On my post about the CoStar/LoopNet changes, David asked what should an agent or brokerage do? Good question. What you should do depends on a lot of things. Do you need a data provider, a marketing platform or both? Can you afford to pay the subscription fees or the time it will take to research, collect and/or market on your own?
CoStar arguably has the most comprehensive database of properties, listings, and comps. How good that data is depends on your market. I’ve long suspected that when CoStar comes into your market pitching a great deal, it’s right after they completed a data survey in your area. You’re thrilled with the data at first, but a few months into your annual contract, the expected regular updates don’t seem to happen.
CoStar – and even some agents – like to believe they’re partners in maintaining data quality. Input from agents means a better CoStar product. But if you were truly partners, you’d be sharing in the profit.
Most agents expect CoStar to do all the work because that’s why they’re paying those stiff fees. And you must commit to a year to find out if the data is worth the price. If you’re in major markets, I’d take the chance. If you’re not, what are your options?
There are several sources of property data but listing and comparable data is harder to find.
- If you haven’t taken advantage of any Commercial Information Exchange (CIE) in your area, now is the time to check them out. You generally need to pay for membership to access the site – and you may find a rather clunky interface. Market listings are generally the focus, but you may have access to comps and property data as well.
- Many local municipalities publish building data for public access. Search for these sites your area or contact local officials to find out. If there is no public access, maybe you can lobby for it.
- Several CRE CRM and productivity apps now include property databases. RealNex, for example, taps into PropertyLine; ClientLook integrates with Xceligent. Listing data may be limited, but every listing starts with a property.
- If you’re in investment sales, consider sites like CrediFi or CoreLogic which specialize in investment property inventory.
- Consider an NAR membership to have access to Realtors Property Resource, a commercial and residential MLS.
- Check into data providers like Reis, PropertyShark, or ProspectNow to determine if your market is covered and what data is collected. For now, check out PropretyShark’s free building search for detailed property information and demographics.
- The only way to find current listings may be to visit individual brokerage sites. If that’s the case, bookmark them to make it easier to search.
- In larger markets, CompStak may be a good source for lease comparables. For sale comparables, in states that allow it, many counties publish recent sale transactions. Find out where, when and how to keep up to date.
- Local business journals often publish press releases on commercial sale and leasing activity. If you still have a local daily paper, you may also find these in the business section. Bookmark these sites or, if you can, set up alerts for articles containing words/phrases like “lease”, “leased”, “sold”, “the sale of” and so on.
- If you can’t find a data solution that works or you don’t want to rely on third parties for market data, collect it yourself. Using CRM apps that already contain property databases makes it easier. But almost all modern CRE specific CRM apps have some way to add properties, listings and comps. Besides RealNex and ClientLook, check out Apto, Ascendix and REThink.
LoopNet made us lazy. Dump all your listings on LoopNet and you were pretty much done with marketing. Maybe you can still afford to do that. But for those who can’t, it’s time to take a hard look at your marketing strategy.
Broker to Broker and Local
Those in smaller markets where local brokerages used LoopNet as a centralized database for market listings will feel the pain the most because that’s how other local agents found your listings. Now, they’ll need to visit your site – or rely on your listing email blasts – to keep track of what’s available. So, the first order of business is to look at your local marketing activities. Is your website easy to search? Do you have a new listings email sign-up so that you don’t have to keep bombarding your fellow agents with emails? These types of enhancements won’t hurt potential client’s experience either.
Be More Selective with LoopNet
Few of us gave any thought to what performed well on LoopNet and what didn’t. LoopNet’s lead reporting was never any help, either. But there’s no denying that no other site beats LoopNet for traffic and exposure. Unless you’re in the smallest of markets, you’ll have to buy a Premium Lister package. But be smart about it. Look back at your LoopNet deals for patterns. Were they mostly sales, small space leasing, office or retail? Were the tenants/buyers/owners in your market or outside it? If you find a certain type of listing performed well on LoopNet, use the marketing platform for those. No pattern to be found? Start with a small Premium Lister account, swap out listings and start paying attention.
A word of warning. If you’re in a market with high CoStar usage, you’ll need to put all your listings – even ones you don’t intend to promote on LoopNet – in your Premium Lister account. If you don’t, they won’t be in CoStar for other agents/subscribers to find.
Something else has got to fill the void LoopNet/CoStar has created, right? But isn’t that what we say every time LoopNet/CoStar raises prices or changes plans? And nothing happens. While there is a palatable sense of urgency that’s different than before, don’t sit around and wait.
- Some CRMs include member and even public listings search. If you haven’t been entering listings in your CRM, now is a good time to start.
- Join theBrokerList to post haves, wants and find comp information in the member transactions postings.
- A public listings search is always a feature of CIE’s as well. Though no where near as heavily trafficked as LoopNet nationally, you may find they do well in their local markets. If there’s one in your area, consider joining.
- Check out alternative aggregators in your market by searching for commercial space by city to see what comes up. You might find sites like 42Floors, Real Massive, Rofo, OfficeFinder or others that are on the first page. Consider creating accounts to market your listings.
- Look for CRE marketing platforms or apps that offer syndication or information sharing. Catlylist, for example, pushes listings to partner sites. Buildout syndicates listings to various partners including RealNex and theBrokerList.
Bottom line. Unless you’ve got the money – and you’re in a market that makes spending it worth it – you’ve got work to do.
And…if there’s a data provider or marketing platform you use that you’d suggest to others, post them here. We can all use the help.