Technology is Reinventing the Real Estate Industry

It's all about the information in this ever-growing marketplace.

A number of industries have succesfully adapted and integrated with the technology sector in today’s digital age, including commercial real estate, where evolving changes have led to the creation of more effective internet tools, and as a result, a united real estate community in Louisiana with access to more information than ever.

Founded in 2001, the Louisiana Commercial Database (LACDB), a site for commercial real estate professionals, provides the necessary tools for agents to manage and share vital information throughout Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast region.

The online database is powered by an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company called Catylist, a commercial listing service company that allows agents to research properties available for sale and lease, including offices, industrial, retail, apartments, hotels, special use, land and farms.

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What is a CLS?

A CLS (Commercial Listing Service) can be operated as a commercial information exchange or a commercial multiple listing service, both serve the purpose of initiating a connection among realtors in a local market, with the intent of creating a better and more established real estate community.

“It’s a platform that enables members (brokers, developers, appraisers, investors) to share data and take advantage of the resulting efficiencies,” said Neal Marten, vice president of regional accounts at Catylist. “It removes barriers, allowing small companies to focus their time and money on serving their clients.”

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Catylist serves as LACDB’s technology partner; the company has been building software solutions for the commercial real estate industry since 2001.

“We host research solutions and listing services for over 40 associations across the United States and Canada,” Marten said. “Catylist’s management team has over 20 years of experience in their respective fields of commercial brokerage and investment, data research and software development.”

The Louisiana Commercial Database

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Snappy Jacobs, real estate broker and owner of Snappy Jacobs, CCIM Real Estate Management, as well as the 2018 NOMAR director at LACDB, said that the database was established to make it easier for all parties in a commercial real estate transaction to connect. The database uses the Catalyst platform and direct user input to provide up-to-the-minute listing, market and transaction data.

“Commercial brokers, agents and appraisers who are LACDB members, along with their clients, all benefit from LACDB’s ability to provide transparent market and property data to allow informed decision making,” he said.

LACDB is member-owned and operated by a board of managers, something designed to ensure locals have control of the commercial information.

New Technology Offers Enhanced Research Capabilities

The respective boards of the Commercial Investment Division (CID) of the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors (NOMAR) and Baton Rouge, in cooperation with the LACDB board of managers, launched an addition to LACDB called PRO Research, in 2017.
In addition to the benefits that the LACDB provides, the release of PRO Research combines the base product capabilities of the LACDB with more enhanced research capabilities, ranging from transaction information and public data sources to state-of-the-art mapping and analytic technology.

“The world of commercial real estate today is data and research driven,” said Paul Richard, commercial real estate broker at NAI Latter & Blum and a 2018 NOMAR director at LACDB.

“The purpose [behind PRO is] to elevate the level of data, research and presentation capability available to the commercial brokerage community. Commercial investors, buyers and sellers today are sophisticated, knowledgeable about tax laws, and expect reliable data and research from their real estate professional.”

The tools provided by LACDB PRO Research enable users to perform truly in-depth, comprehensive research in regard to any specific property of interest, along with the ability to apply aggregated market analysis.

“LACDB PRO is the biggest advancement to LACDB since the launch of the commercial listing system over 15 years ago,” Marten said. “PRO provides a map-based, fully researched system with every commercial property in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.”

The installation of LACDB PRO in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans markets allows brokers in these communities to access a property-centric database, look at availabilities, sale and lease comps, parcel boundary maps, ownership information, tenant data, block-level demographics, traffic counts, geospatial searching, Google Earth integrations and custom branded “quick-click” reports.

The program also provides retail site selection tools, works on all devices, provides real-time hot sheet alerts and allows for research-on-demand.

“Because it is a property-centric platform, users have the ability to access data on any building in the marketplace,” said Marten. “Whether it’s currently listed or not.”

Moving Forward

The LACDB has proven to be an industry leader and a prime example that a regional group of commercial practitioners can indeed come together on a common platform where they own and control the data and, ultimately, become the go-to source for commercial information in any marketplace.

“LACDB’s goal is to continue to build an integrated digital research platform and database for all of Louisiana’s markets,” said Jacobs, “and grow the use of LACDB PRO to improve the transparency of property and market data for all LACDB members and their clients.”

“Working with Catalyst, we will develop the analytics necessary to generate regular tracking reports on the commercial real estate industry in Baton Rouge and New Orleans,” said Richard. “As the LACDB family in Louisiana and Mississippi grows, the data platform can then aggregate commercial sales and lease data reports for each city and state. This will provide a unique public benefit and a significant research tool for the commercial brokerage community.”


Networking with the CID

New Orleans-area realtors can also obtain market information and a discount for LACDB membership by joining the Commercial Investment Division (CID) of the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors (NOMAR).

Cres Gardner, CCIM, SIOR, vice president of Beau Box New Orleans and 2018 president of the CID, said of the division’s status, “We have approximately 400 members and affiliates — people such as attorneys, architects and contractors — that service the real estate brokerage community.”

According to Gardner, the real estate business is a balance between competition and trust.

“My fellow members are competitors, but more importantly we are all trying to get deals done for our clients,” he said. “Trusting the agent on the other side of the deal makes the process much more efficient. The relationships that I have developed in CID have helped me to lease some of my office listings. The brokers I know in the organization bring tenants my way every day.”

Bryce French, a sales, leasing and development agent at Max J. Derbes and a 2018 director at the CID, said that a big benefit of joining the CID for agents is the networking events.  

“These are great for developing a rapport with other commercial agents,” he said. “The CID networking events provide an after-work social environment where agents can get to know other agents in our market, as well as discuss the wants and needs of our clients.”

On top of its multitude of networking events, the CID also offers three $1,500 scholarships (French himself is a past recipient), along with a variety of educational programs, from introductory courses to advanced topics for experienced members. For more information, visit

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