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When you're talking about commercial real estate data, you could be talking about the address or square footage of a property, a listing, a client's phone number, assorted financial metrics, ownership details, the number of cold calls you made last week, or even a prospect's favorite football team.

It can be easy to drown in this data. To ignore it, to keep it locked in a spreadsheet, to let it become dated and worthless.

But it's the foundation of your business. The keys to your success are right there in the data: Maybe you want to figure out your conversion rate from cold calls to meetings to deals, or maybe you need to see which leases in a specific neighborhood are expiring in the next year. Perhaps you want to find more market insights and better serve your clients, or maybe you just want to automate reports so you can pull your recent marketing activities at a moment’s notice.

It can be easy to drown in this data. To ignore it, to keep it locked in a spreadsheet, to let it become dated and worthless.

If you use data right, you have access to a world of intelligence and opportunities—and can provide thoughtful guidance to clients at a moment’s notice. You should have systems to organize this data and put it to work for you, because only once it's organized can it help you work more efficiently. 

 This guide lays out a number of considerations to help you find commercial real estate data and create a system to make it work for you. To help you prospect efficiently, work your deals, and better serve your clients.

  • Find it: Popular data sources

  • Connect it: The benefits of aggregated, connected data

  • Use it: Technology to organize your data—and tools to put it to work

  • Share it (maybe): Considerations for sharing with your team

Popular data sources


There are many sources of commercial real estate data out there now. Yes, you still probably have to use CoStar, but there are many other options as well. There's ProspectNow, Brevitas, Reonomy...the list goes on.

We've laid them out by category in a series of blog posts. Note that some of the companies are listed in more than one category, and while this is not an exhaustive list of all data companies, we've selected the most popular in their respective groups.


lease/sales transactions

Lease/sales transactions

There are a numerous data providers out there that will give you sale and lease comparables, as well as property trends, analytics and more. 

ownership data sources in commercial real estate

Ownership info

Ah yes, the elusive ownership information. It can be difficult to track down, but there are a number of data providers that have some insight into this kind of commercial real estate data.


Mortgage/financial data

Access different financial metrics across CRE, reports and risk assessments, lender information, industry benchmarks, and more.


Property data

Get addresses, square footage, and general building details, as well as more specialized information like student housing sectors, property conditions, and more.



There are a ton of sources out there, both free and paid, for listings and availabilities across the US. It's no excuse for not knowing the players in your market yourself, but it's a good place to start.


Short-term/coworking space

With so many businesses getting their start in coworking spaces, brokers need to keep their eye on the trend. Smart brokers are leveraging coworking spaces as prospecting pools from which to source new clients.



There are numerous providers out there who can give demographic insight including income, education, crime rates, mortgage risk, occupation, GDP, and more. 



Everybody loves maps! Check out these companies who offer mapping applications and location-based solutions for the commercial real estate industry.

broker database

Broker databases

Lastly, we've laid out a few lists of commercial real estate professionals. You can learn from other brokers or use them to match professionals to capital, services, and more.

These sources are important to build your database, but they're no replacement for walking your market and canvassing thoroughly. They’re all imperfect, so while data sources provide an important starting point, you’ll need to do your legwork if you want perfect coverage of your market.

Then of course, there's the comp data from your closed deals. Building and maintaining your own comp database can put you a step ahead of the average broker. Think about it: valuations in investment sales, rental rate negotiation in tenant representation, and competitive positioning in landlord representation—if you keep track of this yourself for every deal you work, you have information on hand that no one else has. 

Or what about the contact data you keep in your email? Whether you use Outlook or Gmail or something else, you probably have lots of names, email addresses, phone numbers, property data, and all sorts of other valuable information somewhere in there. Are you diligent about putting that data into a system, or do you just rely on searching your inbox? 

The many benefits of aggregated, connected data


As you can tell, there’s practically endless commercial real estate data out there. And it’s most likely spread across a variety of sources, from email to spreadsheets and beyond.

Now—what should you do with it?

Other industries have been paying close attention to exactly how their information is organized, but commercial real estate has historically been lagging behind. Having data that is centralized in one place can yield a host of advantages.

Take a brokerage that specializes in a few areas: industrial, retail, and multifamily. Each of those groups houses data in its own system (let’s be honest, it’s probably an Excel spreadsheet). That means that information is siloed in that group and not easily available to potential collaborators. But if there were more connection between teams—the data and the people—one broker might learn about a few fulfillment centers popping up, which he could then use to build credibility with his retail clients. Or if there’s new retail, that would affect multifamily in the area. 

In other words, each broker would have a more complete view of the market.

Even if you’re on a smaller team or it’s just you, having your data connected is crucial. Maybe you want to see what leases are expiring in the next year so you can start prospecting, or you note a new development in your market and want to reach out to the building owners it will affect.

By removing data silos, you also strengthen your relationship with colleagues and can collaborate more easily. 

Here are some of the ways centralized, connected data can help commercial real estate brokers, both individually and as teams.

1. Better KPI management

Sales professionals and managers use key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure progress and forecast more accurately. To set the right KPIs, you need data. Lots of data.

For example, by tracking how many calls you make, you can determine how much outreach it takes to get a meeting. Then you can calculate how many pitches turn into business opportunities and, from there, how many closed deals. These stats become your KPIs, and they enable you to approach your sales goal more strategically. If you see your conversion rate from pitch to listing is low, perhaps you need to work on your presentation skills or pitch deck. Or if you’re stalling on generating new business, bump up your prospecting calls.

2. A more organized approach

Having all of your data in one place lets you manage deals more efficiently. Ideally, you can use a system where you set up events (ex. lease expirations) to trigger alerts so when the calendar reminder goes off, you can pull up the information you need without digging around your email or desktop.

Data can be anything from lease rates in a given area to the names of your client’s children. Both are important, but they’re only helpful to you if you can easily access the information you need at any given point in time.

If you’re running your deals from a central system, you can access additional information to help drive a deal forward. For example, you can see if any of your colleagues have worked with a given contact in the past. There might be some background information you can glean that will help you kick start the conversation. Or you can keep track of your usual tasks and documents, and work through them systematically.

3. More market data for pitches and negotiations

For brokers, having a rich database of comps can go a long way in helping you demonstrate your market expertise. You need the ability to pull this kind of information easily, and to run reports so you can identify trends and compare areas and industries to strengthen pitch material.

When you and your colleagues put this type of information in a central place, you all benefit. It raises the bar for you and the entire team, which can then produce better resources based on richer market insights.

4. Build better relationships

Any value you find in your data is value you give to your clients. By improving your approach to data storage and analysis, you can run more useful market reports and negotiate more effectively.

Remember, data can be anything from lease rates in a given area to the names of your client’s children. Both are important, but they’re only helpful to you if you can easily access the information you need at any given point in time. If you are making ad hoc notes in your phone but storing contact info in Excel and running market reports on a company database, the chances are greater that information will fall through the cracks.

By removing data silos, you also strengthen your relationship with colleagues and can collaborate more easily. And again, improvements in internal communication also benefit the client. For example, if a prospect already uses your firm for another service, you should be armed with that knowledge at the outset of the engagement, and you should use it to illustrate how you would take a coordinated approach to serving them.

To benefit from a holistic data approach brokers must:

  • Recognize the information they use on a daily basis as valuable data
  • Store that data in a centralized place, ideally a company-managed system
  • Learn to use that data to more effectively run their business

Take down the silos and brokers will be more organized and informed—improvements that will benefit their clients and help them win more business. What a virtuous cycle.

Technology to organize your data—and put it to work

So let’s say you’re bought into the idea of organized, centralized data. How do you make that work? How do you say goodbye to spreadsheets and paper when it’s all you’ve known, and has seemingly (mostly) worked so far?

Simply put, you need to organize your data in a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) system.


What is CRM?

Customer relationship management, commonly referred to simply as CRM, refers to technology that helps companies track, manage, and analyze interactions with contacts, whether they're prospective or current clients. It is not a brand or a set of features, but a catchall term for the software as a whole. CRM software is generally designed to compile information across channels and can help users analyze their business.

For commercial real estate in particular, the technology helps you keep track of contacts, properties, comps, listings, and more. Because CRMs provide a relational database for brokers, you have more flexibility in viewing and gaining insight into your prospects, clients, deals, and business functions.

Why you need more than that

CRM has been around for decades, though it’s relatively new in commercial real estate. But after only a few years gaining traction, it’s already a little outdated. You still need a CRM, yes, but you need more than that.

You need tools that build off your CRM, organizing your business in a way that makes sense for commercial real estate, helping you find and build client relationships, and assisting with deal execution. You need help with actual workflow, not just data storage.

How do most brokers manage the work of marketing the listings and executing on the assignments they represent? It’s often just spreadsheets, or too many admins managing various tasks. These approaches are disconnected from other client interactions, making for an inefficient process and often, frankly, a poor customer experience.

You need tools that build off your CRM, organizing your business in a way that makes sense for commercial real estate, helping you find and build client relationships, and assisting with deal execution. You need help with actual workflow, not just data storage.

When it comes to technology and tools to make you a better broker, your data should be organized the way you think and applied the way you work. Because what good is your data if you can’t use it? What good is a workflow if you don’t have the data to fuel it?

Compare these two different systems

You can see what this means by considering this scenario: Your pipeline is a little on the slim side at the moment so you reach out to owners or tenants in your market to start generating new business.

System #1: Email, spreadsheets, and websites

You put Outlook on one screen and Excel on the other and pull up a browser with your CRE data provider(s), LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google all on individual tabs. Then you scan your contacts to figure out a strategy and filter in Excel to execute.

You pick up your phone and call the first contact in your spreadsheet. During the call, you find yourself switching between the various windows and tabs as you try and navigate the conversation.

You then record the notes in your Excel spreadsheet or on the Outlook contact notes, create a follow-up task, and update your spreadsheet with new information about a property or lease.

You move on to the next contact, which means you open a whole new set of tabs and websites for that individual.

System #2: Workflow-centric software

You pull up your CRM and accompanying tools and open a contact list or pull one from a map with a simple filter. You click in and immediately see a contact dashboard that includes activity history, open tasks, a list of properties they own or lease, a feed of news stories that relate to their properties, and an aggregated view of their online social media profiles.

You pick up the phone and call the first contact in your list. During the call you stay focused on the one screen in front of you, and are able to keep the conversation centered on the value you’re able to provide as a broker who knows the market cold.

You record your notes and add a follow-up in a form that lives on the same screen as all the information that helped you have a successful call.

Lastly, with the click of a button you’re on to the next contact with all the relevant information automatically pulled up.

The winner is clear...

Which system makes use of all the data about each contact in the context of the work you’re performing? The answer is obvious. The first one may give you all the data, but it misses the workflow, making the data less actionable. It also just takes a lot more time.

When the data is contextually aligned with the reasons you use it, and the software provides tools to act on it and easily produce logical outcomes (like in the second setup), you can become much more efficient.

Why you might want to share data

Now that you understand where to find data, where to keep it, and how to use it, you need to consider who else would benefit from it. What do you lose when you keep everything to yourself?

We know of brokers who are protective of their data as well as their relationships, and of some teams that are so competitive they'll steal leads right out from under each other.

And in a way, we get that instinct to turn inward. It can feel like you're laying all your cards on the table when you share hard-earned intel with people who may not understand what it took for you to get it in the first place—and who may run off with it the moment your back is turned.

But at the same time that some brokers are turning inward, others are turning that thinking right on its head. They’re discovering that when they open up and work together, they’re able to attract even more success for themselves, their team, and ultimately their business.

If you still haven’t made the leap towards full transparency, consider the impact it can have on your team’s overall success. It may feel risky, but it can lead to unexpected benefits that far outweigh any fears you may have.Whether you work on a small or large broker team, or for a small or large brokerage, here’s how sharing data can make you all even stronger: 



Serve clients better

In the end, everything comes down to this simple question: how well are you serving your clients? You know how valuable relationships are, and how difficult they can be to build. Why not give your team access to the big picture—the deals, relationships, and opportunities around town—so that each of you can use what the other knows to serve everyone’s clients better? You’re only as good as the information you have available in that moment, and sharing it can make each team member exponentially better.


Set your team up for success

You may have started out on your own, but chances are that as your successes have grown, so has your team. The most robust broker teams don’t only have associate, junior, and senior brokers, they have an entire operations team that makes deals happen. All of these people—from the research manager and analyst to the marketing director and transaction coordinator—depend on good data to do their jobs well. The more information they have, and the better organized and more accessible it is, the better they can serve your business.

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Get more done while doing less

More people sharing data means that you don’t have to double up on work that someone else has already done: you can work together to fill in gaps in your knowledge and keep what you know in a pool shared by all. Use technology to keep all of that information streamlined in an easy to access format. More people contributing to—and double-checking—the same information means you can cover more ground, eliminate inconsistencies, and get more of your time back to focus on the important stuff.

Get a demo of Apto today

With Apto, all your contact, company, and property data is secure in the cloud so you can access it from anywhere—and put it to work. With built-in mapping tools, geo-targeted news, and contact enrichment, you have all the information you need right in front of you so you can work more efficiently. Get a demo to see how.



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