CoStar Group to acquire ForRent

CoStar Group, a provider of commercial real estate information, analytics and online marketplaces, is to acquire ForRent, a division of Dominion Enterprises, for USD350 million in cash and USD35 million in CoStar Group stock.

ForRent’s primary service is digital advertising through a network of four multifamily websites — which includes ForRent.com, AFTER55.com, CorporateHousing.com and ForRentUniversity.com. ForRent had approximately 17,000 properties advertised on its websites as of June 2017. Through the first six months of 2017, these sites generated over 47 million visits and an average of 3.5 million unique monthly visitors. ForRent is headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, and has 475 employees located in 38 offices around the United States.
 
“We are delighted to welcome the ForRent team and their family of sites to the Apartments.com network,” says Andrew C Florance, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of CoStar Group. “We believe this is a beneficial combination for all of our constituents. Prospective renters will have access to the most complete and accurate inventory of apartment availabilities with more than one million rentals spanning apartments, homes, and condominiums. Advertisers will benefit from our unmatched leads-to-lease conversion ratio. ForRent advertisers’ properties will be featured on Apartments.com after the transaction closes increasing their exposure by approximately 500 per cent. For the investors and lenders relying on CoStar for multifamily information and analytics, we expect the addition of properties and data from ForRent will further strengthen our information offering.” 
 
ForRent’s revenue for 2017 is expected to be approximately USD100 million and EBITDA is estimated at approximately USD15 million, for an EBITDA margin of 15 per cent, based on financial results from the first half of 2017. CoStar expects to achieve synergies of approximately USD25 million within 24 months after the acquisition closes, resulting in an adjusted purchase price multiple of ten times EBITDA after synergies. 
 
“110 million renters in the US collectively spend just under half a trillion dollars a year on rent, representing one of the fastest growing consumer market segments,” says Florance. “Our commitment to the multifamily industry has been resolute and evidenced by our investment in marketing, technology and the curation and delivery of original content to create the premier marketplace for renting an apartment in the United States.”
 
ForRent.com will remain a distinct, complementary brand to Apartments.com. By offering multiple distinct website marketing solutions, property managers and owners will have more exposure for their listings. CoStar expects to fully integrate the underlying technology that supports its entire multifamily suite of services by mid-2018, thereby efficiently leveraging a common research and listing platform.  Following integration, advertisers will be able to manage all of their listings across the combined networks through a single website. CoStar expects this will result in significant operating efficiencies for the Company, its advertisers, and renters.
 
“We intend to enhance ForRent.com and its related sites as we did with Apartments.com and ApartmentFinder,” says Florance. “Our research, technology and marketing initiatives have created the most-visited apartment listing site, which in turn delivers unprecedented levels of leads, leases and value to our advertising customers. We look forward to delivering that same value to all renters and advertisers on the ForRent network of sites.”
 
"We are pleased to become part of the Apartments.com network," says Terry Slattery, President of ForRent. "CoStar’s commitment to and investment in the multifamily space has created an exceptional platform that provides renters outstanding visibility with the highest quality of listings while providing property managers exceptional value through tremendous lead conversion. ForRent has partnered with its valued customers for decades and we believe that our customers and users will greatly benefit from this terrific combination.”
 
Florance says: “I am looking forward to working with the great team at ForRent and welcoming them to the Apartments.com family. The entire team at Apartments.com is dedicated to building and growing commercial real estate’s premier online apartment platform across the USD3.5 trillion U.S. multifamily asset class.”
 
The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2017 subject to customary closing conditions. 
 
At completion of integration, CoStar expects the acquisition to add revenue of approximately USD75 million – USD85 million, after merging the client base as well as discontinuing certain non-core services. Adjusted EBITDA margins are expected to be in a range of 45 per cent to 55 per cent.
 
“Our revenue in the multifamily space has grown rapidly over the past few years,” says Scott Wheeler, Chief Financial Officer of CoStar Group. “When we combine ForRent with our existing advertising and information revenues from the multifamily industry, we expect to approach a USD400 million revenue run rate by the end of 2017.”