What if you had the chance to start the whole data/aggregation thing from scratch? Bill MacEwen was in that position a few years ago when he decided to create SpaceList.ca which officially launched last week.
Unlike in the US, LoopNet and CoStar have not been able to gain traction in Canada. So brokerages maintain their own listings and promote them on their websites leaving users – not to mention research departments – to hop around brokerage sites to find out what’s available. MacEwen stepped up to provide a centralized location where space available for lease could easily be promoted and found.
SpaceList’s interface is result of collaboration between brokers, landlords and users. In probably a first for CRE, MacEwen wanted to know how these groups searched for space and get an idea of how they expected a listings site to perform. They also looked to the residential sector which has seemingly optimized the search for homes with user friendly and highly popular MLS sites.
Gone is the long list of search criteria. Start with a city and use then review a list of availabilities with filters for size, price and lease type. There’s also an option to use a map to filter by location.
The listing detail pages are cleanly laid out with images/maps at the top and listing/building information below. You’ll also see if any other space is available in the building and nearby listings.
Take a closer look at the data and you’ll notice it’s pretty clean. SpaceList takes data quality seriously already normalizing it and planning to hire data specialists to bring things to the next level.
I don’t get excited about listing sites much but I was when I saw the data input options. Yes, you can do it yourself, but SpaceList will take your PDFs, imports, agree to visit your website to manually collect listings and… they’ve got an API. Brokerages with databases will be able to use it to transfer listing data between their system and SpaceList’s. The API will also allow listings display on websites, integration with apps and all sorts of creative uses including – and this is my suggestion – populating broker databases so they can work with data for market reports.
So far, the response has been enthusiastic. SpaceList has already reached agreements with several national brokerages and landlords and is importing their data as quickly as they can. And while they’re doing that, SpaceList continues to iterate with the community on the site’s features and focus on SEO.
But here’s the best part. Users don’t need to register to search and agents only need to create a free account to list. And SpaceList intends to keep it that way. Paid premium listings, services and tools will be added and site advertising are planned to generate revenue.
SpaceList has done a great job in developing a platform for CRE listings. Makes you want to move to Canada (or wish they’d branch out over the border.)