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7 FAQs About Zillow for Commercial Real Estate

It's easy to assume that Zillow has the market cornered when it comes to data on real estate properties. That is until you start looking for data on commercial properties. If you’re running into walls trying to find information on commercial property listings, these seven FAQs can help.
It's easy to assume that Zillow has the market cornered when it comes to data on real estate properties. That is until you start looking for data on commercial properties. If you’re running into walls trying to find information on commercial property listings, these seven FAQs can help.

If you’ve been hunting around the internet for Zillow commercial real estate listings and have come up empty handed, it’s no surprise. Why? Zillow doesn’t provide access to commercial listings. It would be cool they did, but they don’t.

So where can you find out more about commercial real estate? Finding an experienced commercial real estate agent is your first move. They’ll find you opportunities and walk you through the process.

In the meantime, these seven FAQs on finding commercial properties can give you a head start.

What is commercial real estate?

Residential real estate is used for human habitation. Any other real estate that is used for commerce is considered commercial.

Commercial real estate includes offices, industrial and manufacturing buildings, multifamily units, hotels, hospitals, warehouses, restaurant spaces and any real estate used to generate a profit. Even land itself can be zoned to be commercial property.

Commercial property often has different rules. For example, qualifying for a mortgage for a commercial property is based upon different criteria than qualifying for a mortgage on a residential property. There are also different tax rules for commercial property.

If you are in the market for a commercial property, it’s important to do your research and look at it as a different animal.

Is there a site like Zillow for commercial real estate?

Not exactly like Zillow but there are sites. Many commercial real estate brokers use CoStar for commercial properties to search, compare and list properties. The problem with CoStar is that it is expensive.

However, CoStar’s subsidiary, LoopNet, has a huge database that you can use to search office, warehouse, industrial, and retail spaces for free...up to a certain limit. But there is a problem. Once you reach the maximum number of searches, you have to pay to gain complete access. And it’s not cheap.

What are good sites for searching commercial real estate listed for sale?

New sites pop up all the time that may have at least partial databases of commercial properties across the country, but most of them are SaaS (Software as a Service) with limited free features. This is because their free features are usually just a draw to get you to sign up. A few that allow limited features for free are Digsy, RealMassive, theBrokerlist, OfficeSpace, and Rofo.

Commercial real estate sites that offer free services come and go and can change their free features to subscription as they scale.

Your best bet for finding sites with real-time, free features is to Google “free commercial real estate listings” to bring you up to date lists of those sites whose databases are at least partially open for free searches. Another source that a lot of people overlook is Craigslist. If you check Craigslist on a regular basis in the area of your interest, you could come away with exactly what you’re looking for.

Where can I find commercial real estate for sale by owner?

Reonomy OffMarket is said to provide most of the FSBO commercial listings in the U.S. due to its reported massive database of off market properties. While technically not a listing site, Reonomy lets you narrow your search down by location, asset type, sales, debt, and ownership. You can even find sales histories over past years.

Another site to check is Buildings By Owner. Their listings are somewhat vast, though, so you may have problems finding commercial properties in a specific area.

Because real estate is so locally focused and commercial real estate is even further specialized, if you’re looking for a commercial property in a specific area, sometimes your best bet is to find locations you’re interested in and actually contact the owners directly. Or find a good commercial broker in your local market who knows the commercial areas well.

Should I invest in commercial real estate?

If you’re looking at commercial properties as a potential investment, there are some pros that make them more attractive than residential properties. For one thing, the long-rental agreements common with commercial properties — often three years or more — mean more cash flow consistency.

Compared to the stock market or even REITs, which are publicly traded, direct commercial real estate investments are less impacted by the hype in the stock market and the media publicizing it. Commercial properties also generally have more than one tenant which helps absorb financial risk if a single tenant fails to pay or vacates as is the case with residential.

Why is commercial real estate riskier than residential real estate?

Commercial properties require a larger initial investment and demand more time for management and maintenance, especially if you have several tenants. Also, because commercial properties are generally open to the public, there is a greater risk of liability.

The possibility that someone could get hurt on your property or that the property could be vandalized is higher than with residential properties simply because the amount of exposure to the public is higher.

Adding to this, if you want to do repairs on your commercial properties, you’re either going to have to hire a licensed professional or get licensed yourself. There are special laws that govern the maintenance and repairs of commercial properties.

How can I find a commercial real estate agent?

Commercial property is a big investment. You're going to want to do your due diligence when picking a commercial real estate broker. Make sure that they have a successful history in their local commercial market.

Because commercial property is so specialized, you’ll also want to ask them about their experience with the type of property you are interested in. For instance, if you are looking to pick up commercial property to expand a restaurant chain, you might want to pass on a broker who only has a proven track record in manufacturing warehouses.

Remember that a professional commercial real estate broker should have information about the market that you don’t, especially if they are experienced. A broker that has sold the exact type of commercial properties you are looking for should be able to give you information about those properties that you can’t get from any other sources.

When purchasing commercial real estate, make sure your real estate agent knows your area well and has a successful history in the type of commercial property you will be dealing with. To find a top local agent for less, be sure to check out Clever Partner Network first. Find out how much you can save on with a Clever Partner Agent on your next commercial deal.

 

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Ben Mizes

Ben Mizes is the co-founder and CEO of Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top agents to save thousands on commission. He's an active real estate investor with 22 units in St. Louis and a licensed agent in Missouri. Ben enjoys writing about real estate, investing, personal finance, and financial freedom. He's a serial entrepreneur, having run several successful startups before Clever Real Estate. Ben's writing has been featured in Yahoo Finance, Realtor News, CNBC, and BiggerPockets.

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