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Toolbox: Mapping for treasure

This very intuitive, in-depth tool is a gem for property investors, Diana Clement gives us the low-down on this software package

Friday, July 25th 2008, 12:00AM

by The Landlord

Product: QuickMap
Harnesses the data and mapping tools used by valuers and other property professionals.

Price: from $314 per year*
Overall rating: 4 out of 5
Website: www.quickmap.co.nz

Hot diggety dog! Just when I thought I’d reviewed every decent software package aimed at New Zealand property investors, another one comes along.


QuickMap is a software package that gives investors powerful tools to both visualise and analyse potential purchases. It enables users to slice and dice a range of data and visualise it using powerful mapping and visualisation tools. 

The QuickMap data is sourced from Land Information New Zealand’s landonline.govt.nz and Topographical databases.

QuickMap gives you access to more than four million current and historic sales dating back to 1987, a trend analysis tool, which enables you to graph sale price, capital value, land value and the number of sales over time.

It also includes other data such as school zones, demographic data and survey plans.

This isn’t new software. Valuers and other professionals have been using it for years as a professional tool. It’s only now, however, that property investors have been targeted as well.

For the property investor it comes in three versions:

Explorer, which is a starter option for quick access to property information, such as title and owner. It is a one-off purchase that doesn’t include updates.
 
Enterprise is the option to choose if you want regular updates to the property information, or you want to install it on more than a couple of computers. It has more data and functionality than Explorer, such as better reporting capability, rateable value and demographic information such as average rental value, incomes, employment, and ethnicity etcetera.
 
SalesView is the full Monty. It includes everything available in Explorer and Enterprise, and also gives you sales, sales history, building details and trend analysis tools. It comes with regular updates to the sales and property data.

The one big ‘but’ about SalesView is that it’s not available to part-time investors whether you want it or not. You must be a “property professional” that derives more than 50% of your income from property to meet the purchase conditions.

Unlike products such as QV Insider, which are data-based, much of the information in QuickMap is visual. It’s possible to click to find land contours, or to zoom into a road or suburb and filter to find a range of data such as sales in the last six months.

It’s then possible to click on the valuation reference for a property and get:

Property information such as zoning, area, certificate of title number; building information including condition, detailed sales information and sales history.

To get more of a feel for the neighbourhood, just click on the Google Earth button, which will zoom in on an aerial shot of the suburb. Users can even view where the traffic lights are at this level.

The topographical approach to this product is especially useful for builders and developers, or out of town investors who can’t visualise the property. It will tell you if there’s a factory next door.  

One of the things I really liked was when using the sales data, it’s possible to pan the map quickly North, South, East or West, click on “report” and then choose from a wide variety of data to include in the summary table such as floor area, land area, roof construction and condition, age of structure, and so on. This makes it very easy indeed to compare like sales. 

It made it simple, for example to see why 35 Batkin Road in Avondale (west Auckland) sold for $460,000 in 2007 and 196 Methuen Road, a few hundred metres away sold for $640,000. The first had a floor area of 100 square metres, compared with 270 square metres. A simple sales report wouldn’t tell you this.

*The pricing of QuickMap needs a bit of explanation because as well as three products, there are multiple options within. The most basic package Explorer without aerial photographs included, costs $314 including GST as a one-off cost for either the North Island or South Island pack.

At the other end of the scale, QuickMap sales view has both one-off costs and annual costs. The most basic option with single island data and quarterly disk updates amounts to an annual cost of $618.75. 

If, however you want the complete shebang with North and South Island data, monthly updates, aerial photographs, mortgage view and survey plans for the whole country you’d be up for a one-off cost of $2944, $2410 annually in addition, plus GST, which amounts to a total price of $6023.25 for the first year.

For a property investor a realistic alternative is data for one island only and aerial photographs for two cities, which would amount to a one-off fee of $96, plus $550 annually – plus GST.

When it comes to complaints about the product I found it unusual these days to have to wait for a CD to arrive in the mail when buying software. But QuickMap can’t be downloaded. It needs to be said that SalesView takes a whopping 2.4 gigahertz of disk space.

The set-up didn’t start immediately when I put the disk in and it’s quite slow and requires three or four CDs to be loaded. It also requires users to disable anti-virus software during the install, which always makes me feel nervous.

Using the product was relatively simple, but it required a Quick Start Guide and detailed written install instructions to get it going.

In my first day of using the product I encountered three separate error messages, which required me to ask the company for advice before I could progress further. The good news is all were relatively simple to sort out.

Finally, although I mention QV Insider as a ‘competitor’ these are two quite different products – although the sales information overlaps. QV Insider doesn’t include the detailed topographical information of QuickMap.

Contact: sales@quickmap.co.nz or call 0800 14 5554
System requirements: most standard personal computers less than five years old can run QuickMap, but it needs a whopping 4 gigahertz of hard disk space.

Verdict: A veritable source of very useful and in-depth data for property investment.
Pros: This software gives investors a 360 degree view of data and topographical information about properties.
Cons: It was necessary to contact the company directly to get the product working.

 

« Toolbox: Xero for property investorsAugust issue - available now »

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