Who Owns Your Data?

The LoopNet/CoStar merger is Why CIEs Matter

As a commercial real estate pro, technology has become central to your business. Whether you’re researching rates, marketing an opportunity or availability, or just networking, you and your peers have invested time and money in building a database of information: a repository of property data for your market, sale and lease transaction history, contacts and leads, etc. Who owns that information? What happens when the companies providing the service change course, consolidate, or hike your fees?

The Impending Merger

Last week, LoopNet and CoStar announced a merger that, for those of us making or using commercial real estate software, is big news. These two publicly traded companies provide services (used by millions of people) related to marketing and/or researching commercial real estate. Over the years they’ve fought bitterly both in the marketplace and in the courtroom.

As their respective stock prices reflect (LOOP up 30%, CSGP up 10% since the announcement), the merger makes sense for shareholders. However, there’s a great uncertainty and much speculation in the commercial brokerage community over the implications.

Loss of Control

The commercial real estate community has made LoopNet and CoStar into what they are today. You contribute your information, whether entering or importing your property listings or answering a call from a researcher looking to verify details about a recent transaction. Your contributions make their services stronger, yet they are firmly in control of both its use and its cost.

With CoStar gobbling up its primary rival, many brokers are left wondering what the future holds. The options are slim when you’re held hostage by your own data.

Coming Together to Share

Your company may have its own internal tools, or you may choose to subscribe to any number of different services to provide the services critical to your business. There are two key lessons to be learned here:

  1. There’s Strength in Numbers: The only way to avoid reliance on national services is to join together with other professionals in your market. Working as a group, you’ll all have access to better information in terms of quality and quantity, while maintaining control.
  2. Own Your Data: It’s incredibly valuable, and without it, your options are limited. If your community decides to use a different service, you should be able to take your data with you.

The Rise of the CIE

Many markets learned these lessons long ago, creating Commercial Information Exchanges to pool their resources and allow members to end their costly national subscriptions.

A CIE is a platform used by a commercial real estate community to share lease and sale availabilities, recent transaction details, tax records, tenant information, demographics, market statistics, aerial imagery, GIS mapping layers, leads and contacts, and more. It’s established by a local community (usually an association of REALTORS®) and controlled by the community. The members establish the rules – they’re not handed down from some company’s shareholders. It’s a grassroots effort resulting in greater flexibility, security, and utility for everyone in your market.

The CIE movement isn’t new – it’s been around formally for over a decade, and it’s modeled off of the widely embraced residential MLS. Over 100 markets around the country come together to share information and do business together on a CIE platform. If your market isn’t one of them, it’s time to take a look. Join together and take back your market.

This is the reason CIEs exist and the reason we started this company a decade ago.

Is Your Market Ready For a CIE?

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