As an industry, real estate has been relatively slow in adopting new technology. Until a few years ago, if you asked a fellow land real estate professional if they were using new technology in their business process, often, the answer would have been a “not really” or “sort of.” In real estate circles, technology often has the reputation of providing more than what’s been needed to support clients. In other words, a luxury.
The slow uptake of land development tools can also be attributed to the technology of the time not being very user-friendly, too complex, or too expensive. Since many tech companies designed their products without enough input from land real estate professionals, users would often find the software “too difficult.” Moreover, some early technology products were focused only on making land data available online—without adding any value to it.
Today, it is a different scenario altogether. Technology’s social status in the real estate industry has changed from being inessential to being indispensable. That’s because technology is now dedicated to empowering land brokers and developers with tools that allow them to run their businesses more efficiently and successfully without a dramatic change in how they work.
The advances in location-driven technology truly has the potential to change the rules of the game for land brokers. From being a business based on relationships, land real estate has evolved to become a business based on data. And data, as you might guess, is the new oil (i.e. the most important resource).
Consider this as an example: You want to analyze your market area and swiftly zero down on undeveloped tracts of land that meet your land acquisition target criteria. So, how do you do that? With the help of a mapping software application, you can gain instant access to the most up-to-date and unique datasets. Parcel boundaries, owner information, property characteristics, points of interest and so much more are now at your fingertips, ready to be overlaid, queried and analyzed on a map giving you and your team a clear picture of the target opportunities.
Let’s take another example. A client has expressed a desire to buy a ranch or a vineyard property. How do you ensure your presentation clearly establishes you as an expert of specialty land and allows you to prove it on the spot? The same mapping software allows you to populate your map with highly valuable data, including:
- The elevation and slope of the site to ensure proper water drainage and whether the slope is a S. or S.W. facing slope
- The water, mineral, and surface data, to critically evaluate agricultural possibilities
- Accessibility to major roadways
- Zoning and taxation regulations of the area
A mapping software application allows you to confidently share your new insights with clients in a presentation—in an instantly ready and visually-appealing digital format—complete with attractive point of interest logos, drive time analytics, and more. Clients will greatly appreciate your ability to visualize the property’s potential—and you’ll appreciate how easy it was to deliver it to them.
There’s also an important and often overlooked benefit that’s emerging as a direct result of the land industry embracing location intelligence: democratization. In other words, easy access and affordability now make it easier for all (not just the few) to enjoy the power and resulting confidence that comes from making data-driven decisions. This confidence also spills over to your clients, allowing for deals to speed along to a close.
The good news is, this technology is not just available to the bigger brokerages. Easy access to cloud-based mapping software applications has levelled the playing field for smaller land teams, while bringing about much-needed transparency to the industry. So much so, even the traditional players have started to bank on the power of location intelligence to stay competitive. While there will always be value in your local market knowledge, success in today’s market requires technology.
This growth in the use of location intelligence and the tools that enable it suggests a historic shift in the land real estate industry. It’s now much more difficult to imagine the future of land development without it.
As mapping software applications grow in popularity, we’ll see them become even more advanced in terms of their analytical abilities. Matched with continuing efforts to simplify the processes and automate tasks, this technology will become a very common solution for even the most traditional real estate professional.
Tara Bleakley is Data and Analytics Director for Digital Map Products, a pioneer in geospatial mapping technology and location intelligence. Bleakley has 20 years of experience in the building and real estate industry, including GIS analysis, land evaluation, property owner map analysis and business development. She can be reached at TBleakley@digmap.com.