By Brian J. Rogal on July 30, 2013.
CHICAGO—CompStak, a new online database of commercial lease information, will debut in Chicago this Thursday, and by crowdsourcing the data, its creators say it will give brokers, appraisers and researchers a more effective method of searching for lease comparables. “Currently, it’s all over the phone or over e-mail; there’s no efficient way to do it,” says David Peterson, who handles new markets for the New York-based CompStak. Other groups have tried to provide some lease comparables, but “the data they do have isn’t that reliable; people don’t actually use it. We’re trying to solve that specific problem.” The firm has already launched their service in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, DC. “The goal is to be in the top ten real estate markets before the end of the year,” Peterson adds, and then start moving into secondary or tertiary markets.
Brokers, appraisers and researchers can sign up for free and add their own transaction records to build up points, and then, using any remote device, use those points as a virtual currency to search through others’ information. This crowdsourcing aspect should provide value even to the larger firms that keep extensive in-house databases, Peterson says, since they will gain online access to transactions from other firms and individuals. “This is something that does not exist anywhere else.” In Manhattan, for example, CompStak’s first location, they have 13,000 lease comparables and hundreds of users, including many of the larger firms, who share data. Although brokers and other individuals can sign up and access CompStak for free, equity funds, hedge funds, banks and other real estate firms pay an enterprise subscription.
Each lease comparable contains dozens of fields, and the more details users provide, the more points they build up as virtual currency. Professionals who sign up and add data before the Thursday launch will receive double credits for everything they add.
Michael Mandel, the CEO of CompStak, was a broker for Grubb & Ellis and handled office leasing in Manhattan. “I built this out of my experience as a broker,” he says. “I saw the exchange of this information was inefficient. They’ve been trading lease comps forever, but they do it over the phone or in marketing meetings. We were able to take that offline process and move it online. They can give us their random information and then find exactly what they’re looking for.”