A common theme starts to arise when you spend enough time reading the BiggerPockets Forums and blog.
Do your due-diligence and know your numbers!
This sage advice is reiterated by many well-respected contributors in our community on BiggerPockets. It emphasizes the notion that real estate deals are driven by research and sound fundamentals. Where does this research and analysis typically begin? In most cases, it starts with the comps (comparables).
Our business is almost entirely driven by comps.
- Want to estimate the value of a property? Start with the comps.
- Want to gauge the vacancy trends in a specific market? Comps.
- Want to get a handle on what rent increase is acceptable? Comps.
- Want to decide on the appropriate finishes and amenities for a new property? You guessed it, comps!
Comparable properties are vital to understanding the pulse and strength of any market. Yet, with the wealth of information available today, analyzing comps can become increasingly overwhelming (if you let it)!
If you’re swamped in comps, here’s a very quick analysis tool that can help visualize and geo-code your data.
It’s called BatchGeo.
So what is BatchGeo? It’s an incredibly useful (and free) online tool that quickly geo-codes any address and visually groups property information using Google maps. The best part—you can produce a compelling, customized map in less than 60 seconds!
Let’s jump in.
All you need to start is a list (edited in a spreadsheet) of the address, city, and state of the properties you wish to map.
For example, if you have comps that were pulled from the MLS or other comp sources, these can be arranged in your spreadsheet as a database (any list will work though). Once the address information is neatly arranged in separate columns, you can then organize any property data you wish to analyze.
- If you want to map all of the properties in your market (or neighborhood, or even street) that sold for $125k-$150k between fall-2012 and today, map it!
- If you want to locate new multifamily properties currently in the pipeline in your city, map it! (example below)
- If you want to view where new-construction properties were built in that last ten years, map it!
The possibilities really are endless. The trick is to organize your address, city, and state in your spreadsheet in separate columns and label each one accordingly. Then add your extra comp information in the columns after your address (ex: sale price, property size, date sold, etc.). BatchGeo groups this information, geo-codes it, and takes care of the rest.
Check out the database below as an example. I pulled this data for free from a city website. The website was promoting new real estate residential developments in the pipeline and included detailed information on each project (my analysis goal: gauge how robust the pipeline is for new residential construction in the city).
Here’s how the formatted data looks in my spreadsheet.
Once your data is organized like the above example, do a quick CTRL-C of the information you want analyzed and head over to BatchGeo.com. Once on the homepage, simply paste your data into the box, follow the steps to produce your map, and you’re finished.
Here’s a map of the property data I pasted in from my spreadsheet.
In this example, I wanted to visualize where all proposed residential development projects will be located in Jersey City, New Jersey (lovely place!). Interestingly, there appears to be a large amount of projects planned for the downtown area and along certain streets. I also wanted to categorize the years these projects would be finished and if they are condo, mixed-use, or multifamily.
This map helps visualize the density of new projects likely to be under construction over the next few years. But you can also apply this technique to single-family home sales, multifamily rental rates, retail lease comps…really anything!
If you’ve got a mountain of comp data, give this mapping technique a try. It may help make sense of it all.