I was a reasonably satisfied Xceligent user for many years, and found the system easy to use and the data accurate enough, though far from perfect. Shortly after they ceased operations, I signed a contract with CoStar, feeling that I couldn't really represent myself properly with prospective clients without a database from which to draw information when needed, whatever it might be. And - I'm an industrial broker, so my perspectives are limited to what I find important. I think it's similar to what office brokers would feel, but much different from the needs of retail brokers and investment brokers. And all are worlds apart from the needs of residential agents.
So: CoStar from my perspective: the local representatives that I've dealt with couldn't have been nicer or more professional. The contract I signed for 2 years was reasonable. The system has a lot of features, many more than Xceligent had. But the property information, from my perspective, isn't quite as complete or as accurate as Xceligent's was. Assigning arbitrary numbers, I'd say Xceligent was about 85% accurate and Costar is about 75%. This could be different market-by-market, though. My guess is that broker-input systems like Catalyst, or cooperative broker efforts such as in Columbus, Minneapolis, Nevada, are about 90 to 95% accurate because the information is put in by the brokers. Xceligent and CoStar relied/rely on employees who are not in the industry canvassing the markets to get property information, and they don't always get it right. May not be their fault - many brokers won't give them the time of day.
NAR has a new system for agents called RPR; Realtor Property Resource. It’s intriguing.
So where does RPR fit today, and where could it fit? The industry is crying for something better. RPR might have the potential to fill the need, but it's not even realistically in the conversation today, and unless something changes, it won't be. It looks like a robust platform from a technology standpoint - but if it relies on local MLS systems to populate the commercial property data, it's as irrelevant as you can get.
I really doubt that any market the size of Cincinnati would successfully integrate commercial property information into the MLS system because commercial firms wouldn't want all the calls from residential agents. This is not to disparage the skills it takes to be a successful residential realtor - the good ones are highly skilled, work very hard, and I'd never buy a residential property without one. But Commercial listing agents get enough time-wasting calls from their own peers who want to show properties, and qualifying people for arranging showings is hard enough, but to have to do that for residential agents would be mind-numbing. So there'd never be buy-in for integrating commercial listings into MLS.
But going back to Columbus, for example, or for the CINDAT model we had in Cincinnati 20 years ago, if you can get all major players to be a part of it, to buy in, so to speak, then you have the basis of a local CIE (Commericial Information Exchange) system that could work, and with RPR, be superior to CoStar. There's a market need for that to happen.
But will it? It isn't easy. In local markets, the large companies like CBRE, and to a lesser extent, JLL, Cushman & Wakefield, Colliers, are reluctant to be in a CIE because they feel that they are providing most of the value, and that the smaller companies or the tenant rep companies benefit at their expense. There's an economic way to handle that, but it's complex.
My feeling is that NAR, SIOR, and CCIM could collaborate, and a national Commercial CIE system could result, that would at worst, be a strong competitor for CoStar, and at best could lead the industry in that commercial agents are already paying to belong to these organizations, so the economic impact on agents could be minimal.
To succeed, pilot programs in cities like Columbus Minneapolis, Las Vegas - just for example - would have to be huge successes for the concept to take off.
If I were younger and in a different place in my working career, I'd love to be a part of it.