OpenComps Turns 10

Happy Cinco de Mayo and with that happy 10th anniversary to OpenComps! It was May 5th, 2006, when the site first went live!

Thank you for your support throughout the years and looking forward to the next 10!

Svetlin

PRO Feature Review: Advanced Search

In OpenComps, easy and intuitive design is on top of our minds. To find something on OpenComps, we have a large search bar persistently on top of every page. It is big, it’s easy, it’s quick. (And did you know that pressing “/” on your keyboard on any screen, brings you inside that search bar? Type “?” (Shift+/) to see all keyboard shortcuts.)

However, this basic search is like shooting with a canon; it searches for the given keywords in all database fields at once. Sometimes to kill the right bird, you need to shoot with a rifle, a more refined and precise instrument. This is where Advanced Search — available to all PRO subscribers — comes into play.

Advanced Search

You can find Advanced Search in the More dropdown at the end of the basic search field. On mobile, it is on the rightmost on the home row of buttons at the bottom of the screen. Or, you can type “a /” (a followed by /) as a keyboard shortcut (because you are a power user!).

Continue reading

Now Tracking: Developments and Financings

Some of you may have noticed that, over the past few weeks, the transaction list has gotten very GREEN, a lot less pale blue and maybe just a little bit dark blue. That’s because we added two new transaction types to our research coverage: new developments and financings (debt comps).

As part of our re-focus on hotel only, we are looking to significantly expand our coverage of the sector as well as introduce new features. While previously we covered what sold (comps) and what’s on the market (for sale), we are now expanding to also cover what’s coming into a market (developments) and what has been (re)financed (debt comps). We think this should significantly increase OpenComps’ value to hospitality investment professionals who would like to dig in or stay on top of a specific market.

For developments, we are covering hotels that are in planning (proposed), permitted, in construction, and opened (or cancelled). Take a look at this recent Advanced Search for developments in New York, NY.

Or if you are looking to capture a broader area view of the area (say, include the Brooklyn developments too), you can use the Proximity feature of the Advanced Search and set yourself a radius search, like this.

NYC Developments Radius Search

Don’t forget our Insights section, which can provide you with interesting overviews related to developments, like which are the most popular brands, states or cities with most activity, or who is lending on construction. PRO users can use Advanced Filters for more precise analysis.

We are starting our research coverage from scratch. We are adding developments as we go. If you know of any that we may be missing, drop us a note or add us to your press releases distribution list. If you want to update us on any that we have in the database already, drop us a note via the built in “Tell us more” button on each transaction. Help us move development projects from planning, through in construction, through opening!

As always, please send us your thoughts and ideas. We would love to hear from you.

New Feature: Saved Searches

Very excited to introduce our latest new feature: the ability to save your searches. Long requested, the feature is a fantastic tool to re-create a search with one-click or get automatic email updates of new transactions matching your search. You can make OpenComps reach out to you with updates, staying in the know even if you are not visiting the site regularly.

Whenever you execute a search – a simple or an Advanced Search – you now have a Save link/button next to the search results summary. Click it to give your search a name and choose a notification schedule, if you would like to receive email updates.

Once you save your search, you can access your search using the More dropdown at the end of the search bar on the desktop or the Advanced tab on the home row on your mobile.

Once saved, you can “run” your search again at any time from the More dropdown (which shows the latest 3 saved searches) or the Saved Search management panel (follow either the “Manage saved searches” or “See all” link at the bottom of the More dropdown). Saved searches are always displayed in reverse chronological order (newest to oldest).

Basic (free) users can save up to 3 simple searches. PRO subscribers can save up to 10 simple or advanced searches.

With the ability to save your search and receive updates, the existing Advanced Search functionality – available to PRO subscribers only – becomes turbo charged. It is now easier than ever to quickly execute an often-done Advanced Search (incorporating a Proximity search, if desired), which gives you field-specific precision and accuracy compared to the broad simple search. And with email notifications turned on, you can now receive precise and accurate updates on the markets or deal specifics you care about without having to constantly log into OpenComps. We like to think of this as the OpenComps Executive Edition: set several advanced searches with precise parameters of the markets or deal specifics that you are interested in and receive timely updates via email. It’s a great way for senior managers to analysts to stay in the loop.

Email Update On Saved Search

Email update example

You can choose to get updates on your saved searched once a day, once a week or once a month. You can set up an individual notification setting for each saved search or you can choose to set the notification based on a master notification setting. You can control your master notification setting in your Saved Searches management panel. Setting your saved searches to “per master” notification setting is a great way to quickly turn off a group of saved searches or re-assign them to a different – daily, weekly or monthly – notification schedule.

We hope you enjoy this new functionality. If you have any comments or further ideas, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

OpenComps Loves Hotels

OpenComps Is Now Hotel Only

Since our early, humble beginnings in May 2006, we had always focused on the four major real estate asset classes of hotels, office, retail and multifamily. While technically hotels is the smallest of all these asset classes, we always put it first because it has a special place in our minds, interests and professional background. Today, we are furthering our interest in the hotel sector even more: by making OpenComps exclusively focused on it.

It is sad to say good bye to the office, retail and multifamily coverage. But we had to. Frankly, we just weren’t getting traction in those sectors. Over the past three years in particular, we spent enormous amount of time focusing and researching these asset classes, but our subscription audience in those sectors just wasn’t keeping up with the subscription support we were and are receiving in the hotel space.

So, following the sage business advice, we are focusing on what we are doing best (as many of you had told us). We are hoping that by doing less, we can do better. We have owned the hotel space since 2006 and we want to own it even more. We truly believe that our records of hotel transactions are best in the industry and, hopefully, with the renewed focus and dedication, you can join us in ensuring this.

OpenComps has never focused on being the biggest company in the real estate analytics world. We have always been focused on making the best product in that sector and bringing the cost of research down. If you are in the hotel space, you can help us grow and fulfill this mission, by supporting us and not the much larger and much more expensive competitive services.

We are a small but passionate team. Your support via the paid subscription tiers of the service is extremely important to us. We thank all the users and organizations that have supported us in our journey so far. We would greatly appreciate your continued as well as new support going forward.

Go ahead and like (or comment on) this post… in OpenComps

We are excited to announce two new enhancements to the Post to the Newsfeed feature: likes and comments. We created the Posts feature to promote and encourage the discussion about real estate deals in a focused and dedicated space (you can leave your latest find of a cool dinner spot for that other network; or the best ideas how to conduct your next interview for yet another network). With these new features, we hope to take the conversation inside OpenComps to the next level.

Post Discussion

You can like any post by hitting the ♥ Like button. It will “light up” (turn red) to indicate your preference. If you change your mind, hit it again and it will “dim” (turn grey) to remove your like. You can add your comments at the bottom of the comments stream by writing your thoughts in the box and hitting Enter. Comments – just like Posts – are limited to 255 characters and can be only written as a single paragraph (remember hitting Enter will post your comment). If you change your mind about your comment, immediately or in the future, you can hit the Delete button on the right of your comment to delete it permanently.

Comments – just like Posts – have few special tricks up their sleeve:

  • To reference an OpenComps-recorded transaction, start with “=“. For example, =123, will automatically create a link to transaction 123.
  • To reference another OpenComps user, start with “@“. For example, @svetlin will automatically create a link to the profile for “svetlin” (my profile!).
  • To reference an outside internet address, make sure you include a full URL. For example, http://www.google.com will automatically create a shortened link to this internet address, which will open in a new tab/window.

On the right-hand side, underneath the post, a simple counter will show you how many likes or comments have been recorded. You can click on the like counter to see who else has liked the post.

When you are in your Newsfeed – either your Personal feed based on who you follow or the Public feed – you can always use the Actions newsfeed filter to limit your newsfeed to user posts only. This allows you to stay on top of posts and conversations uninterrupted by other Newsfeed action posts like user tagging or new on-the-market transactions.

We really hope you embrace the Post to Newsfeed feature. We would love to create commercial real estate-focused discussions that stay in a protected community. OpenComps’ Newsfeed is currently only available to registered users and is not available to general crawlers like Google or Bing to expose to the world. Your OpenComps activity stays in OpenComps and won’t be spread around the Internet.

If you are an active participant in the institutional commercial real estate market, we think you can find quite a few uses of the Post to Newsfeed feature, such as announcements like these:

To celebrate a recent closing and give credit:
“Congratulations to @myteammate1 and @myteammate2 on the closing of =123 sale.”

To invite people on a new deal:
“XYZ Broker is very excited to exclusively market for sale =123, an unique investment opportunity to acquire prominent boutique hotel in the much sought-after area of City.”

To update people on a new development on a current deal:
“We are actively conducting tours for =123. Get in touch if interested. Will call for offers on April 25th!”

We are sure you will find many other uses of this feature and will likely come up with much more creative posts than the ones above. You can actively monitor users engagement with your posts via likes and nurture an interactive dialogue via the comments.

It’s no fun if your posts are not getting noticed. So, make sure you promote your activity on OpenComps by spreading the word about your profile and invite others to join. Just look for the “Invite More” link or button in the Newsfeed or Community Search and send invites to your colleagues and friends to join OpenComps.

We welcome your comments… this time on our related post in the Newsfeed! 🙂

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.

YearInReview

ALIS Update – 2014 In Review – Hotel

Next week is ALIS Conference in Los Angeles, a best-in-class industry conference for hospitality investment professionals. We have had a chance to attend a few times and have really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, we won’t be participating this year. Instead, we decided to put together a 2014 year-in-review update for the U.S. hotel industry. We thought it would be a good material to prepare you for the conference or give you some topics to discuss.

Continue reading

New OpenComps 3

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.