Why One CRE Intelligence Company Made Its Data Free For 2020
Intelligence has always come at a premium in the world of commercial real estate, and access to the most up-to-date information on leasing and transactions has typically been reserved for the firms that could afford it.
But with the industry in the midst of a data drought, one tech company is giving commercial real estate professionals access to the information they need, without asking anything in return.
RealMassive, an Austin, Texas-based commercial real estate marketplace and data provider, announced that it would be giving away free access to DataQu, its flagship property data platform, through the rest of 2020. The company is even handing back the fees it had taken for prepaid subscriptions through the second half of the year.
“A lot of commercial real estate firms are facing budgetary pressure and struggling with whether they keep employees or keep their data subscriptions,” RealMassive CEO Mike Clark said. “We wanted to relieve a little of that pressure.”
Clark hopes to put the data into the hands of investors, brokers, owners and service providers to help them do as much business as possible even as the real estate market has slowed significantly. Bisnow caught up with Clark to discuss the backstory behind the decision to make RealMassive’s platform free and Clark’s take on data’s role in the future of CRE:
Bisnow: What was the journey to the decision to open up DataQu for the rest of the year?
Clark: It really stemmed from the stress we were seeing across the CRE industry around COVID-19. All sectors are feeling an impact, but talking to our partners, we were seeing our competitors raise prices for data and refusing to be flexible with their customer base. We figured we were in a good position to relieve that stress.
The larger companies out there may not have to make sacrifices to keep access to good data, but it’s a real consideration for smaller shops. Given that so many people are not able to show their spaces or get deals done without the tech, we thought this would be the best way we could help the industry.
Bisnow: Who are you hoping uses the data that might not have had access to it before, and what are you hoping that they do with it?
Clark: It really depends on the use case. The kind of data we gather — information on more than 30 million properties, live commercial listings for sale and lease, subleases, multifamily and commercial investment sales — can be useful for almost anybody in the world of real estate.
We’ve gotten feedback from new users about how they’re taking advantage of the platform. There are brokers on both the tenant and owner sides and insurance reps and capital markets professionals who are using it for underwriting. Then there are service providers. We just got a note from a flooring company that’s using our data to make predictions about how much office square footage tenants are going to need in the new normal.
We pride ourselves on being a nimble data company and responding to customer requests for specific data sets. Historically, we’ve added new functionalities based on customer feedback that we’ve received.
Bisnow: What sort of data are people asking for that they might not have a few months ago?
Clark: Adding to what we have out there already, requests have been coming in for more information around tenants in the buildings. People are trying to figure out exactly what the tenant stack looks like in each property. They’re still asking for information about the owners, but they’re also concerned with the health and needs of the tenants.
Bisnow: Considering that we’re in the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis, why do you think it’s important to democratize the world of data right now?
Clark: Democratizing data was part of RealMassive’s mission statement long before the pandemic began, but the need for data is certainly magnified now. In my view as a technologist, technology should be driving efficiency and lowering costs, but what we’ve seen historically in CRE is that data is expensive and its use has been restricted.
Even subscribers to some of the biggest, most successful CRE data companies still find themselves saying, "This data is hard to use," "It’s not trustworthy" or "It’s hard to integrate this data into our own systems." Our goal is to bring more data in real time to customers at a lower price point and partner with them, hand in hand, to make sure it’s actually a value add to their business, and not just an extra cost.
Bisnow: With transactions at a crawl, how are CRE professionals going to get enough data to make decisions?
Clark: Many deals have been getting stalled or canceled, but there are still some deals getting done and sales happening out there. RealMassive updates its data in every market around the country at least once a week, and much more often for the larger markets, so that users can follow along with every market move. Watching those deals is still the best way to glean information.
But one thing to remember is that a lack of data is data itself. The fact that volume has dropped so dramatically has implications for the market, and more uncertainty and risk for decision-makers. A frozen market perpetuates itself: If you don’t see people doing deals, you don’t get current valuation information. But once the market begins to loosen up, that flow of information comes back and it starts to loosen faster. Watching for those critical moments where it begins to unfreeze is exactly why real-time data is so important.
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.