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Breaking the information barrier.

After realizing that sophisticated information was a key element separating smaller brokerage companies and independent brokers from the larger brokerage concerns, Bruce Zev Weissberg and partners set out to close the gap.

"Everyone else wanted a more level playing field and they wanted it in a more affordable way," said Weissberg.

A licensed real estate broker formerly with Williamson, Picket, Gross, Weissberg has taken a break from dealmaking to co-found Realty Information Tracking Services, Inc.

The company's RE/Locate database, Weissberg's brainchild, puts in a broker's hands a tracking system that contains detailed information on almost 2,000 Manhattan commercial buildings and updates more than 10,000 office and retail vacancies. The company canvasses 550 buildings and collects information on some 15,000 tenants. The company has also just entered the Westchester County market and they expect to be in Boston in a month and Philadelphia at the end of 1993.

Instead of an on-line system, the company installs the RE/Locate program on a subscriber's personal computer and the broker receives the information on diskettes.

"People can access the entire market right at their desk," Weissberg said. The diskettes can be updated weekly, monthly or quarterly, depending upon the broker's needs and what they want to spend. One broker, he said, wants to receive vacancy updates daily by modem.

"We are always updating space," Weissberg said. "It's an ongoing endeavor. It all depends on what they pay for it."

Users can retrieve a detailed profile of each building that includes agent and contact person, size, a list of major tenants, the asking rents and lease terms for vacancies and sublets, and tax information. They can view color pictures of the buildings and digitized floor plans of vacant space that, Weissberg says, are "architecturally correct."

Brokers can also do surveys. By entering in tenant requirements of size, location and price and other parameters, according to Weissberg, a report on all available spaces can be printed out "in seconds." They can also do commercial lease analysis on a particular deal and do statistical analysis on, for example, average vacancy or rental rates in a particular district. Another function allows brokers to re-demise floor plans and determine the effect on rentable and usable area.

A separate data module offering tenant information allows brokers to prepare surveys of firms by industry, square footage, lease expiration or other characteristics. Current data, including a contact, is available on more than 17,000 companies in more than 500 buildings.

With the use of word processing and/or spreadsheet software, users can do reports. The system can also incorporate a letterhead and do mail merge so that each tenant that comes up on a list can receive correspondence.

A year's subscription to RE/Locate, depending on what the user selects in terms of data and software, averages $750 a month.

Weissberg and partners have used the tenant data to create a separate product, "Target." This database is intended for use by brokers or service firms, such as moving companies, that need the information for direct marketing. Users are provided with, among other tidbits, an address, phone number, square footage occupied, lease expiration date and up to three contact names.

According to James Goldsmith, the principal who supervises the information data and a licensed real estate broker formerly with Ken Laub: "We will not sell the real estate information to anyone other than a licensed real estate brokers."

Weissberg and Goldsmith report that roughly 65 brokers are using RE/Locate and roughly 180 users have purchased Target.

The company also issues to subscribers printed reports weekly or twice a month. Some brokers who don't have computers, Weissberg said, just purchase the reports. The company can also do customized surveys for the computer-less broker and, by using his or her stationary and various fonts, can make them look like their own creation.

RE/Locate can also include Contact Management Software in the package. This allows subscribers to track their contacts at a particular company. Since the system is not on-line, Weissberg said, it allows for privacy and the user can manipulate the data in whatever fashion he needs and how often he needs without calling in. And, with the use of a/ap-top computer, he said, the information can be portable. The programs are all internally written by a third partner. The firm employs roughly 25 people, the majority of which do market research and canvassing. There are also a few fulltime sales people.

While other companies offer some of what RE/Locate does, Weissberg said, he does not believe anyone has such a comprehensive product.

With brokerage companies downsizing and some individuals setting up their own shops, Weissberg said, this is an ideal time to start this company. And, with the intense competition for tenants today, he said, knowing where the right vacancy is is essential.

"All the volatility in the market helps us," he said. There's so much chaos and everyone is trying to gather information in the most cost-effective way possible.

"You need a system like ours to show you have a handle on the market."
COPYRIGHT 1993 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Realty Information Tracking Inc. offers database for real estate brokers
Author:Fitzgerald, Therese
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Mar 10, 1993
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