Mapping Trends for CRE – Q&A with Dave Lewand

Dave LewandDave Lewand, CRE marketing/tech/mapping expert/purveyor of creGROW– and one of the most influential CRE people online – was kind enough to take the time to answer some of my questions on how mapping technologies are evolving for the industry.  Here they are – totally unedited – because, as it turns out, Dave is also a really good writer.  Waiting for the blog…

What’s involved in setting up interactive mapping of my listings for users on a website?  And how much “interaction”/what kind of data should there be/should I have? And….do users really use these maps?
The simplest solution to integrating an interactive map of CRE property listings within a CRE website is via the Google Maps API (more detail: For any CRE company that considers access to current availabilities a priority, I recommend placing this map on a website homepage. At creGROW, we have the advantage of combining website traffic analysis of all sites into one, macro-level summary highlighting navigation trends. While I’m unable to offer specific traffic results, I can tell you that, when available, site users prefer to enter property detail pages via Google Maps API. I expect this to continue as mobile/iPad traffic grows. It’s a site navigation option that should not be ignored.

I know I need to map properties and maybe I want demographic overlays.  But GIS is being promoted as a “decision making tool?”  How does that translate to CRE?
Geospatial analysis – or applying statistical analysis/techniques to geographically-based data – is more popular than ever in CRE. Fierce competition is resulting in more user-friendly GIS solutions. These solutions are being placed not only in the hands of GIS analysts, but also decision-makers.  Take the example of a national retailer looking to expand within a new market. In the past, a CRE broker within that local market would equip a national retailer’s representative with a hardcopy site selection analysis/tour. Now, that same national retailer could and should expect much more. How much more? They should expect the ability to alter site selection analysis “on the fly” via iPad or similar as a passenger in that broker’s vehicle.

Do I really need to geocode everything?
I’m probably the most aggressive geo-coder you’ll ever meet. I geo-code just about everything. Why? Everything can be tied to a location, and much of that geo-coded data will grant you a competitive advantage when displayed properly. I encourage creGROW clients to geo-code all media – photos, videos, etc. – where possible. I can’t tell you exactly how people will communicate and navigate the internet 5-10 years from now – but I’m confident that it will involve a map. A history of recorded latitudes and longitudes will become increasingly useful for CRE. For those who specialize in multi-level office, altitude will be yet another piece of data to add.

I’ve seen some great videos on 3D projection mapping.  Is that something the average CRE broker can do?
I’m more familiar with 3D Modeling, particularly within Google Earth. Google Earth will grow in popularity as it becomes easier to navigate on both desktop and mobile (see WebGL). As this happens, owners, developers and brokerage firms will want to showcase branded individual properties and portfolios within Google Earth (or similar).

Who’s winning in the “map wars?”  Google, Bing…someone else?
This battle is occurring at the speed of light. Long-time mapping giant Esri has an excellent mobile solution with tremendous flexibility – ArcGIS. Google’s mobile, desktop and enterprise solutions excel in ease-of-use. Apple has the purchase power to leapfrog Google Earth 3D Modeling technology, and they are attempting to do that right now. Those who concentrate solely on GIS are part of a very deep community with an intense motivation to make maps work.

Photo:  Dave Lewand


  1. says

    Great article and I love the point about geocoding. It is a great article that I think many would love to be able to put to use in a big way. Like all of this technology, finding the time is the real challenge for all. Thanks for writing a blog post that truly educates and helps folks understand what to use and how to use all of this power we have today with technology. You both know I am big fans of your work too!! (Chris and Dave!)

    • Chris says

      It’s good to know someone like Dave who is up on all the possibilities! Usage will be driven by both user and agent demand, so it’s good to know what’s available/what needs to be done.

  2. says

    Many thanks for the opportunity, Chris – hopefully this generates some additional discussion surrounding the highest and best use of maps for commercial real estate!

    • Chris says

      If you just need US demo maps, Esri has a “create your own map” where you pick the data you want (only one element at a time, e.g., household income). Then you use the embeddable code to place on your website. If no location is selected, it’s for the entire US. The map has a zoom feature so users can drill down to state or county. Esri only has 2000 and 2007 estimate data, though.

      If you want to plot demo data on a map yourself, you’d have to download the data from one of the sources you listed then prepare it to use with whatever you’re using for mapping, i.e., create a database table/spreadsheet with the demo data in it. I don’t know of any “live” service you can use for that data (Dave?).

      I’m no expert in mapping software/APIs but assume it’s done the same way as with plotting properties to map – you’d just be plotting the data by zip code (or county, though that may not be granular enough). If you want to plot multiple data sets to one map, e.g., properties and median income, that would be more complicated. Hopefully Dave has more to say on this!

  3. says

    Good Article, and I mean that. It is informative, well written and not too self promoting. It should give real estate brokers some good ideas about some of the things that they can work on for 2012.

  4. says

    Some good suggestions from Chris – and a good question from CRE Console.

    Often times all one needs is very basic 2010 census data – and you have sourced some good locations to capture that data. Once you have the data – and this applies to data of any kind – there are a wide variety of options as to how to display privately (desktop/cloud), within an enterprise system (desktop/cloud) or shared publicly (internet) or semi-publicly (password-protected client use, for example – a new option within creGROW sites).

    My interpretation of your need is the ability to display Census 2010 data publicly on a website map – for free. There are many, many ways to do that. I recommend utilizing Google Fusion Tables along with the Google Maps API .

    Of course it’s only easy if you know how to do it! Give me a shout out if you need help.

    – Dave

    • says

      Thanks Dave, I may take you up on that. Do you have the data already for the 2010 Census? We use Google Fusion for other things on our site now. Might be able to work together on this one….