EXCLUSIVE: Real Estate Marketplace SpaceList Seeks To Help Brokers, Tenants With Free Data-Sharing Initiative
Though technological advances in the commercial real estate industry have made sourcing real estate deals, raising capital for projects and managing assets more efficient than ever before they have yet to solve a decades-old issue plaguing many brokers and small to midsize firms: a lack of streamlined and standardized commercial listings data on the market, particularly for leases.
Real estate professionals on the hunt for lease availabilities have a wealth of options to choose from, including LoopNet, CityFeet and CREXi, but that data is often fragmented and cannot be accessed from one centralized location. Canadian commercial real estate marketplace SpaceList aims to solve that problem with the launch of its free Data Sharing Initiative.
The goal of the data-sharing program is to deliver free weekly listing reports to participating firms that list data on SpaceList's platform. SpaceList will act as a central database for up-to-date listing availabilities, and the weekly reports will be standardized and follow a universal format. The more brokerages that participate in the initiative, the more data contributing firms will have access to, SpaceList CEO Steven Jaffe told Bisnow.
“SpaceList wants to create an open platform of accurate data that removes the hurdle traditionally associated with acquiring and accessing listing availability reports,” Jaffe said. “The data can be used internally for research, trend analysis, lead prospecting, etc. We're emphasizing what you can do with the data, instead of needing to focus on allocating resources just to acquire the data.”
At present this program is only available to brokerages and firms in Canada. As SpaceList expands into U.S. markets — which Jaffe said it plans to do before year-end — the Data Sharing Initiative will carry over into those markets.
"Our goal is to use this to benefit the tenant — that’s kind of our business model. The more accurate the data that we can aggregate, the better experience the tenant has when looking for availability. The byproduct of that is that real estate professionals can also leverage access to that kind of data.
"It’s not SpaceList’s data, we’re aggregating it. Our vision and approach to this is we should give the access back because all the data contributors are making this possible. We’re sort of facilitating a central database for it," Jaffe said.
Sharing data is still a fairly nascent concept in the commercial real estate industry, with industry giant CoStar dominating the listing and market research space with a range of subscriptions that can run into the five figures.
While the residential market has a wealth of listing services that provide free, standardized data to the masses through platforms like Zillow or Redfin, the commercial real estate industry has yet to catch up.
SquareFoot is a virtual brokerage that offers a range of services that allow tenants to search for listings, book tours, share documents with relevant parties involved in a deal, discuss lease negotiations and sign and transact deals virtually.
"Zillow exists for residential, but you don’t really have an analog for commercial. The closest analog to Zillow on the commercial side is LoopNet, but LoopNet isn't great for leasing and is far from complete," Wasserstrum said.
Professionals seeking more affordable alternatives are hard-pressed to find listing providers that can touch CoStar’s scale, as evidenced by its yearlong legal battle with the now-defunct Xceligent, as well as legal victories over other commercial data services like RealMassive. Xceligent shut down operations in December.
"The approach in Canada is a little more toward being more self-sufficient and not needing to go through a third party, and that’s where our value-add is," Jaffe said.
"There is no cost to it because the value in it for us isn’t in the data. The difference between CoStar and us is CoStar is a research company and they go out and validate, research and build their database. SpaceList aggregates data. That’s really the difference. We're not focused on that as our business, we’re focused on solving the problem for the tenant."
So far, Jaffe said nearly a dozen companies are participating in the initiative, including firms like Crown Realty Partners and Re/Max. In addition, more than 50 firms that currently list data on SpaceList's platform are also eligible for the program, such as real estate marketing software provider Buildout.
SpaceList’s primary sources of revenue stem from its data products — which include listing and market demand data sold to government agencies, economic development groups and insurance/finance companies — and its real estate and services advertising.
"It almost seems too good to be true sometimes, but when you see the side of the table that we’re serving, we’re able to build a business that ... solves a problem for the tenant — that’s the pain point we’re trying to solve. The byproduct of that is we can provide a great resource for real estate professionals," Jaffe said.