Since CRS Data was founded, the company set out to offer the best possible information to real estate professionals. With the goal of providing solutions for every party involved, from bankers, appraisers, MLS', lenders and investors, CRS Data's team members remain as confident today in their services as they did from the beginning.
Edward Gettelfinger was one the founders, and from the start he has lent his expertise to every aspect of the company. Even now, Gettelfinger remains as involved as ever, and he is still focused on delivering access to the best data in the industry. He is not alone, however, and everyone at CRS Data is highly skilled at providing data and helping clients make decisions. That level of intimate knowledge is a competitive advantage.
In the next five years, Gettelfinger expects CRS Data to continue to grow. The company expanded even as the real estate bubble burst, and the staff's motivation and work ethic never changed. In the future, access to reliable, highly accurate and in-depth information will be as easy as ever.
Gettelfinger has been working toward his - and CRS Data's - goals for over 25 years. Recently, he was kind enough to offer some expertise and insight into the day-to-day operations of the company, and how detailed data and real estate solutions help many professionals.
Q: Data can seem like a daunting word to a lot of people. Can you simplify your team's structure and approach to gathering the data CRS provides?
A: The foundation of our data is collected from tax assessors at the individual courthouses across the country. We process these multiple formats of data into our CRS format. We add so much to the foundation from there that explaining all the items would be very difficult. Just to name a few: GIS maps, geo code referencing, flood zone information, address cleaning and standardizing, census information and much more. Then we add sales information - because most courthouses are not up-to-date as we would like - and mortgage information. We even key data that does not even exist at the courthouse. I could write a book here, as this is only scratching the surface!
Q: For those entering the work force, what is your opinion on the property data industry and what experience would you suggest for those interested in this route?
A: If you enter this industry make sure you are doing the data on your own, with as little third party data as possible. Data needs to have the "local" feel and CRS provides that "local" feel. The data may cost more to collect this way but it is worth it. I believe the last man standing in this "game" will be the owner of the data.
Q: Gathering reliable property data includes a lot of important aspects. What are some of the challenges involved on a day to day basis that keep your team on their toes?
A: This industry is a constant moving target. If you don't stay on your toes you will miss that target. Two big aspects of gathering reliable data are timeliness and quality. Of course CRS is constantly looking for ways to improve upon our even great ways of handling these two aspects. We never want to become complacent. We always want to over-achieve in these categories. Another issue we have is that some counties are more difficult to collect. Some of these difficult locations require an employee to actually visit courthouses on a regular basis to acquire the data needed to provide our customers with the necessary information.
Q: Prior to the establishment of CRS Data, what did real estate professionals do to obtain the data and information they needed? For example, such as property tax records, real estate records and so on?
A: Data was provided on paper maps and microfiche. The maps and microfiche were actually delivered by an employee or by mail to the customer. I remember when we first started the company selling and installing modems to allow the customer's computer to talk to ours. This was before the internet and we had computer nodes placed in cities for our customers to "dial" into. Selling was interesting because not only did you have to sell them on the idea of the data but you also had to sell them on the fact that your computer would call our computer and they would talk to each other. Some computers and modems were so slow I could have typed the data faster!
Q: What sets CRS Data apart from similar companies in your field?
A: No doubt here: Data quality and customer support! Our processes for gathering and distributing data are advanced beyond our competitors. When you get CRS Data you get the best information. When you become a client you become part of our family. It is a great competitive advantage for us to have such quality data and great customer support, especially when so many in our industry are not successful in these categories. Another thing that sets us apart from competition is our staff. We have so many great employees who make things run smoothly. Operating the business efficiently allows us to be reactive to our customers' needs. I have met many people in our line of business who can attest to our staff being top notch in our profession.