PORTLAND-Despite being members in the organization, more than a few brokers in town expect a new information service by the Commercial Association of Realtors’ Portland chapter to fade away now that the veritable 800-pound gorilla has arrived in town to compete. CAR, meanwhile, likes its chances.
The gorilla is Bethesda-based CoStar Group, a publicly-traded frontrunner in the commercial property information market that purchased Scott Napier’s Real-Net, an online, subscription-based information service that CoStar says currently lists 150 million sf of office, industrial and retail properties here, and approximately 1,350 digital images.
GlobeSt.com broke news of the acquisition a week before it was announced this past Friday. Local sources said CoStar paid approximately $250,000 for the service after CAR declined Napier’s offer to pay a much higher figure and launched its own service called CARDS, the “DS” standing for “data service.”
Napier’s service was known for good data and poor software. With CoStar’s software, the service is sure to be a formidable competitor to CARDS, which is still in its infancy, as yet unable to produce the slick reports that CoStar will now be able to generate on the Portland market with Napier’s property database.
That hasn’t dented the confidence of Tom McDowell, however. The spokesman for CARDS and a broker with Norris & Stevens says he has a commitment from all the major brokerage houses in town to continue supporting its subscription-based service.
“We have over 240 paid subscribers and we figure that’s about 70% of the market,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “We’re making money, growing constantly and we have committees working on having market reports available before the end of the year that will contain exactly what the brokers told us they wanted.”
As well, McDowell says CARDS is as accurate, if not more so, than the former Real-Net service now that it is receiving data from all of Portland’s largest brokerage houses, some of which have stopped providing their information to Napier’s former service. “There were some accuracy comparisons done in mid-August and I believe we came out quite superior,” says McDowell.
Finally, says McDowell, all the major houses got together with all the major associations and decided on a new and improved breakdown of the regional market area and building types that will give its reports exclusivity in the marketplace. McDowell agrees with the general consensus that most brokers likely will only pay for one system; he just thinks they’ll choose CARDS over CoStar when it comes to market data.
At least a few top brokers in town do not agree. Speaking on condition of anonymity because they work for houses that are supporting CARDS, they say CoStar is by far the superior product offering for a number of reasons, and they expect CARDS to fall by the wayside in the none too distant future.
“CARDS is nothing more than a glorified listing service, while CoStar offers a comprehensive database with multiple data search capabilities, mapping capabilities and reporting capabilities that CARDS will never be able to offer,” one of the brokers tells GlobeSt.com. “That’s just the bottom line.”
CoStar, which has been providing comparable sales data in Portland since 1998 and for-sale listings since 2000, plans to start converting Real-Net customers to the CoStar Property platform by the end of October, to coincide with the release of CoStar’s new Web-based technology.
CoStar’s Portland team will be led by regional director Troy Jones, who is relocating from San Francisco. The Real-Net acquisition did not include VerticalEmail.com, a separate broadcast email business owned by Napier. However, CoStar has secured a perpetual license to VerticalEmail.com to supplement its local data collection efforts in Portland.