RPR Commercial Integration: A Tale of Two Associations

How can integrating RPR property data into your MLS/CIE system benefit your members? Last summer, we explored how RMLS in Portland, Oregon added utility and value to their homegrown MLS system by integrating RPR data onto the Listing Details page. Today, we’re heading to the heart of the Great Lakes to find out how two commercial real estate associations leverage RPR within their shared listing database.

The situation between the two commercial associations in Michigan is unique. Despite different organizational structures–the Commercial Alliance of REALTORS® West Michigan (CARWM) operates as a commercial MLS and the Michigan Commercial Board of REALTORS® (CBOR) as a CIE–the associations have come together to share their listing data. This cooperative venture benefits members of both organizations, as well as the public, by creating a statewide database of active commercial listings.

“It just made sense as both sides started growing and focusing more on technology that we use the same system,” says Nancy McKellar, Executive Vice President of CBOR and Executive Director of CPIX, the CIE operated by CBOR. McKellar says that a main motivator is how a shared system allows the organizations to send a single statewide data feed to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for use in attracting new businesses to the recession battered state.

When CARWM joined CPIX on the Catylist listing platform in 2013, “the pieces sort of fell into place that created many more opportunities for the membership than we previously had,” says Shari Veldman, Executive Director of the Commercial Alliance of REALTORS®. One of those opportunities was the integration of RPR Commercial data into listings statewide.

A Deeper Look at RPR Integration

Like RMLS in Portland, both commercial associations employ an integration method called “deep linking.” As you can see in the image below, a link to “View Property on RPR Commercial” is embedded onto each listing details page within the Catylist system. When users click the link, they’re sent to that same property within RPR Commercial where they can access hundreds more datasets, including demographic data, government records and tax information.

RPR Commercial Integration: A Tale of Two Associations

McKellar says RPR Commercial was the first NAR benefit that excited her members. “In the 12 years that we’ve had the CPIX CIE, we’ve gone through many, many different investigative avenues on how to get the data that’s in RPR Commercial. And to do it cost effectively and efficiently and be able to ensure that that data is up to date all the time–we just can’t do it. You can’t do it from the association level. You don’t have the staff, you don’t have the expertise, you don’t have the technology built in without the aid of your vendor.”

She continues: “RPR Commercial does it all. It’s seamless. We don’t even have to do anything. We just have to say, ‘Go to RPR and sign-in for the first time.’ So it is a huge benefit to the association overall because we just could not accomplish the same thing, yet our commercial practitioners believe that we should be accomplishing the same thing. So hands down for the commercial REALTOR®, in my mind, it’s one of the biggest benefits that we’ve seen come out of NAR.”

RPR Commercial in Action

With integration in place, how do commercial REALTORS® use RPR in their day-to-day activities? “I’ve heard some interesting stories from those who are retail specialists,” says Veldman. “It’s been very helpful to them when they’re working with clients who are maybe looking to add a location or are evaluating their current location. There’s a lot of demographic information that can be provided to the client to really help make their decision much easier, whether it’s looking at where their target audience is, where the income levels are that would be required to sustain the business. All of that information is available through RPR Commercial.”

McKellar echoes that affinity for RPR Commercial’s demographic data, noting that it allows commercial REALTORS® to conduct property searches in a different way. “With a CIE or MLS, you’re going to put criteria in and bring up a property. What RPR Commercial does with the demographic profiling is it allows people to find the best place to locate a property and then you do the search for the property. So it’s a different side for them.”

McKellar also says that RPR Commercial’s Business Points of Interest are another favorite dataset. Before integrating RPR, CBOR was looking at integrating data from another vendor into the CPIX CIE that would allow members to see area businesses. “A commercial REALTOR® can view any business in the country, the annual sales volume, number of employees, no matter the industry,” she says. “When they actually took a look at RPR Commercial, they said ‘Why would we ever pay a third party to update the business data for us when we can find what we need in RPR Commercial already?'”

RPR and the Value of Realtor Membership

In commercial real estate, many practitioners are not REALTORS®. While this is not the case in West Michigan within CARWM which operates as an MLS, it is for CBOR. “There is a big potential group of REALTORS® out there that practice strictly commercial that have not participated in the REALTOR® world at all,” says McKellar. “They’re not so interested in it, but they are interested in the CPIX CIE and RPR Commercial is a huge REALTOR® selling point for them because they’re paying for a lot of different ways to get the information from a lot of different places that RPR Commercial is providing.”

McKellar says she frequently fields calls from non-REALTOR® members asking what RPR Commercial is and why they can’t access it. “It’s a selling point in that they would have to buy a competitive service that is quadruple the price,” she says. “But they can have all of this data by being a REALTOR® and part of the CIE which is extremely affordable for them. So it’s efficiency, it’s affordability, and it’s the convenience of being able to get all of that in one place that is actually drawing more interest to the REALTOR® world.”

For those who are already NAR members, RPR Commercial provides access to “interesting marketing information that bolsters why the clients have chosen a commercial REALTOR® as their agent to begin with,” says Veldman. “I had one member tell the rest of the board that he spent three minutes creating a report that made him look like the smartest guy in the world. I thought that was a pretty good endorsement for RPR Commercial.”

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