Take the poll on Twitter.

 


Later in the day, I remembered that I asked a slightly different question back in late 2015, which was “Do you use any commercial real estate apps?” At the time, only 19% answered yes. Chris Clark, from the CRE Outsider blog, suggested we asked the wrong question. She thought we should have been asking, “How often do you use your mobile phone for CRE purposes?” We did a follow up with that question and 100% of the respondents were daily users.

We’ll post on the results of the poll next week, and after the 4th of July, we’ll run a poll on the frequency of use of social media for business. Enjoy the long holiday weekend!

***UPDATE***  We boosted the Twitter post ($10), we got a total of 90 respondents, and the results changed so that in the end only 31% of the respondents use apps other than social media for business on at least a weekly basis.  The adoption rate has a lot of room for growth! 65% of the respondents almost never or never use apps for business. So, if your business model is to be an app for business, and that’s it, good luck. This will likely change over time as native phone users become a larger part of the workforce.

However, let’s have a look at the follow up poll, “How often do you use social media apps on your phone or tablet for business?” The potential answers were the same, Almost every day, almost every week, at least once a month, and almost never or never. As you can see, the results were quite different than the previous poll.

 

We did the same $10 boost, but got 140 responses. 69% of the respondents use social media for business almost daily, another 8% almost weekly, and 3% at least once a month.  Combined, that’s a total of 80% using social media for business every month. So what does that tell those of us with real estate tech businesses?

An overwhelming majority of our customers are engaged with social media, therefore, we need to be engaged with social media. Looking at some of the metrics from Google Analytics, over a three month period, social media has referred 12% of QuantumListing’s users and accounted for more than 10% of the new registered users. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are responsible for more traffic than Google+ and Instagram (we’re not very active on the latter). I am under the impression that being active on Google+ has an ancillary advantage in that it improves visibility in Google search results, although this is more conjecture than proven fact.

In addition to being active on social media, we need to make our websites and apps social media friendly. We need to make it easy for our users to share our content on social media. In the case of QuantumListing, we proactively share our users listings and profiles on social media. And it is easy for our users to do the same, too. Should we advertise on social media? If you have the budget, probably yes. Targeting for some of the social media channels can be extremely pinpoint accurate. Although I’ve dabbled in advertising on social media, most of the money going into QuantumListing is going to product development. To date, QuantumListing is self-funded, so with limited resources, advertising dollars are scarce. But, given this new insight into business users’ engagement with social media, it may be worth exploring further. Controlling customer acquisition cost is the name of the game.

I’ll let you know if we go down that road, and the results if/when we have them!

Related :
QuantumListing is the new crowd-sourced real estate listing platform for commercial real estate agents, owner and tenants