Verified Contact Information Is CRE’s Holy Grail. This Company Just Made It Free
To the uninitiated, it might seem simple to figure out who owns and operates a commercial property. But any real estate professional will tell you that finding an owner’s name — let alone an email address or phone number for a specific person in that ownership group — is a lot harder than it sounds.
Because commercial property ownership is so complex, contact information is often cloaked in layers of LLCs and partnerships. Data providers that claim to offer contact information may only list a generic LLC name. Even if a listing includes a name, that person may no longer work there or may be the owner in name only, with no real connection to the property.
“It’s easy to gather a million LLC names that lead you nowhere,” said Mike Clark, CEO of RealMassive, an Austin, Texas-based commercial real estate marketplace and data provider. “Getting real, verified contact information is one of the most difficult problems for anyone who needs CRE data.”
RealMassive has recently begun offering verified names, job titles, emails and phone numbers for millions of owners to users of DataQu, the company’s real-time property data platform. And unlike the CRE data solutions that charge exorbitant prices for owner contact information, DataQu is free for users through March 31.
Clark described how, for years, he has listened to concerns from users of other CRE data platforms that the contact information they offered was unreliable. Rather than trying to find contact information for every building, the RealMassive team instead focused on accuracy, using freely accessible public records to make sure that DataQu users could trust each email they found.
“Being able to connect with the right person inside an ownership group quickly is critical in commercial real estate,” SVN/Denver Commercial Managing Director Steve Kawulok said in a statement. “If we can get to the right person at the right time, we can accelerate deal flow and create mutually beneficial opportunities instead of spending hours searching for information.”
It was conversations with DataQu users that spurred RealMassive to launch the contact information capability, and Clark noted that the company will be rolling out more updates in the near future based on collaboration and feedback from users about what they need.
One of the most important pieces of contact information — and one Clark thinks often goes overlooked — is the job title. A DataQu user looking to help owners refinance their properties may want to speak to someone who handles finances. A technology vendor may want to reach heads of technology. DataQu allows its users to filter by job title, which Clark said creates a better experience for the user and the property operator alike, since operators receive fewer off-base requests and pitches.
With in-person events canceled, having reliable contact information may be even more important, as many CRE firms have made the switch to a digital-first strategy. Clark underscored that by making DataQu free through March, his hope is to keep CRE firms from having to choose between keeping their employees and keeping the data subscription that lets them conduct business.
RealMassive used only public records to populate its contact information, but the size of those records may keep growing. While real estate owners and operators have historically been cagey about offering up their contact information, Clark said that there is a growing move toward transparency.
“There’s a new generation of CRE professionals who have grown up with technology in their hands, and who see sharing their information as a way to work together with partners across the industry,” Clark said. “The culture shift will take time, but I think we will see that transparency become the norm.”
Clark believes that shift will go hand in hand with the overall democratization and commodification of data within the commercial real estate industry, which Clark calls the central mission of RealMassive. For too long, Clark said, CRE data has been walled off and dealt out only in return for sky-high fees. Reducing the barriers to data may make for a more equitable, dynamic future for the industry.
“Whether you’re a lender looking to help an owner refinance, a broker looking for a client, a tax professional, an underwriter or an originator, everything you do is based on building relationships,” Clark said. “Those relationships and connections need to keep happening. The more quickly we can get you information on a property, and the easier we can make those connections happen, the more the industry prospers and grows.”
This feature was produced in collaboration between the Bisnow Branded Content Studio and RealMassive. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.