The six-year-old online real estate data firm PropertyShark.com is opening a new front in the commercial listing wars by publishing free local retail and office listings, in a direct but limited challenge to market leaders Costar Group and Loopnet.
While not yet complete, PropertyShark.com began listing office and retail space availabilities in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens several months ago, but discussed the plans publicly for the first time with The Real Deal.
The company plans to have comprehensive retail listings by January and office listings by the end of the first quarter of 2010, company founder Matthew Haines said. That information would be followed in the second quarter with commercial property sales listings.
“We want to have the most comprehensive and the most accurate database of listings available,” Haines said. “We want to capture market share from Loopnet, Costar and the New York Times.”
While ProperyShark.com covers residential and commercial properties in 12 markets nationwide, it will only be creating these commercial listings in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, he said, to concentrate the company’s efforts.
Brokers say the 22-year-old Costar, which covers the United States and the United Kingdom, should not be quaking in its boots, for now.
Independent broker Gabriel Bullaro said it would be tough for a new service to keep the listings updated. He said Costar does a good job, including calling him from time to time to check on the status of an availability.
“I would still use Costar primarily,” said Bullaro, who was not aware of the new PropertyShark.com service, which is being rolled out quietly. He would try it, he said, but added that he has a limited amount of time to check listings and brokers do not want to rely on multiple databases.
Costar, which many brokers said was their main independent source of leasing information, charges about $120 per account per month for its most basic listing service, and about $500 and up for more comprehensive information such as stacking plans and lease expirations, industry sources said. Costar declined to comment.
Loopnet, which charges for some of its services, did not respond to a request for comment.
While the new PropertyShark.com service is free, Haines hopes the added expenses would be covered through users paying for additional services.
There are other free commercial listings Web sites for New York City properties such as MrOfficeSpace.com, which covers 11 major markets such as New York, Boston and Philadelphia, and through broker sites like CB Richard Ellis.
Currently PropertyShark.com does not have plans to challenge Costar on its more in-depth building data that includes the floor locations of existing firms in buildings, and future lease expirations, Haines said.
The new listing data is being collected by three photographers who walk 100 miles each month, snapping pictures of available spaces as well as requesting data directly from brokerage firms, he said. There are another five people making calls to check listings, he said.
Residential brokerages that have a commercial component have or will be providing data to Property Shark, he said, although the Corcoran Group and Prudential Douglas Elliman, two of the city’s largest residential brokerages, were not immediately available for comment.
While Costar did not provide pricing information, a 2009 copyright infringement case showed a basic service plan for 13 users in 2004 cost $1,865. Papers filed in that case said the company had about 120 research photographers nationwide that were part of a research staff of 800.
Jonathan Anapol, president of commercial brokerage Prime Manhattan Realty, said commercial sales listings were the most needed data for the industry.
While Costar tracks commercial sales listings, it misses larger sales and quiet offerings, several brokers said.
“I think where [PropertyShark.com] could be of more influence is in building sales. There is no good central database for listings,” he said.