4,350 Active Properties? Map with Context Please!

Real Estate

So you're surfing the internet, seeking properties by criteria, considering buying or selling. You click through numerous clunky navigation menus and enter low/high matching values, for bedrooms, bathrooms, price range and more. You might get too many or too few results, when you run the search on Zillow®, Homesnap®, etc. I don't know about you, but a mess of red dots on the results map provides me no context.  I want context! I can hover over and highlight a red dot, making it green, and a tiny little thumbnail picture pops up, with the property price, square footage, beds and baths.

I'm sure it's better than nothing, but what are you missing?  For the largest purchase in your life,  shouldn't you get all of the information and prepare? 

Realtors® help real estate buyers and sellers get more information, by sharing local knowledge and market experience, plus they have additional tools of the trade. I created a better tool: a Geographical Information System, or GIS, which allows me easy access to more data than anyone else -- on my terms. I will meet with you, inquire about your wants, needs and motivations. Then I'll canvas the market, seeking candidates of interest, in a way nobody else can. Here is a map of the Flathead Valley:

Just Water - Cropped

I've kept roads in fine, light detail, but I've turned off the parcel / property boundaries for now. There are presently 4,350 active properties for sale on the MLS today, and I quickly and easily filter out those with wrong prices, too few beds or baths, and a multitude of other client qualifiers. Here is a look at the active properties as slices of pie, colored for current list price (from dirt cheap (brown) to sky high (deep blue), with white midway).

Just Prices - Cropped

As you'd expect, the darker blue more expensive properties (in the millions of dollars) oft line the perimeters of famous places. But you can still see some brown bare land parcels upon which you could place your dream home.  For clients, I'd eliminate the clutter of mismatched properties altogether, until they're ready to see in CONTEXT the neighboring properties surrounding their candidates.

It can be valuable to see the relative Days on Market (DOM), too, colored in ranges from fresh/green to hmmm/red (why hasn't this sold in SO long?):

DOM - Cropped

Your eyes are probably drawn quickly to the anomalies -- the reds -- and then you start to see information in the data. Why hasn't this parcel sold in 3 years? Is it priced way above market, or is something wrong with it, or does it not qualify for financing? Can I zoom into neighborhoods of interest, and see how often those homes are changing hands? Yup. 

What more information can I show you regarding price? Maybe the current list price as a percentage of the original list price? Can do:

Percent of OrigListPrice - Cropped

Wow. This picture should be screaming the obvious: most properties remain very near their original asking price (dark green for money and hopeful equity profits, versus red indicating a drop of half or more). Admittedly, the tiny few reds could be properties which were way over-priced in the first place. This is why sellers should get a thorough Realtor® market assessment/valuation first. I can show you all of the comparable properties presently on the market, plus (unlike others) properties listed in the past but now off-market, and the 20-year listing history graphed for every candidate (when it was on the market, at what price, for how long, with what outcome).

Now, put these slices of pie together for a comprehensive picture:

Northern Kalispell - Cropped

For many, it beats looking at a text list.  For others, I can print you the text list ;)

My system allows me to write endless queries, specific to one singular client's interests, as well as other broad queries to analyze market trends. I also have the entire Department of Revenue tax/appraisal details for properties, included in my GIS, so that I can see and search details as small as the actual dimensions of an outbuilding or patio, type of heating system, type and proximity of parking, roofing material, etc. I also have all of the state GIS parcel boundary information, so that I know all property boundaries and neighbors.

I also write programs, in Python and matplotlib, to invent new graphics and representations of property specifics and comparisons. How do I do that? Before I became a Realtor®, I was quite a programmer -- who founded and took public a software corporation and retired to a ranch at age 32. Why do I think creative maps can hold valuable context of pertinent facts and comparisons, more efficiently than lists? Before I became a Realtor®, I was an airline pilot and flight instructor, referencing endless important details cleverly depicted on maps.

When you look at the samples above, I'm not actually giving anything confidential away. More amazing graphic inventions and insights are reserved for the direct benefit of my clients. Such inventions helped my most recent clients price their home so accurately, that it:

  • Showed 16 times in the first day
  • Received 4 offers by the second day
  • Went under contract at the end of the second day

Kinda renders the yard sign moot...