Commercial CIE’s Are Dead.Here Is Why!

Commercial Information Exchanges Are Dead. Here Is Why!

Commercial CIE’s (Commercial Information Exchange) are dead. Bold statement or just stating the reality of today. Why have they become obsolete? They had such promise and looked like the future for commercial real estate data.Let’s do a little drill down and see what happened.

The Promise.

1.Any and all properties within your market.

2.Complete collaboration with all brokers.

3. All the tools and technology you will ever need.

4.True and accurate data.

The Reality.

1.Listings not only not complete but also useless.

2.No leads as in no lead generation.

3.PDF and broadcast email seen as the only true marketing platform.

4.All info is still held within and therefore useless.

5.All kinds of tools but rarely used and not profitable for the users.


7.Non users subsidize users.Think about it.

8. Data focus leads to no collaboration.

The Chaos?

1.The building creates the real true and accurate data not the broker. faces the consumer and commercial real estate simply does not.

3.Residential is 20 years ahead and cracking the earth with innovation and adaptation yet they are still struggling to survive.

4.The broker/agent data useless.

5.840 million reasons to be a third party.

6.GOOGLE. Everything you need already there…for FREE.


1. Face the consumer/client and not with just listings.

2.Real worldwide broker collaboration on a scale never imagined.

3.Embrace the entire commercial real estate community.

4.Survival is the consumer/client. NOT the broker.

5.”Yelp” for commercial real estate accountability.

6.Commercial real estate data with a marketing platform. You say Loopnet.

7.I say “What’s Next?”

Your Thoughts?


Photo Credit: Via Flickr




Duke Long


  • Interesting thoughts on the failure of CIE’s. I might add a few other observations:

    > Most CIE’s I have been familiar with seem to go out of their way to hide their data from the search engines. Rather than take an SEO approach, they have done quite the opposite. WHY!!??

    > CIE’s often seem to be a front for another brokerage, another group, a disgruntled MLS offshoot, or a profit driven listing service using the guise of a CIE, ala LoopNet (without the LoopNet bells and whistles).

    > Many charge for listings, and you get little if nothing. I have used CIE’s, and find my data is virtually invisible, unless one is a paying subscriber, and even then it is tough to get to.

    > Even when the National Association of Realtors tries to put out a commercial CIE, they seem to screw it up. Try and find your listings on that site, using Google. Oh, that and NAR seemed to have some side agreements with other listing firms so as not to compete with them effectively. Nice to see our dues used so effectively. (I am referring to Commercial Source. A nice attempt, but still not an independent resource like the residential side.)

    > Even when you have a decent package, many in the CRE profession seem to technically incompetent. They know little of social media, little on SEO, they may blog – but only because somebody said they should, and they think LoopNet (soon to be CoStar) is the only tool they need.
    Heck, many in our profession have not figured out the phone works, as evidenced by the lack of phone calls returned.

    Personally, what I need in any listing service is one that lists my property, makes it easy, is found by search engines, and drives traffic back to my site, oh, and let me keep my data and don’t sell it to other sites. I need something that provides a competitive advantage. Without a competitive advantage, we lose our jobs and the clients can start listing their own products.

    For now there is an amalgam of tools out there, few are integrated, it is what it is. For those few who can figure out a way to utilize these tools effectively, will go future business….

  • Great topic Duke. One additional observation I would make is that CIEs are based off of information sharing. While this is a noble goal, it’s a concept that runs counter to the business. Information is an advantage and in many cases, it’s the broker’s IP and differentiator. Where is the incentive to give up one’s IP? Is it unrealistic to expect this to happen?

    Clearly there are cases (such as in the open source community) where sharing has worked amazingly well, but it’s clear the right formula has yet to be devised in commercial real estate.

  • This is what I like about you best Duke…always thinking…what’s next? Innovative ideas to stay ahead of the curve of success are the skills we must focus on today.When factoring in tactics ala online communications, it would serve us best to remember we are still in the people business. We must get out and have conversations face to face and followup snail mail.
    CIEs are stale and serve few….if any. Communication with prosepctive buyers and sellers is still information based and when you are the person providing the info you stay on top. I feel most commercial agents promote their companies, their lsitings and not themselves….they need to focus in the new economy.on marketing.

  • CIEs are dead? That’s like saying sandwiches are dead because you had a bad foot-long at your local Subway.

    The LoopStar merger ignited the CIE movement — we’ve never had more communities as interested in organizing themselves to share data on a common platform. We’ve also never had so many new members joining our existing CIEs.

    The success of a CIE depends on a lot of factors, but there are dozens of markets around the country where the CIE is thriving. Thousand of brokers use a CIE exclusively to list properties locally, find space, view comparables, generate marketing materials, etc.

    That said, a CIE won’t work in every market. A CIE will struggle if:

    1) Your community doesn’t want to share data or level the playing field. Knowledge is power, but most of us understand that as access to information increases, the age of information arbitrage is coming to an end. The success of your firm will rest on the quality of the service you provide, not on your exclusive access to information. Just look at what’s been happening in residential.

    2) You picked a CIE provider that can’t deliver. Some CIEs just don’t work they way they should. Not all are built with lead generation in mind, not all allow you to export your listings in multiple formats, or push them to other services for extra exposure, or generate average lease rates and other market statistics, etc.

    3) You community doesn’t want to put in the effort necessary to get it off the ground. There’s no free lunch. Building a CIE takes some time and effort to get the right players involved and building critical mass via communication. Either everyone pays a little, chipping in time/money to create a common platform, or you each pay a lot to subscribe to one of the major national platforms.

    A CIE is just a tool — it’s your community that makes it work. And now more than ever, the motivation should be clear. If your market doesn’t come together to share in the costs of aggregating and sharing information, what are your other options? Maybe you’re willing to continue paying whatever LoopStar decides to charge. Maybe you’re part of a national franchise that will provide some options. Maybe you feel like you can continue to piece together information and various tools to get the job done.

    There are dead CIEs, but the CIE movement is alive and strong — it has to be, the industry badly needs it.

  • Duke,

    Thanks for this post. I do not agree that CIEs are dead, but I do believe there needs to be consolidation, standardization and innovation for sure. As brokers and property professionals, we need information and we need to market our inventory. To me what has been missing has not been a place for the listings to live, those are a dime a dozen, both locally, nationally and worldwide, but a place for all of us to find each other and do our outreach in a streamlined and efficient manner.

    As you know, I have been working on a project with a basic premise that we amass all of our own profiles, expertise and geographics, as well as organization affiliations to one list. The project is called In essence, I am taking the similar concept we have as CCIM members, in that we can communicate with each other via an internal system. The difference with theBrokerList is that it is opt-in, self-service for all CRE professionals. It is free and we use this database to keep track of each other. Now the best part is that we can have unlimited target marketed lists we save. For instance, if I want to market a property for a specific market, I can build my list and target ONLY THOSE that fill that requirement. Why? Because our industry is ruining email and wasting so much labor on fancy html emails, mail blasts, unsolicited file attachments, etc. There is so much garbage going back and forth in our servers that is not effective. It is an ambitious project I am undertaking but the reaction has been positive. We are getting ready to launch soon so this post is good timing for us. For now we are just gathering our early adopters via a WordPress blog and web form. Those early adopters will be the first to populate photos, logos and profiles before the public launch. As you know Duke, we want you on the list, so hope you are one of the early birds. Good post Duke and I agree we need change, but I do not think it is elimination of CIE, but a combination of standardization and consolidation with a little bit of updating and ease to the process. To me, tons of data entry is obsolete for sure, and standardization will alleviate much of that.

    Hope your summer is going well and thanks!

    Linda Day (Harrison), CPM, CCIM
    Founder of

  • Duke, while i agree to an extent and suffer from the same frustration, they are not dead. Also, I hope I just misunderstood your comment about Loopnet as it certainly is no further ahead of any CIE that I use while it is also much more costly. I think the industry and brokers are the fault of the lack of usefulness of the CIE systems. Brokers are either too lazy to get the proper information and put it out there or they don’t want it out there in hopes of acquiring potential buyers on their own to complete both sides of the transaction. I’m still a bit unclear as to the nature of why many brokers are so secretive with their information but I just think its MO of this business for years and we need to change the culture. I do think that the Commercial industry can take something away from the residential community but these properties are also marketed differently than a home.

    I’m curious to see the merger of Costar and loopnet and how it changes the game, if any. However there is still something that doesn’t sit well with me in regards to using those services, as they are not cheap. I have a hard time giving information to Costar or Loopnet only for them to turn around and charge me for the information that I’m giving to them for free.

  • Interesting comments; CIE’s should have as good or equal quality of data as Costar or Loopnet.
    They are both voluntary as are CIE’s. If one believes brokers don’t or shouldn’t share information then why in the world would you put your listing info into their systems. What’s the difference if it’s a CIE or Costar. CIE’s technology may not be that strong however that depends upon which platform it is using.

    I will say this again and I will keep repeating this over and over, brokers don’t control property data, Property Owners do. If I want info on a property and it even has a listing agent and that agent is not forth coming in answering my questions or I find out it is available I will go directly to the owner. I have no issues calling out greedy brokers who act and believe their next deal is their last deal ever. 2/3 of all deals are co-brokered.

    There is a problem with the large multi-national brokerages who could care less if the medium to small brokerages disappeared. That being said they are more transparent about their listings than the small to medium firms. People it’s time to lose the distrust.
    We are in survival mode and all hands on deck are required. Am I being realistic, heck no.

    Residential as Duke points out is light years ahead, they are struggling due to dealing with consumer regs, and the sub-prime meltdown as well as houses can be better commoditized than commercial properties, meaning there are less variances in types of houses unlike commercial which has so many subsets of each primary property type. If commercial operated as residential we would still be in a world of hurt.

    The answer is for the next Costar to emerge which sad to say will not happen. So the next best alternative at the moment are CIE’s. That being said the brokerage world of the small and medium firms better begin waking up to the soon to be new world order of things when it comes to data and the price to be paid to access it. All the fancy technology aside, it’s still a people business and we need to begin trusting and behaving like grown-ups and park the egos for the greater good.
    It is simple to design and implement the technology, its the data that is important.

  • A follow up on CIE’s and how data is lost to search engines (my comment earlier here). After my last post, I went back and checked some listings on various sites. I entered in specific addresses to see what can be found. Not one CIE showed up on a Google search or Bing, nor on Xeligent or CoStar, or Commercial Source. It showed up on LoopNet, my sites, Wisconsin BrokerNET, Oodle, and Trulia. Not one CIE. (Maybe someone can explain why Commercial Source, sponsored by NAR is such a closed system??)

    To not have these listings show up on Google means they are either ignoring basic SEO techniques, or trying to hide the information from search engines. Whatever the reason, it is not acceptable.

    At a minimum, listings should be visible to the public via search engines, otherwise we are wasting our time…. This is not rocket science. If I can develop four sites that make listing open and visible to search engines, and those are free sites, then paying sites can as well….

  • Being in Gary’s market area, I have to disagree. In the Greater Madison WI area, we have a local system that serves our regional market well. In fact, the listings used to be uploaded to Loop Net until they decided they did not want the “easiness” of that for our members. With 90% or more of the Brokerage Houses as members we have found that 80/20 rule to be true. 80% of the transactions are local. Rarely does anything come from Loop Net Co-Star, Xceligent etc. The local residential MLS units of Wisconsin have banded together to share data and a combined search engines. Wonder when we commercial practitioners will do the same and work together rather than pocketing the listings in a system. Nothing is free, so these systems will need to charge the user, or continue to advertising revenue in some manner to be viable.