The Case for Smart Parking in Commercial Real Estate Investments


  When first-time investors get into commercial real estate, one of the things they might overlook is where their tenants and their customers are going to park. This can be a costly mistake in the long run, as it may indirectly hurt the value of the property. To make a long story short: If parking is more difficult than it needs to be, it can reduce the likelihood that customers will stop at any business that decides sets up shop in that space. Furthermore, unorganized and chaotic parking can significantly alter the perception of current and potential tenants that may otherwise enjoy occupying one or multiple units within that building.

  With this in mind, where do investors turn when a property has a potential traffic-flow issue? The first step is to start thinking of parking similarly to the building itself. When something is suboptimal in a building, owners will look for reasonable ways to upgrade or renovate spaces to invest in the building’s long-term viability. This is where smart parking solutions come into play.

What Does Smart Parking Mean for Investors?

  Smart parking is a concept that includes parking passes for specific spots, traffic flow patterns, online payments, parking time notifications, car searching, and more. Lots used to be simple, where a person could simply purchase a ticket, put it in their window, and stay parked there for a particular length of time. Now, though, that is not the case for many businesses. Many of these lots are seeing congestion issues beyond what they can handle. That leads to problems with space for the vehicles, and it also leads to problems with frustration and aggravation for customers.

  Investors do not want potential customers avoiding their buildings and they do not want the businesses housed within to hear complaints from employees that dread coming to work due to a suboptimal parking situation.

What Issues can Smart Parking Solve?

  There are a lot of parking issues that smart parking can improve or even eliminate. Congestion is the biggest one for many, because being crowded into a parking lot is not enjoyable on a universal level. Additionally, congestion can result in vehicle damage, because of the tight spaces and overall chaotic environment. From an investor’s point of view, however, the most important thing to remember about the value of smart parking is that it is efficient. This efficiency will transfer over from the goal of the investor to the appreciation of the tenants and their clientele.

Smart Parking as an Investment

  For most people, smart parking is very affordable long-term investment. There is an initial cost to set up all the technology needed for it but, after that, it mostly operates itself (a phrase that any real estate investor loves to hear).

  For the more skeptical minds out there, try to frame it like this: Landscaping and design are important investments to keep the overall appeal of a building for tenants and their customers. Interior improvements and layout are important investments to improve the quality of life and satisfaction of tenants and their customers. Smart parking can and should be viewed in a similar manner as these other improvements.

  Property owners do not have the luxury of overlooking suboptimal aspects of their investment. When something can be done to improve upon or eliminate these issues, investors should do their due diligence and investigate how these solutions can benefit them in the long run. Efficiency and safety are often no-brainers when they fit into the budget, but don’t overlook tenant and customer satisfaction just because they are hard to quantify.

  Ryan Tollefsen is the founder and team leader of Unity Home Group.