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How to Create Maps for Raw Land Listings

Mike in Seattle says:

I am taking on more and more raw land. I love it but I struggle with a good way to represent it. Mapright.com has an OK platform but I am not thrilled with it. Any suggestion for interactive platforms? I am a drone operator so I've got the aerial photos covered but it is still not fully representing the property.

Mapright.com looks interesting but my experience from helping my wife market raw land in the Seattle area suggests that one of the essential aspects of marketing land is having information from the official county assessor's property records. This is essential because you want to be able to quote official dimensions and sizes and show official property lines, etc. The majority of real estate agents have no clue how to get the local county assessor's property maps in digital form.

I think becoming familiar with your local assessor's property records and maps is a very valuable service to be able to provide to agents that list raw land. The problem is that every county has a different style database and website for their county records. Here is generally how to get at your local county assessor's property records/maps:

  1. Google "[county-name] tax records"
  2. It is usually called a "tax records database."
  3. Spend some time figuring out how to use the tax records/assessor's map database. Most are not that difficult to figure out, they just all have their own quirks.
  4. Search by address (usually called a "situs" address - don't ask me what situs means), or visually find the property from road names.
  5. If you can figure out the "plot #," you can get all the lot line dimensions and other related information.
  6. You can usually get map PDFs or just get screen captures and then enhance or modify maps in Photoshop.

Most agents cannot do the above process yet all this information is critical to marketing undeveloped property.

5 comments on “How to Create Maps for Raw Land Listings”

  1. If you do a virtual tour for land TourBuzz.net lets you put up a floor plan and show the positions where the images were taken. Putting up a drone image instead would be great way to market land. You can show entrances, gates, water wells, utilities, trails, rivers, lakes, outbuildings, etc...

  2. Thank you Larry for showing us the ropes!!! MapRight does an excellent job ob finding the parcel. They map it and even gives you a 3D rendering of the land as well. I know that you can work with soil samples and timber as well but I have not done anything with that part. It is the part of giving views from different directions where it looks like they have not masted yet. Maybe a part that is underdeveloped yet. Who knows, more effort in the future could give us a rocksolid land platform. Maybe a combination between TourBuzz and MapRight is the trick?!

  3. Google Earth Pro is still an amazing tool (and free) for creating interesting stills and video of raw land. Its best feature for RE is to be able to draw a quick polygon, to represent a border, and snap it to the ground so you can see it in any 3d angle. It's also great for making videos if you want to tell more of a story. Here is an example from years ago. (This video was way more work than it was worth but served as a test case to see how far I could push google earth)
    https://vimeo.com/163285752

  4. I was shown once how to look up parcels via the county web site, but since I never do it, I've forgotten. Ask your RE customers that work in areas with open land and they should be able to walk you through the process of finding the information. Most land was divided up before the advent of GPS, so it might take some study to learn how to convert older surveying figures to something that can be used with Google Earth (maps). Those documents may also be off, so watch out. Zillow's maps have some parcel boundaries if you zoom in, but I know in the case of my home that the outlines are shifted and there isn't a way to line them up.

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