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Rural Or Semi-Rural Properties For Sale Benefit From An Aerial Map With Property Boundaries

Published: 01/07/2013
By: larry

HerrmannAerialLast week I did a shoot for some home sellers on a semi-rural property in the mid- Willamette Valley and I made them a custom google map  that shows the property lines of their property. This can be a huge help when marketing properties where the property lines are not obvious like they are on most suburban lots.

There are some locations where if you click on the Map button in the upper right of the Google Maps and toggle the map mode to non-satellite the property boundaries will actually show on the google map (this address is one of those locations - Google appears to have integrated the local county tax record maps in to Google Maps) but this is not universally true. For non-technical agents or home sellers just having a photo that shows the property with boundary lines is very useful for marketing. Of course the agent/home seller takes the responsibility for identifying where the property boundaries are. In some areas lot lines and room dimensions are an issue with agents because they are afraid of being sued over possible errors.

For years I used to do this same thing by just doing a screen capture and drawing on the satellite map in Photoshop but stopped doing it because that violates the terms of service of Google Maps. About 5 years ago Google added the My Places features that allow you to create your own custom illustration layers over google maps. Here's a tutorial on how to use My Places.

8 comments on “Rural Or Semi-Rural Properties For Sale Benefit From An Aerial Map With Property Boundaries”

  1. Thats good timing, as was wondering about maps. Interestingly was contemplating subscribing to google Earth pro. Reason being was planning an aerial view of a villa that we have been documenting the building off for the last three years. Strangely though for now the completed property does not exist according to Google Earth. I doubt they would update the imagery upon request? Plan B, I guess!

  2. Larry, did you/would you add a disclosure to the map showing the property that the map shows only an approximation of the property and a survey should be done to show actual property lines.

  3. Hmmm, we always seem to get pretty intense as a group when we discuss others using our images without permission.

    As I read the Google T&C, it says:
    "2. Restrictions on Use. Unless you have received prior written authorization from Google (or, as applicable, from the provider of particular Content), you must not: (a) copy, translate, modify, or make derivative works of the Content or any part thereof; (b) redistribute, sublicense, rent, publish, sell, assign, lease, market, transfer, or otherwise make the Products or Content available to third parties;

    And the FAQs say this about using Google maps and images in advertisements:

    "In all cases, you must properly show attribution to both Google and any third-party data providers who may be listed with the imagery. Please see our attribution page for more information.

    Any images used must reflect how they would look on online. For example, you are not allowed to make any changes (e.g. delete, blur, etc.) to our products that would make them look genuinely different. This includes, but is not limited to, adding clouds or other natural elements, altered user-interfaces, and modification that do not appear in the actual product.

    No explicit permission is required for your ad project. We are unable to sign any letter or contract specifying that your project has our explicit permission."

    So it would appear that if you do this, you must use the Google My Map's overlay only and not modify it or enhance it in any way (no Photoshoping in darker boundaries or shading); and the image must be attributed to Google and any third party image suppliers to Google. That part about attribution may make the image difficult to post with respect to many MLS "you've got to own and pass on all rights to the photos rules."

  4. @Ben - How disclosure is handled is up to the agent since they legally represent the property. In my case the boundaries were on google maps and matched where the (FSBO) home sellers believed the boundaries are so it's not much of an issue.

    @Jason - no this is not Google Earth Pro.

    @john - Yes, you're right, when I said I use to do a Photoshop version of this, I should have been clearer.. I don't do that anymore explicitly because of the terms of service.

  5. With over 40+ years in the photographic industry, 25 years being in the aerial mapping profession, I have experienced the pros and cons of putting property boundaries on aerial imagery.

    It is a great marketing/sales tool for the real estate community but I caution those who believe that if they provide this service to their Real Estate agent, the belief that the agent is then responsible for any stray boundary(ies) is a false sense of security. Abet I am not a lawyer but I can assure you one thing and that is if the Agent gets sued for false information they will come back on you as you originally provided it. Now, if you provide a disclaimer as to this is a visual aid only and not meant to be used for actual mapping purposes, you should be fine. I would also encourage your suggestion that the agent do the same. (yes, in the mapping profession a border placed around a property is considered a map)

    Several pieces of information and/or suggestions:
    1) even though Google Earth imagery may be using (USGS) US Geological maps to tie their imagery to, that is still not that accurate. In many parts of the country the USGS maps were last updated in 90's some in 80's or 70s'. So on flat terrain their maps are accurate to +/- 50 feet in either direction. That means they have a 100 ft. leeway. As you can imagine that accuracy is even less when getting into land with terrain, hills, valleys, side of mountains, etc.

    2) If you, as a business, use Google Earth for commercial use such as copying a piece of property, or even taking that image and adding property boundaries then us on your commercial website or sell it to someone then you must use Google Earth Pro.

    3) Even though Google Earth has their imagery copyrighted with the current year (2013) does not mean that their imagery is current. It can really be 2 years old or older. You can move from on town to another nearby only to find differences in when they were taken. Google is always working on updating, a very difficult and expensive process.

    3) Be aware of the mapping laws in your state: In my state for example (FL) any border drawn around a property is considered a map. The producer of this can be help liable for not having this produced by a qualified and certified mapping professional in the state.

    4) Supplying some type of disclaimer statement for the product you produced is essential. For example you might say: Disclaimer Statement: This imagery is provided for visual interpretation only. Property boundaries are only approximate location and come with no accuracy statement.

    5) Encourage your Agent to supply a disclaimer as well.

    Well, that is my humble two cents worth. Just speaking from 25 years of experience in the aerial mapping field and one who has supplied sold high quality mapping imagery to Agents.

  6. Our Central Oregon MLS map has a feature where you can look at the property boundries laid over a satilite map. So we don't have to worry about it here. For marketing purposes, our title company will provide aerial photos with property lines like this free of charge. So I'm not sure if it's the photographer that should be doing this work, at least here in Bend...

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