Commercial Investment Real Estate March/April 2013 - Page 14

CCIM Q&A Virtual Visionary w by Jennifer Norbut With more than 50 years in the business, John M. “Jack” Peckham III, CCIM, CIPS, RECS, of Peckham Boston Advisors in Boston, has played a pivotal role in commercial real estate’s evolution. Peck- ham has not only served as one of the earliest CCIM instructors and founding president of the New England CCIM Chapter, but he’s also led the Massachusetts Association of Realtors and directed the National Association of Realtors’ strategic planning efforts. Yet perhaps the most notable of Peckham’s accomplishments are his contributions to technology in commercial real estate. As founder of the Real Estate CyberSpace Society (www.REcyber. com), one of the industry’s fi rst online networking and deal-making platforms, Peckham had a vision for how technology tools could streamline the industry. Commercial Investment Real Estate asked him to share some of the highlights of his experience in the industry and the impetus behind his technology vision. CIRE: Describe how you conducted business in the early days of your career. Peckham: We opened Data Realty Corp. in 1963 with a sparkling new IBM key- punch and sorter to match investors with investments by punching holes into cards. We quickly grew to 18 income property specialists and became the largest income property brokerage f rm in New England. Nine of our salespeople began the CCIM educational program and became candi- dates. With this combination of education and technology, we became a dominant f rm in our market. A few years later, I published an article about how computers were poised to become 12 March | April | 2013 a valuable selling tool for investment prop- erties. T e article discussed how computers could be used to analyze real property invest- ments on a year-by-year basis, how to match buyers with properties in markets across the country, and how to look at the neigh- borhood and demographics of a property’s location. People snickered when I wrote that article 45 years ago — Bill Gates was still in junior high school at the time! CIRE: What technology advancement has made the biggest impact on your business? Peckham: In the mid-1990s I started play- ing around with the Internet, typing long DOS strings of letters and numbers to John M. Peckham III, CCIM bumble around on this f edgling phenom- enon. T en, 30 years af er I wrote my futur- istic article, the big game changer emerged. I was at a technology trade show booth where they demonstrated a new program called Magellan, which put a face on the Internet and allowed users to click on text, images, words, or pictures to navigate the web with ease. I was looking at the forerun- ner of today’s Internet browser. I knew this was going to transform our industry. T e Internet tools, email, listservs — and the other outgrowths that followed — quickly changed the way we did business. I began using this new technology and sold like I had never sold before. I hardly needed to leave my desk to list, analyze, pro- mote, negotiate, and close income property sales. Over the years I have used the Internet to sell everything from a hydroelectric dam to a Swiss energy company to last week’s sale — a 45,000-sf shopping center just down the street from the local buyer’s of ce. T e Internet and its resulting tools clearly evened the playing f eld in commercial real estate. CIRE: You created an online professional network years before today’s social media platforms were available. Tell us about that process. Peckham: I founded the Real Estate Cyber- Space Society in 1996 to assist real estate professionals in using Internet-based tools. Our team built specialized tools and included them as benef ts of membership. Commercial Investment Real Estate