Using a Business Map for House Hunting

Business mapping software can sometimes be applied to your own personal business. My wife and I are considering purchasing a new home, closer to Portland, Maine. We currently live an hour away in a beautiful rural community. However, services are few and driving to the hospital takes a half an hour at a minimum.

Anyway, we’ve focused in on several seaside communities just south of Portland. Over the last few months through the search process we’ve fine-tuned our requirement.  Barb decided this weekend we should attend a few realtor-sponsored open houses to get more of a sense of what our options are – costs, neighborhoods, proximity to conservation  areas, and proximity to bad industrial stuff.

I saw this as an opportunity to meet a whole new array of realtors who are plugged into the market. But what’s the best way to get our needs across to these busy realtors, in a way that they’ll remember the Ives when they run across the perfect house for us?  How about a map?

Using Map Business Online I created a new map.  I saved it as Our House Search. Using the Zoom In/Out Magnifier I focused the map extent around the towns of Cape Elizabeth, South Portland, and Scarborough, Maine.

I used the draw tools to create five or six polygons describing the neighborhoods we’re most interested in. This was important because we (mostly I) want distance between our home and busy highways, huge oil storage tanks in South Portland, and noisy train track areas. While we cannot afford ocean front property we’d like to be able to walk to the shore or have a short drive to a beach for walking. Barb also likes the idea of a neighborhood – me, not so much.

I set the polygon fill at pink with high transparency so that the areas we’re only slightly differentiated and you could still see the map areas behind the map objects. I also used black as a border on the polygons for clear definition.

I then added a text box to the map with our contact information and our three basic requirements for a home in the area. Just to give the realtors a quick grasp of our core needs. Using bold black text, I added a darker pink background to the text box to make it standout.

I decided to print six copies in color to handout at the open houses. I set my zoom and pan to exactly the image I wanted in the handout. To fill an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper fully, I set my printer page to landscape – that’s the natural Map Business Online print orientation.  In the print button, instead of using the top options for desktop printing, which can sometimes leave some blank open space, I used the second option “print map that will center on current map view.” This meant I’d save my map as a PDF and then print from a PDF file. No biggy.

At the Print Map dialogue for paper settings, I chose Custom Paper Size. I set my size to 12″ x 9″ with tiny margins. The preview gave me a real sense of how it would look after printing. I saved the map as a PDF and then printed from that file to black & white to see the printed layout.  Happy with that, I printed six color copies and headed into town.

My wife used several online real estate mapping tools as part of her research. She found Zillow to be just a basic catch-all map with limited data accuracy. 

Estately offered a nice open house planning option. She could easily create an exportable list of properties of interest.  We used it to create our Open House trip.  Unfortunately, there were a lot of open houses that simply didn’t take place. Four open houses were incorrectly advertised. What’s up with that?

I handed out my map to several realtors and we’ve had some follow-up calls already. You never know what might come of it.  In sales, the more connect points you can provide the better off you’ll be in the long run.

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About Geoffrey Ives

Geoffrey Ives lives and works in southwestern Maine. He grew up in Rockport, MA and graduated from Colby College. Located in Maine since 1986, Geoff joined DeLorme Publishing in the late 1990's and has since logged twenty-five years in the geospatial software industry. In addition to business mapping, he enjoys playing classical & jazz piano, gardening, and taking walks in the Maine mountains with his Yorkshire Terrier named Skye.
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