Commercial Real Estate search and listing websites are more important than ever when looking to purchase or market commercial properties. New search and listing websites, also known as marketplaces, are coming online and existing sites continue to modify their services. The Commercial Real Estate (CRE) industry includes a variety of different websites providing a range of services to many types of users.
This guide will explore specific commercial real estate listing websites and companies associated with the CRE information industry. New ways of searching and marketing commercial properties will also be explored. This is a guide to how all types of investors, brokers, buyers, and sellers can search for properties and market their own properties on CRE listings sites.
Background on Commercial Real Estate Search and Listing Websites
A main function of CRE marketplaces is to enable buyers, sellers, and brokers to search properties listed for sale or market their own properties for sale or lease. There are significant differences in the ways CRE marketplaces serve their customers. Some marketplace websites are free for anyone to post or list properties, and some platforms charge usage fees that can total several thousand dollars per year. Other marketplace sites focus on specific types of for sale properties while others focus on properties for lease. Other sites restrict access to only licensed real estate professionals that are fee paying members of a specific association.
A problem lies in there is no single real estate marketplace that provides most property listing information across different markets to all people for little or no fee.
Commercial property listing information is extremely fragmented compared with the residential real estate market. For example, popular residential marketplace websites such as Zillow, Redfin, and Realtor.com, to name just a few, show nearly every residential property listing on the market free of charge. CRE marketplaces typically provide a smaller cross section of only certain commercial property types. Property brokers and owners usually add their listings for free, but sometimes are required to pay a fee to advertise their listings. Some large CRE marketplaces charge users a fee just to access and search their property database.
What Users Want in a CRE Marketplace
Most CRE industry participants value a marketplace with a large selection of property listings, accurate and updated property information, low-cost access to the information, and a user-friendly experience.
The CRE industry does not have a common source of property listing data that can form an extensive open marketplace. Many CRE companies closely guard acquired commercial property data and sell data access to users for substantial fees. Companies who choose not to pay for access to large fee based CRE marketplaces are left to search and market their properties on smaller, local marketplace platforms.
Most CRE marketplace websites do not include a large number of property listings across a variety of markets and property types. The lack of a large and open CRE marketplace where users are free to search and add listings, results in less transparency in the market.
List of Commercial Real Estate Search and Listings Sites
Below is an overview of CRE websites that includes many top CRE marketplace platforms with a significant amount of property listings in large markets. There are other CRE marketplaces that cater to more specific audiences or have a small number of niche listings. The list is not meant to be all-inclusive but rather focuses on a broad selection of CRE marketplaces throughout the US.
CoStar is the largest player in the commercial real estate information industry. It’s a publicly traded company (CSGP) that sells property information services to real estate brokers, investors, and owners. CoStar has been around a long time and has a large database of commercial property listings, comps, off market property information, and tenant information. Pricing for CoStar products are not published and can fluctuate significantly depending on the customer, number of services, markets utilized, and number of users. The flagship Costar Suite product including Property, Comps, and Tenant information usually starts at over $500 per month for one user in a single market MSA. Multiple products, markets, and users can easily cost customers over a thousand dollars per month. Access to only the CoStar Property marketplace, which doesn’t include comps and tenant information, will generally start at over $300 per month for a single MSA market and user.
The advantage of a CoStar Property marketplace subscription is access to a nationwide database of property listings from the most recognized CRE brokerage firms. CoStar claims to have more property listings than any other CRE marketplace. However, property listings can only be searched by subscribers that pay thousands of dollars a year to access the information. Adding a property listing to CoStar is free for anyone, even without paying for a subscription. CoStar wants to obtain all the property data it can and then charges all users to access the data. The CoStar Property marketplace and other CoStar products are mostly used by established CRE companies and brokers looking for an information advantage in exchange for paying the high subscription fees.
CoStar has a long history of acquiring competitors and pursuing legal action to maintain its dominant market position and strong pricing power. CoStar has acquired other competing CRE marketplaces such as LoopNet, Showcase, CityFeet, and LandsofAmerica to name a few. The common theme of these CoStar owned marketplaces is to charge users a monthly fee to list a property. The monthly fee is typically around $70 per month for each property listing. CoStar also uses their acquired websites to up sell customers to more expensive CoStar branded services. These acquisitions maintain CoStar’s large marketplace advantage and substantial pricing power for their suite of products.
LoopNet is a large CRE marketplace that was acquired by CoStar in 2012 for $860 million. At the time of the acquisition LoopNet was a direct competitor to CoStar, with LoopNet offering customers similar services at lower prices. CoStar has stripped away many of LoopNet’s other competing services since the acquisition to leave LoopNet specifically as a property advertising marketplace.
Anyone can search LoopNet’s property listings for free even if they don’t sign up for an account. In October 2017, LoopNet changed its listing policy by no longer allowing users to add standard property listings to the site for free. Users can still list all types of properties for sale or lease on LoopNet for around $70 per month for each listing.
LoopNet remains a popular CRE marketplace claiming to have more listings, site traffic, and geographic coverage than other listing sites. It remains to be seen if LoopNet can maintain its dominant position in CRE search. Many CRE marketplaces allow users to add listings for free, however, these other sites currently lack the large number of listings and geographic scale that LoopNet provides.
Multiple Listing Services (MLS)
Multiple Listings Services or MLS’s consist of many individual real estate brokerages where members share property listing information to cooperate with marketing and selling listed properties. A broker listing their properties on an MLS will offer a cooperating commission to any broker who brings a buyer to close on the transaction. There are hundreds of different MLS’s across the United States. They include both residential and commercial property listings. Membership to an MLS is usually available only to licensed real estate professionals who pay the required membership dues, which typically range from $500 – $1,000 per year.
MLS’s include many property listings across different property types in their local markets. Heavily populated metro areas may contain several different MLS’s. Large residential real estate marketplace websites like Zillow and Redfin negotiate agreements with MLS’s to obtain property data and show MLS property listings on their websites. Commercial property listing platforms have not formed similar partnerships with MLS’s to access the commercial data, even though MLS’s comprise many commercial property listings not found on other CRE marketplaces.
Non-institutional real estate assets, those priced for sale under $10 million, generally make up the majority of listed properties on an MLS. All property types are included for both sale and lease on most MLS’s, but for sale properties typically outnumber for lease listings by a large margin.
Most commercial real estate brokers do not have access to more than one MLS. If a broker wanted to access all MLS property listings across the US, they would need to join hundreds of different MLS’s. Membership to an MLS currently provides a way for brokers to search many property listings in a specific market region and market their own property listings to other brokers.
UPDATE: As of December 14, 2017 CommercialSearch parent company Xceligent declared bankruptcy and completely shut down CommercialSearch.com.
CommercialSearch is a CRE marketplace where users can search multiple property types for sale or lease in markets across the US. Listings can be added for free or a user can purchase a Preferred plan for $50 per month to increase listing exposure and move up in the search results. CommercialSearch populates its property database through relationships with real estate brokers and by allowing users to upload their listings free of charge. The marketplace shows a large number of sale and lease listings in many different markets. A common complaint with CommercialSearch, along with many other CRE marketplaces, is that listings are not updated regularly and often times were sold or taken off the market.
Xceligent is the parent company of CommercialSearch and together they compete directly with CoStar in many of the same markets. Xceligent is a much smaller company compared to CoStar in terms of both revenue and employees. As of 2017 both companies are involved in litigation against each other. CoStar claims Xceligent is stealing its proprietary property information and adding it to the CommercialSearch site. Xceligent claims CoStar is in violation of antitrust laws by obtaining broker property information and claiming the data as proprietary. Customers of both companies are harmed by these industry practices. CoStar is able to charge high prices for access to their listing data and CommercialSearch cannot match CoStar’s large property database. How the courts resolve the lawsuit will certainly impact CRE marketplaces going forward.
Craigslist has a large inventory of commercial real estate listings in many different markets all over the world. Commercial properties posted on Craigslist consist mainly of for lease listings on the lower end of the market. Potential tenants can search office, retail, and industrial properties for lease on Craigslist. Owners and brokers can post property listings to Craigslist free of charge.
Craigslist fills a gap in commercial property marketplaces because there are not many well known options where participants can list and search properties in multiple markets for free. Other free listing websites are not as widely used as Craigslist with those searching for smaller, less expensive commercial spaces. Few if any marketplaces cover the geographic reach of Craigslist across many different countries.
It can be difficult to accurately search different property types and areas with Craigslist given the format of how listings are posted and organized. There is no map search and it’s difficult to perform a search based on space size and specific location. The search can be time consuming and properties may be completely missed in a search if a listing does not contain certain key words. Listings also expire after a week and need to be reposted regularly. Searching properties solely through Craigslist is not ideal, even though attractive properties can be found that are not listed on other sites. There are other CRE marketplaces with much better user search interfaces where it’s free to search and add listings, however, few are as publicly well known as Craigslist.
Catylist has partnered with some large brokerage firms to display property listing information on their CRE marketplace platform. The company also creates CRE marketplaces for some broker managed commercial MLS associations in the US and Canada. These individual MLS platforms usually require broker membership to access their listing data. Catylist’s own CRE marketplace includes property listings across the US and it’s free to search. As with other CRE Marketplaces, some listings shown have not been updated recently and are actually off the market. A Full Access Membership can be purchased for $50 per month that allows users to add an unlimited number of property listings.
42 Floors focuses on matching tenants with the right space and the right broker for leasing the space. The site shows mostly for lease listings of office, retail, and industrial properties. It’s free to post and search listings on the site. Users may upgrade for a monthly fee to an Elite account for automatic posting of their listings to the top of search results. The site provides a large selection of for lease listings in markets across the US. The site shows when each property was last posted and listings over 90 days old are clearly labeled.
The CREXi marketplace shows many types of commercial property listings for sale from recognized brokerage firms. The properties are generally on the higher end of the market. CREXi only offers commercial properties for sale and not for lease. Searching property listings is free for anyone but adding a property listing can only be done by a licensed broker with an exclusive right to sell. A listing may be rejected if deemed too small for the buyer audience. CREXi shows when each property listing was last updated, with some listings updated regularly while others go months without updates.
Real Massive is a CRE marketplace offering office, retail, and industrial space for lease along with a small number of properties for sale. It’s free for all users to list and search properties. Users may upgrade to a Pro or Premier account that includes more options and analysis when marketing a property listing. Real Massive serves several market areas throughout the US with varying numbers of listings depending on the specific market. Listings also vary in how often they are updated and the amount of property information provided. Some listings may remain on the market for months without being updated and others may not show property details such as photos or list prices. Users interested in a property can click to submit an online inquiry to Real Massive and a CRE professional will contact them.
Commercial Café focuses on office, retail, and industrial listings available for lease by large real estate brokers and owners. The site is developed and run by Yardi, a company providing software and service solutions for large real estate companies. Brokers and property owners may upload their listings to the site for free. It is also free for any user to create an account and search all listings. Most of the site’s property listings are sourced from large institutional property owners and brokers.
In up front and full disclosure, MarketPier is the website where this guide and blog were created. But the idea and mission behind MarketPier is believed to be important for the CRE industry.
MarketPier is an open CRE marketplace where it’s free for anyone to search and add property listings. Users have access to MLS property listing data as well as user generated listings with all information updated regularly. The MLS information available on MarketPier contains many broker listings, with some properties not included on any other CRE listing sites. MarketPier can provide users MLS listing data because they are part of a real estate brokerage that represents clients looking to buy, sell, or lease property.
Many CRE sites have a limited number of listings with outdated information. The largest CRE marketplaces charge users thousands of dollars in fees to list properties, or even search property databases. MarketPier provides accurate property listing information to all users free of charge.
MarketPier currently serves most California real estate markets with plans to expand the platform to other states. Property types shown for sale and lease include multifamily, office, retail, industrial, land, hotel, residential income, business opportunity, mixed-use, and special purpose. Commercial properties for sale make up most of the listing inventory.
MarketPier believes the CRE market is better served when anyone can list and search CRE properties without paying high fees.
Future of the CRE Information Industry
The CRE industry has come a long way in embracing technology that makes property information more accessible, but it still has a long way to go. Online search options for residential properties once looked a lot like the commercial real estate search market does now. It was just over a decade ago when most residential property listing information was only available to licensed real estate professionals. The residential market is now more transparent and consumers are empowered with the information to make informed real estate decisions. It is time the commercial real estate market followed suit by opening commercial property information to everyone.