Life Storage and Union Realtime, a self-storage research firm, are teaming up to collect as much real-time data as possible on newly developed self-storage facilities across the nation, a move they say will help investors and others make better decisions when buying, selling or building new facilities.

Earlier this month, the New York-based Union Realtime launched the third version of its software facilities tracking platform called “Radius Location Intelligence,” which provides clients with information about the locations of existing self-storage facilities.

But the new version of its platform will also now include a “development dataset” about new self-storage facilities being built across the country. Over the years, tracking new developments have been notoriously tricky – with often wildly divergent estimates of new construction projects under way at any given time.

A screenshot of Union Realtime’s latest development tracking software.

More precise tracking

Cory Sylvester, a principal at Union Realtime, said other firms try to track new developments, but he claims his firm’s new product will be able to track the number and locations of new facilities more precisely and on a daily basis. “Every single project [identified by Union Realtime] is confirmed by us address by address,” he said.

The firm is using a number of sources for its new-development dataset: Local zoning boards, construction company lead aggregators, web and media sources, developers and “platform users,” like New York’s Life Storage.

Sylvestor said Life Storage, as well as future platform users who contribute to the firm’s new development dataset, will also get some of his firm’s industry research services for free for forwarding information to Union Realtime.

Eyes in the field

Life Storage, which owns and operate 711 self-storage facilities, is helping to lead the new dataset initiative by having some of its far-flung 1,850 employees identify development activity under way in their areas, said Joseph Saffire, chief investment officer at Life Storage.

He said Life Storage hopes to get out of the deal with Union Realtime  “more robust and accurate data,” as well as to grow its relationship with Union Realtime.

Saffire said there’s simply a strong need for as much information as possible about existing and new self-storage projects facilities when making all sorts of decisions.

“As we move through the development cycle and self storage continues to permeate various corners of the United States, there will be increased need for real-time, accurate information for evaluating potential investment,” Saffire said, “As the network grows the quality and quantity of information should allow all estimations of new development to converge to the true number.”

Sylvester said tracking new self-storage developments is going to get more critical as more facilities are opened in coming years. “Tracking current supplies is hard enough,” he said. “This new (product) will now tackle products as they’re being developed.”

For the record, he said his firm had calculated that a total of 835 new facilities were built last year alone, 504 of them in the nation’s top 50 markets.

Jay Fitzgerald