The Loveland Blog

What's new at Loveland Technologies? Boldly going where no parcel map has gone before

By Jerry Paffendorf on January 9, 2017

Happy 2017! Here's the New Year update we sent to our mailing list:
 

Loveland 2017
 

Alright busy people, before diving into a New Year update, let me put 2 opportunities at the very top:
 

1.) Want to contribute to the public map, no experience required?
 

We've assembled more than 134 million US parcels on makeloveland.com (translation: that's an awful lot). We want to keep the data flowing for you, so we're preparing to make it drop dead simple for anyone with a spreadsheet that has addresses, coordinates, OR parcel IDs to easily publish it to the public map where everyone can see it. If you, your city, county, state, or organization has data you want to publish, please reach out to us at team@makeloveland.com so we can bring you into the beta. Or heck, if you don't have data but you want to seek it out and add it to the public map because it sounds fun and interesting, please let us know. This is going to be really cool and create a lot of new local and national insights. Don't worry if you don't have prior experience. We're making it easy.
 

2.) Can we help you accomplish something in 2017?
 

While we're only a couple of days into the year, 2017 still has its new year smell, so it's the right time to decide to take charge and Do Something Great, dang it, before inertia grabs you and your ambition starts wanting to sleep in til noon. If there's a mapping, surveying, data wrangling, consulting, or research project we can help you with this year, just give us a shout to discuss it. Our mapping tools can help you do a lot right out of the box, we love to partner on interesting projects, and we certainly aren't afraid of challenging situations. Approaching property, planning, and land use challenges with great technology, creative thinking, practical strategies, and a good attitude is sort of our thing.
 

OK, now on to the wider update:
 

Happy New Year to everyone who's followed, supported, and/or found value in our work over the years. It's always an adventure, but 2016 seems to have been a pretty weird year for almost everyone. Must be something in the air as more people and things come online for the first time and start to connect. It's like the world is between eras and everything feels out of socket. Without clear leaders or examples of how to navigate whatever exactly has changed, an uncertain mood has set in.
 

Just like you are, we're also surfing the change. In 2017 we'll be making some really significant updates that we hope you'll love, and that we hope keep us adaptive to all the change that's happening.
 

We're working on folding our professional mapping tools and our free information together into one clear site at loveland.world that's dedicated to putting everything you wanted to know about and do with property together in one place. Something we've wrestled with over the years is that we're very good (or very bad ) at spinning up new sites, which can be refreshing, but can also end up being confusing.
 

'Wait, I signed up for a makeloveland.com account, why am I on sitecontrol.us? And how is this different than motorcitymapping.org?'
 

/holds head in hands
 

So there will be one site where you can freely look up information, and from which you easily upgrade to professional tools in your own private workspace. Hurrah. (Note: For existing customers nothing will change besides things continuing to get better and better.)
 

Crucially, we're also going to open up the site so that anyone who has property or spatial data can easily publish it to the public map. Our little team has done an incredible job assembling a nationwide dataset of parcels. Now it's time to open things up for anyone with a spreadsheet who wants to give it a name and a description and share it with the world. We're also preparing to plug into more live open data portals, and make it easy for cities to publish directly to Loveland.
 

If we do it properly, there will be a LOT more data flowing through Loveland in more places around the country, and the world. Heck, there'll even be a lot more in Detroit.
 

So stay tuned, and if there's a project you want to work on with us in 2017, drop us a line at team@makeloveland.com. In addition to updating the platform, we're suckers for helping partners with interesting projects and challenges. (You'll see some new project releases in some new cities coming out soon. )
 

To our customers, our users, our partners, our neighbors, our friends, our community: all of the best from our team, thank you for your support, and Happy New Year,
 

Jerry Paffendorf
 

CEO, LOVELAND Technologies
makeloveland.com
 

Facebook: facebook.com/makeloveland
Twitter: twitter.com/makeloveland
 

313-649-LAND
team@makeloveland.com
 

NEW OFFICE:
407 E Fort St, Suite 100
Detroit, MI 48226

Tax Foreclosure & Vacant Homes on Detroit's Maiden Street

By Alex Alsup on August 12, 2016

Northeast end of 11200 Block of Maiden Street, 2010 vs. 2016. Drag slider to see change.

I've kept track of the neighborhood around the shuttered Alexander Macomb Elementary School on Detroit's east side for a few years now, since I surveyed the area using Google Street View Time Machine imagery in this Loveland blog post. One block in particular has kept my attention:

11200 block of Maiden Street, between Conner and Gunston

In 2014, after surveying the block with a combination of Google Street View Time Machine imagery and in-person surveys using Loveland's Site Control, I created a chart that showed the number of occupied vs. vacant homes vs. tax foreclosures on Maiden's 11200 block between 2008 and 2014. It was, I thought, a useful demonstration of the fact that where there is tax foreclosure, there will be vacant homes and, thus, declining population, declining tax revenue, and increasing blight.

Last week, on August 11th, 2016, I went back out to the 11200 block to resurvey the street and see how things had changed since my last visit, and to add another frame to the chart tracking vacancy and foreclosure.

I resurveyed the 34 properties on the block and found that the trajectory the street has followed since the financial crisis continues today. The chart below shows the number of occupied homes, vacant homes, and cumulative tax foreclosures on Maiden's 11200 block between August 2008 and August 2016:

While there's not much left to go vacant, another property or two has emptied. Two of the properties that may still be occupied look squatted in -- one appeared to have drug activity outside it, and another was in rough shape and missing utility meters outside. Severe fires have caused the collapse of 2 additional structures since 2014, and significant damage to 5 others, like 11313 Maiden, seen here.

The most notable change since 2014 is not the slight increase in vacancy or foreclosure, but the deterioration of property conditions on the block. The bar chart below compares the conditions of the 21 structures on Maiden Street as of January 2014, when the block was surveyed as part of Motor City Mapping, and when I resurveyed the street in August 2016:

The number of houses in "Poor" or "Suggest Demolition" condition doubled -- from 6 in 2014, to 12 in 2016. Houses in "Fair" or "Good" condition decreased from 15 in 2014, to 9 in 2016. There has been one demolition on the block since 2008.

As tax delinquency and foreclosure begets blight and vacancy, there is little evidence of a change of fortunes ahead for the 11200 block of Maiden Street: Of the 34 properties on the block, 22 are owned (via foreclosure) by the city or land bank, and 12 are still privately held. Of those 12 privately held, 8 are behind on their property taxes, and headed for foreclosure over the next couple years.

Put another way, of the 34 parcels on the 11200 block of Maiden Street, only 4 appear to be generating any property tax revenue.

If you'd like to explore the latest survey data, photography, and property conditions on Maiden Street, you can do so in the Site Control map below:

Teaming Up to Fight Foreclosure

By Paula on June 28, 2016

Teaming Up to Fight Foreclosure

If you've been a follower of ours for a while, you know that fighting tax foreclosure is a cause that is near and dear to our hearts here at Loveland. Over the last several years, we've worked hard to bring attention to the systemic issues related to tax assessment and the foreclosures that result, decimating the housing stock and draining Detroit and Wayne County from thousands of residents year after year.

Because of this, we're incredibly honored and proud to have worked closely with various local, city, and county organizations on the following two projects:

Read on for some firsthand experience of these projects, written by Lovelander and Project Manager Jackie Grant:

"Recently, I worked on an incredible project to bring some understanding and support to our friends and neighbors in Wayne County who are experiencing property tax issues. The Loveland Technologies team worked alongside Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree and his team, as well as with the United Community Housing Coalition, to mount this large-scale effort and reach out to more than 9,000 potentially occupied homes at risk of foreclosure in 2016. With these partners and colleagues, we were able to use Loveland's software and mobile application to direct neighbors through a series of questions, questions that would direct a conversation and provide some hope and much-needed information to folks in need of tax assistance.

"After weeks of dedication and planning, we headed out -- tablets in hand! -- into many Wayne County neighborhoods. With the help of dozens of trained canvassers to reach out one-on-one to our neighbors and fellow Wayne County residents, were able to gather information and provide the support that some of these people didn't know they needed.

"Upon making contact with a homeowner, renter or responsible adult living in the property, we asked a simple set of questions; we talked to them about the property's ownership status, it's risk of being foreclosed upon, whether or not they wanted to stay in the home, and other pertinent questions. I, personally, met many good hardworking people that had experienced job loss, catastrophic health events, death in the family, and more. In all, people were receptive, surprised, and grateful that someone cared enough to come to them -- to their home -- and give them hope and direction with the right steps to save their home from foreclosure. We did it in less than 3 weeks!

You can see the results of this survey at www.taxforeclosuresurvey.com .

"What is Wayne.tax? It is a new Wayne County website that Loveland Technologies created to facilitate property tax inquiries. Upon entering the site, a property owner or interested party will be prompted to perform a quick search of any property in Wayne County. Search results show the property ownership and current tax status. If the property is not up-to-date on its taxes, users will be prompted to click through a simple Q&A that speaks to users in friendly and easy-to-understand terminology.

"From here, property owners or interested parties are presented with recommended actions to take to save the home from foreclosure. Included in these suggestions is more information regarding payment plans, free counseling, and other resources.

Explore more at wayne.tax and share with your friends and neighbors!"

Thanks to Jackie for sharing her experience! The Loveland Team would also like to thank Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree and his team, United Community Housing Coalition, the City of Detroit Tax Foreclosure Task Force, Kresge Foundation, and our other partners for helping make these projects possible.

Survey Property at Light Speed: Site Control + Street View

By Alex Alsup on May 6, 2016

Evaluating Property with Site Control + Google Street View

Are you a real estate appraiser who needs to collect parcel-level data on properties and neighborhoods quickly? A city on a tight budget, trying to evaluate housing stock? A researcher collecting data on properties to inform your studies and analysis? If so, we've got a pretty awesome tool for you...

Watch the video below to see how you can use LOVELAND's Site Control to create custom property surveys, evaluate properties via Google Street View, and attach data to the assessment records of any of the more than 115 million parcels LOVELAND has online across the United States.

Now in Site Control: The Street View Surveyor

With Site Control and the Street View Surveyor, you can collect parcel level data on thousands of properties in record time.

But, it's not just Street View imagery at your property surveying fingertips: We can consume imagery via API from other third party street level and oblique / orthogonal imagery providers. If you're working with third-party providers of high resolution imagery, LOVELAND can feed your provider's imagery into Site Control, allowing you to code high resolution imagery in record time.

The LOVELAND Surveyor Interface in Action

When to Use Street View vs. In-Person Surveying

If you’re thinking, “But Street View is often years old. How can I trust its imagery when I know things change? I don't think it can replace a person who's familiar with the city out surveying in person.”

Trust us, we hear you. Nothing can replace a human in the street evaluating a property, talking to neighbors, and taking up-to-the-moment photography, but that can be an expensive proposition. Surveying via Street View can help you evaluate many properties quickly, and identify the ones that you think need in-person follow up.

When you decide it's time for a surveyor on the ground, they can hit the field with the LOVELAND App and survey using the exact same questions used in your Street View evaluation. This can augment your Street View surveying, giving you an up-to-the-moment understanding of conditions, and collecting insight from neighbors or occupants to gather deeper information on the property.

We want to help you focus your survey personnel on the properties and areas where you know conditions are more dynamic, and the human eye is far mightier than Street View’s.

Freshness of Street View Imagery

Street View’s drive-thru regularity varies widely, typically based on a city’s size. However, there are many places where LOVELAND has parcel coverage, and Street View drives regularly.

To help those of you who are interested in this tool and wondering how recent the Street View imagery is in your city, we’ve assembled a list of just a few of the major counties & cities where LOVELAND has parcel shapes and data, and Street View imagery is less than a year old.

Some major cities with Street View imagery less than a year old:

If you're curious when Street View imagery was last collected in your city or town, just go to Street View in your area and look in the lower right hand corner of the screen, as you see below:

Sample Results of a Street View Survey

In the map below, you can explore the results of a very simple one-question property survey conducted over 250 or so parcels on Chicago's South Side.

The job was to answer one question: Is the property vacant? Street View imagery in Chicago is very recent -- circa November 2015 -- so a quick scan of the area can reveal where vacancies are likely, and further follow ups with those properties can happen through in-person surveys of just those parcels, limiting the amount of on-the-ground time and expense.

Thank you, Google

Finally, a word for Google, if you’re out there, thank you for Street View. Its value is tremendous and we believe only beginning to be realized. We hope that we’re playing some small part in demonstrating what it can do. And I couldn’t end this without asking -- Please, pretty please, may we have API access to Street View Time Machine imagery?

That’s when the real fireworks start (#changeovertime).

Thank you from Team LOVELAND.