Maintain or increase your residential real estate margins by unlocking the power of mapping. It’s no secret, rising interest rates, inflation, and labor shortages have hit the residential real estate market hard. As bloated tech giants such as Zillow, Redfin, and Opendoor scale back their reselling operations, smaller leaner operators must get creative to maintain their margins. 

Luckily, the democratization of mapping technology enables residential real estate investors to make better investment decisions and improve their operational efficiency to not only maintain, but increase their margins. In this article I’ll highlight several ways to integrate mapping into your business and some specific tools I’ve found to help you. I am not sponsored by these tools, I’ve just found them to be easy to access and use for the purposes identified! 

Make better investment decisions with better data and analysis

Mapping technology enables faster and better investment decisions at scale. Investing in residential real estate requires careful analysis of sale price, home condition, renovation costs, neighborhood characteristics, potential resale price, and a host of other factors prior to tying up capital and operational resources in a property. 

Traditional methods of analysis are time consuming and aren’t always easily leveraged for future use. Integrating mapping technology into your real estate investment business can help you quickly understand market trends and analyze property conditions remotely. 

Utilizing heat maps to understand market trends

Extending far beyond visualizing the location of available inventory, heat mapping technology can help you quickly understand market factors critical to your investment decisions including:

  • Identifying where homes are selling above and/or below listed price
  • Visualizing trends in the rate of home sales over time
  • Understanding where foot traffic is highest using mobile location data

Products such as Maptive, allow you to upload your own data sets to easily visualize and identify trends in your location data on a Google map. 

Source: https://www.maptive.com/feature/heat-mapping-tool/

No need to hire expensive GIS Specialists or build your own data sets from scratch to understand buying and selling trends. Just use your MLS! Filter for homes meeting your standard buying criteria, export the results as a .CSV (or .XLS), import straight into Maptive, and start visually analyzing your data using their impressive suite of tools. Pull this data at regular intervals to add a time sequencing element to your data set and analyze changing trends over time. 

Adding mobile location data from companies such as Near to your analysis, will enable you to assess the visibility of properties to potential buyers. Visualizing population density and traffic adds a powerful new dimension to your purchasing and marketing decision making. 

Analyze property conditions at scale

Mapping can help you determine critical aspects of a property’s condition without having to utilize resources to physically put eyes on it or sift through local permitting records. Physically visiting every property is a must for some investors, yet human eyes can easily miss elements of a property’s condition and have a huge impact on your ROI.

Some of the most costly oversights you can make are misidentifying the age or condition of a roof, pool, or septic system, overlooking property boundaries and possible encroachments, and underestimating the extent of required debris removal. 

Source: https://www.astraea.earth/

With continuously updating high definition earth observation data and proprietary tooling from companies like Astraea, Ecopia, nearmap, and Cesium, you can easily analyze some of the most critical elements of properties without having to physically visit them.

You can assess roof size and condition to determine if it will need to be replaced or repaired, and if so estimate how much it will cost. Identifying swimming pool quality, leach field health, and outbuildings to research permitting is also made easy with their machine learning analytics. You can also integrate plat maps to analyze property boundaries and determine if neighboring properties are set back or encroaching.  

Beyond property infrastructure, one of the biggest expenses that can turn a profitable flip into a flop is underestimating the cost of debris removal. Pointerra and Cesium make calculating volumes easy with their cut and fill volume features so you never underestimate the cost of debris removal or land filling again. 

Source: https://cesium.com/learn/3d-tiling/ion-tile-point-clouds/

By leveraging the power of mapping in your real estate investment business you can make more informed decisions faster, avoid costly oversights, and maximize your ROI.

Improve operational efficiency and portfolio management

Mapping tools enable you to improve the efficiency of your operations by reducing time spent traveling between homes in your portfolio as well as time spent in homes throughout the renovation and management process without sacrificing quality. Let’s face it, at some point you have to put eyes on your investment properties. By properly utilizing maps, you can make sure that time is well spent. 

Streamline portfolio management

Utilizing maps to orient the day to day operations of your field team will reduce the fuel and time required to ensure your homes sell fast and profitably. Your field operators spend their time driving from home to home assessing, scoping, and managing your portfolio to help you make good purchasing decisions and prepare your homes for resale.  

By including maps in your project management toolbox, you can ensure your field crews are able to plot their daily routes easily while reducing time and fuel spent driving between homes. Less time driving, means more time and care devoted to producing quality homes. Maptive’s multi-stop optimization planner will even plan the most fuel and time efficient routes for you!

Source: https://www.maptive.com/feature/optimize-routes-directions/

Yet, to get the most out of your maps and field team, I suggest customizing your map data so your operators can easily see all of the homes under their charge and distinguish between:

  • Scheduled visits,
  • State of home in the buying/renovation/listing process,
  • Number of days on the market, and
  • Days since the last visit.

By enabling your team to easily see and prioritize the homes in their portfolio, they can more effectively plan their visits based on geographic proximity to optimize time, fuel, and urgency. 

Reduce renovation costs by mapping your properties

Mapping the inside of your homes will dramatically reduce the time and cost required to scope and renovate each home while improving product quality. The less time you can spend in each home while improving its quality, the larger your margins. While we usually think of maps as most applicable to distances between locations, they are incredibly useful for scoping and managing your renovation projects. 

Mapping the interior of your homes can be as simple as creating a basic outline of the essential features of every home: exterior, roof, walls/ceiling/baseboards, floors, doors, kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, lighting, HVAC, etc. Or it could be as sophisticated as creating a digital twin using imaging technology. 

The simple “map” in list form enables your team to quickly and efficiently move through a home while they scope or QC it to ensure they don’t miss any major defects or areas of interest. By deploying this simple tactic for Opendoor I was able to reduce time spent scoping each home by almost 30% while reducing critical defect rate by 90%.

These numbers may be improved even more with the robust point cloud and digital twin capabilities of Pointerra3D Core or Cesium’s 3D Tiling Pipeline.

Source: https://app.pointerra.io/tryit/

These technologies enable you to scan the inside of a home and identify defects, include notes, and tag objects directly within the scan to reduce ambiguity for contractors. Moreover, once complete, contractors may refresh the imagery to enable remote QC. 

From enabling better and faster investment decisions to improving operational efficiency, applying mapping technologies to your real estate investment business can help you maintain and even grow your margins. 

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