The value of a property is never static. It changes based on several factors, some of which are influenced by government policies and regulations as well as the economic conditions and interest rates. The value also depends on other factors such as supply and demand, renovation potential, locations, upgrades, available usable space, prices of surrounding properties, and the age and condition of the house. If these conditions are favorable, the value shifts upwards. But if they are not, the value drops over time.
For real estate agents, establishing the direction the property market is headed is proving to be the holy grail. So much so that solutions that can answer this question are increasingly in high demand. At their core, such solutions collect large volumes of data before performing thorough analysis and comparisons. The first step would be intimidating if automated data extraction or web scraping did not exist.
What is Web Scraping?
Web scraping refers to the process of extracting data from websites. The term covers manual and automated data collection approaches, but this article will mainly deal with the latter.
The automated data extraction can be carried out by pre-built web scrapers, which offer sophisticated tools and benefits such as proxy rotation, an interface to customize requests, and an IP address pool. It can also be conducted using tailor-made Python web scraping scripts that can be easily created using available libraries.
Web Scraping in Real Estate
In the current internet age, where humans generate an estimated 2.5 quintillion bytes (2.5 billion gigabytes) of data daily, it is easy for anyone collecting information to get confused. This fact is compounded by the unorganized information stored on multiple websites, including social media platforms.
When used in the real estate industry, web scraping offers the necessary clarity. It makes sense of the disorganization by converting previously unstructured data into structured formats that can be downloaded for analysis. But what kind of data is this, and from where can it be extracted?
Well, there are multiple real estate listings online – a search on your preferred search engine is bound to yield millions of results. Given this vast pool of possible sources of information, automated web scraping stands as a formidable and reliable solution for realtors.
Related article: Everything You should know about Web Scraping
Types of Data Collected through Web Scraping in Real Estate
Web scraping real estate data uncovers the following information:
- House sizes
- Monthly/annual rental prices
- Sale price
- Property type
- Average sale price within a location
- Social amenities
- Parking spaces
- Property agent
In addition to web scraping real estate data, realtors can extract data relating to potential customers’ phone numbers and email addresses from relevant websites. With this information, they can generate leads through email marketing or other forms of direct marketing. Simply put, the possibilities are boundless.
Use Cases of Web Scraping Real Estate Data
Web scraping real estate data has the following uses:
- Informing investment decisions
- Monitor competition
- Monitor vacancy rates
- Maximize rental yield
- Managing clients expectations
- Real estate aggregator sites
Informing Investment Decisions
Web scraping keeps you one step ahead by offering the information you need to make sound investment decisions. For instance, the information gathered can help you establish whether the value of a property will soar after some time, perhaps after renovations. The data could also offer insight into the historical prices, which provide a reliable trend.
By scraping real estate aggregator sites, you can identify your competitors within a particular locality. As well, you can establish how they have priced their properties.
Monitor Vacancy Rates
A neighborhood with a high vacancy rate portends doom for your investment – it constitutes a risky investment. Thus, web scraping real estate data offers information about properties, which could save you a lot of money in the long term.
Maximize Rental Yield
Web scraping real estate data helps identify neighborhoods that offer the highest rental yields. As well, you can determine properties that provide the highest return on investment (ROI) if they were to be resold later.
Meeting and Managing Clients’ Expectations
Web scraping social media platforms offers information about what clients look for in a property. You can then use this insight to renovate your property accordingly, in effect meeting clients’ expectations.
Real Estate Aggregators
By web scraping real estate data, aggregators obtain information that enables them to populate their sites accordingly.
Web Scraping Best Practices
It is worth noting that effective web scraping is pegged on certain best practices. Web scraping involves making numerous web requests, which may be flagged as suspicious. As such, it is important to use proxy servers, which hide your online identity (IP address). Some proxy service providers offer proxy rotating solutions, which help you avoid making all requests through a single IP address. Simply, proxy servers enable your preferred web scraper to mimic human behavior.
Web scraping real estate data is instrumental, especially in the current internet age. It offers insights that guide investment decisions as well as help in monitoring competition and managing clients’ expectations. Simply put, web scraping is the real estate industry’s holy grail.