The wizards at Google have been brewing up some functions that will likely make waves in the way we operate in CRE.  Like a lot of progress in the industry, this work is starting by addressing residential markets, but - as with most advancements in real estate - should quickly progress to the commercial side. If you’re not paying attention to these changes and the major tech players going after a piece of the real estate pie, you’ll quickly get left behind. Commercial real estate has a lot to gain from the innovations already available for practical use in the industry, and more change is in the works. Tech giants like Google and Microsoft are busy developing new approaches for tackling the challenges of CRE.

Here are 3 things they’re up to that you should keep an eye on.

Algorithms Stacking the Search

This past May, in a move widely referred to as Mobilegeddon, Google rolled out a new search algorithm that favors mobile-friendly websites in search results. So if your site is not mobile-friendly it will appear lower down in the list of results. As you know and intuition dictates, a site that appears on page 2 or 3 of the results is far less likely to get any traffic out of that particular search.

Google made this move because the number of people using the web via smartphone now exceeds searches by computer. They’re channeling their efforts where they serve the most users. We need to do the same. However, in a recent study 45.6% of commercial real estate companies failed Google's mobile ready-ness test. This is a higher failure rate than was shown by websites in general (40%).  So for our purposes, this means that making our sites mobile friendly instantly boosts us ahead of nearly half of the competition. Good to know.

Select Listings

This is a new feature that acts as a “virtual assistant.”  Users of the platform can subscribe to their choice of several residential listing sites that are integrated with Google Now, including Redfin, Zillow, and Trulia. Their subscription provides the latest listings in the user’s area. Being left out of the sites available to users through Google Now would likely mean losing access to those customers. This will soon apply to the commercial industry.

Firms need an Android app to partner with Google Now, and in some cases that’s creating questions about how to keep the service free, particularly in the case of commercial firms. There are number of these virtual assistants in development, and they are using different approaches to gathering information with the goal of determining a user’s interests and supplying relevant listings. They’re still a work in progress. They may go in the direction of gathering data from sites the user frequents or relying on their own preferred resources.


In partnership with, now rebranded as Ten-X, this is a service that predicts demand for home sales in a given area, based on data from Google searches and other sources. Google’s motivation here is to make real estate more transparent, including information that has been hard to locate like investment sales data. As with the other ideas, Nowcast is currently targeting the residential market, but it has huge possibilities for CRE. We know the value of having a solid picture of market trends in making development and investment decisions, as well as making smart marketing decisions.

Each of these ideas has tantalizing possibilities for making it easier to get relevant information to users who are seeking it. For CRE professionals, the prospect of having a behemoth like Google on the team is tremendous, and their work certainly bears watching. Here are some other workplace innovations you might want to consider.

As we move through the next few years with adoption of CRE products at an all-time high, it’s a given that new, large players will enter. We have a $15 trillion industry to play in. We have passed the tipping point, and this will now be a reality in our everyday work lives. So, if you want to be a part of the biggest change our industry will possibly ever go through … lose your fear and take action. It’s time to enjoy the ride