Real Estate

Commercial sales boosted by website

ON THE LIST: A screenshot of the Rhode Island Commercial Information Exchange, or RICIE. The website went live in June.
ON THE LIST: A screenshot of the Rhode Island Commercial Information Exchange, or RICIE. The website went live in June. COURTESY RICIE

By Rhonda J. Miller
PBN Staff Writer

8/12/13

Commercial property for sale or lease in Rhode Island now has its own territory on a new website specifically designed to accommodate the needs of commercial Realtors, brokers, lenders, assessors and appraisers.

“Part of the issue was that there wasn’t a good, established database for these commercial properties,” said Mike Letendre, chief information officer for Statewide MLS, the Multiple Listing Service, which is managing the Rhode Island Commercial Information Exchange, called RICIE.

The new website, www.rhodeislandcie.com, went online April 10 in a soft launch to offer a time for potential users and MLS to test it. The official launch was June 27.

So far, RICIE has 126 users.

“The idea came from commercial brokers,” said Letendre. “Some companies looking for a property work with economic-development people or commercial brokers. Some properties are marketed through national databases. I think it was difficult to find commercial properties.”

The site recently had 356 active listings, of which 229 are for sale and 127 for lease. As of July 29, there were 13 sales pending.

“We use it all the time now. We’re putting all our data in,” said Don Morash, principal broker and owner of Abbott Properties in Warwick.

“Originally we were using the Multiple Listing Service, which is geared more toward residential brokers. It just didn’t fit the commercial type of market,” said Morash. “There is a lot more flexibility in commercial real estate, while MLS was more of a standard format.”

“Commissions on commercial properties are often negotiated, for instance, while the MLS lists the percentage of commission,” said Morash.

The design of the data fields on RICIE also makes the overall listing more accurate, said Morash.

“If we put in a commercial lease of a 10,000-square-foot building at $7 per square foot, it shows up in MLS as $7,” said Morash. “I’d get calls from people saying, ‘I want to see that building you have for $7.’ ”

RICIE provides broader distribution than the standard MLS and to a more targeted market segment, said Letendre.

“About 40 other commercial-information exchanges use the same applications as we do and our listings are exported to the other commercial databases. That’s a big marketing benefit,” said Letendre.

“If you’re looking for a property in Rhode Island, but work in Florida or Michigan, you can see the properties that are here,” he said.

Response to the early use of the site has been positive, said Letendre.

“The main thing was that the commercial side of MLS was not doing anything for us. It was very residentially based,” said Mike Alves of Keller Williams Commercial in Cranston. “For years we’ve been asking MLS to help us out.”

The new RICIE system is less expensive than LoopNet, a commercial real estate online listing service, or CoStar, an online commercial real estate information center, said Alves.

“Those were the only two commercial search engines we could use to put our listings on and they were very expensive,” said Alves. “Before this, we had to go to the national companies because we didn’t have anything in Rhode Island. Now we do and now we’re happy.”

Fees for RICIE vary depending on membership in Statewide MLS and types of services used. Fees can range from free for a Statewide MLS basic service to $165 per month for non-Statewide MLS member full-service fee.

The new RICIE system is a “nominal fee compared to what we were paying with other companies,” said Alves, who said he has been using the new RICIE system and linking with brokers in other areas.

“The biggest plus is linking and interacting with commercial brokers in Rhode Island and nationally,” said Alves. “I’m seeing an uptick in other agents calling me.

“I actually sold two properties through RICIE in three months,” said Alves. “They were larger multifamily residential properties. One had five units and one had nine units.”

MLS is offering free training on the RICIE system in Providence on Aug. 22-23. •