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Charleston Business

REsimplifi puts local commercial real estate listings and brokers first

Nov 20, 2019 01:39PM

Buy local: It's the rallying cry of the Local First movement encouraging would-be retail customers to do business with home-grown shops and restaurants. After all, the money spent on businesses based in your community is more likely to stay in your community than businesses with a national headquarters in New York City.

But there's another reason to go local: the businesses in your area know your community better, and are better able to meet that community's needs, than a customer service rep in a far away corporate HQ. 

The Columbia-based online commercial real estate listings firm REsimplifi is in the former category.

Unlike national CRE websites, with hundreds if not thousands of listings for every major metropolitan area in the United States, REsimplifi is focused primarily on properties in South Carolina, the vast bulk of which are concentrated around the company's homebase in the Midlands. With the service, would-be customers can browse local properties and connect with local brokers, many of whom have pages on the site dedicated to themselves. 

REsimplifi was first founded in 2015 by Henry Moore, David Collier and Gina Danford as a tool for commercial real estate brokers. During that time, the team reevaluated its approach and its purpose. The principal idea: to be a marketplace for commercial real estate listings with 90% or better coverage. In May of this year, REsimplifi launched its new site with a focus on the Columbia market. Since then they've grown to 15 million square feet of commercial property listings.

"Most commercial real estate listing sites, or marketplaces, are national sites that have loose coverage in many markets," says Henry Moore, CEO of REsimplifi. "These sites need content, which usually comes from the commercial real estate broker."�

However, that's easier said than done. Barring the fact that brokers pay to have their listings posted, there are multiple sites competing at the national level across multiple markets.

"Brokers have limited time with multiple national sites vying for their attention. It is difficult for them to participate in all," Moore adds. "The end result is that the property content is scattered amongst several sites, and there is no one central focal point of information for the broker or the consumer."�

Enter REsimplifi. "We focus all of our efforts on a select number of markets that fit specific criteria. This enables us to provide the broker and consumer a dense content-rich alternative to the broad national sites," Moore says. 

He adds, "Essentially we provide a local market hub for commercial real estate brokers and consumers in the markets we cover."�

In addition to Moore, today's REsimplifi team includes Justin Kearse, support; Cameron Kloot, development; and Green Funnel Media owner John Regan, marketing. REsimplifi also has relationships with the USC/ City of Columbia Tech Incubator—the online listings company is a graduate—and SCRA, REsimplifi's largest investor, without whom, Moore says, "We would not exist."�

Today, the REsimplifi site features listings from brokers with more than a dozen South Carolina firms, including Wilson Kibler Commercial Real Estate, Crossland Barnes Group, NAI Columbia, CBRE, National Land Realty, ROI Commercial, Cypress and others.

"We work extremely hard with the local commercial real estate broker in an attempt to give their properties the most visibility possible in the markets that we cover," Moore says. "This gives the commercial real estate agent and their listings maximum exposure within the geographies they represent. We specifically focus on secondary and tertiary markets within the Southeast. In these mid-sized markets, the majority of the commercial real estate transactions happen where both the buyer and the seller (or the landlord and the tenant) are actually located within the same region."�

The cost for brokers: $75 per month for unlimited listings for sale or lease, across office, retail, industrial, hospitality, multi-family and land. Brokers have the option to create a broker profile in which they can share with visitors their specialty within commercial real estate. 

As an added bonus for the broker who wants potential clients to better know what he or she brings to the table, REsimplifi allows brokers to mark their transactions as "recently sold" or "recently leased." Moore says, "This enables visitors to see what properties and brokers have been active within the market."�

The site is free to visitors who can view all the listings. "Visitors do have the option to register and receive updates from us regarding which properties have transacted within their markets of interest," Moore says. "But most of the functionality they can access without payment or registration.  

According to Joe Taylor, former secretary of commerce and managing member of Park and Washington LLC and CEO of Southland Capital Partner, REsimplifi is meeting a very real real estate need—one that national sites seem to be struggling with. "Unfortunately, unlike residential property, there was not a commercial database that was effective at providing information on commercial property for sale or lease in the area," Taylor says. "Local government economic developers did not have the capacity to show prospects what could be bought."�

Taylor brings up an example involving Five Points. A search of a national site may not show available properties in the area, but just a short ride through the area will reveal a lot of commercial real estate for sale or lease. 

From an economic development perspective, Taylor says, "this is huge for the municipalities and counties and hopefully will expose more people to buying opportunities in these cities and counties."�

For Hank Mabry, president of Mabry Commercial Properties, Henry Moore and his team have keyed in on a core component of the CRE business. "REsimplifi understands the local brokerage community's needs and has always offered practical solutions to them," Mabry says. "The majority of the sales and leasing transactions occurring in our marketplace transpire between buyers and sellers within this area. It only makes sense that you would focus in your own backyard."�

T. Bruce Harper, manager partner at Trinity Partners, is of a similar mind. "While there are a number of national vendors in this space, ultimately, I believe that commercial real estate is still very local to a large degree," he says. "There is far too much local knowledge and expertise required to successfully market, sell or lease a commercial property for any out-of-market group to adequately manage and understand.  By distinctly focusing on target local markets and penetrating more deeply, REsimpli can become a more effective tool."�

For JP Scurry, senior vice president of the Crossland Barnes Group, one of the things he likes about REsimplifi is the competitive pricing structure. The other: "Their knowledge of the local real estate companies and the trust and communication that they have with those practitioners."�

But REsimplifi does more than just connect local brokers with local customers. For Peyton Bryant of NAI Columbia, it "provides subjective value to the local business community." he says, "It shows owners of commercial property that what they have to offer matters, and it proves that there is a market for what they are trying to sell or lease."�

"Outside of national investment offerings, a lot of my business is comprised of stand-alone buildings for sale or lease," Bryant adds. "While the Midlands strongly encourages and welcomes new businesses to our area, it is often a local/regional business that is attracted to the listed property in order to help said business grow or achieve the benefits of ownership."�

Moore credits Det Bowers of Wilson Kibler for first introducing REsimplifi to the idea of a more local-first approach. "Det was one of the primary reasons I started our community listing application. He first expressed the need to me within the South Carolina market," Moore says. 

Alyse Howard, marketing and research director at Wilson Kibler, elaborates on the partnership between REsimplifi, her firm and those in the industry. "Henry and the REsimplifi team were willing to shift gears when we identified the online listing space as a pain point in the industry and have offered an excellent alternative to a product we felt cost far more than it was worth," Howards says. "By working closely with those of us in the industry, they have created a product that helps us better serve our clients—a quality we weigh heavily when evaluating our partnerships."      

Howard adds, "REsimplifi has been able to address the need locally more effectively than anyone else in the space, while continuing to grow in order to compete on a regional and national level."�

Now that REsimplifi is established in the Midlands, the firm is making a bigger push into other markets—most notably Greenville. "It was natural for us to shift some of our focus there," Moore says. "We had worked with enough brokers in Greenville that we knew there was an interest in a strong local alternative listing site."�

"We also recognize that there is a base within the region that has interest in different South Carolina markets," Moore adds. "There are individuals that are interested in buying or leasing properties in Greenville that may live in Columbia, Charleston, Charlotte or other surrounding areas and vice versa."�

As it stands today, Moore is grateful for those who've helped REsimplifi gain a hold in the Columbia market and for giving them the opportunity to expand across the state and elsewhere. "We are very thankful to the brokers and the commercial real estate community, not just in Columbia but the entire state," Moore says. "There is no doubt that relationships were essential to us having the success that we have had."�

And those relationships are not just key for REsimplifi and their success—they're key to the brokers that use the website. "Henry and his team are some of the most hard working and genuine folks I know," Bryant says. "Throughout growing a company and expanding, they have never sacrificed the value of a one-on-one conversation to help us, via their product or otherwise. If we value ourselves as a commercial brokerage on our ability to serve local clients, why would we want anything other than a local-focused partner to help market our listings?"�

For Scurry, the success of his company and REsimplifi are intertwined. "They know our business and understand our needs," he says. "We also trust each other and want to see each other succeed."�