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Here Is One #CRE Agent’s Experience With Loopnet. Guest Post: Linda Martinez

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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.

Connect with Linda:

LinkedIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindamartinez1

Branded.me: http://linda-martinez.branded.me/

 

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  • spotCRE

    “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.”

    There more counterparts in the US but there is one thing you must do as CRE broker/agent. USE IT!
    Without use they/we can’t grow and compete the Gorilla.

  • Debbie Colangelo

    One upon a time, when I was repping a prospective formidable competitor, I distinctly recall a conversation I had with a South Florida broker when I had asked him for a meeting to JUST DEMO the platform for him. His response: “Any broker worth anything subscribes to Costar and LoopNet.” It’s exactly that mentality that has put the CRE brokerage community in the position its currently in – bending over. Too busy or full of yourselves to consider another option? To busy to even LOOK at something else? Well, if you’re THAT busy, then I suppose you’ve got plenty of cash to continue donating to the CoStar/LoopNet coffers. I remember when both CoStar and LoopNet started in the South Florida market and it took time, buy-in and participation from the CRE community before their platforms became viable in the market. It’s going to take the same for any alternative platform.

  • Thanks, Linda – this is fantastic. Agree with you 100% that LoopNet/LoopLink’s interface has remained pretty much the same for 10 years. It’s awful. That still doesn’t stop the nation’s largest, most reputable brokerage firms from integrating LoopLink – an absolute mobile enemy – into their otherwise mobile-friendly websites, and rewarding CoStar/LoopNet with multi-year contracts. I can’t understand why the marketing/research leaders at these firms are not pushing back harder. Do they not recognize their leverage?

    Unfortunately this will continue. And each year 100’s of “coming soon” LoopStar competitors will continue to pop up as “the new blah blah blah marketplace for CRE” until they run out of $/energy and get crushed by reality. “Oh but this is different”….

    Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer. One giant step forward could be for CRE firm’s influential brokers to press their marketing/research dept’s harder and get more involved in contract negotiations? – possibly offer to bolster LoopStar’s horrid UX staff with their own?

    Damn Pirates! 😉

    • spotCRE

      We don’t see 100’s of “coming soon” competitors but we agree most will run out of money.
      Loopnet needed years to grow why not another?

  • If $2,400.00 a year is too rich for your budget what then is a price point that you are willing to pay on an annual basis?

    • spotCRE

      A simple search should be, no must be free but Loopnet decided to preclude Realtors not paying any premium listing fees so this is the outcome. Drive up of this premium searcher fee by 357% is ambitious.

      • Agree that a simple search should be free but since LoopNet provides a visitor with a search return that is geared to either a ‘Free’ or ‘Premium’ subscriber leads me back to the question above. What would you be willing to pay, on an annual basis, to access listing data that contains all listings based upon your query of choice? Remember you get what you pay for. Land the plane!

        • spotCRE

          We consider a search return as service improvement that’s not good enough to raise fees in the ballpark.

  • It would be extremely easy to compete with Loopnet if agents were willing to enter their data FOR FREE on competitive sites. Most agents are too lazy to enter their data. Sure Loopnet spends a ton on google adwords to drive traffic, but this traffic would come organically if a site built the critical mass needed to be useful to the end user ( your prospects). The cost to build a site with the basic search and display functionality is very cheap today. Just get enough cheap lazy agents to each contribute $50 a year and add their listings and run the business as a non-profit.

    • Duke Long

      And yet still…

      • Yep..

        • perlprop

          Been working on my version of the solution and would have come to market if we did not have to change our name at the last minute because of a “click through” agreement with a multibillion dollar social media company. Who reads those things…..?

          Anyone with an interest in exploring a loopnet alternative soon, please forward one or more of your listing PDFs to info@jeomark.com (not the name of the app/website, just the holding company).

          Thanks,
          David

  • Yes! CoStar is also problematic. More than a third of the properties listed as available aren’t. Not sure if that’s more of a broker issue but I would expect CoStar to periodically call on listings and make sure they’re available. LoopNet’s app is also horrendous. You can’t search for specific properties and then you have a viewing limit. My office just signed up for Xceligent. We’ll see how that goes.