Technology Solutions

A Fresh Angle

Aerial property images play a key role in commercial real estate marketing. They provide a wealth of information about the nature of a property and the surrounding area. And the right kind of imagery not only facilitates the sale of properties, it also enhances business development opportunities for property owners and brokers.

Image Problems

Many commercial real estate professionals still rely on orthogonal aerial images. Often captured by satellite cameras, these images present a flat, two-dimensional top-down view of properties. Easy to find on the Web, they also are perceived to be free, although user license agreements often restrict their use. When commercial real estate professionals capture images from the Web with screen grabs, they get muddy, low-resolution pictures instead of high-quality marketing images.

The top-down orthogonal view also is a limiting factor, because it fails to capture dimensional details that reveal so much about a property and its environs. In fact, the human brain has difficulty making sense of this flat, unrealistic view. In an image-conscious, information-dependent world, orthogonal images may not be dynamic enough to serve as the centerpiece of a marketing program.

Custom Solution

Because of these image-quality problems, many professionals commission custom flights to capture high-resolution aerial images at an oblique angle. This angled view provides a more realistic, dimensional representation of a property and the surrounding area. As a result, it dramatically improves the quality and value of the visual information.

With oblique images, viewers can:

• identify buildings and structures at a glance;

• validate key features such as loading docks and building entrances;

• clearly see small dimensional details and vertical elements such as utility poles, facades, and walls; and

• quickly assess the condition of a property — even hard-to-inspect areas like roofs.

Oblique images also have the dynamic, full-color, 3-D-like quality that captures prospects’ attention.

However, custom aerial photos typically cost about $500 per property, so they’re expensive to use for every listing. In addition, companies may have to wait weeks — even months — for the right weather conditions for flying and photography. That kind of unpredictable delay can have a negative impact on a marketing timeline. Plus, even though these images are vastly superior to orthogonals, they are “dumb” images, because they aren’t automatically linked to important property data.

A New Approach

Pictometry offers a more cost-effective way for real estate professionals to access high-quality oblique aerial property images, with its online database that includes multiple images of more than 120 million parcels. The online tools help people view properties from 360 degrees, perform precise measurements, determine exact latitude and longitude, and highlight parcel boundaries.

Because Pictometry builds dynamic intelligence into the images, subscribers can identify addresses, determine property ownership, and find Assessor Parcel Numbers. Subscribers also can overlay Pictometry images and maps with their own proprietary data using the built-in KML-file import/export function.

All of these capabilities add value and intelligence to the images and expand the number of useful applications. Along with marketing packages, the images also are helpful for property management and maintenance, property pre-qualification, and zoning board presentations.

Industry Application

Here’s an example of how commercial real estate professionals use Pictometry Online.

To win a new listing for an industrial property, a broker uses Pictometry to develop a PowerPoint presentation that includes dynamic images and information about the property, the surrounding area, comparable properties, and the historical development of the area.

Next, the broker develops a series of printed and digital marketing materials featuring maps and orthogonal and oblique aerial images, which present the property in the best possible light. With Pictometry Online and the broker’s own templates, an entire marketing campaign can be produced literally overnight. While the marketing campaign is underway, the broker also uses Pictometry’s informational capabilities to research other properties in the area and identify qualified prospects.

In combination, the presentation and marketing campaign highlight the broker’s leading-edge capabilities, which help the broker to mine the territory and grow business.

Vele Galovski is vice president of Pictometry International Corp. For more information, contact Rosa Basile at or visit


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