Last Updated on May 18, 2022 by James Ewen
No matter what type of business you are in, there is no denying the importance of geospatial data as it relates to literally every area of your company from marketing to planning and everything in between. In terms of real estate, in the coming years any real estate agency that doesn’t make use of and rely heavily on geospatial data will almost certainly be left behind. In order to understand that rather marked and definitive statement, it is first important to understand exactly what geospatial data is, how it is collected, and why it is especially relevant in real estate.
A Brief Definition of Geospatial Data
In its simplest definition, geospatial data is that which is descriptive of any event, object or feature located on or very near the earth’s surface. It is typically a combination of:
- Location (coordinates)
- Characteristics (relating to objects, phenomena, or events)
- Temporal Information (point in time or lifespan)
All of which play a significant role in reading data with the intent of forecasting future events or movement.
For example, let’s look at how geospatial data helped to track and forecast the movement and spread of the SARS-CoV-2, Covid-19 pandemic. Temporal data gave us a short-term location of what was to be the pandemic in late 2019. We know that the location was Wuhan, China and thought to have originated at one specific market which then became ground zero on the geospatial chart. From there a long-term progression of the pandemic showed its movement outward which are temporal and location data. Along with characteristics such as how it was spreading, scientists became better able to forecast its movement around the globe and as early asMarch of 2020 a global pandemic was announced.
Even then, it was too little too late because some of the much-needed data was not forthcoming soon enough to predict an accurate geographic spread and rate of spread. Had geospatial data been shared better in the early days, many virologists and epidemiologists believe the pandemic may have had better outcomes earlier on. With that, you can see just how important it is in forecasting business dynamics going forward.
How Real Estate Can Benefit
In the real estate market properties for sale have always been valued primarily on location and what we knew about that that particular property in terms of the condition it was in and what was going on around it in the general vicinity. Were there plans for future development and if so, how would that affect a particular property that an owner wanted to list for sale. Realtors and assessors would look at other properties in the area to see what they had sold for in order to relate that price to the property in question. This is how comparables were calculated and how an actual list price and marketability were determined.
With advances in technology, geospatial data can actually have a profound effect on the profitability of a piece of commercial property. Instead of using historical data to predict a given market going forward, temporal data gathered and analysed in real time can indicate what that property is worth today in the here and now. To be specific, comparables calculated even a week previous to a major break in a pipeline may not be relevant today. That property would be greatly devalued if the repairs would be weeks or months in coming. Real time data can affect the price today and that’s why the real estate market will, at some point in time, need to rely on what is happening on the ground at a very precise location.
A Key Selling Point
Conversely, if new schools are being built, for example, and an influx of families are moving into a neighbourhood, a commercial venture for a theme park might want to jump on a parcel of land zoned commercial. Satellite imagery would show that kids are out playing in fields and on side streets with few parks and nothing in the way of entertainment. It would take weeks, if not longer, to collect that kind of data without the benefit of a literal bird’s eye view from above and a poor data set can have a terrible effect on the real estate market.
AI could possibly collect data on the types of commercial or public properties families might frequent already in existence, but even that isn’t quite as all-encompassing as actually seeing movement on the ground. Just because a property exists doesn’t mean it is being frequented by the locals. Satellite imagery would document that and indicate whether or not there is a need for family entertainment at this time.
Imagine what a real estate agent could do in the Greek Islands with information like that? As a popular tourist destination, geospatial data could indicate what kinds of attractions are being frequented, which are ignored, and what types of venues would do well in areas with currently high levels of traffic. It’s interesting to imagine just how this type of data can, and will, affect the real estate market going forward. One thing is for sure. Geospatial data will almost certainly replace the archaic system of buying and selling real property based on comparables. That’s a given.
James is the head of marketing at Tamoco