CBRE Picks Up a Property Tax Payment Service Provider



Are property taxes high tech? These days, anything is high tech if software and hardware can give a company an edge.

CBRE announced the acquisition of Cold River Land. The Alpharetta, Georgia-based firm “offers a comprehensive property tax management platform, including document management, data management, appeals, research and monitoring.” In addition to tax management, Cold River Land also enables client payment.

“Cold River Land expands our property and transaction tax capabilities, enabling us to provide a holistic approach that meets all our clients’ property tax needs,” the release quoted Tom Edwards, global president of valuation and advisory services (VAS) for CBRE, as saying.

Cold River Land employees will now work within VAS.

This is a case somewhat similar to JLL’s acquisition of Metropolitan Valuation Services, a commercial property appraisal and real estate consulting firm in the greater New York metropolitan area, in the sense that everything these days is about expertise that can be captured by and expressed through software.

For JLL, having more expertise in house meant the ability to capture and implement the knowledge through machine learning systems. But Cold River Land has both expertise and its own software. The acquisition means that CBRE can make money from the software services themselves and also further enhance and use the expertise.

CBRE last year took a 60% stake in Turner & Townsend, which provides real estate, infrastructure and natural resources, providing program management, cost consultancy, project management and advisory consulting services for clients in 46 countries. Software is a proxy for knowledge and expertise. 

In addition, software acts as an operational multiplier. Instead of one person providing answers to another, applications can satisfy many simultaneously, increasing the ability to conduct business.

Property tax is an intriguing capability to supplement or build. Inevitably there are state and local considerations, making it difficult for a company to have a broad grasp in many different locations. And taxes are something that CRE firms must deal with.

A strong understanding of tax reinforces what CBRE can already do. And, as true with JLL and Metropolitan Valuation Services, an acquisition prevents a competitor from making a similar move.