GIS Technology Helps Real Estate Industry Professionals Make Intelligent Business Decisions

AURORA, Colo. – August 14, 2012 – An online geographic information systems (GIS) degree will pay huge dividends in the real estate industry.

“GIS is all about location and location is fundamental to success in real estate,” says Dr. Stephen McElroy, GIS program chair at American Sentinel University. “By analyzing data around locations, real estate professionals can target properties to match exact specifications and deliver the answers needed to make the most intelligent choices, so the use of GIS is a natural match for all aspects of real estate business.”

GIS technology provides commercial and residential real estate companies with the information they need to analyze market potential and trends that are associated with their customers’ needs.

Through the use of a robust collection of Esri basemap and aerial photography, GIS analysts are able to display, explore and analyze a wide range of demographic and consumer spending tapestry data. This data facilitates better decision making and tells a compelling story that illustrates the ways in which the proposed development will be an attractive investment for both the developer and the neighborhood residents.

On a more local scale, GIS can be used to assist real estate agents and their clients to examine neighborhood characteristics and calculate livability indices such as walkability scores and transportation scores.

Real estate brokers and appraisers use GIS to accurately analyze commercial properties and its attributes through demographics, aerial photographs, traffic counts, shopping center usage, merchandise potential and competitive influence. These firms are hired by companies like Starbucks, Home Depot, McDonald’s and Best Buy to select new locations for their growing businesses. Location matters more than ever and GIS gives real estate professionals the information they need to make profitable decisions.

Most real estate GIS professionals are using Esri’s Business Analyst Online, a product that makes thousands of analyses every day through ecommerce addresses to generate drive time and overlay with demographics reports.

Commercial real estate agents use this data to make better decisions based on the consumers in the area. Professionals with GIS training can readily apply their knowledge to real-world business scenarios that can improve decision-making and boost the bottom line.

Here are a few examples of GIS at work aiding the real estate industry.

After relying on maps for 20 years, MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services incorporated Esri Business Analyst software and truly began to understand and analyze its vast amounts of data.

Today, MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services uses Business Analyst for all stages of the commercial real estate life cycle at the company, including development, landlord representation, tenant advisory and site selection, market research, construction, and property management. The software has even helped the company offer services to new customers who were not interested in real estate transactions.

“For the first time, I think members of my company really saw their real estate,” says Matt Felton, the company’s director of research for GIS and mapping. “We had a lot of fun with the data, viewing and exploring information in a way they hadn’t experienced before. The more they saw in the maps, the more questions they would ask.”

Shopping center giant United Properties and leasing agent NorthMarq saw similar results when deploying the Business Analyst suite. Their tailored program assesses more than 134 categories of goods and services in each shopping center trade area.

Using ArcGIS, Esri says, the data can be organized to determine spending potential, competitive dynamics and consumer preferences for every category of retail goods and services in the marketplace.

These three companies are just the tip of the iceberg for the potential in GIS and real estate. There are hundreds of positions out there just like Felton’s. Large real estate companies, like Trump International and quick service restaurants, like McDonalds and retailers, like Sears, are constantly searching for professionals who can help their respective businesses better analyze geographical data.

“Business applications of GIS have been around for decades and over the course of the next several years as the real estate market rebounds throughout the U.S., GIS professionals can play a significant role in helping the real estate sector,” says Dr. McElroy.

Dr. McElroy points out that an examination of the planned expansion of the light rail system and the trends in property values throughout the Denver metropolitan area will be key factors in determining new locations for retail shopping and housing developments.

As more and more commercial enterprises adopt GIS, there should be abundant opportunities for skilled GIS personnel in the future.

A recent 711 job posting seeks a Senior Analyst of Development Intelligence (GIS), while a Wendy’s real estate / GIS position will direct strategic deployment of GIS systems.

“To help give real estate professionals a competitive edge in this job market, I recommend that they pursue an online GIS degree, whether it’s an associate or bachelor’s program,” says Dr. McElroy.

Real estate professionals can also take advantage of the free software available to practice making real estate decisions. In fact, Esri just announced the Business Analyst Online (BAO) application is free to use on smartphones. Dr. McElroy strongly encourages that real estate professionals use this software to get a leg up on their competition in the real estate GIS industry.

Dr. McElroy notes that as part of American Sentinel’s associate and bachelor’s degree programs in GIS, a required course is Introduction to GIS Business Applications where students are exposed to a wide range of GIS applications for business use. In subsequent courses, there are numerous business-related GIS exercises as well as opportunities to focus on specific business sectors for small GIS project assignments.

American Sentinel’s GIS programs prepare students for entry into the GIS field. They also provide training in information systems that benefit other business areas such as real estate. Learn more about American Sentinel University’s GIS degrees.

About American Sentinel University

American Sentinel University delivers the competitive advantages of accredited associate, bachelor’s and master’s online degree programs focused on the needs of high-growth sectors, including information technology, computer science, GIS, computer information systems and business intelligence degrees. The university is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), which is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency and is a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.