Birgo Battles: CoStar vs. Yardi

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Birgo

Gather ‘round, folks — it’s getting to be that time again. When we were cleaning up the carnage after last week’s Birgo Battle, we realized there’s still a few more buckets of popcorn in the office. 

And you know what that means: it’s time for another round, this time featuring two of the top contenders for the reason a real estate investor’s laptop runs out of battery in a Starbucks.

The real estate game has come a long way since the pen-and-paper days, and the property analytic software space inundates investors with some pretty sweet options. Good real estate research software, like a beloved dog (excuse us, the Birgo Capital writer told us the appropriate term is “heckin’ pupperino”) is an investor’s best friend.

But, when the chips are down and the dip ends up on the carpet, only one can be best in show. Is a real estate investor’s best friend the reigning champion, or the up-and-comer? There’s only one way to find out.

Who’s more helpful?

Like a great dog, CoStar and Yardi can both do it all: fetch sticks, bark when the neighbors get too loud, find loan information for Pittsburgh multifamily buildings . . . okay, we’re stretching the metaphor a little.

Both services really do provide investors with excellent information that can be used to research properties, dig up deals, and manage holdings. Yardi’s advantage is that it offers users more detailed loan information, which is great for researching target properties based on when debt matures. 

But, we’ve gotta give this one to CoStar. CoStar includes far more total information on each listing: a multitude of company contacts, more phone numbers and emails (as opposed to Yardi, which usually has only phone numbers), and much better interior property photos (Yardi usually only has exterior photos). CoStar also covers an abundance of actionable market news.

Point: CoStar

Who’s cuter?

This one’s pretty easy. Yardi’s user interface is clean, streamlined, and modern. It’s easy to find everything you need, and unnecessary information doesn’t intrude into your precious screen real estate when you’re stuck in an airport without your second and third monitors. CoStar’s interface, on the other hand, is a little like vintage Microsoft Excel: you can do or find just about anything, but power and flexibility come at the cost of that hip, minimal aesthetic that millennials love so much.

Point: Yardi

Who’s won more shows?

Yardi and CoStar are both well-respected, widely-used products. But, while CoStar’s only been around since 1987, it’s established a prestige reputation as the gold-standard product in its class. It isn’t easy being the standard against which others are measured — for instance, CoStar can get pretty expensive — but the cost is worth it for the most comprehensive option on the market.

Point: CoStar

Who comes first when you call them?

Complex software inevitably invites a specter that has plagued beleaguered IT and customer service departments since the dawn of time: the dreaded User Error. The good news: if you need help, Yardi has a helpful support team to keep you from getting bogged down. While Yardi’s features are sometimes newer, or in perpetual Beta — making them potentially more likely to break — their support team is impressively responsive and helpful.

Point: Yardi

Conclusion

You probably realized a while ago that, if we’re using a dog metaphor, we can’t possibly pick just one. The fact is, we could never choose — between dogs or real estate software.

CoStar offers the ultimate in flexibility, information, and power, but it comes at a price: CoStar is more expensive, and more difficult to learn and use. For experienced users who need the extra information, and don’t mind shelling out for it, CoStar can’t be beat.

But, Yardi is more affordable, offers a simple, clean interface that’s easy to use, and more than covers the basics. If you need email addresses, interior photos, or top broker reports, you’ll probably go with CoStar, but for users who don't need as many features or as much information, or who are primarily focusing on loan information, or don't want to spend as much money, Yardi's hip, accessible user experiences gets the job done.

They’re both great services, and our jobs are easier because both are out there. We could never pick just one.

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