Commercial MLS Guide
A guide to the highest-quality and most cost-effective commercial multiple listing services in the United States, including CIMLS, Catylist, LoopNet, ApartmentBuildings.com, and more.
The Top 10 Commercial MLS Options for Brokers and Investors in 2022
Unlike the residential real estate sales market, the commercial sales market is an incredibly fractured space. While there are several major commercial MLS options out there, including LoopNet, a lot of smaller companies are entering the space. In this article, we review the major commercial MLS options currently on the market, ranking them by factors including market share, amount and value of listings, prices, and user reviews.
CIMLS: The Commercial Investment Multiple Listing Service, also known as CIMLS, is one of the largest commercial MLS platforms on the market today, with more than $500 billion in listed properties, and more than 300,000 members. Property types available include retail, multifamily, industrial, medical, land, and hospitality properties. Unlike many commercial MLS options, CIMLS allows a free limited membership, which permits brokers and investors to browse and submit listings to the site. With a paid membership, members can post images and documents, and well as utilize more of the service’s advanced marketing functions. In addition to its MLS, CIMLS sells a variety of CRE data management and marketing services.
Catylist: A commercial MLS and software company, Catalyst licenses its software to local commercial brokerage firms, local associations, and economic development organizations across the country. Then, it allows users to comb through all these combined listings with its efficient integrated search tool. While not a traditional MLS, Catalyst is generally considered the largest provider of CIE (commercial information exchange) software in the industry. Currently active in 45 markets throughout the United States, Catalyst lists a variety of property types, including multifamily, retail, hospitality, office, and industrial property.
Total Commercial: With unlimited listings for only $120/month, Total Commercial is one of the most affordable commercial MLS options on the market. While it may not be one of the largest commercial multiple listing services, the company does have considerable experience, having listed commercial properties online since 1995. Total Commercial lists properties in all 50 states, as well as Canada, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic.
LoopNet: Despite the fact that LoopNet is currently the largest commercial MLS in the United States, with 8 million registered members, many brokers and investors are not pleased with its high prices and the quality of its customer service. Many claim that this issue has gotten significantly worse since the company was acquired by CoStar in 2012. Negative reviews notwithstanding, LoopNet is still a massive industry player, with more than half of a million listings valued at more than $420 billion. However, a variety of other services, such as CREXi and Real Massive are slowly catching up. While LoopNet does not publish its exact prices, a vast increase in 2014 lead some brokers to accuse the service of price gouging.
Showcase: Showcase, which is also owned by CoStar, is a commercial MLS designed for advertising directly to the general public. Showcase is designed to make it easier for the average tenant or investor to discover a property via a simple Google search, rather than having to comb through a traditional commercial MLS. While it may not have the membership of LoopNet, Showcase actually has the most listings of any commercial MLS in the country, with 1.4 million active listings ranging from traditional multifamily to hotels, flex-use properties, offices, and more. In addition, browsing Showcase is totally free, which is hugely beneficial for investors and brokers who just want to get a grasp of the current market in a specific area. Plus, the site is searched by visitors more than 600,000 times a month, which gives brokers and their properties a great deal of exposure (though brokers do have to pay a monthly fee). However, Showcase’s paid broker service does attempt to roll out the red carpet for its clients by including a personal broker website and free analytics reports with membership.
CREXi: With $450 billion in listings, CREXi (Commercial Real Estate Exchange, Inc.), is quickly becoming a strong competitor in the commercial MLS market, despite only having been founded in 2015. Unlike some commercial MLS options, which focus primarily on marketing, CREXi wants to streamline and simplify the entire commercial real estate investment process, by making it easy for buyers, sellers, investors, and lenders to communicate and share documentation. Despite its increasing popularity, CREXi is still somewhat smaller than most other competitors, with around 200,000 monthly users and about 50,000 properties currently listed.
Brevitas: While traditional commercial multiple listing services list hundreds of thousands of properties throughout the country, some of the best properties are actually offered “off-market,” that is, only via private sales for well-connected investors. Brevitas, a San Francisco-based consulting firm, is disrupting this private market with an online platform by providing “security, efficiency, and exposure to qualified investors.” In addition, properties on their MLS are offered exclusively, meaning that they won’t be found on LoopNet, CIMLS, or anywhere else. The downside, however, is that potential investors are only given vague descriptions of property, and typically must provide identification credentials and proof of funds before they can actually access specific property information. Plus, properties listed on Brevitas are generally limited to $5 million+, so it may not be ideal for smaller property investors.
Real Massive: Another upstart in the commercial real estate marketing space, Real Massive founded in 2013, currently lists more than 6 billion square feet of commercial space across the U.S. And, unlike many of the more expensive options, Real Massive offers free listings for brokers and property owners. Real Massive plans to put itself above the competition by utilizing big data to provide commercial real estate performance analytics and streamlined digital marketing tools that will help them quantify its efforts while cutting costs and selling its properties faster.
ApartmentBuildings.com: ApartmentBuildings.com only lists apartment buildings. In addition to providing a multifamily-specific MLS, ApartmentBuildings.com has partnered with lenders to provide potential investors information about their multifamily lending options. Right now, the service lists apartment properties in Arizona, California, Florida, Texas, and New York. In these five markets, the service is a close competitor to LoopNet and other major multiple listing services.
CityFeet: Also owned by CoStar, CityFeet’s property listings are mainly focused in New York City, though they list properties in every state. In comparison to LoopNet and Showcase, CityFeet mainly focuses on non-multifamily commercial properties in major MSAs, and also lists commercial properties for lease and co-working spaces.
CoStar: CoStar is currently the largest owner of commercial multiple listing services in the United States. While not actually an MLS itself, it owns Loopnet, which is currently the largest MLS in the country. It also owns CityFeet, Showcase, BizBuySell, Apartments.com, and a variety of other multiple listing services. In addition, CoStar sells a variety of CRE software services, including market and lease analytics applications, as well as investment analysis software.
42 Floors: While mainly focused on the leasing of commercial office space, 42 Floors is an incredibly popular MLS platform, with a growing “for sale” section. Right now, the service lists over 50,000 office, retail, and co-working spaces, with an emphasis on major markets. In 2018, the company was acquired by Knotel, an office rental space company based in NYC. Basic memberships on 42 Floors are free, but brokers can pay a monthly fee for an elite membership, which gives them access to additional marketing tools.