If I built a national commercial real estate website, it would have???

Simple search for all property

  1. Location as in anywhere in the country.
  2. Any type of property.
  3. Any price range.
  4. Property for lease.
  5. Square feet available.
  6. Rates range by month or year.
  7. Comps…Real comps with data to back it up!
  8. Pics as in multi pics and mapping Bing or Google Street view at the very least.
  9. Simple keyword searches for any and all.

Data/ Property/ Company Info

  1. Lease expirations.
  2. Square footage occupied.
  3. Primary and secondary contacts.
  4. Company addresses, phone and e-mail contacts.
  5. Adjoining tenant information.
  6. Links to key Web sites.
  7. Number of employees.
  8. Company growth rates.

Guides, Questions and god forbid Advice.

Oh yes, actually give out information and expertise in a given market.

  1. Answer in real time, questions that potentional clients, buyers, owners, have about commercial real estate.
  2. Some sort of guides written by experts that help the user better understand the process.
  3. Blogs…yes blogs from actual practioners of commercial real estate. For the defined local markets.

Stats Stats Stats

  1. Yes, some people love the numbers.
  2. Solds.
  3. Vacancy rate.
  4. Net deliveries.
  5. Net absorption.
  6. Average market pricing.
  7. How much is space out there for lease?
  8. How much is for sale?
  9. Trending info DAILY, not quarterly.
  10. Lay it out clean and simple.
  11. Put it in map form so the clients can visualize the area with the data.
  12. Tons more to add but you get the picture.

Find a broker. Find a Building. Find a deal.

  1. Pretty simple here.
  2. You must get your name brand and stuff on the site.
  3. You must interact, answer, promote, and WORK to make deals happen.
  4. How much is too much?
  5. How easy or hard is it for a client, owner, and broker need to work to get to you?

Fun stuff

  1. Augmented reality app.
  2. Widgets that stick to your site..The list could go on for days!
  3. Badges…because you can.
  4. Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter apps..Because you just have to in this day and age.
  5. Mobil…out the ass. Maybe this should be on the top of the list. This could be its own list.

Data/ API’s you could throw on your site

  1. API Benefits
  2. API Partners
  3. Branding
  4. Property Valuation
  5. Neighborhood Data
  6. Neighborhood Boundaries
  7. Mortgage API
  8. Property Details API
  9. Postings API

Why Not?

  1. Too hard to do.
  2. Can’t make any money?
  3. No one would use or need a site like this.
  4. There are enough players already.
  5. Look at Trullia and Zillow.
  6. That residential stuff never works in commercial real estate.

OH and I would make it all FREE!!!

Tell me it can’t or should not be done!  Tell me what you would add!  Lot’s of smart people in this business.  Let’s hear it!

Photo via Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/islespunkfan/

Duke Long


  • A more interesting question would be: what’s the minimum set of features a national commercial real estate application would need to have to compete with Loopnet and Costar?

    If you can find an answer to that question I might be able to help you build it.

  • Are these items that you feel are important or is this something that you’ve researched about what others in the industry want/need in a commercial real estate site?

  • Good post…so far as I can tell, with a few limited exceptions, most of what you wish for is available, but for a fee….sometimes substantial. And of course, from multiple sites. I believe NAR is working on something along the same lines of your desire as is CCIM with REDEX. Makes sense since they already have the market reach and the audience. The only information that is still the most valuable and hardest to get is comp info for two simple reasons: 1. The large firms do enough business that they don’t need to share and see it as a silly business practice (give loopnet/costar the info and then buy it back). 2. Many still believe the information is the value, when its really how you synthesize it into action. We are getting closer. I find myself wow’d regularly these days…i.e. – look at REDEX making phase I info available…no fee…wow.

  • Hi All,

    I am weighing in a bit late on this conversation, but would like to throw my two cents in for consideration.

    Am I missing the obvious question – are you interested in building a database, or a listing service?

    Free is admirable, but why? If one offers either of these products at no charge to the user, then the administration of the site is focused on continually finding money to maintain the project, instead of the data and services.

    BTW, I have developed and maintained both databases and listing sites; they are big jobs, but doable with money and a good concept..

    • Well, I think I am just WISHING that there would be a site that could have the usability and functions I outline. As far as free,of course I can dream can’t I. If the value is there of course a “fee” would be understandable. What site do you consider to create the most function and value for your business?

  • I’m looking at this from a software development background rather than a commercial real estate one. Chris is right. There’s nothing on the list that can’t be done. The challenge is to make money doing it.

    Each feature takes time and money to develop. Let’s say for example, each feature on your list requires 4 hours to spec and 20 hours of development effort. You hire a US based project manager to help you spec the work and offshore developers to write the code. Your project manager bills you at $75/hr and the offshore coding costs $25/hr. You have 50 items on your wish list. That makes $15K for the design and $25K in development costs. Add a $10K contingency for change orders and cost overruns for a total of $50K. You spend 6 to 9 months writing checks and at the end of it you have your website.

    That’s the easy part. Now you’ve got to drive people to the site. I think you are going to hit a “chicken and egg” problem at that point. The design you have outlined relies on having a substantial amount of data seeded in the system. Nobody will want to use it without that data but you are relying on your users to provide the data.

  • From the opening page, one of the “benefits” of RPR is “There will be no public access to the RPR™, and the database and its data cannot be shared through consumer websites.”

    I don’t think they are going to let you pull the data to populate your own system.

  • I’m open to doing that with you or anyone else who has a good idea for a real estate related startup. I’m not sure we are there with your list at the moment. It’s not clear what problem you are aiming to solve.

    For me to invest, we’d need to identify a group of people who:

    1. Have a problem.
    2. Realize they have a problem.
    3. Have a budget for solving it.
    4. Have made some attempt at solving it themselves.

  • How bout a national site that has all the data with searchable content so I can have other brokers listings on my website. Like an idx concept for commercial real estate. I do not know of any service that is currently doing this at a reasonable price. CoStar & Loopnet do not let other people come to your site and find information from other brokers like residential agents do. Sorry I’m a little late of this post but, your thoughts would be helpful.

    • John.
      AMEN…why not. Think of the clients ability to search the database. If the broker are afraid that they will go directly to the listing broker and not use their services then they need to be better brokers. Oh I could go on!! I feel another post coming… Thanks for the comment!

    • Well., yes very much so. I do think some of the lead generation stuff is far advance thinking for a commercial real estate search. The industry still holds on tight to the listing info. To sum up very generally, IDX type commercial search with mapping and lead generation. SIGN ME UP NOW! Melissa please clarify the finer points for me…or am I off base her ?

  • Free is the only way to go. We need to democratize information in the Commercial RE industry and make much of this commonly available.
    Notice that I said “much of this”. Some of this will always (or at least in the near term) take money and effort to compile and make available. …the other guys can keep working to sell that stuff, but why not make the rest available in one place.

  • Duke, thanks for this line of thinking. I realize that I am late on this issue, but I believe that some investors and developers would love to see something like an independent RPR. A crucial item for me would be an up-to-date direct link to the property data as seen in the county recorder offices. This would have real value.

  • Duke,
    This is kids stuff, free data, let’s up the ante.

    Let’s build a site that anyone can input the area they require and the postal codes (Zip codes) of their employees anonymously.

    The website will run this information through a data base like Colliers and return the following:
    • Three ideal locations at three different price points (9 options in total)
    • All pertinent data including address, floor plans, asking rates, etc.
    • Recent comparable deals for all options including free rent, allowances, landlord’s work, etc.
    • The landlord’s name and phone number for each option.

    Now you have a real website! All this talk about managing data and driving traffic are absurd, we already manage this data and people will flock to this site if only to compare the results to what they worked out with their broker. And for those people that just asked “Well what do they need us for?”, better start working on the answer.

  • It seems like many in the CRE field feel like they have a need for this type of product. I think the better idea is instead of free, or on the opposite end of the spectrum, very expensive, is to have a freemium product where basic features are free while advanced features are available for a fee.

    If someone can execute this correctly and have just the right features in an easy to use web and mobile app at a reasonable price…. Oh, and this new company should not sue the snot out of its own customers.

  • Some thoughts to add:
    >> Comps are nice, but if you have a nationwide database, you would have to have a lot of traffic to generate anything of significance. Comps are where it gets “local”. For example, in my territory, I can tell you what industrial, retail or office space is selling for. It takes some work to get it, but that is our job, to stay on top of the market. Listing comps will take some work and maintenance and lots of traffic.

    >> Any site (IMHO), should drive traffic back to the original listing site or more preferably the listing broker. A nationwide list is nice, but in my opinion(again), most CRE decisions are local. Yes, you will have those large nationwide searches, but in terms of transaction volume, most will be local. Drive traffic to the local source.

    >> A nationwide approach would be a starting point, not the end point. I would suggest more on the link side (to the local source) versus more data points (i.e.: listing data), again, going back to the listing site where the expertise resides.

    >> I would then make it a “membership”, along the lines of TheBrokerList. Keep it free. A membership then allows you to set some rules. For example, I would suggest that members display at a minimum, a link back to the site on their own sites. Perhaps develop a method to display listings on the site at other sites as well (LoopNet does this quite nicely). Requiring links back to the site will assist in any SEO efforts.

    >> Make it simple but bullet proof… If it is free, that means support has to be kept to a minimum. Any site now is subject to “spammers” and “hackers”. Keeping up with those types can take time, and the more you open things up, the more exposed you become. Requiring a membership helps keep that down a bit.

    I started two sites focused at the state level, http://www.wisconsinbrokernet.com and http://www.illinoisbrokernet.com. Both are free listing sites. It takes quite a bit keep these sites up and running, and working at getting them found by search engines. So I am familiar with the issues. Getting a site is one issue, keeping it up is another, and both take time, money, and a lot of effort….

    Good idea and something we should be thinking about and discussing, like we are here. One other plug, TheBrokerList is trying this concept out as well, at http://www.thebrokerlist.com. Give it a try. Not a complete solution, but no bad, and they are being found by the search engines (which is a tough battle).