dna of #CRE Report
Buildout and theBrokerList partnered to conduct the 2016 DNA of #CRE survey.  The goal: to learn more about the industry, its demographics, the way brokers do their jobs today and the tools they use to be successful.
what did we find out?
Relationships are the top driver of business
It’s challenging for brokers to maximize exposure and find the data they need
Brokers rely on technology and social media to do their jobs
The data is broken out to reflect responses of brokers from small, medium and large firms. To see the aggregated results for the survey view our infographic here.
about the respondents
283 brokers from across the country responded. Responses were broken into three categories.
small brokerages
1–5 brokers (36% of respondents)

Medium brokerages 
6–50 brokers (40% of respondents)

Large brokerages
> 51 brokers (24% of respondents)
about your business
Brokers at larger firms tend to earn a higher gross commission income
The majority of brokers from small or medium-sized brokerages made less than $200,000 in gross commission in 2016. Across all brokerage sizes, a very small percentage made $1 million or more.
Many brokers from large firms do not see their brokerage’s brand as a key driver for business. But company size and brand strength may give them the opportunity to close bigger deals and build more influential industry relationships.
Small: 63 percent made $200,000 or less. 3 percent made $1 million or more.
Medium: 51 percent made $200,000 or less. 7 percent made $1 million or more.
Large: 46 percent made $200,000 or less. 8 percent made $1 million or more.
gross comission income
< $100,000
> $2M
Top responses on co-broking indicate 30 to 50 percent of deals were co-brokered
Brokers use this approach to expand reach and move the property to sold or leased more quickly.
Across brokerages of all sizes, the top response for percentage of deals co-brokered was “between 30 and 50 percent.”
Only 6 percent of respondents from medium-sized brokerages indicated over 90 percent of deals were co-brokered (versus 17 percent from small brokerages and 18 percent from large ones).
percentage of co-brokered deals
Relationships are a top stimulus for business for brokerages of all sizes
Across brokerages of all sizes, relationships are the top stimulus for business, followed at a distance by personal reputation. Strong relationships within the industry keep brokers informed of opportunities in the market. And a sense of trust between broker and client drives both initial and repeat business.
Many assume that company brand is a big business driver for large brokerages, but only 1 percent of respondents from large firms indicated that it was. However, this statistic may undersell the importance of branding. Building brand recognition and affinity is crucial not just for sales, but also for broker recruitment. 
Relationships are just as important for bigger brokerages as they are for small and medium-sized ones.
stimulus for winning business
Personal reputation
*Other responses include: Professional materials / presentations; and Company brand
Brokerages find biggest challenges in maximizing exposure and gathering accurate property data
Maximizing exposure is the top challenge in marketing listings for small and medium-sized firms. Brokers from large firms cite gathering accurate property data and research as their top challenge. It’s possible that large firms gain exposure more easily than smaller firms because they have a larger pool of resources and a more established, well-known brand.
Struggles around maximizing exposure may be an indication that brokerages could benefit from new technology capable of efficiently expanding reach beyond word-of-mouth.
Interestingly, writing creative content is a top-three challenge for large firms, but it’s not as much of a concern for small and medium-sized brokerages. Over the last year, 18 percent more brokers began incorporating a blog into their marketing strategy. Large firms are likely the driver of this trend.
biggest challenges
Maximizing exposure
Quality of listing proposals/presentations
Gathering of accurate property data
Redundant data entry listings
Writing creative content
*Other responses include: Redundant data entry for updating listings; Preparing accurate analytics / pro formas; Speed to market; and Lack of quality photography and/or video
your tools and technology
Brokerages rely on self-sourced information, CoStar for property details
Brokers from small brokerages rely more heavily on self-sourced information, while those from medium-sized and large brokerages look to CoStar as a top information source for property data. This disparity is likely influenced by the cost of tools such as CoStar, which medium-sized and large brokerages can more easily absorb.
Across the industry, CoStar dominates as a top information source for property data. Outside of CoStar and LoopNet, no other player is among brokers’ top three resources for property information, despite significant efforts to grow market share.
information sources
Internal company database
Across the board, brokerages use the same technologies
Across all sizes, the top tech tools include those used to find and list spaces, send email marketing campaigns and manage relationships.
Among the lesser-used tech tools, video and photo were used by 24 percent of brokers from medium-sized brokerages. Only 16 percent of small firms and 15 percent from large firms use video and photo.
On the other hand, 11 percent of brokers from medium-sized brokerages used lead generation tools, while 17 percent from small firms and 22 percent from large firms did.
Here are examples of the technology tools that fall under each survey option.
Find and List Spaces 
RealMassive, Xceligent, CoStar, Catylist, LoopNet

Email Marketing 
MailChimp, Constant Contact

Relationship Tools/CRM 
Apto, ClientLook, REA

Marketing Software 
Buildout, RealNex, REIWise

Manage Lease Workflow 
Hightower, VTS

Source Data 
CompStak, RealNex, REscour, STDB.com

Connect Tools 
theBrokerList, RealConnex

Lead Generation 

Video/Photography Software 
Matterport, drone technology
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter are top social media tools for brokerages of all sizes
The top three social media platforms used by brokerages of all sizes are LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. These platforms are used by brokers for relationship building, networking and personalized messaging. Blogs and YouTube fall into the fourth- and fifth-place spots.
Social media tools allow brokers to create and share content, positioning themselves as an expert in the industry and establishing their personal reputation. Some platforms also give them a chance to communicate in a more visual or more “human” way.
58 percent of brokers from medium-sized firms used Twitter (versus only 42 percent from small firms and 43 percent from large firms).
31 percent of brokers from large firms are using Google+ (versus only 12 percent of those from small firms and 18 percent from medium-sized firms).
Only 7 percent of brokers from large firms used Instagram (versus 17 percent of brokers from small firms and 19 percent from medium-sized firms).
Only 2 percent of brokers from small firms used Pinterest (versus 7 percent of brokers from medium-sized firms and 6 percent from large firms).
about you
Years in commercial real estate
Over a quarter of medium-sized firms are made up of brokers who are newer to the industry, which makes sense as this size also skewed younger.
< 5
> 41
Medium-sized brokerages skew slightly younger
> 70
The industry remains predominantly male.
about the survey
Who executed the survey 
Buildout and theBrokerList teamed up for the second annual DNA of #CRE survey.

The purpose of the survey 
To gather and share information about the commercial real estate industry—who brokers are, what they do, the tools they use. This information provides a benchmark for brokers to see how they measure up and learn about other brokers across the industry.

When the survey was conducted 
December 2016

The respondents 
283 brokers from across the country. These respondents represent a range of demographics, roles, brokerage sizes, geographic regions and property types.

The results
This report takes a deeper look at the survey results. This slice of the data covers the aspects of CRE that brokers care about most. We analyzed the responses from brokers within small, medium and large brokerages to gain a better understanding of how each type of firm functions. Here’s how we classified the three sizes:
Small brokerages: 1–5 brokers
Medium brokerages: 6–50 brokers
Large brokerages: > 51 brokers
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