SAN FRANCISCO — There are fewer excuses for getting lost these days, and more ways to locate your next home.

Real estate companies are increasingly integrating interactive online mapping technology into their products, and consumers and real estate agents are using these visual tools to quickly locate properties and gather detailed home and neighborhood information.

Some companies have moved well beyond simple property and street locator maps to provide rich, layered content such as parcel boundaries, school district boundaries, community demographic information and even neighborhood amenities such as restaurants.

Several real estate technology companies, whose products are on display at a National Association of Realtors trade show at Moscone Center in San Francisco, have launched tools that allow real estate agents to quickly plot a route and generate driving directions for a list of properties, for example.

Some companies have designed their own interfaces using third-party mapping technology, while others have built their own mapping engines from scratch.

There are real estate technology companies that specialize in mapping, and those that offer mapping as a part of their service package. The range of companies offering mapping platforms for the real estate industry is as varied as the interactive features available.

Robert Moore, CEO for Sold Earth, a company that sells multiple listing service technology systems that include a mapping function, is beta testing a new mapping tool that can search for properties in a given area based on the specific driving time from a selected location.

The tool considers the speed limit on streets and highways surrounding the selected point, Moore explained.

MapFusion, which is selling its mapping technology to brokerages, MLSs and data providers, offers a range of mapping features, such as flood plains, homes listed, for sale, sold and open houses, and demographics data such as community employment and income statistics.

Advanced Access, a real estate technology company, has contracted with Tele Atlas, a mapping vendor, for its property mapping tools. Users can highlight a search area on a map to zoom in and view properties in a more specific area.

Real estate companies have adapted mapping platforms based on a range of third-party mapping technologies from MapQuest, MapInfo, Yahoo!, Google, Mapopolis, Microsoft MapPoint and GeoJet, to name a few.

Bob Evans of Quest Technologies said his company, which offers multiple listing service technologies, built its own mapping system with basic features.

Dan Martin of HomeGain said of the trend in real estate mapping technologies, “It’s all going on maps.” He noted the rising number of Web sites that use the Google Maps technology to plot addresses as map icons.

MostHome Technologies, which specializes in wireless technologies for the real estate industry, offers property maps and route-plotting tools for real estate agents to help find properties when they are out in the field. The technology draws directly from MLS property data.

Matt Eide, manager of marketing and customer relations at Tarasoft, another real estate technology company that participated in the Realtors trade show, demonstrated a routing tool that allows real estate agents to identify properties and automatically plot routes to each of them.


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