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The 3 Ways to Build Your Prospecting Database

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I previously coached new to the business (N2B) commercial real estate brokers with the Massimo Group.  Often, in my web-calls with my groups, I would be asked the question that I get asked most often.  How do I find the numbers for the prospects I need to be calling?  That is a key question, is it not?


Do you remember the second half of 2008 – when the economy completely tanked?  You may recall how the sky was falling.  Everything changed.  Many in the CRE industry didn’t make it.

For the number of years before that time, a monkey could have made six figures.  Transactional velocity was everywhere.  Cap rates were compressing.  Capital was cheap and readily available.  Deals would just walk in your door.  But when the market turned, top producers kept succeeding while others fell away.  How did they do it?

There are two ways to find and win business.  The easiest way is someone with a problem or opportunity calls you.  The best way is you go find the business you want to do.  Those who relied on business finding them didn’t make it after 2008 – or at least their business seriously suffered.  Those who built their business on prospecting and continuous prospecting continued to succeed.  When the pie got much smaller, it was the dedicated prospectors who picked up market share and pressed on.

This fact gets back to the question I referenced above.  If I’m going to build my business on dedicated and focused prospecting, how do I find the numbers of the decision makers?  I’m glad you asked.

Every broker can build a sustainable business by creating a database of prospects in these 3 ways.

Three Ways to Build Your Prospecting Database

1.  Buy it – This is the fastest and easiest way to get the data you need.  It is also the most expensive.  I’ve included a list of some options below.  Hopefully, you have access to one or more of these tools through your office.  Or you could be like me and live in a place that isn’t covered by anyone.  If that is the case, this option is basically out for you.

  1. CoStar – CoStar is the company we all love to hate, but they certainly have their place.  The have hundreds (maybe thousands) of researchers who spend all day calling brokers and actually verifying information.  Then they sell that information back to you.  CoStar also provides everything from comps to owner information to lease details to analytics.  It is expensive, but they have a huge customer base because they provide a ton of value.
  2. Real Capital Analytics – RCA is my favorite source of information.  They track all transactions over a certain amount (I think it is around $2,000,000).  Beyond that, I believe they have the best analytics in the business and nobody understands and analyzes the flow of capital better than them.  They also produce monthly reports for the different asset verticals (retail, office, multifamily, etc.) that detail what markets are hot, what cap rates are doing, and much more.  These reports are gold and can make you very valuable to your clients and prospects.
  3. REIS – REIS is a service that has been tracking comps and trends for 30 years, and they are very good at it.  They also excel at breaking the corporate veil and finding who are the members of LLC’s and other ownership structures.  They are also expensive.
  4. ProspectNow – ProspectNow is a newer company that provides ownership information of properties all over the United States – and their coverage is pretty impressive.  If they cover your area, they are a great option.  A huge benefit here is they have a low monthly subscription fee.  They are definitely one of your more economical options provide names, phone numbers, and often even emails.
  5. PropertyShark – PropertyShark is similar to ProspectNow with some add on services.  For instance, you can get a property report that includes all the data on the property.  You can get an ownership report with names and numbers, ownership history, deeds, liens, etc.  You can also produce a ready-to-mail list of owners of properties in a certain geography – pretty sweet, really.  They are a bit more expensive than ProspectNow and their prices change based on what geography you need.  Worth checking out.
  6. National Assessor and Property Tax Resource – This website is free and connects your with county assessors in every state – assuming that county is online.  You get what you pay for.  This site doesn’t have searches or analytics like these other sites.  But, if you need raw information on a budget, this is a great place to start.

Question: As this is certainly not an exhaustive list, what are some other resources you use?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.


2.  Outsource it –  You can hire others to build your database for you.  Here is something to consider.  If you are new to the business, doing the work has great value.  It will accelerate you rise to becoming a recognized market expert.  However, if you’ve been in the business more than 2 years, your time is way too valuable to do this kind of work yourself.

There are a couple of fantastic options who can do this work for you.  One charges just $15 an hour and does fantastic work finding names, phone numbers, and often emails.  And she averages 12-15 properties an hour.

Note: If you want her contact information, just let me know in the comments section and I will get it to you. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

3.  Do it yourself – If you are new to the business, this is what you should be doing at least 5 hours a week.  Or, you may live in a geography too small for other services like CoStar or ProspectNow to cover.  If that is the case, you may have to become the detective yourself.  Head on down to the local assessors office and start pulling data.  The one thing you can’t do is prospect without ownership data.

So these are the three ways:  buy it, outsource it, or DIY.  My challenge to you is to commit to dedicated and systematic prospecting.  Build your list and then go after the business you want.  That’s what the best do.  Go and do likewise!

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