I do like LoopNet, but only to find the land to build my own projects on.
I have found that nobody care as much as I do about maximizing the property for parking and retain space or what ever I may be building. So I design it myself first, and only after I feel that I have truly maximized the project do I then send it out to and Architect & Civil Engineer for working plans.
The reason I am telling you this is because I have never bought a commercial property, I have always built them, and because I don't have a GC to pay, and with my design that I hope has some creative thinking when it's maximized, you should do very well!!
You don't need to be a GC to build a commercial property, and as you build this exciting new project, you build in some fantastic equity for you or you and your partners.
If you can put together a great group of Sub-Contractors that's all you need, they will each let you know if they see something wrong on concerning on your job.
I don't know if that helps at all? But to me the best way to find a great successful commercial project is to build one. Find a great vacant property, find highest & best use, and build it!
Thanks for letting me share my two cents.
Great topic, thanks for posting. I think you’ll find that everybody has their own "secret sauce" which often is a combination multiple sources.
Free MLS services such as loopnet are great for getting a sense of the market but will never have a full set of commercial listings in the area. Loopnet for example is owned by CoStar, the largest commercial MLS in the US and most widely used by brokers; no matter the market CoStar generally will have the most complete set of listings. Because loopnet is free and CoStar is so expensive there is no way CoStar is going to automatically input all of their listings into loopnet (similar to Redfin pulling the MLS data for example), it just wont happen. While you absolutely can find deals on loopnet (see @William Haltom ) you will most likely want to combine loopent data with another data point. Broker, direct mail etc.
Direct marketing / cold calling is always a good bet, in the commercial world if you get a hold of a building owner in a principle-to-principle setting you can generally have some good conversations and suss out if there is an opportunity or not.
My favorite method however is simple networking. Join local trade groups, get involved in RE networking events and start introducing yourself to the market. Once your embedded into the market opportunities will start to emerge.
@Brian Schmelzlen Our approach has been to identify the target markets we want to be in, then choose a broker who understands exactly the product type we are looking for and is well-connected in the metro area. We work with each broker directly, sending them deals we like, and in return they send us deals (both on and off market) to evaluate.
Choosing a broker with a CoStar subscription is a plus for office properties. Loopnet is generally (not always) where deals go to die, but it does give you a good idea for the types of available properties in the market.
Call and speak to the most active local commercial real estate brokers in your desired market. Tell them your requirement and ask to be put on their distribution list.