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W&D Webcast: CoStar’s Florance Says It’s “Early Days” for Digital Impact

He’s increased his company’s market cap a thousand-fold since 1998, to what is now nearly $26 billion. The company owns some of the leading digital information, analytics and marketing brands in real estate, from LoopNet to, a roster that soon will be joined by Ten-X.

But in the view of CoStar Group founder and CEO Andy Florance, the digitization of real estate information is just getting started. “These are early, early days” for digital impact, Florance said in the latest Walker & Dunlop webcast hosted by CEO Willy Walker.

The sheer enormity of the real estate sector is one reason Florance sees untapped potential. He cited figures measuring the value of all real estate globally, including residential property, at about $180 trillion. That compares to the value of the world’s public companies: $90 trillion. Further, the economic activity generated by the real estate has a multiplier effect of five, for approximately $1 quadrillion of activity.

Florance noted that in the current pandemic environment of stay-at-home orders and social distancing, there has been “an explosion of people shopping for space digitally.” In the apartment sector, he noted, renters have become comfortable with touring homes digitally.
“People no longer feel like they have to go to the community” in person, he said. “It’s like Amazon—they can buy it online.”

The commercial sector, though, has some catching up to do. “Most people are marketing their real estate like it’s 1975,” said Florance. “And it’s not 1975.”

A real estate community unified by digitization is potentially more important than the data itself, Florance said. Hampering the formation of such a community is a lack of standardization in information presentation across the industry. He likened it to traveling by train through several towns, each of which has a different gauge of rail, meaning that the traveler has to change trains several times.

Wednesday’s hour-plus webinar began with insights from John Rice, a Walker & Dunlop board member and CEO of Management Leadership for Tomorrow, who addressed the systemic racism that gave rise to nationwide and even worldwide protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. “Take a rigorous approach to action” at the organizational level, Rice advised. “Don’t settle for random acts of diversity.”

Replays of the June 3 webcast are available by clicking here.

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About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).

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