Property data is only one part of an economic developers GIS system. As we wrote in a recent post, Does GIS Really Make Your Economic Development Website More Effective?, property data is still the most heavily used component of GIS systems (research found by examining Atlas InSite clients in 27 markets).
Though it is the most heavily used, property data is also the most expensive for our clients to maintain. They are faced with the following questions and challenges:
- Do we maintain the property data ourselves and invest in the staff time to do so?
- Do we import it from an MLS or other third party—and save staff time—but pay fees to use the data, and accept that many commercial real estate brokers do not populate all the fields our clients need?
- Or, do we skip property data entirely?
By far, most of our clients prefer option 2: to import data from an MLS system or other third party. However, many clients in smaller markets go with option 1, as they have no MLS to draw from. For example, in a presentation we gave together, Jen Wakefield, Director of Marketing at the Metro Orlando EDC, used option 2 as an example of how economic developers and the real estate community should help each other in a symbiotic way. The presentation was called What Would Google Do (If it Were in Charge of Economic Development)?
So, what does the merger of the two largest commercial property database providers, CoStar and LoopNet, announced here, mean for economic developers?
- Economic developers should be aware of it, as the combined company is now a major force in commercial real estate and will have roughly 2 million active listings—the largest in the US.
- Economic developers should work with their local CoStar or LoopNet representatives to change their policy of not sharing data with economic development GIS systems, as neither company shares its full real estate data with economic developers to date.
- Should neither company release their data, economic developers should be aware of many third party commercial real estate websites that do share their data with economic developers, such as Xceligent, and make contact with their local representative.
- Lastly, as a large and growing network, CoStar and LoopNet may be able to provide some value to economic development organizations in the form of advertising opportunities for your organizations, putting your organizations in front of companies and individuals with active real estate needs.