HOW TO USE GIS FOR REAL ESTATE
If you’ve spent any time on our blog before, you’ll know that we think GIS is a big deal. Using GIS for real estate is the natural extension of having a really powerful tool meet the needs of a really complex industry.
But knowing how GIS works doesn’t always mean that you know how to use it effectively within your field. If you’re wondering how to use GIS for real estate, you’re in the right place.
WHY USE GIS FOR REAL ESTATE
The best way to start using GIS for real estate is to know why you’re doing it. It’s hard to spend time learning and using a program when you don’t know why you should be doing anything differently.
However, GIS can be incredibly useful, and it won’t take long to see the benefits of its use. Consider the following benefits of GIS for real estate.
Traditionally, real estate research can take a lot of time. Even if the researcher works with an agency that has already compiled information, it may be difficult to double-check that the data is correct or up‐to‐date.
Much of the information that may be valuable to those in the industry is spread out among different sites, government agencies, or other groups. Gathering that information—whether it’s done by visiting a website or driving to a records office—can take time.
With a GIS, this information is available all in one place, at the click of a button. It’s easy to compare information for different locations or to view several data sets together.
The simplicity of visualizing and contextualizing data when it’s all in the same place saves users time. And in a field that moves as quickly as real estate, time is money.
Another problem with gathering information from multiple sources is that you can never be sure how accurate or up‐to‐date that information really is. Additionally, comparing data from different sources is often difficult when the data is in different formats.
A GIS like FuseGIS is regularly updated to reflect the most current data sets available. This accuracy is preserved throughout comparisons because the data maintains its format.
In an industry so reliant on client satisfaction, it’s beneficial to make sure that you always have the right information at the right time — which is to say, right when the client wants it.
Preserve Data Long Term
Using a GIS for data storage and analysis also ensures that your data and maps are safe, no matter the circumstances.
Union Pacific Railroad, the second‐largest property owner in the US, is over a century old and has a lot of land to keep track of. By transitioning to using a GIS, they didn’t have to worry about the natural wearing‐down of their maps and related documents.
“All of the functions we do in the Real Estate Department depend on these maps. We have found even more uses for them than we had originally envisioned,” explains John Hawkins, of UPR’s real estate division.
The railroad’s success also shows that GIS are just as beneficial for large‐scale real estate as they are for those working with individual homeowners.
TOP TIPS FOR USING GIS IN REAL ESTATE
Having a GIS is only half the battle. Using it correctly is another thing entirely, but also the only way to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
Follow these four steps to using GIS well in real estate to know that you’re making good use of an important tool.
1. Be Consistent
Commit to using your GIS consistently, not just on special occasions.
It’s easy to use a new tool only as a backup for when your existing tools don’t work, but that defeats the purpose of a GIS. Using the program consistently ensures that you’re always working with the same data set and finding accurate numbers.
Being consistent in using your GIS is closely tied to our second tip: being familiar with your GIS platform.
2. Be Familiar
It’s also a good idea to spend the time to become familiar with your GIS.
Don’t use a function for the first time when you’re on a time crunch for a client. Setting aside some time to just click around the platform can go a long way in ensuring that once you do need something, you’ll know how to get it.
3. Be Creative
Being creative with your GIS means being curious and unafraid to try new things.
If you use your GIS in the same way that everyone else does, you’ll see a benefit. But if you take your use a step further and find ways to use the platform that are specific to your work, you’ll see an even greater benefit and a higher return on the time you spend on your work.
Just because a GIS hasn’t been used in some way yet doesn’t mean that it can’t be in the future. Make sure that you ask questions such as, “what if I try using it for this. . .” so that you’re constantly pushing the limits of the value of the platform.
4. Be Willing to Ask for Help
You’re not alone in using a GIS for real estate. Others are in the same boat and facing the same challenges. With any luck, others are also being creative and finding new and better ways to use GIS.
Take advantage of this by reaching out to others for help and ideas. Whether it’s a help line, an online discussion board, or a team of coworkers, you’ll find that you can use GIS for real estate most effectively when you’re not trying to do it alone.
GIS REAL ESTATE FUNCTIONS CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER
GIS is an effective and exciting tool for members of nearly every industry, but those in the real estate scene especially have a lot to gain by using it well. Reap the full benefits of a GIS platform by being consistent, familiar, creative, and willing to collaborate with others.
If you’re in real estate in the Austin or Houston areas, FuseGIS could be the GIS platform for you. Request a demo today to find out.