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CoStar CEO Andrew Florance unveils revolutionary UK real estate products

By Paul Norman - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 15:50

November sees the UK launch of a series of products that have revolutionised commercial real estate information and analytics in the US. CoStar News catches up with CoStar president and CEO Andrew C Florance to discuss the “giant leap forward in information and technology for the UK commercial property market”.

Yesterday the UK property market got its first look at two products that have become cornerstones of the US real estate markets.

The first is CoStar Suite, which combines three essential CoStar desktop software tools built around its industry leading inventory of commercial property data – Property Professional, COMPS and Tenant. The second is CoStarGo, which has placed CoStar Suite into an easy-to-use mobile application that has transformed the way property professionals work on the road across the pond; a product that is quite simply light years ahead of anything yet seen in the UK.

CoStar president and CEO Andrew C Florance is in the UK to help the team introduce the products via a series of daily presentations over the next month. The team is relishing the chance to bring a product to the UK that is set to have a similarly far-reaching impact to that seen in the US.

CoStar News: CoStar Go launched in the US in August 2011, integrating the CoStar Suite information package into a mobile platform for the iPad. Tell us how the product has been received in the US?

AF: Since launching in August of last year in the US the CoStarGo iPad app that is now coming to the UK has had an immediate and overwhelming impact. To promote the product in the US we undertook a series of roadshows across 33 cities. Straight away the US brokerage world was excited and appreciative of the business generating opportunities created by such a powerful mobile app.

A common response was that it was the first time the real estate industry had seen anything that opened up business out on the road in such a helpful and liberating manner, with common phrases being “game changer”, “awesome” and “revolutionary”. That has been reflected in immediate uptake across the brokerage communities, with 15,000 surveyors using immediately. Of this, 33% of all usage has been mobile usage.

CoStar News: So what does it offer and how have you adapted it for the UK?

AF: It offers instant access to the full inventory of CoStar data across our industry leading CoStar Suite product while out on the road. That instant information enables property people to be fully empowered while out in the field.

That is key because it means time is no longer wasted chasing back to the office to get information. Professionals can talk straight to clients there and then and contact other agents or clients as soon as you have seen an opportunity with all of the data and information needed to hand.

The sheer depth of data available on the mobile app is really impressive. Last August, having launched in the US, we decided it was time to focus on ensuring the UK market benefited from both our long-standing CoStar Suite data platform as well as the new CoStar Go app.

We have subsequently spent 80,000 hours of software development time in re-engineering the CoStar Suite data package for the UK market and together with our 160 researchers in Glasgow enhancing and enriching our inventory and database to the point where we are confident that it is ready to launch into the UK market.

It is a significant advance on anything that has been seen in the UK. At the same time we will be continuing to provide the current FOCUS information system indefinitely for our users. Essentially CoStar Suite offers a premium product that provides deeper data and a fuller inventory as well as an analytic suite which allows us to manipulate our data to provide commentary on individual markets, whether that is offices in Birmingham or retail in Yorkshire.

Our data is now vastly deeper and broader than anything else being supplied in the UK market. It comprises the granular data on 400,000 commercial properties across the UK, equivalent to 5bn sq ft of property. The new app includes 750,000 building photos and floorplans – and all of this interlinks with our analytics service and the UK’s most authoritative and up-to-the minute commercial property news service.

Essentially if you want to excel in buying or selling a property, representing a tenant, leasing space, valuing an asset, underwriting a loan or managing a diverse portfolio, then this is the product for you.

These releases are the fruit of a major investment in the UK since 2003. In that period we have invested something in the order of tens of millions in this market and we are fully committed to continuing to create cutting edge software and research over the next decade.

CoStar News: How will the products help those working in the UK commercial property market?

AF: They will further improve transparency in the UK market and in a highly competitive world they will give a commercial edge to those who use them because of the breadth and scope of what is provided. We will be offering a soft launch this November starting yesterday on the 5th through to December to a number of our preview clients and we will move to full launch this January.

There are already 2,000 initial users that are queuing up to access the premium product, and that is as many as we are able to train up and get ready to use it before January.

In terms of the wider UK market, while these clearly remain difficult times because of the economic climate, many opportunities remain for savvy investors and business people. We are seeing around 5,000 leasing deals a month and have been doing so since 2007, so the market has stayed very much alive and well throughout the downturn. We aim to keep ensuring our clients are major successes within commercial property whatever is happening in the wider economy.

CoStar Suite and CoStar Go was unveiled in the UK from 5th of November with a full launch of the products beginning from January of next year. For more information contact info@costar.co.uk