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Posted on June 2nd, 2020

Free For All – June: GIS and Free-al Estate

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and real estate go hand in hand. Why? Because location is key for both. In a GIS, location is at the core of all geographic data. In real estate, location is one of the determining factors that drives property values. And so the purpose of this month’s Free for All is to provide users with free GIS tools that can help them find property information.


When looking for geographic property information, there is often a county or city GIS portal with data that is free to access. For example, if you search ‘property’ in the Vancouver GIS Open Data Portal, you will get results such as property tax reports, addresses, parcel polygons, building permits and more. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also has its own portal, known as the HUD-eGIS Open Data Storefront. This data is best used in a GIS, so check out our article on free GIS software if you need to download one! Additional housing data can be found on the US Census Bureau website and on the Housing Statistics page of the National Association of Realtors’ website.

If you are looking for a fully-integrated GIS and real estate website, there are a couple different options that are free and easy to use. With Trulia, users can find property for sale/rent, see information about properties that have sold recently, and explore different neighborhoods. Within each neighborhood they can look at reviews written by locals, and explore various demographic aspects such as restaurants, nightlife, shopping, schools and more. They even include a Safety and Crime section with a map to aid with data visualization.

Zillow also provides a great platform to search for available and sold property. Users can see metrics such as average home value in an area and the Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI), which measures the typical home value across a given region and housing type. Another value prepared by Zillow is the Zillow Rent Index (ZRI), which is a measure of typical estimated rent across a given region and housing type.

We hope that these tools can provide some clarity in a time of confusion. GIS has a multitude of applications and we encourage everyone to take advantage of data visualization in a time when data seems more available than fresh water.

Jake Zatz
Social Media Guru

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