technology on the front lines for brokers" is the rallying
cry of RealtiCorp Commercial Investment Fund. This unique commercial
real estate firm combines the best of new and old real estate practices
to provide value-added services to chain operators or multisite
users (MSUs) such as The Home Depot, Target, Hampton Inn, office
developers, or multifamily developers. While many real estate firms
must reengineer operating procedures to take advantage of the power
of GIS, RealtiCorp was designed expressly with the use of GIS in
institutional investors have reacted favorably to this mix of old
and new. RealtiCorp is the only large-scale commercial real estate
using a "high-tech, high-touch" GIS-based approach on
a systematic basis. It has paid off handsomely. RealtiCorp, which
was founded in 1995, has grown from $40 million in transactions
in 1996 to over $200 million in 1998. More than 50 employees staff
seven offices in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, Texas,
and Alabama. There are plans to expand nationwide.
GIS for Decision
founder, Dan Bruce, created a computerized site selection system
back in 1971. RealtiCorp represents the evolution of Bruce's ideas.
Unlike more typical GIS real estate applications that focus on marketing
and presentation uses, this GIS application is primarily a decision
was using a computer about the size of an apartment room to make
decisions [in the 1970s]. The whole concept of tracking expanding
users was waiting for the right time and circumstances. It all came
together in 1995," says Douglas A. Baumgartner, director of
Research and Investment, who worked with Bruce to design the GIS-driven
operation. Baumgartner possesses an academic background strong in
both GIS and real estate with a bachelor's degree in Urban Development
from the University of Western Ontario and two master's degrees,
one in GIS specializing in retail location theory from the University
of South Carolina, and the other in real estate and land development
from Texas A&M University.
six months were spent laying out groundwork to make GIS do what
Dan wanted it to do. After that we hit the ground running with offices
in Atlanta and Greenville," says Baumgartner. Growth and flexibility
were factored into the design of the organization so that very little
lead time is needed to open up offices in new areas when good opportunities
are identified. The company makes extensive use of the Internet
utilizing frame relay and T1 connections to transmit information
immediately to regional offices. The firm has operated primarily
in the southeastern portion of the United States.
built on four interlocking components: the Research and Investment,
Sales and Marketing, and Technology Departments and the regional
offices. Sales and marketing staff work with past and potential
MSU clients to identify client requirements and impending needs.
The Technology Department constantly develops new ways to utilize
information technology to spot and manage opportunities. The Research
and Investment Department uses ArcView GIS and ArcView Spatial Analyst
to analyze data and determine areas of high suitability that can
be referred to regional offices for further development.
A network of
regional offices provide local savvy and locate promising deals
on either a to-order basis or by seizing an opportunity they discover.
Regional offices validate property characteristics for MSU requirements
and monitor the progress of ongoing deals.
GIS to get know their customers better than the customers know themselves.
Their research department uses ArcView GIS proactively for decision
support. These robust applications analyze risk and returns on commercial
real estate investments. RealtiCorp chose ArcView GIS because they
were looking for an enterprisewide solution that offered flexibility
in terms of customization of the interface in using data in various
formats from public and private sources. The lower start-up costs
associated with a desktop application and the ability to make ArcView
GIS work with Word were also attractive to the company. Analysts
use ArcView GIS to track expanding MSUs and research their specific
locational requirements. This information is overlaid with the firm's
base GIS to locate areas of high suitability.
The data that
drive the application come from a variety of sources. Commercial
data for demographics and street networks are combined with data
from city and county governments and other public sector source
information. RealtiCorp has created and maintains valuable business
point location data.
ties the company's departments together. As areas of high suitability
are located, that information gets forwarded to broker partners
using Lotus Notes. These local representatives are given information
on promising areas and the specific site requirements for clients.
Brokers visit properties to qualify the physical characteristics
of the property. RealtiCorp plans to bring the power of GIS out
of the back room and make it more accessible to brokers through
developing more intuitive applications and is exploring the use
of MapObjects to supply low-tech users with real estate information.
and timely information is RealtiCorp's most important product. Once
the ideal site for an MSU client has been identified, RealtiCorp
uses its own investment funds to control the property. Clients are
approached only after the property is in hand. The company provides
potential clients with a customized information package that clearly
demonstrates how a property can benefit the client. In preparing
the package, every possible question is anticipated. The package
includes not only an in-depth analysis of the customer's operations
but competitors' operations as well. With this information, clients
can evaluate market potential, plan for expansion, and establish
efficient distribution systems.
uses ArcView GIS to create trade areas based on the classic one-,
three-, and five-mile rings because clients are familiar with this
type of analysis, they also create gravity, polygon, and drive-time
based trade areas. This comprehensive study of the opportunities
available at the proposed site includes maps of competitors, site
and vicinity, and aerial photos. "It's the part of our operations
that is the most visible to our users and we've gotten a lot of
good feedback from users," says Baumgartner.
MSU clients vary in the type and extent of analysis they use to
locate new facilities from clients who base expansion on sophisticated
customer profiling to clients who are new to this type of analysis.
RealtiCorp tailors its services to the client and can help the MSU
determine what type of population/location profile will be successful
for them. ArcView Spatial Analyst is used to easily find concentrations
of certain types of locational factors such as doctors or shopping
a site with a good location is larger than the client can use. GIS
is used to determine the best way to develop that land for sale.
The company monitors promising areas for clients looking for opportunities
and helps clients assess the threat from competitors. "We are
the matchmakers between what the buyers want and the sellers have.
GIS provides a better bridge between the buyer and seller,"
information, please contact
252 South Pleasantburg Dr.
Greenville, South Carolina 29607-2547
Tel.: 864-271-4700, ext. 1025