Just about everyone on the planet thinks they know a thing or two about real estate. Watch a few seasons of Selling Sunset or Million Dollar Listing, starting throwing around words like ‘escrow’ and ‘bridging loan’ and you’re basically a developer.
Of course, real estate professionals know that this couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s why treasury management software for real estate is essential for navigating the operational complexities. Bricks and mortar can seem like a pretty straightforward asset class at first glance, but the work needed to turn a project from a CAD file to an actual building, or the financing arrangement to complete a multi-million dollar property transaction, isn’t going to be wrapped up in the space of a 25 minute reality TV episode.
And while the sector offers the potential for substantial gains, there are an increasing number of risks involved too. Commercial real estate in particular has been under pressure in recent years, as the home working trend has increased vacancy rates, and tightening ESG compliance requirements turns businesses away from older buildings.
Residential real estate isn’t without its challenges either, with the Feds current position on rates off the back of a decade of record lows slamming the brakes on transactions. Many home buyers are essentially locked into their current properties, unable to afford a new mortgage. The flow on impact to the whole sector has been substantial, and the Fed doesn’t look like letting up anytime soon.
All that is to say, if you’re a CFO or treasurer in the real estate sector, watching your cash has never been so important. Not only in having an understanding of your current cash position, but also being able to provide strategic advice to the broader executive on how different choices might impact the cash position in the future.
Luckily, tech solutions like Trovata give treasurers a whole new set of tools to help. In this article, we’re going to be getting into some of the challenges you’re facing right now, and show you how modern cash management software can help you deal with them.
The Challenge of Cash Management in the Real Estate Sector
Considering that buildings can stand for hundreds of years, the industry is remarkably dynamic. The bespoke nature of the sector means that full systemization is difficult, so treasures have a lot of moving parts to deal with. Here are some of the key issues facing the sector right now.
Lumpy Cash Flow
Cashflow inconsistency is a hallmark of the real estate industry. The market cycle in the sector is often boom and bust, with huge swings in both demand and supply through combinations of macroeconomic factors, interest rate policy and government incentives.
That means there are times when you are seeing a constant inflow of new cash, both coming and and going out, and then others when it might become a struggle to pay suppliers. Managing this is vital for a business to achieve the level of stability needed to see through multiple downturns.
From a software perspective, this comes down to the accuracy of your forecasts. Trovata allows treasurers to complete complex scenario planning quickly and easily, using real time financial data to model multiple future scenarios. Treasurers can plan ahead for the worst case, best case and everything in between, and iterate on the fly should the landscape change.
Large scale property deals involve many parties. Banks, developers, purchasers, vendors, agents, government agencies and investors are just some of the groups that can be involved in property developments and transactions.
You’re not selling sneakers or candy bars, these are high value, complex deals that require approvals and payments from a wide variety of sources. Keeping track of all these is one aspect that’s drastically improved by technology.
Software solutions can significantly improve your cash management capabilities, providing, for example, the ability to search and identify specific transactions in your financial data, rather than combing through thousands of lines manually.
And of course it’s not just about making sure everyone is happy from an outcomes perspective. Depending on your specific business, it can also mean project managing every detail. Ensuring vendors are paid, chasing up milestone payments, juggling finance releases and more.
Trovata simplifies the process by offering multi-bank payments directly from the software, using AI to help you proactively identify where your actual figures are diverging from budget, and providing access to forecasts which adjust as the project progresses.
As deals get bigger, so does the financial apparatus that supports them. Without tools to help you gain a clear overview of the financials of a specific project or multiple projects being run by your company, it can be difficult to understand exactly how you’re tracking against budget and whether the cash position is looking sustainable.
With the lumpy nature of the cashflow, there are going to be times when cash is lean and times when it’s in surplus. The important aspect is understanding if you’re lean when you’re expecting to be lean, and whether the financial arrangements in place are going to be sufficient to manage you through that period.
Lengthy Sales Cycle
Unlike a new saucepan or a dog collar, real estate transactions don’t complete with the touch of a button on your smartphone. The sales cycle from the very beginning of a real estate transaction to the full completion and payment will almost surely take at least a number of months, and for large scale construction projects, multiple years.
That’s a significant challenge for a company, to be able to manage cash throughout the length of the project to ensure they’re around to see the end of it.
Financial modeling and cash flow analysis is a major advantage here, and Trovata offers almost unlimited customization to build financial models based on reality. Regardless of the length of the sales cycle, Trovata can help you understand what your cash flow is likely to look like, and identify issues that need addressing before they actually happen.
Modern Treasury Management Software for Real Estate
So we’ve teased a few ways that the right technology can help address these challenges, but next we’re going to go into the specific tech advances that are making it possible to build platforms like Trovata.
Here are the 3 essential new technologies helping improve cash management in the real estate sector.
1. Cloud Native Platforms
Using ‘The Cloud’ has become a ubiquitous addition to just about every B2C software platform in existence for the last ten plus years. No one wants to download software to their home computer anymore, and with storage at a premium on mobile devices, it’s made sense to direct the uptake to consumers.
But now the B2B market is finally catching up, but for quite different reasons. While the benefits of reduced local storage space and removing the need for downloads and manual updates are still there, the key selling point for corporates is the way cloud-native platforms improve collaboration and security.
One of the best ways to improve efficiency in a business that deals with multiple stakeholders over long periods of time, is to have them all working from the same data. Even today, many businesses run projects and financials off an ugly mix of Excel spreadsheets and PDFs.
These files are saved on desktops, stored in email folders or hidden on shared drives, and then sent all around the world as email attachments and .zip files. It’s how you always end up working on a document called something like “2026 Proj Scenario A5 V2.7”. Not exactly the definition of efficiency.
Using cloud-based solutions instead, not only allows for better collaboration, but reduces business risk at the same time. When everyone is viewing and editing the same dataset, there’s no chance of an email being sent to the wrong person or the wrong attachment sent to the right person. Executives don’t have to worry that they may be basing their decisions off an outdated version of a spreadsheet, and there’s no risk of losing data when someone leaves your company.
When you use Trovata, everyone has access to the same single source of truth. There’s a single platform, a single data and a single set of forecasts that everyone in your business can collaborate on and access based on permissions you set.
2. Open Banking APIs
That’s all well and good, but if the data within the ‘single source of truth’ is inaccurate, then it’s worse than useless.
It’s why the real power of cloud based tools in the treasury department is unlocked by open banking APIs. The traditional method of collating and organizing financial data has been a very labor intensive process. Someone in the team would have to individually log into every banking portal, export the financial data into a .CSV file, and then amalgamate this across all for the different banks and accounts the company holds.
And in the real estate sector, that number can be significant.
That set of tasks often takes 15 or more hours per week, and by the time it’s completed it’s already out of date.
Now with open banking APIs, companies can link their financial data from multiple different financial institutions onto an external platform like Trovata. This creates a data feed which provides information that is 100% accurate and available in real time.
There’s no chance of transcription errors or copying and pasting the wrong line items. It’s simply a mirror of your actual financial data, allowing it all to be consolidated and viewed in one place, without a single second of manual human intervention.
Cloud native platforms and open banking are now providing the foundation for modern cash management solutions. They ensure access to the right data in an instant, while allowing your entire team to work on that data efficiently and collaboratively.
And with the introduction of generative AI, treasurers are now able to conduct detailed data mining and overlay sophisticated analysis on top of that data bank.
With tools like Trovata AI, users with any level of technical capability can now ‘interrogate’ their data to better understand what is happening, and increasingly, why.
Perhaps cash reserves of a specific development project are dwindling faster than you anticipated. Now you can just ask Trovata AI, and it can comb the financial data and look for anomalies to help you identify why.
Or perhaps you want to know how a 10% price reduction on a development might impact the overall project profitability, taking into account lower gross revenue but also potentially lower overall holding and finance interest costs. Ask Trovata AI, and it can build a scenario model that gives you that insight.
How Trovata Gives Real Estate Treasurers a Competitive Advantage
At Trovata we’ve taken these three essential new technologies, combined them with a wide range of additional tech capabilities and built a platform which we believe is the ultimate tool for the modern treasurer. It means CFOs and senior treasury executives can spend less time on the ‘what’ of the situation, and more time on the real drivers of corporate value, strategic analysis and advice.
Here’s a brief snapshot of some of the most exciting features for treasurers.
Knowing how much cash you have is the fundamental question that treasurers need to answer. And now it’s possible to answer it in seconds, without any manual intervention of data manipulation. Trovata offers a single dashboard view of the entire company cash position, ensuring that treasurers and other senior executives are basing their strategic decisions on data they know is accurate and real time accurate.
As you know, cashflow analysis and forecasting is only as good as the data used to create it. That’s always a question mark with manual data processes, but when using Trovata, treasurers can have confidence that their models are built on accurate information. It means more accurate baseline scenarios, and the ability to create any manner of scenarios in minutes, not days.
In a sector that can swing from boom to bust in the blink of an eye, that capability has the ability to create massive real value to your company.
As we’ve mentioned, payments in the real estate sector can be an immense headache, especially during the project management and construction phase.
Trovata’s payments feature provides a one stop solution to streamline your outbound payments, allowing you to make them all directly from the platform. Again, this substantially cuts down on manual time initiating payments from multiple portals, and improves security by limiting access to your banking credentials.
Last but definitely not least is the addition of a natural language chatbot to Trovata. This allows treasury teams to take even their most junior employees, and have them conduct sophisticated financial analysis by using nothing more than normal language prompts.
It means teams can run leaner, with more of the workload able to be spread across more members of the team, and saves your most experienced team members to focus more on their interpretation of the financial analysis, rather than spending all their time on building the models and datasets from scratch.
If you’d like to see how Trovata can improve your cash visibility, banking data aggregation, financial forecasting, scenario planning and more, book a demo today.