Search “commercial real estate” online and right away you’re inundated with thousands of sites vying for your attention. I know finding the right site isn’t always easy, so I’ve compiled a list of what I’ve found to be the most essential throughout my career in real estate.
The lead contender among sites that specialize in commercial real estate, particularly in sales, is loopnet.com. The site is owned by the information-driven CoStar Group Inc. and has become one of the most used and valued tools in my real estate toolbox, and for many others in the industry as well.
LoopNet generates an approximate 5 million visitors per month and contains 800,000 to 1 million listings at one time. About 400 to 500 billion is available for sale and at least 6 billion square feet is on the site for lease. The numbers are staggering, and that’s why they’re a leader in reaching brokers and investors online.
LoopNet is free for brokers to search, however a monthly subscription is required for investors looking to gather more information on listings in locations within the United States and beyond.
The CoStar Group Inc. is also the driver behind its own site, costar.com. Specialists in compiling stats on the industry, the site is filled with a variety of data points for serious brokers and investors.
The website shares some data with its subsidiary LoopNet, but provides more extensive research, including comp data, same sale data, and any data from the majority of commercial real estate on the market. CoStar also features information about lease terms, such as availability times and expiration dates. So if you’re looking to get serious about investing, I advise you to spend the $200 per month to access the site in-full.
Auction.com is another great site that focuses on auctions for housing, commercial, multi-family and luxury real estate. You name the property type and they most likely have it covered on their site.
Created by Ten-X LLC, which holds the tagline “where real estate is moving,” the site contains a calendar outlining a series of upcoming auctions. Often, especially in the last 10 years, property owners offer a minimum bid on items they want to sell through the site. Brokers pay a fee to participate, but all can gain access to the sites calendar which lists upcoming auctions throughout the nation.
If you’re looking to search for multi-family properties, I recommend Zillow.com. Based out of Seattle, Washington, the team at Zillow provides online users with a comprehensive search tool to look for not only residential, but commercial properties as well.
When a realtor lists a property through a multiple listing service (MLS), it will often get picked up by sites like Zillow or realtor.com. Specializing in multi-family assets, realtor.com is a great source for agents that participate in the commercial market but don’t want to pay for services like LoopNet.
Speaking of free, don’t forget craigslist.org. Craigslist offers users a look at a variety of mostly small and some commercial properties and investments. If you’re a broker and you’re looking for a for sale by owner or multi-family listing, keep Craigslist in your bag of tricks.
If you’re looking to catch a glimpse at the latest foreclosures, I’d recommend realtytrac.com. The site features up-to-date listings and outlines the basics of foreclosure. Most properties listed on the site are single-family and sometimes multi-family. If you’re looking for retail or commercial office space, for example, I’d still recommend LoopNet and CoStar.
If you’re looking to localize your search I recommend looking at your local commercial multiple listing service in your area. Here in the northwest, we have commercialmls.com, which encompasses Washington state as well as parts of Oregon and Idaho.
Remember that online search tools are crucial for serious investors — knowing where to look will give you an edge.