Tuesday
August 19, 2014

Google Earth: The World at Your Fingertips

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Google Earth: The World at Your Fingertips

Google Earth Pro gives you the capability to create turbo-charged multimedia maps that can help you promote properties and impress customers.

Most of you are probably familiar with Google Maps and Google Earth, free mapping solutions which make it easy to convey the lay of the land, listing locations and the surrounding area on the Web.

However, you may not be aware that there are legal limits to use of these Google products for marketing. You also might not know that a superior mapping product is available in Google Earth Pro for $399.

“With Google Earth Pro, you can print much higher-resolution maps and satellite photos for use in presentations, reports and other marketing materials,” says Natasha Wyatt, marketing manager for the Google Earth product line. “It’s also an interactive product which allows users to record what they do online to make a movie of a flyover of an area or property.” Once recorded, that tour can be posted in a Web site, distributed by e-mail, or shared offline as part of a presentation.

These movies, and any Google Earth Pro image, can be much more than a visual representation of the landscape. The Pro version also empowers users to incorporate data layers into maps and images as overlays to reveal much more about a neighborhood or location. Three data sets are included with the program, and users can import their own GIS data to create additional layers.

One of the included data sets provides information for locations and buildings, including the parcel number, boundaries, use code and zoning information. Linked to that information are more detailed reports, such as sales history, which can be purchased as a PDF from DataQuick, an aggregator of real estate information.

Another data set contains the latest census data and 2015 projections from Nielsen Claritas. This information can be displayed in color-coded layers for such variables as household size, family income, or education level by the state, country, tract, or block. The third set displays local traffic trends, based on monitoring of the number of cars moving through an area’s intersections and main thoroughfares.

At commercial land brokerage Nathan & Associates in Scottsdale, Ariz., Shannon McLaughlin is responsible for mapping and research. She uses Google Earth Pro to create the interactive maps and tours the company relies on in its presentations to master plan developers, investors, and home builders. An early adopter of Keyhole, the mapping software purchased by Google in 2004 then rebranded as Google Earth, she says this latest version offers many practical advantages to real estate users.

“With Google Earth Pro, it’s easy to show clients what they really want to know about an area or property.” The maps she creates can contain layers defining lot boundaries, with clickable icons for property details. With the same ease, she can summon information on surrounding properties, demographics for an entire area or an individual neighborhood, nearby roads, and amenities. As she clicks through the data, the entire process can be recorded within Google Earth Pro for a movie about that location or area. A feature called “vector and image regionation” enables the program to display only requested data so images and layers display without wait. In spite of its sophistication, McLaughlin reports, “It’s very user friendly, probably one of the easiest programs to use,”

And McLaughlin says it can be an effective marketing tool for users and listings. “Whenever a brokerage or individual uses technology that brings them to the forefront of the market, it’s going to give them an advantage,” she says. “Would you rather come into a broker’s office and view tours of 10 different properties, with a bird’s eye view of the surrounding neighborhood, zoning, and other information, or spend the day driving around trying to figure out which one really interests you?”

For a brief overview of Google Earth Pro, check out this video on YouTube. A seven-day free trial of Google Earth Pro is available. The purchase price of $399 covers a one-year license, and volume discounts begin with purchase of 10 user licenses at $349 each.

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