A National Association of Realtors tech incubator company has acquired a commercial real estate data exchange company and plans to use its technology to launch a national commercial real estate listing and transaction platform in May.

Second Century Ventures LLC, a private equity fund established by the Realtors trade group supported by a membership dues increase this year, acquired Gig Harbor, Wash.-based ePropertyData.

EPropertyData operates CommercialMLS.com for the 4,500-member Commercial Brokers Association in Seattle and CommercialGateway.com for the 2,000-member commercial division of the Houston Association of Realtors.

"Through this acquisition, NAR will provide its members with two important new services — a robust national commercial real estate listing and transaction platform, and a broker-centric solution provider for the (commercial information exchange) industry," NAR President Dick Gaylord said in a statement.

Gaylord said the platform will offer NAR’s commercial members "national exposure for all their sale and lease listings" and serve as a resource for national property searches.

Meanwhile, an advisory group formed by NAR leaders is studying the feasibility of creating a massive property information database, dubbed the "Gateway" — featuring detailed information for all types of properties — that could be governed by brokers, owned by NAR and accessible to varying degrees by consumers, real estate professionals and others.

The announcement made no mention of whether the planned commercial database could be incorporated into the conceptual plans for the Gateway system. For residential property information, the Gateway could draw data from participating Realtor-affiliated multiple listing services.

Some market areas have already seen an increase in data-sharing and consolidation among Realtor-operated MLSs, with some states and regions creating or pursuing aggregated MLS database systems (see Inman News).

NAR plans to launch the commercial listings and transaction platform at CommercialSource.com, which is managed by NAR’s Commercial Alliance — the association’s commercial real estate division. Realtors will be able to post and access all listings at the site at no charge, according to the announcement.

Bob Hale, CEO for the Houston Association of Realtors, said in a statement that the new platform "will give NAR members the means to expose their commercial properties for sale or lease to investors and industry professionals."

The Realtor Commercial Alliance has about 60,000 members, and there are an estimated 80,000 NAR members who offer commercial real estate services, according to the announcement.

Second Century Ventures is part of a broad initiative by NAR to raise millions to support a series of programs, including a credit union and a political action fund.

NAR directors approved a $16 annual dues increase for members, effective this year, and the group has about 1.3 million members, and association leaders announced plans to raise $60 million to $100 million in the next three to five years for a variety of projects, including the technology incubator.

The value of the ePropertyData acquisition was not disclosed. According to B121.com, a business information Web site, ePropertyData has fewer than five employees and annual sales of $500,000 to $1 million.

Other online commercial real estate information sites include LoopNet.com, Catylist.com, CommercialSearch.com and Xceligent.com.

Dale Stinton, NAR’s CEO, is an ex-officio member of the Second Century Ventures board. Several other board members have also been involved in association leadership at the national, state or local level.


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