Categories
General Updates

OpenComps 3.1 – Non-public contributions on Comps, Public newsfeed, Company Profiles and more

It has not even been a month since we released OpenComps 3.0 and, yet, here we are with another strong update, which we are calling OpenComps 3.1. We cleaned up some bugs and smoothed some features, but we also packed a whole new bag of goodies. Here are the highlights.

Non-Public Contributions on Comps

This is a very important update! Yes, since the beginning of OpenComps (circa 2006) we have strongly believed that the creation and updates on comps should be transparent and accountable. But, we finally decided to look at it through the view point of 2015. Nine years later, we see that people are much more aware of what it means to attach your name to something on the Internet – blog post, Facebook post, tweet, LinkedIn update. And that such association can stay online “forever.” Well, disregarding the over-sharing Facebook friends, as a majority, we believe, we’ve come to understand and appreciate that.

So, with that we would like to enter a new world for OpenComps: going forward new additions or updates/corrections on Comps will be NON-PUBLIC. You will continue to see your footprints around but you won’t be able to see other users’… and they won’t see yours.

Together with the new Points system we introduced (to reward your efforts), we think there is no better time to get active in contributing new and enhancing current comps. Contribute freely!

With that change, it means a lot more diligent editorial oversight will be required of us here at OpenComps. However, it has been our experience over the past nine years that users have been contributing good information and have never inappropriately altered existing comps (never!). We hope this continues! Of course, we have and continue to enhance our tools for data quality monitoring.

To help us with this, we really hope you familiarize yourself with the action toolbar that is available for each transaction:

Transaction Action Toolbar

Whenever you see a transaction that you feel has good info, we would appreciate if you give it a thumbs up. If you see transaction that has bad info, give it a thumbs down. This information will help us zero in on transactions where things may not be going so well so we can take corrective actions.

Also, since your contributions will be non-public now, the only way to publicly claim participation in a transaction is to tag yourself. We hope you do!

Public Newsfeed

With the above update on how we treat Comps contribution, your Activity Stream will no longer contain your additions of comps. But it will contain comps in which you tag yourself as taken part of. And it will continue to contain new on-the-market additions.

We were very encouraged by people’s response to our idea of mashing these user activity streams into one Newsfeed that you can personalize based on who you decide to follow.

But who do you follow? We have given you a few suggestions to get started. And we have a sophisticated yet simple search to find other users. And now we are introducing Public Newsfeed, where you can view the activity streams of all OC users at once. Maybe that’s how you will uncover an interesting user to follow? Or maybe you just like to see the Public stream before you create your own Personal stream? Your choice.

Public Newsfeed

Don’t forget that you can also create Text Posts to the Newsfeed, for when you want to share your thoughts on current transactions or just general thoughts. And now with the Public Newsfeed, you can be sure that someone may uncover your posts even if they haven’t chosen to follow you yet.

Company Profiles

Over the past few years, we have worked a lot on enhancing the creation and display of transactions. We have a lot of work to do to start showing you the Insights from all these information or to further enrich this summary information.

With that goal in mind we have created a brand new Company Profile format whenever you click to see information on a broker, buyer, seller or any entity, really. This new page not only brings together the various activities of an organization (buy-side broker, sell-side broker, buyer or seller), but also includes additional information such as logo, web site address, office location, description and, very importantly, a list of OpenComps users associated with this entity so you can decide to follow them or get in touch.

We are slowing adding more and more enhanced company profiles. Go to Insights and check out the Top Brokers to see their new profiles. If you would like your organization to have an enhanced profile, get in touch. If you want to become the primary user associated with an enhanced profile and thus be able to edit the information displayed on it, get in touch.

HFF Company Profile

We are continuing to enhance the product and we would love to hear from you what you think and what we should do next.

Categories
General Updates

OpenComps 3 – Exciting New Future

We are very excited to announce today the launch of the brand new OpenComps 3. It is a product of over half a year of hard work as well as collaborative thinking and “dreaming” over the last few years. We have continuously talked about the OpenComps’ future we see – personal and social – and we are happy to unveil the final result. The main theme for OpenComps 3 is the further opening of the community that is building around the site. It is a community made of active industry professionals who come to OpenComps to study and understand the commercial real estate market. As our new slogan proclaims, we would like to give you two more reasons to keep visiting: to engage with the market and to connect with other like-minded industry professionals. We really hope you like it and we would love to hear from you. Here are the four major tentpoles we built OpenComps 3 upon.

Personal and Social

To open up the community and, at the same time, to give you a way to personalize your experience on OpenComps, we have enabled a search across the community. When you find a community member that is of interest to you, you can choose to follow their OpenComps activity by “subscribing” to their activity feed. By following other users, you can then build a personal Newsfeed that brings to your attention transactions of interest to you. The Newsfeed currently aggregates users’ activities such as adding a transaction (comp or on-the-market), user tagging on transactions (as a broker, owner or property manager), and, finally, personal messages in the form of Newsfeed posts.

Our vision for the Newsfeed posts is that they bring relevant information to the site’s mission: exchanging information about past transactions and future opportunities in the commercial real estate world. The Newsfeed posts are text messages (up to 255 characters), but we’ve also built some interactive functionality such as hot-linking/referencing an OpenComps’ transaction via a shorthand (enclosed by # on each end, e.g. #123#).

If you are an active participant in the real estate marketplace on the sell side, we hope that the Newsfeed, together with the public posts, will allow you to build a targeted audience with whom you can share your industry activity and insight. Our main goal is to create an OpenComps that is more personal and relevant.

Favorites

Another new way to personalize your OpenComps experience is by quickly and easily selecting transactions as favorites. On any transaction screen, you can now select a transaction as a favorite by starring it. The list of your Favorites can be found in the MyOC section.

Points – Contribute and Receive

OpenComps is a community of users looking to exchange information about real estate transactions. It is not a research company that “sells” such information. We strongly believe in a future where each participant contributes to the volume or quality of the information available within the community. To further encourage the contribution of information, we have created a points system to reward users for contributing new or enhancing existing transactions. Every time you contribute a transaction, we will credit you with points based on the quality/completeness of the information provided. You can then use these points to unlock other transactions. You can go to your Points section in your Profile to monitor your points activity and learn more.

The Market… the Entire Market

OpenComps aims to encompass not only what just happened in the market (i.e. comps) but also what is happening now (on-the-market transactions). As we started with our “Related” tab in each transaction, we would like to build a continuous list of the major milestones of an asset – as it is offered for sale, refinanced or sold. And we would like these milestones to be permanent markers so that one can study the evolution of each property. While we had started on that path previously, we believe that with the new Newsfeed feature, the on-the-market transactions will have a more conducive environment to be presented and promoted to a targeted and engaged audience.

Request Materials

To enable the quick and efficient establishment of a connection and communication between offering and seeking parties for on-the-market transactions, we have created a Request Materials process. With two clicks, an interested party can electronically execute a confidentiality agreement, which can then be reviewed by the offering party. You can monitor the transactions for which you have executed confidentiality agreements in the MyOC section.

Social Networks Sign Up and Sign In

To enhance and improve the process of joining the community, we created a one-click sign up process by inviting you to sign up via your LinkedIn or Google accounts. No need to remember another password for another site. If you already have an OpenComps account, you can connect your LinkedIn or Google accounts by going to your Profile and Edit profile/networks link. Again, that can significantly enhance your ability to quickly sign in to OpenComps.

Categories
Updates

Updated sign in screen and export policy

Just a quick note on two recent changes that were rolled out over the past week.

Sign In Requires Email

The sign in screen now requires users to sign in with their email address, instead of the username. We are undergoing a complete security assessment of the site and implementing as much as we can from what are considered industry standards. One often repeated suggestion is that the login combination should not be based on publicly displayed information within the site. Since, as part of our open community approach, we openly display the usernames of our users, if someone wants to get into an account all they have to guess is the password (we do hope you use a unique-to-the-site and sophisticated password!). With the new procedure, since we don’t disclose user’s email address, one has to guess both the email address and password.

We apologize for the much more characters one has to type in order to get into the site (increasing the chance of typos!), but hopefully, you will take advantage of the “Remember me” option so that you can stay signed in for much longer.

There are two side effects of this change that we hope you will also embrace. First is that it also reinforces the personal nature of your account and that each account is for the use of only one user. Please don’t share your login information! Simply spread the word to others if they want to sign up. We are a small organization and can greatly benefit from your word of mouth and increased support. If you are in an organization that would like to have 3+ accounts, please get in touch with us for an enterprise solution and a special rate.

Secondly, this sign in will remind you which email address you have on file with OpenComps and hopefully cause you to remember to keep it up-to-date.

Daily Limit on Exports

We rolled out a new policy on transaction exports (a PRO feature). We have instituted a daily export limit of 75 transactions. This replaces the previous limit of 50 transactions per export. This daily limit resets every day, so hopefully it will be plentiful for you to get your job done. We are open to suggestions on what the daily limit should be. We would have loved to keep the feature flexible and unlimited, but, unfortunately, it was being abused.

Categories
Updates

OpenComps Mailbox: First Step at Social

Among the many new features we implemented on the site this summer, the biggest was the Mailbox – a messaging system for OpenComps’ users to get in touch with each other. It is our first step towards delivering on our premise of being social (crowdsourced, being the first premise!). We are very excited with our final implementation – clean, simple and, hopefully, useful. Follow us along as we run you through some screenshots to demonstrate the Mailbox functionality.

Categories
Updates

NEW: Proximity Search, Additional Fields, New Pagination

Over the summer, we rolled out quite a few new features (and bug fixes) to OpenComps without really any announcements. We are here to rectify this. Among the many new features, we would like to highlight the new Proximity Search,  new fields such as Brand, Property Manager, Lender, Buyer Origin and Owner Origin, new Map tabs in list and transaction views, Related tab in transaction view and a whole new Pagination. There is also a brand new way to communicate with your fellow OpenComps users, but for that we’ll dedicate a separate post. Follow us after the break for a  description of the new key features.

Categories
Updates

New Home Page. More Free Comps!

Happy May 1st! With spring firmly settling in, we did some spring cleaning. We washed the windows in the office and also decided to update your window into OpenComps by updating our front page. We are very happy with our new look and we hope you like it too!

As the image above showcases, don’t forget that we work hard to make sure we look (and work!) great on the desktop AND on smaller screens like your tablet and phone (yes, we are partial to Apple products, but we do work across all desktops, tablets and phones; but, please, pretty please, update your Internet Explorer 8 browser – we will look/work better and you’ll be safer).

Probably the much bigger news – despite the fact that we truly are very happy with our new home page – is the second part of this announcement: more FREE comps for everyone! Starting today, all user-generated comps will be available in full detail for free to all registered users. We think that’s fair – you contribute the comps (remember, you can contribute with just a free Basic account), everyone gets to see them and benefit from your generosity. This, in effect, brings us back to our roots as a free exchange of comps contributed and managed by the community.

So what do you get with a PRO subscription? All OpenComps’ research-generated comps (that’s our researchers uncovering and researching comps) will remain available only to PRO subscribers. Also, PRO subscribers continue to enjoy the full functionality of the site including field-specific search, creating and managing comps in comps sets, exporting comps in Microsoft Excel-compatible format, sophisticated filters and other advanced tools and functions we have and will continue to develop. Additionally, if you want to find a buyer, lender or JV equity partner for your property, as a PRO subscriber you can post unlimited For Sale, Seeking Debt or Seeking Equity listings. Not the least, your PRO subscription supports us to continue to develop and enhance the OpenComps’ experience and functionality.

We spend a lot of time uncovering and researching comps. So we think it’s fair that we get rewarded for this activity. However, our true vision is for the community at large to uncover and contribute comps, while we spend our efforts on creating sophisticated tools that give everyone insight into the data that everyone gathers, like our Trends and Charts or Browse By tools. We hope you decide to contribute comps that you know so that everyone can benefit and everyone gets more FREE comps!

Categories
Updates

Now 3x faster!

Last Friday (3/21/14), we rolled out an upgrade on our hosting package, by moving our service to a solid-state-drive (SSD) server platform (our apologies for some intermittent glitches in service on Saturday). Our hosting provider claims an increase in both page loading and database interactions of up to 300% compared to our pervious platform. While we haven’t got all technical and whisked out the stopwatch, we do feel the site is quite zippier and we hope you do too! We value speed very much and we strive hard to deliver the best performance to our users. We hope you join us!

Categories
General Updates

NEW: Export, Keyboard shortcuts, Local Amount/Currency and Thousands Separator

Besides large new features – such as Listings and Trends & Charts – the last few months have brought a steady stream of other system improvements. We have just been a little quiet about them. However, they have significantly increased our efficiency in updating or working with the database as well as brought along exciting new functionality. Here, we will focus on four new features which we find the most interesting.

Categories
General Updates

PRO Feature Review: MyOC

An often overlooked feature of OpenComps is MyOC – the ability to create custom set(s) of transactions so you can look at their aggregate statistics, export them en masse or map them together. This functionality is available only to PRO subscribers. Let’s us take a closer look.

MyOC My Comp Sets

Categories
General Updates

Feature Review: Trends & Charts

While we touched on this new feature in our 2013 year-end review, let’s take a more in-depth look at Trends & Charts.

Find Trends & Charts