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Where is the Accuracy & Accoutability?

 

How accurate are commercial real estate websites? Is there any real accountability for the information on the site; or
is it more for just show and to get a general “idea” of what is happening on the sites?

In my experience most of the data services out there are extremely inaccurate, however it is not just simply the
websites and data sources fault alone. Commercial real estate is built on “the power of information”, the more
information that you can have and keep to yourself the more profitable your business. Therefore, the less accurate
the commercial websites are with the information the higher the likelihood that a broker or property owner will make
higher profits with the valuable information they hold to themselves. Taking that into account how likely would
you, as an owner or broker, be to give accurate information to a website or data source that relied on you for the
“accurate” information.

Let’s look at a few of the larger sites that are currently out there the focus on the commercial real estate markets and
figure out if they are accountable and reliable: CoStar, Loopnet, 42Floors, RIISnet, TREPP, and RealtyTrac to name a
few.

CoStar – www.costar.com, Loopnet – www.loopnet.com, and 42Floors – www.42floors.com
CoStar and Loopnet are the 800 pound gorillas in the room, and are both owned by the same company, but are a little
different in the way they work. CoStar seems to be more geared toward the leasing side of the commercial business,
while Loopnet is seems to have more of a handle on the investment sales side of the business. The main commonality
between both CoStar and Loopnet is that they both rely heavily on outside unverifiable information. The market
reports and general property information is usually quite good, however the leasing rates and general vacancy accuracy
or tenant mix seems to be off on CoStar. The main issue with the Loopnet information is that is uploaded mostly by
brokers, and being a former broker myself, I can tell you who knows whether or not any of that information is correct.

42Floors is a very similar platform as that of CoStar but mainly focuses on subleasing and smaller office leases
in general. To be very candid with you I have not used it all that much because it is newer, but it would be my
assumption that it is probably a little more accurate than the CoStar information due to the fact that mainly owners
of space are uploading the information. Another reason would be because it is usually smaller spaces people probably
tend to be more accurate and forthright with the information.

RIISnet – www.riisnet.com
RIISnet is one of the most unique websites and trading platforms in the business to date. This is the one platform
that could be extremely accurate, in my opinion, due to the fact that it is just contact between buyers and sellers.
The issue here is that, for everyone else other than the buyer and seller, no one will have the transparency of the
information. So really, is isn’t much help for those trying to understand the ins and outs of the business unless you
already own properties and are actively trading on this platform.

TREPP – www.trepp.com
If an investor wants CMBS data this is the place to go for the information. TREPP is owned by Bloomberg is a perfect
site for Mortgage Brokers to find notes that are coming due and figure out some different leads to go after in day to
day business. It is my understanding that Asset Managers are required to provide updates on the CMBS loan and where
it stands in the process, however I also understand that that hate doing this and many times it could be more accurate.
It is also very difficult to figure out the owners of the assets and many times in my experience as a broker the Asset
Manager named on the site was the wrong one when called.

RealtyTrac – www.realtytrac.com
RealtyTrac prides themselves on being “the nations #1 go-to source for foreclosure information”. When I was working
at a company that tracked similar information we found 20 foreclosure cases that fit the same categories in RealtyTrac
that found just 4 cases in the same time frame, location, and size. RealtyTrac seems to be more geared toward
residential, in my opinion, but many people use this because of the cost. I, however, do not think it is a very accurate
product.

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