HousingWire: Crowdsourcing Comes To Commercial Real Estate

By Christina Mlynski on May 08, 2013.

After spending five years as a commercial real estate broker, Michael Mandel knew the industry was desperately missing a critical component, transparency.

That lack of transparency in the market led Mandel to create CompStak, which uses crowdsourcing to create a comprehensive database of commercial real estate and lease information, he told HousingWire.

After gathering nearly 100% of all lease comps signed in Manhattan in the past year, CompStak recently launched a database for the San Francisco Bay Area. And the company isn’t stopping its expansion there.

CompStak announced Wednesday that it plans to launch its database in Los Angeles on June 1 and Washington D.C. on July 1.

"We’re really excited to be growing so rapidly — both geographically and in company headcount,” Mandel, CEO of CompStak, explained. “Los Angeles and D.C. are natural next markets for us, with over three billion combined square feet of commercial inventory in these regions."

The company is providing data to some of the biggest names in commercial real estate, including Tishman Speyer, Malkin Properties and Beacon Capital.

"CompStak is bringing a level of transparency to the market that will be welcomed by the entire real estate community," said Zachary Aarons of Millennium Partners, a CompStak investor.

Using a crowdsourcing model, CompStak offers a free service to commercial real estate professionals. Candidates who want to access the database must put in a request on the company’s website and then the submissions are reviewed to make sure each participant is valid.

When brokers submit information about commercial real estate deals, they get credit, which can be used to access details of other transactions.

"The process of digging up lease comps used to murky and inefficient, with brokers and commercial real estate professionals calling each other and taking down the data individually," Mandel explained.

"People were trading information that was really valuable, but there was no database or the means in which it was being exchanged. There was a lot of opportunity and this was low hanging fruit to me," he noted.

Compstak plans on continuing to target large commercial real estate markets throughout the nation and seeking broker partners in hot commercial real estate areas.

"We can make the industry more efficient and make the lives of commercial real estate professionals a lot easier," Mandel concluded.