How We Built a Custom Property Listing Website for Colliers International Indiana [Interview]

February 24, 2021
10 min

Ascendix Technologies and Colliers International Indiana’s partnership has a long history together. It started 13 years ago with the initial deployment of AscendixRE (commercial real estate CRM) on Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Having success with that, Colliers decided to bring to life the concept of an appealing and easy-to-use property listing portal software with multiple integrated tools.

This how we have started collaborating on ColliersView.

What are the secret ingredients of ColliersView and how companies can benefit from property listing software solutions like it? We talked to Saimir Qalliu, the Managing Partner of Colliers International Indiana to get answers to these questions.

 

Meet Colliers International Indiana and Saimir Qalliu

 

Colliers International is a global real estate services and investment management company with offices in 68 countries. The company’s mission is to provide expert advice to maximize the value of property for real estate occupiers, owners, and investors. In 2019 corporate revenues were more than $3.0 billion and $33 billion of assets under investment management segment. To date Colliers has transacted more than 70, 000 lease and sale deals with a total transaction value of $129B.

 

Colliers-International-Website

Home Page of Colliers International Website

 

Saimir Qalliu is Chief Financial Officer and Managing Director at Colliers International Indiana and his main responsibilities include managing the financials and day-to-day operations of the company like oversight of the office systems, accounting, human resources, and IT functions.

Also, he participates in the development, integration and launch of the firm’s industry-tailored CRM and project management platform; proprietary market research databases; and continues to manage ongoing training and enhancements of these vital corporate tools.

Besides active involvement in business development within the company, Saimir’s main accomplishments include membership in Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR) and participation in volunteer projects like: Relay For Life – American Cancer Society, Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, Wheelers Mission.

Foreword about ColliersView

 

ColliersView is an advanced real estate listing software that was developed for Colliers International’s brokers to market properties and availabilities. Besides main entities commonly found in the real estate portal software layout like Contacts, Properties, Availabilities, Leases, Sales, ColliersView was enhanced with the following functionalities:

  • Synchronization with Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM
  • Collaboration and Deal Rooms for secure and centralized communication and documents exchange
  • Advanced search and filtration tools with an ability to save and re-use search results
  • Map Search and Map View of Properties and Availabilities fitted with map selection tools
  • Secure document management system for contracts, NDAs, and confidential agreements exchange
  • Report generation tool with 11 built-in templates
  • Image management module for properties, floor plans, and map screenshots etc.
  • Export to Excel feature for Properties and Availabilities
  • Contact and user management within the system

All the real estate listing software functions are available in both desktop and mobile versions.

ColliersView platform was powered by solutions offered in AscendixRE Unlimited plan:

About Colliers International Indiana

 

Ascendix Tech: Saimir, please tell us about Colliers International Indiana and role within the company.

Saimir: I have been with this same group for 15 years now, and I have gone through a couple of different changes in terms of names of companies.

My position is overseeing the Indiana market for Colliers International. Our company is in the real estate services industry and most of what we do revolves around advising clients, whether it is acquiring or disposing of space, managing their assets or other services that our professionals provide.

My responsibilities comprise brokerage or client advising as it relates to acquisitions, dispositions, consulting, and advising. Within those areas, we have a large property management real estate management services group, with which I am also involved.

 

Ascendix Tech: How are you involved in the company management?

Saimir: Most of my efforts are dedicated to creating opportunities, resources and providing those resources to our professionals, specifically, our brokers, and the individuals that support them.

We have thirty-three advisors in our industry referred to as brokers. So, providing resources to those individuals, making it easy for them to reach out to their clients and providing assistance to those clients are my key responsibilities.

 

Ascendix Tech: As a strategist of the Colliers International, what is your company vision for the next several years?

Saimir: I can speak to the extent of what the Indiana market does, and we are very much in line with the overall Collier’s platform at the national and global level. But the way I see it here, in Indiana, is that my responsibility for the long run is to increase the capabilities and the capacity of our professionals.

And what I mean by capacity is that our professionals can do more. So that they could take advantage of efficient methods of technology or other resources to do more than they are doing today. Also, part of my job is to grow the company, increase that capacity, and to recruit new entrants into our business.

ColliersView is an efficient product that obviously increased the capability of the core AscendixRE CRM solution. So, instead of spending 10 hours to provide a report or service to a client, our brokers can do it in half the time and be as efficient and probably more effective than they would otherwise have been a year ago.

 

Ascendix Tech: What are the most challenging aspects of the commercial real estate niche? How do you cope with them?

Saimir: The most challenging, and the most rewarding aspects are identifying, attracting, and retaining the top talent in our market space.

 

Ascendix Tech: What do you think of all the challenges created by COVID-19? Did they affect Colliers, and have you managed to find positives amongst these challenges?

Saimir: Yes, we have been affected by the pandemic and our challenges are similar to those of our clients, i.e., health & safety for our people, ensuring business continuity, and setting ourselves up for success during this time and beyond it.

ColliersView enabled us to make our very valuable data accessible to our professional and clients via a sleek, modern, intuitive and pleasing website. It gave the broker the ability to search and present results in multiple professional outputs, without relying on an assistant or take valuable time to render the results. It enabled our professionals to look at the data from different angles, incorporating search criteria and geo-location technology to enhance the end results

Saimir Qalliu, SIOR, CFO and Managing Director at Colliers International Indiana

About the Future of The Real Estate Sector and Future Industry Leaders

 

Ascendix Tech: What are your expectations about market changes after the COVID-19 pandemic?

Saimir: We’ll likely see a spur of innovations in and around our industry. Changes that are likely to affect our buildings and how we interact with each other.  For example, building designs to incorporate more touchless, motion-sensor, voice-controlled technologies.

 

Ascendix Tech: How do you see the future of commercial real estate? Will the way brokers conduct business change?

Saimir: It is still too early to answer this question.  Undoubtedly, the effects off this pandemic will be affected in the months and possibly years to follow, however whether they will be long-lasting, is to be seen.  Tech and our realization that we can do more with it will definitely impact commerce and our industry, but we have been subject to that before.

 

Ascendix Tech: How do you see the image of the future leaders in the commercial real estate industry?

Saimir: Our business has always been a knowledge and relationship business. What we do is we create and foster relationships at the same time. We collect, maintain, analyze, and redistribute the data that we collect to our clients or for the clients’ benefits. So for new leaders, I think it’s paramount to understand new technology and utilize it to the extent that they can.

Because that is going to be the competitive advantage over others in our industry. I was told at one point early in my career that a good broker can get a deal done on the sidewalk with chalk.

So, you don’t need all the bells and whistles that new technology gives you to do a deal. But it certainly makes it easier. And as I mentioned earlier, it does make you more efficient, more effective overall. And that’s what I think the new leaders can do for themselves.

 

Ascendix Tech: What recommendations would you give to new leaders to succeed in your industry?

Saimir: Well, certainly they should have an open mind to new technologies and always be looking out for what is new out there. They should not be afraid to test it. Try it out and when it is not appropriate, discard and move on.

Or if it is appropriate, just invest time, effort and expense to ensure that all good things come with a lot of expense, whether that is in terms of effort put into it by yourself as a leader or the people that surround you.

ColliersView is an efficient product that obviously increased the capability of the core AscendixRE CRM solution. So, instead of spending 10 hours to provide a report or service to a client, our brokers can do it in half the time and be as efficient and probably more effective than they would otherwise have been a year ago.

Saimir Qalliu, SIOR, CFO and Managing Director at Colliers International Indiana

About Colliers International & Ascendix Tech Collaboration on ColliersView Development

 

Ascendix Tech: You are a long-term partner with Ascendix Tech. How did the story begin? What internal challenges did you have in Colliers International or what would you like to improve that required new digital solutions?

Saimir: We partnered with Ascendix Technologies over a dozen years ago, in the development of a customized CRM platform based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which we have updated & upgraded over the years.

Recently we wanted to make better use of our data and present it in a format that our professionals and clients would find attractive and easy to access. This required a new digital solution, hence the engagement with Ascendix Tech on this latest project.

 

Ascendix Tech: How did you come up with an idea of ColliersView? Did you get an idea from similar solutions on the market or did you have your own vision of multi channel listing software website with a list of requirements?

Saimir: We did not invent the concept.  It had been around for a long time, especially in the residential space, with websites and apps like Zillow, Trulia or Realtor.com.

The idea of presenting data in an easily accessible and pleasing way to the consumer was not new. We just wanted to have our ability to execute it within our space, with our own data, for our professionals and clients.

 

Ascendix Tech: Were there other companies besides Ascendix Technologies you were considering at that time? Why did you choose Ascendix Tech in the end among other portal software vendors ?

Saimir: Yes, there were alternatives. We chose to work with Ascendix Technologies for several reasons.  They knew our processes and systems, had access, and maintained our Microsoft Dynamics CRM database which would ultimately feed the new platform.

They had already developed a product that could do 50% of what we wanted, and we had relationship of trust and dedicated to mutual success, built over the years.

 

Ascendix Tech: How long did it take from Ascendix Tech to develop ColliersView?

Saimir: The process from engagement to going live, took less than 5 months and we are likely to continue enhancements in the future.

 

Ascendix Tech: How did ColliersView help you? What are the most useful features of this multi channel listing website software that led your company to success?

Saimir: ColliersView enabled us to make our very valuable data accessible to our professional and clients via a sleek, modern, intuitive, and pleasing website.  It gave the broker the ability to search and present results in multiple professional outputs, without relying on an assistant or take valuable time to render the results.

It enabled our professionals to look at the data from different angles, incorporating search criteria and geo-location technology to enhance the end results.

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Ascendix Tech: What are the most frequently used functionalities: map search, report generation, document management, collaboration and deal rooms, marketing lists management? 

Saimir: So far, the most used functionality revolves around searching and reporting on availabilities, inventory and comparables.  The map search is a very well adopted feature, enabling the professional to visually select and present the results of their surveys.

 

Ascendix Tech: ColliersView was originally powered by MarketSpace platform. What did you customize or change in the original MarketSpace functionality? What features did you add to your real estate listing software?

Saimir: A big customization was the ability to be fed daily with data from our CRM platform, where we collect and maintain market info. Also, we further customized it to display the data important to our market & shop in a fashion we already are familiar.

 

Ascendix Tech: Did ColliersView help you or your colleagues increase the productivity of your workflow? Have you noticed any direct or indirect benefits of real estate portal software? 

Saimir: Most definitely, we have seen increased efficiencies in our brokers, administrative assistants, and market researchers. This has significantly reduced the time required to produce reports or other desired results and has freed up capacity among our staff.

 

Ascendix Tech: Is it easy to use ColliersView for brokers in Colliers Indiana?

Saimir: Very easy. The site is very intuitive, based on modern consumer technologies.

Ascendix has been extremely accommodating to our needs. It has been a true partner in the development of a tool that will benefit us for the long run. Ascendix is dedicated to this space for the future, by investing in R&D and product improvement

Saimir Qalliu, SIOR, CFO and Managing Director at Colliers International Indiana

Final Recommendations and Feedback

 

Ascendix Tech: What are your recommendations to people who are looking for an advanced property listing website software or any real estate software?

Saimir:  Don’t reinvent the wheel. Use a partner that has prior experience in your space and understands your business.

 

Ascendix Tech: To sum it up, what is your feedback of Ascendix Tech and ColliersView development?

Saimir: Ascendix Tech has been extremely accommodating to our needs.  They have been a true partner in the development of a tool that will benefit us for the long run.  Ascendix Tech is dedicated to this space for the future, by investing in R&D and product improvement.

The Key Takeaway

 

What you can learn from the interview above is that forward-thinking companies heavily rely on technological solutions that can optimize their business processes and on trustworthy technology partners that have deep knowledge of their market.

Automated and accelerated day-to-day activities within the organization will leave more room for creative thinking and refocus all the efforts on the building and enhancement of the relationships with clients.

Ascendix Tech is always ready to help companies of various size to innovate in their business environment and bring their business idea into digital life. Tell us about your technology challenges!

Read Also ColliersView Case Study

Do you want to learn what tech stack we used to build ColliersView and what challenges did we solve? Check our detailed case study.

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