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Aug 25, 2015

Presenting the long-awaited follow-up to our popular 7 Free Tools for Commercial Real Estate Brokers post: this time, we’ll focus on a set of universal research and investigation tools that serve a broader set of users, constituents and industries. Of course, we’ll give them a commercial real estate slant so that you can put them to use as quickly as possible.

We all know the titans of property owner research tools: Prospect Now, LexisNexis, Dun & Bradstreet, and TLO (formerly Merlin). But did you know about their free alternatives? Many brokers are already reaping the benefits of these in their owner and company investigative efforts. Here are few we recommend:

FindTheCompany.com: One of many powerful information-collecting sites from parent company Graphiq. It sources company, ownership, employee, and earning information from a myriad of reputable sources, as well as crowdsourcing. It also links to several other helpful tools to help you dig further if it doesn’t have the answer you’re looking for. Access to what it calls “premium data” can be gained by registering for a free account.

Key differentiator: Robust filtering using criteria such as location, industry, sales volume, number of employees, and more.

CorporationWiki.com: Corporation Wiki has been around for a while now, and like the title clearly states, it’s a wiki, so user contributions are a key part of its database. Its core data comes from two primary sources: Secretaries of State and Dun & Bradstreet. The update cycles are frequent so you can rest easy knowing that it provides the same information you would find on your state’s corporation lookup site.

Key differentiator: Lists of related people and companies to your subject. This provides you flexibility to dig into related entities, potentially providing you with a much more comprehensive view of your subject.

Bizapedia.com: Like FindTheCompany.com and Corporation Wiki, Bizapedia provides information filed with the state—however it also has a premium offering that includes a “Sales Lead Information” section, reports, and enterprise office access.

Key differentiator: Premium offering. While the topic of this blog is “free” tools, we’d be remiss if we didn’t tell you about Bizapedia’s premium service. While it’s not free, it’s very reasonable—and useful.

State Corporation Search Pages: This one’s no secret, but it’s worth mentioning, because what better place to start than the source? While the sites above sometimes act as Secretary of State taxable-entity aggregators, they don’t always have the most up-to-date information. Not so (at least not as often) with state corporation lookup pages. Each state’s page is different—some better than their counterparts—but each is a great starting point for your due diligence and research efforts.

The key to all of these resources is that they are part of a larger research effort. They don’t always lead to the final answer, but they at least give you the next question, or some level of insight that will leave you better off than you were when you started your research.

Put on your Hawaiian shirt, grow out your Magnum P.I. mustache, jump in your Ferrari, and put these investigative tools to work today!


Looking for more CRE Data Sources? Check out our Ebook, 52 Commercial Real Estate Data Services!

52 Commercial Real Estate Data Services

Topics: Best Practices

Russ Duncan

Written by Russ Duncan

Russ is Apto's Director of Product Marketing and helps drive product direction through customer discovery, consulting, research and advocacy. Russ is a CRE tech industry veteran and has held several positions at Digital Map Products, including Product Manager, Customer Success Manager, & Solution Engineer. He's a serial observationalist interested in understanding the built and natural environments, systems of engagement and movement of information; and moreover how people use and interact with them.

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