Tag Archives: update

OpenComps 4.0 – Private Entries

On the heels of us turning 10, we are extremely happy to announce our latest update to OpenComps. We feel that it significantly enhances and changes the purpose of the site that we would like to call this OpenComps 4.01. The new feature is the ability to record private entries.

What are private entries? In addition to creating publicly-visible entries, you can now create entries that can be seen only by you (Only Me) or by your shared private group (My Group). And we really mean the only part! We have worked extra hard to make sure nobody (even admins) can get to your privately-recorded entries. Those entries are yours and yours alone.

While only you can see them, you don’t have to do anything different to search the database and see your entries together with the public entries. For example, look at this search for “paris” and how easily you can filter your search results to show everything, only Public entries, only Only Me entries or only My Group entries:

If you noticed, the private entries are highlighted in the search results if there is no filter selected. The rows for the Only Me and My Group entries are in an unique, highlighted color and they also begin with an icon showing either a single user view or group of users view. Let’s take a look inside the entries:

Also, we hope you noticed that there are three entries for the same property. One happens to be a Public Comp transaction, one is My Group Comp transaction and one is Only Me Comp transaction. For the same search you can now see what is available publicly right next to any available private entries for the same property. Of course, the private entries could be either for the same Comp transaction or another Comp transaction. Or it could be a For Sale tracker, Development or Debt Comp. Because they all have the same address (and geocode to the same location), you can see all entries in the Related tab, which maintains the same highlighted rows format.

From any transaction entry for a given property – Public, Only Me or My Group – you can start another entry for the same property that can be either Public, Only Me or My Group by selecting the appropriate option in the +Add New dropdown. This is the quickest way to overlay a private entry on top of a public entry, or create a different entry type (Comp, For Sale, Development or Debt Comp) to a property. Or you can start from scratch with the +Add New wizard from any transaction list.

If you have Export privileges, you can export private (Only Me and My Group) entries as much as you want. Unlike Public entries, private entries are yours and there are no limits to how often you want to download them in an Excel-friendly CSV format2.

The powerful Advanced Search is fully enabled for you to search either across all transactions or limit to what’s Public, Only Me or My Group. Also, the instant statistics in Insights are similarly recalculated based on your preference for which transactions you want to be included. Please, rest assured that you are not seeing aggregated numbers that are including someone else’s transactions or that your transactions may be included in someone else’s Insights screens. As mention already above, your entries stay private throughout the entire site and nobody can see them or have them included in their aggregate screens.

Recording of private (Only Me or My Group) entries is a feature available to PRO subscribers. In fact, the shared My Group is based on the shared billing group, which is currently set up only by an admin. However, if you happen to be a PRO subscriber and created private entries, these will still stay available to you3 in full detail to see or search across even if you happen to drop your PRO subscription at some point (we hope only temporarily!). You just won’t be able to add new private entries.

We are really excited about this new functionality in OpenComps and we hope you will decide to take full advantage of it and support us by becoming a PRO subscriber. If you need to set up a group subscription, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

We would love to hear from you with any comments or ideas about this new functionality. If you would like to discuss it in more detail via a private web-conference, just just get in touch.

  1. 1.0 – initial launch in 2006; 2.0 – site redesign and reactivation of development in 2012; 3.0 – social/newsfeed functionality in 2015
  2. In fact, even Public Your Additions transactions – transactions that you’ve contributed to the public body of transactions – are also excluded from the daily and rolling 30-day export limits
  3. For My Group transactions, assuming you still belong in the shared group.

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.

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.

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.

Tagging example

Tag… you’re it!

Among the many new features we have been quietly launching in the past month, we really hope you embrace this one: tagging yourself in transactions!

At OpenComps, we are very keen to give credit where credit is due in putting these transactions together. It’s not easy, and we know it. That’s why from the beginning we tracked the Owner’s and Buyer’s Brokers and tried to highlight their ranking for the current year and prior. But those were the firms that were being tracked and highlighted. Now, we want to take the credit assignment to the real source: the people… to you!

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Combo OC Apple family

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!

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!

Introducing Tools

At OpenComps, in addition to recording transactions, we would like to provide you with the tools to close transactions or understand them better. Introducing our new Tools section!

In this new section, we offer templates for underwriting transactions (DCF valuation, project IRR), building or presenting cash flows, evaluating development projects, analyzing competitive sets, understanding performance-driven management agreements, and other transaction-related, professional tools and documents. We launched with a few tools but we plan to continuously update this section with more tools, so check it regularly.

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“Stay signed in”

Three simple words. A login feature you’ve probably seen across the web and don’t even think about it. Well, at OpenComps, we were painfully slow to implement it. And, as the number one request, we heard it loud and clear from all of you that while the design of our login page is nice and dandy, you were staring at it a bit too often. Dread no more as we finally turned the feature live this week. Now, you’ll be seeing a lot less of the login screen (if you so choose) and focus on your work a little more.

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OpenComps on your phone and tablet

We are very excited about our new design. How about you? But we are not only excited about how (good) we look now on the desktop. The even bigger news is that we are now optimized to look great on your phone or tablet too! Have you tried us out?

There is no new address to remember; no server redirection based on device detected (just go to opencomps.com). Thanks to our new front-end framework,  we were able to create a responsive design that adapts to whatever device you are using.

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