What to Look For in a Satellite Map

By Cam Clark

Learn how satellite maps can help answer important questions about vacant land!

Technology has made it easy to buy nearly anything online, including land. Satellite mapping is one piece of technology that is incredibly helpful when researching land. Interactive satellite maps allow us to view areas across the globe. These maps, specifically satellite maps like Google Maps, provide a lot of important information such as the location of a property and its surrounding areas. Additionally, these tools save you a lot of time and money traveling to see the property in person.

The following are vital pieces of information that you want to know about a property you’re researching that can be found using a satellite map:

Location, Location, Location.

Interactive satellite maps are great for showing you exactly where a property is located. In Google Maps you can usually search for a property by address or GPS coordinates (latitude, longitude) if no address is available, which is typical for undeveloped parcels. On LandCentral, a property’s location will be marked on the satellite map. From here you can zoom in and out to get an idea of where the property is located and what surrounds it. You can also find notable landmarks, cities/towns, state lines, and indications of development in the area.


Sun or Shade.

One of the basic questions you will likely have about a property is what the terrain looks like. Is the property treed, desert, grassland, or a mix? When looking at the satellite map you can usually get a good idea of the terrain. For example, drier grasslands will appear on the satellite map in a browner tone, whereas treed areas will usually be darker and/or greener. Some properties may even show a mix of open, brown-colored grassland spotted with some greener spots of trees throughout the area. Be sure to keep in mind that while satellite maps are helpful in determining terrain, you must be sure to use tools that the map provides, such as Street View, in order to get an even more accurate idea of a property’s terrain.


Getting There.

If you plan on visiting or building on the property you buy then road access is a must. If you’re just looking for an investment property to hold on to long-term then it might not be as important. Either way, a satellite map is one of the tools that can help you determine if there is a road to the property and what routes you can take from your location to get to the property. On LandCentral, look for the “Driving Directions” link above the map for turn-by-turn directions to get to the property. Driving-Directions Keep in mind that just because the satellite map shows a road doesn’t mean that the road is legal. You can oftentimes verify a road’s legal access by looking at the parcel map or by contacting the county directly if legal access is not indicated on the parcel map.


Know Your Neighbors.

Whether you’re looking for a property to live on off-the-grid or to create a residence in an already-developed community, knowing about property development in the area may be important to you. This could include whether there are houses built nearby or how close the property is in relation to basic necessities such as a grocery store, hospital or gas station. The satellite map is a great resource for you to use to help find this information. To view the area surrounding your property, you can use the zoom tool to zoom in and out of the property, The map will also allow you to navigate around the area to see if any houses are built up nearby. One feature that Google Maps provides is the ability to “search nearby” for necessities such as food, hospitals, or even recreational opportunities such as lakes, rivers and campgrounds.


A Whole New View.

Satellite maps have an awesome feature, known as Street View (See the video below for instructions on how to use this feature), which allows you to get a view of areas at ground level without physically being at that location. Google Street View will allow you to you virtually navigate down the street that a property is located on. Street view is available for properties and is a great way to learn about the land – if it’s mostly flat, has trees or just grass, what neighboring houses look like and the road access conditions. In some cases, mostly with more remote properties, a street view will only be available from a nearby main road or highway, but this will still be able to give you a more accurate idea of what the terrain is like and what the area encompasses. Learn more about Google Street view with this video:

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