On today’s show we’re talking about getting access to high value market data for free.

I’m a big believer in getting access to market data and using that data to make decisions. I also believe that independently developed market studies are essential to make sure you’re not deluding yourself.

Whenever there is a new commercial project undertaken, you can bet that there is going to be a third party market study. These studies are both expensive and time consuming. Before you take a project through the entire process of entitlement and a capital raise, you will want to commission a market study. But before you commit significant resources to a project, it might be nice to get a hold of an existing study that would help you understand the dynamics of the market. That kind of early look at the market can save you a lot of time and money by allowing you to validate and refine your product concept.   On today’s show I’m going to give you a shortcut.

We know that work performed by government bodies carries with it a requirement for transparency. That doesn’t mean that governments publish all of the work they do. In fact they don’t publish that much. But you can often get a hold of information from government bodies through a formal access to information request. Almost all levels of government have a formal access to information process.

So if you’re looking for market studies that can cost anywhere from about $5,000 to $50,000 to produce, you might just find that the information you’re looking for already exists and can be secured by simply asking the relevant government department to send it to you.

Now a market study and an appraisal are not the same thing. But they often can contain the same information.

I recently made a request to a government department for a market study in the industrial sector. They responded that they didn’t have the specific market study I was looking for. However, they did have an appraisal for several comparable properties in the area. Would I like to see a copy of the appraisal instead?

Clearly the answer was yes.

The appraisal was a 54 page document that was jam packed with sufficient market data to meet my needs at the start of a project.

It showed more information than I was expecting. It showed annual absorption of square footage by neighborhood within the city. It showed total inventory and vacancy by neighborhood. It showed average rent per square foot by neighborhood.

What did this document cost me? It cost a single email and about 10 days, and a follow-up email. The appraisal was a little more than a year old.

Would I ultimately commission my own market study? Of course. But to get a project validated and to help refine a product concept, that document was more than sufficient.