Online Resources for Commercial Pros

The Internet abounds with tools that can bring market knowledge and real buyers to your door.

August 1, 1999

“I’d be out of business if I wasn’t using this technology,” says Eric Wilcox, CCIM, commercial broker with Arroyo & Coates, San Francisco.

Wilcox is referring to Internet listing sites, one of the resources available for commercial real estate practitioners online. These cyber resources break down into two categories--market information services and listing sites. More and more commercial practitioners are using the sites as a way to be more efficient, meet clients’ expectations, and ultimately make more money.

“I don’t have a secretary, I don’t own a car, and I’m not the greatest salesperson in the world, but I did $41 million in closings on the Internet in 1998,” says John M. Peckham III, CCIM, CIPS, a commercial broker in Boston as well as executive director of the Real Estate CyberSpace Society.

Staggering amounts of data, worldwide exposure

Commercial real estate professionals spend 40 percent of their time researching and collecting information for presentation to clients, according to a recent Ernst & Young survey.

Market information services--COMPS and CoStar are the biggest--can make that process much more efficient by giving you access to tremendous databases on properties, transactions, tenants, buyers, and sellers.

“Having access to this information makes me an instant expert and gives me a distinct advantage,” says Delmar E. Partridge, CCIM, associate vice president of investment properties, John Burnham Real Estate Services Inc., San Diego.

The scope of these databases make them useful even to companies with in-house research capabilities. Sam Delisi, regional director of property services for Insignia/ESG, Chicago, uses Realty Information Group’s CoStar to find vacancy and ownership information. “We’re becoming more and more an information services business,” says Delisi, whose office has an eight-person research staff. “Our owners require it.”

COMPS and CoStar employ teams of researchers who comb the markets daily for up-to-date data on building characteristics, space availability, properties for sale, rent rates, sales comparables, contact information, photos, and maps.

Subscribers can access the databases on demand and receive daily updates. Nonsubscribers can purchase information on an ad hoc basis.

“I’m independent, but I use COMPS to compete with the bigger companies,” says Greg Bognuda, of Brown Realty, Larkspur, Calif. “It’s great. You just type in your information and your credit card number, and you have what you need immediately.”

Also springing up all over the Internet are property listing sites, which showcase commercial properties for sale. There are at least 140 commercial property listing sites on the Web today. Most specialize in a specific geographic region or property type.

The three national sites are LoopNet, currently the largest commercial listing service; COMMREX, the second largest; and CCIMNet, a semiprivate service run by the Commercial Investment Real Estate Institute, an NAR affiliate. All three let you search and post properties at no charge, but at CCIMNet you must be a CCIM designee to post properties.

Some notable new kids on the block in the national property listing arena are, which launched in June and is offering free subscriptions until 2000, and DealPoint, COMPS’ free property listing service, which launched in May.

Although national sites usually post the highest listings numbers, local or state sites are sometimes more comprehensive within their boundaries., run by the Florida Association of REALTORS®, for example, is one of the largest state sites, with almost 4,000 Florida properties.

That extra edge

The power, or even perceived power, of these technology tools can help you gain new clients, say users.

“It’s a tremendous marketing edge,” says Joe Linsalata, Principle Realty Services, Austin, Texas. “When I tell potential clients about all the Internet resources I have access to, they’re impressed.”

Clients are especially struck by the increased exposure the sites can bring. Most property listing services track how many potential buyers viewed a property online. “It’s great to be able to show clients when their listings get a lot of action,” says Linsalata.

Many sites offer services designed to help you network and communicate with buyers and sellers, such as access to E-mail lists and communication vehicles such as forums and listservs. “I’ve made contacts all over the country that I wouldn’t have made otherwise,” says Linsalata.

Next on the horizon? Look for all these companies to introduce ways to facilitate the transaction online.

First stop:CommercialSource

NAR’s new commercial portal site (www.commercial features links to all the major listing sites--giving it access to 150,000 listings--and to other important sites for commercial practitioners, making it a critical first stop on the Web. CommercialSource even has its own haves and wants section as well as news and links to industry resources. It was developed by RealSelect, the Thousand Oaks, Calif., company that made REALTOR.COM the No. 1 residential listing site.

National Property Listing SERVICE Sites

Listings: 2,193
Dollar value of listings: $2.7 billion
Square footage listed: 20 million
Listings: 12,000
Dollar value of listings: $25 billion
Square footage listed: 75 million
Listings: 60,000
Dollar value of listings: $120 billion
Square footage listed: Not available
Access Public can search listings and post property needs at no charge. Only CCIMs can post listings. Public can search listings at no charge. Registered users can post listings and property needs at no charge. Public can search listings at no charge.
Registered users can post listings at no charge
features CCIMNet: Properties for sale. Other: Locate a CCIM; Commercial Investment Real Estate magazine articles and archives; links, forums, market trends, calendar (other features are available for members only). Properties for sale; mailing lists by property type and region; free E-mail service; discussion groups and listservs; searchable database of 30,000 users; downloadable data, mapping, and demographics; lender mortgage database; industry calendar; Web hosting (for a fee). LoopNet: Properties for sale and lease. LoopLender: Matches borrowers and lenders. LoopLeads: Alerts you when new listings match your search criteria. Other: Listing exposure tracker; job network; membership directory; newsletter; Web sites with search screens (for a fee).
“Accountability. Since CCIM is exclusive, you know you’re dealing with people with a high level of expertise and professionalism.”
John Zipperer, new-media editor
“We know what users need to conduct a profitable business via the Internet. We also allow local associations to create a profit center using COMMREX as a membership-only site.”
T.J. Anderson, president
“We’re the largest Internet-based commercial listing and information service, with almost 7 million properties viewed every month and more than 60,000 active commercial property listings.”
Dennis DeAndre, CEO

Data was supplied by the vendor and has not been verified by NAR.

National Market information Sites

RIG’s CoStar
Database: 262,000 properties, 400,000 transactions, 780,000 buyer and seller records
Dollar value in sales transactions: $466 billion
Square footage listed: 6 billion, plus land
Database: 280,000 buildings, 330,000 tenants
Dollar value of listings: $33 billion
Square footage listed: 14 billion
Access Posting a listing is free to registered users. Subscribers pay a monthly fee (based on number of users and type of database) to access and manipulate databases. Posting a listing for sale or lease is free to registered users. Subscribers pay an annual fee (based on number of users and type of company) to access and manipulate databases.
features Spectrum (formerly CompsLink): Subscription database of comparables for all types of commercial property in 40 major markets. Pipeline: Subscription access to transactions before they’re verified. DealPoint: Free property listing service launched May 1. E-COMPS: Ad hoc sales comparables reports ($16 for transactions with a sales price less than $5 million, $28 for those with a sales price more than $5 million). RealBid: Identifies potential investors for premium properties through broadcast E-mail (free to search, $500–$2,500/property to post). Subscription services:
CoStar: Database of office and industrial space in 37 major markets available for lease, for sale, and comparables. CrosTrac: Tenant database, including lease expiration dates, square footage occupied, and more. Image database of 350,000 property photos, inside and out.Free services:
Market analysis, such as vacancy, absorption, and rental rates for 31 cities available at Web site. Newswire includes 5,000 stories a year. Ad hoc reports available.
“We’ve been providing timely, accurate, and comprehensive information for 17 years. We have the best track record in the business, and these attributes are found throughout all of our Internet products.”
Michael Arabe, senior VP of sales
“We’re a true digital marketplace--the commercial MLS--but we don’t just have properties available. We track every single property in 37 markets.”
Andrew Florance, CEO

Data was supplied by the vendor and has not been verified by NAR.

Sara Geimer is the manager of REALTOR® Magazine's Good Neighbor Awards and a former senior editor with the magazine.

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