Anyone who’s bought or sold a house recently is probably familiar with the Multiple Listing Service in their state, the database where sales and properties for sale, are listed. But for those interested in commercial real estate – potential buyers, sellers, brokers, bankers and insurers – the residential-based system has never quite fit.
This year a group of real estate professionals in the Rhode Island Association of Realtors and Rhode Island Commercial and Appraisal Board of Realtors have been working on a way to change that. They hired Catalyst Development Corporation to create a new database specifically for commercial properties that will tie into MLS, but have features tailored to commercial listings.
Jeffrey Butler, owner of Butler Realty Group in Warwick, sits on both the RICABOR and MLS boards, and was part of the task force charged with fixing the commercial database issue.
He was named the 2012 RICABOR Commercial Realtor of the Year this past summer.
PBN: What made RICABOR decide a new commercial database was necessary?
BUTLER: We needed a better mousetrap for commercial-property information exchange and either had to improve commercial MLS or replace it. It came down to it being much cleaner and more robust to replace it with a product that's already out there, in this case a product called Catalyst. It has been an ongoing desire for the organized commercial brokers for the last 20 years.
PBN: How do potential buyers and folks in the industry find properties now?
BUTLER: There are other third-party solicitors/providers that take the information on our properties, repackage it and sell it back to us at a premium, which doesn't give us control of our information. Here we have a system that is as good or better and it's designed for the associations to be able to monitor and control the information, much like we do for the residential properties for MLS. Probably 80 percent or more of the residential properties are listed on MLS and through that on riliving.com, and that is the most trafficked website in Rhode Island. With Catalyst, now we have a very robust information set and we will be able to have a portal through RILiving that consumers can now search commercial real estate and obtain much more information than they were able to in the past.