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PORTLAND-A few years later than even he expected, Scott Napier is selling his Portland commercial property database service to Bethesda-based CoStar Group, a publicly-traded frontrunner in the commercial property information market.

Neither Napier nor CoStar is talking about it just yet–a CoStar spokesman declined comment, Napier didn’t return a phone call–but those in the know tell the estimated $250,000 deal will be signed this week. The sale reportedly does not include Napier’s VerticalEmail business, which allows brokers to direct email other brokers about properties for lease and for sale.

The sale of RealNet comes a few months after the Portland chapter of the Commercial Association of Realtors, which launched a competing database service, reportedly declined an offer by Napier to pay an exponentially higher price for the RealNet operation. About the same time, in support of CAR’s fledgling service, some brokerage firms in town, including CB Richard Ellis, stopped providing their property data to RealNet, prompting Napier to allege unfair business practices and, some say, threaten legal action.

Now it appears Napier could have his revenge out of court, thanks to CoStar. Local brokers tell that CAR’s database system, called CARDS, pales in comparison to what CoStar’s can provide and may likely dissolve as a result. No one associated with CARDS could immediately be contacted for comment on Thursday.

Napier predicted his company’s eventual sale in May 1998 in an extended interview with this reporter, then writing for a local business weekly.

At the time, Napier was the sole provider of independent commercial property data for greater Portland and Costar, then Realty Information Group and a month away from going public, was in nine of the top 10 markets in the country and expanding rapidly, saying publicly it planned to be in the top 20 markets by the year 2000 and declaring Portland one of those markets (CoStar is now in more than 50 major markets).

So Napier, whose data was admittedly better than his software, decided to put himself on their radar screen. He gave the company a call. “They’ve got the biggest and the best; I wanted to let them know I’m here,” Napier told this reporter, then with The Business Journal of Portland. “They have a superior software product, and for me to spend the money to develop a product equal to theirs doesn’t make economic sense for this marketplace, and it would take way too long.”

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