NearMap and Google Earth
No doubt many of you are away of Google Earth. This excited one and all when it was first released. Now there’s a new player, which in our opinion is even better. NearMap (www.nearmap.com) is another aerial photography supplier, much like Google Earth, but with a few key differences. Firstly, the quality of its photos are far superior. Secondly, photos are taken fairly frequently and made available after only a short turnaround. Some of its photos are of a higher quality than others, so scan back through the timeline to see which are the clearer shots. NearMap is free for personal use.
Property Data Providers
There are a number of property data suppliers out there. RP Data and PriceFinder offer similar products and others exist. Yes, for most of them you’ll need to pay a subscription fee, but to be honest, if you’re serious about being a property investor you simply must have access to them.
While a search within RP Data reveals a whole lot of handy information, the mapping takes it to another level. As well as cadastral boundaries and aerial photos, you can map properties that have sold, properties for sale or rent and block dimensions.
Council Infrastructure Maps
The council will generally own the services on your property such as water supply lines and sewer mains, so it’s council we go to for these records. Every council will have plans showing the location of known services. These plans can be obtained in various ways, sometimes via subscription. At other times it’s freely available via their website and in instances where this isn’t possible, you can usually get your search over the counter or sent to you via email or fax.
Google Street View
Didn’t we all have fun when this first came out? While not technically a map, it is map based. For property investors it offers two distinct benefits: the ability to take a virtual tour of a street, particularly hand if you’re researching a property that isn’t near where you live, and also a look at your subject property from a couple of angles. This is very useful if you’re dealing with a ‘lazy agent’ who has provided no or very few photos of the outside of a property.
Drainage Plans and Survey Plans
Drainage plansare office records kept by council of how exactly a property connects its waste pipes (Sewer lines) to council’s sewer network, while a survey plan is the official survey of a property that should always be read in conjunction with a title search. Both of these are highly important, but both are usually left up to the solicitor to provide to you during the purchasing process, which can be a big mistake. For a start, often your solicitor doesn’t complete their searches until your contract is unconditional and it’s too late, and secondly, even if they do complete them, you won’t always receive an explanation on what they contain and if there are any issues.
Flood and Overland Flow Maps
As a general rule, government bodies won’t allow development or subdivision of heavily flood-affected land. In years gone by it was up to the developer to determine how badly a property was affected through the employment of professionals and the carrying out of a hydraulic analysis. There is still a requirement where there are known flood issues, but many councils now provide details on areas affected by flooding. This may be via flood reports, details written within a planning scheme, or through flood maps and existing hydrology studies. Some of this information is very detailed and is usually based on a combination of historical data and new modeling. Unfortunately, they aren’t always accurate because at the end of the day land is changing on a daily basis, with new development and new infrastructure potentially altering flood levels and flood courses, plus floods are naturally occurring events so we never really know what’s around the corner!
Sounds simple and seems a little elementary when you compare it to what else is available, but street directories still have a place in the investor’s tool bag. Proximity to shops, transport and the CBD are the obvious benefits. Online directories can calculate route distance and timing, which may be effective when determining if your property is suitable for student accommodation or for attracting commuters, or even for selling the idea to them (provide details of transport and route options to your property manager to share with your prospective tenants).
Source : Australian Property Investors (December 2012 )