Duke Long recently wrote a post-Loopnet Changes Its Subscription Price from $658.80 to $2351.52 Per Year. Thank You for Being a Valued Customer. It hit a raw nerve. Duke, I feel you. Here is one CRE agent’s experience with Loopnet.
When I began my commercial real estate career, I immediately signed up for Loopnet. $650 a year seemed reasonable since I had no real point of reference. But back then, 80% of my business came from Loopnet, as compared to DM and my nascent cold-calling efforts. Subsequently, my brokerage firms covered the price of my subscription – I didn’t even see the bill. When I left Palo Alto and returned to Orange County, I called Loopnet and was unprepared for the proverbial sticker shock.
A zealous Loopnet sales rep went in for the oversell. (I don’t want to protect the guilty, we’ll call her Stephanie F.) She said, “we have a kazillion subscribers and a kabillion views per day. You need us.” I asked her why the fees have more than doubled, when important features – like search capabilities – are no longer part of the package. She said that they didn’t want to charge subscribers for services they aren’t using. This didn’t answer my question, so I pressed. I asked her why Loopnet has not improved their user interface in the past ten years. She chuckled and said that they have tried to make improvements, but real estate agents are stuck in their ways, hate change and cannot adapt, so they had to keep their interface intact. Wait a minute – did she just say that real estate agents are too stupid to adapt? I think she did! Stephanie F. kept emphasizing that Loopnet has a 90% retention rate! I mused if it could be because they are like the utilities companies and we don’t have much choice. Stephanie F proudly boasted that Loopnet had been acquired by Costar. I asked her how that benefited me. She stumbled a little on that one and reluctantly conceded that it doesn’t – not really. And sales comps? No that’s extra. Is anything a value-add? No. Why would we do that?
Sadly, I held out my wrists so that I could be shackled.
I didn’t buy the used-car sales pitch “our kazillion subscribers can now access your listing,” but was quite surprised by how woefully Loopnet underperformed. It was quite underwhelming. My property (zoned commercial and residential) has been listed on Loopnet as well as the MLS for the past week. The calls are easily 10:1 in favor of the MLS. My co-listing agent (an MLS agent) has already written several offers. Me? Nary a one. We think we know the reason. The MLS is open for everyone to see. You can go their website, or Realtor.com, or any number of sites and pull up the data. With Loopnet, the data is locked unless either the agent or buyer is a “Premium Searcher.” This sucks big time. My data is locked to interested buyers unless they are paying $2,400 per year for the privilege of looking at data that is posted on the MLS for free. Additionally, the MLS does have a kazillion subscribers. Costar, prior to acquiring Loopnet, publicly questioned Loopnet’s subscriber figures and suggested they are grossly over-calculated.
Loopnet reminds me of the record industry landscape about 16 years ago. Before Napster arrived, they were the 800 lb. gorilla. No one could beat them. They were enjoying their monopoly and their hold on the consumer. Napster came along and changed all that. Right now, Loopnet is the 800 lb. Gorilla and they have a stranglehold on the commercial real estate industry. $2,351.52 for the privilege of selling your data – the data you willingly uploaded without remuneration – back to you! As Duke asks, “and all we can do is bitch?” Is there a Napster CRE counterpart out there that can kill them? They’ve been shaking us down for years. It is time that commercial real estate agents of the world unite… we have nothing to lose but our chains.
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