GIS for Smart Real Estate Transactions

Real estate may be an issue of location, location, location as the old saying goes, but understanding and making the best use of it requires data, data, data. A data visualization company used GIS technology to show that in a small way: a series of maps that “compare income, property values, and property taxes across the United States.”

Not that the effort was small, but it’s just one example of how companies can even now use GIS, and why gaining a masters in GIS can give someone an advantage in the world of business. Data visualization company IDV Solutions took third party census-based data to combine household incomes, property values, and tax rates and then mapped the results.

The collection of factors allows the calculation of a total property burden of price and tax and then a ratio of the total burden to income. Someone can graphically see the ratios and identify the best bargains in the country. Retail chains live and die by their ability to find locations that will pay off. The considerations are eye-crossing and can include foot-traffic, population densities, concentrations of commercial establishments, socio-economic profiles of neighborhoods, cost of land or office space, state and local tax rates, and prior purchase patterns of residents. The best at identifying potential retail space have an automatic competitive advantage. Not only can they find the best locations, but they can also examine the comparable strengths of rivals and concentrate on spots that would effectively block competitors and be the greatest disadvantage to them. The same types of techniques as IDV Solutions, with more complex analysis, would allow a company to rank potential retail locations by expected cost, transportation and logistics expense, profitability, and competitive advantage. In fact, even the IDV maps concept could be directly helpful. Finding the lowest ratio of property expense burden to income could help identify consumers who might have the highest potential levels of disposable income. But to create an effective analysis is much harder than it might seem. Ordering a set of GIS tools is not enough. The person designing and implementing the model must know good sources of data and know the advantages of limitations of different types of analysis. Otherwise, the results could sound plausible and yet lead management in the wrong direction. Learning how to effectively marry geographic display and insight is more than plotting points onto a map. This is why advanced training in GIS technology and data analysis is so important, and why those who gain it have a distinct career advantage.

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