Google Earth Hacks: How to Use Historical Satellite Imagery


(rhythmic music) – [Narrator] Well hey there, what’s up? This is Seth from the RE tipster blog and in this video I wanna
show you a little trick in Google Earth that,
maybe you knew about, maybe you didn’t, but either way, I wanna show you what it is and how it can be useful to
you if you’re a land investor or really a real estate
investor of any kind and what this little tool is, is the historical imagery button. Right up here, at the
very top of Google Earth. And the reason this is kinda
cool and kinda helpful is because you can click this and you’ll notice that the images go all the way back to
1984 in this example. Right now I’m looking
at my neck of the woods over in West Michigan and you know, we can bring
this all the way back to 1984 and see what was different
over 20 years ago, and from my perspective, this is helpful for a couple reasons. First of all, let’s say I’m
looking to buy a piece of land or really any type of property. I’m trying to figure out if that property is in the path of growth, like if the city is
growing in that direction and where all of the
building and development has been happening historically
over the past 20 years. Well this allows me to do that. And it’s really as easy
as just looking at the map and saying, okay what areas of town were vacant 10 of 20 years ago? And which of those areas
now have houses or buildings or some other kinda
development built on them ’cause that’s a pretty
clear indicator that, that is a direction in
which the city is growing. So for example, I’m
gonna just zoom in here on an area of town called Grandville, which is kind of like a
suburb of Grand Rapids. And something that happened in this part of town about 15 years ago was they built this
massive shopping center called the Rivertown Mall
and if we go over here and zoom in, this right
here is where that is. So for example if we move this imagery to, you know, 1997 we see there’s
just this big open field. There’s not a lot going on here. We’ve got some houses
over here to the north, and a couple neighborhoods
down here to the south. This whole area is just
kind of a big blank canvas, not much going on. If we fast forward a couple years to 1999, we can see now it’s under construction. And when we move ahead
to, I don’t know, say 2005 now we can see the mall is
built, and not only a mall, but also this right
here is a grocery store. We’ve got all this stuff over here, and this stuff over here. We’ve got a giant development
down here and down there. And as the years have gone by, this area has continued to develop all because this thing was put in place and it just basically brought
a lot of business to the area and a lot of people trying to piggyback off the success of this mall. If we bring this over here to
the present day 2016, 2017, they also built another
huge development over here. So really this area, which didn’t have a ton
going on 20 years ago, is now booming with lots of people going in and out of this area and as a result, they have also built a lot of new residential
neighborhoods around here. For example if we just
zoom out a little bit and take this historical imagery
and bring it back to 1999, we can see that a lot of
stuff that is there today was not necessarily
there over 15 years ago. We can kinda toggle between the two. We can see this neighborhood is new, this neighborhood is new. You can really go back and
forth as much as you want in order to get a good
feel for what is there now that wasn’t there back then, but the reason this is helpful is because if I’m looking at
buying land in this area of town or even, you know, further south, what this is telling me is that over the course of 10 or 20 years a lot of stuff has
grown in this direction, and there’s still a lot
more room for it to grow and chances are more than
likely that it’s gonna continue going in this direction whether
the economy crashes tomorrow or whether it does awesome. There’s most likely going
to be a lot of growth that happens in this direction, and if we zoom out and
see Greater Grand Rapids, we can kinda do a similar thing, where we just sorta
toggle it back and forth and just notice which parts of town were pretty much vacant back then, and which ones are pretty full now. And we can see there’s been a
lot of development over here. If we go up to this area, we can see there’s been a
lot that happened up here and a lot that happened over
in this neck of the woods. Just kinda keep going back
and forth and back and forth and you can see, you know, this is another example
over here in the Walker area that there’s just been a lot of stuff going in these directions, and these can be pretty good indicators of which townships are growing and which directions are
the growth is going in. Now something else that can be helpful with this historical imagery is, say if you were looking
to buy a vacant lot or even a property that has
some improvements on it, this historical imagery tool
can be a really good way to find out what’s been going on at this property over
the past 10 or 20 years. And I’ll just show you one example, here. If we zoom in over here. This development that
you can see, right here. This is a big planned
residential sub-division that has not been built out yet but all the infrastructure’s there. We’ve got a nice little
grocery store in this area, and if we go back in time let’s say, I don’t know, back to 2006, we can see this grocery store was not here and none of this development
had been done yet. And it was really, basically,
just farm land at that point. If we go further back in time,
as far back as we can go. All the way back to 1999. We can get another look at what the property looked
like 15 plus years ago. Something I have seen in the past when using this kinda
historical imagery is, sometimes I’ve been looking at a property and it looks fine today, but when I go back five or 10 years, I can see that there was a
mobile home on that property or there was a gas station
right across the street or somebody had trashed the property and there was garbage all over the place and today it’s been cleaned up, so it’s fine but somebody in the past had been abusing that
property in some way, and this historical imagery
gives you a really good way to see what’s been going on
at that location in the past. And I will say that this imagery isn’t always available in every location. Sometimes you may only have a couple of additional snapshots
other than the present day. Sometimes you’ll have, like, 10 different snapshots to look at, so it just kinda depends
on where you’re at but it’s always something
that’s worth checking out just to see if you can
get a better perspective for what’s been going on at
that property in the past. It’s one of those things where, you know, nine times out of 10 you’re not gonna really
see any big issues from it but you never really know what
you’ll find out by doing this and the only way you’re gonna
learn something is if you try and just check it out and
see what’s been going on. So that’s a nice little feature
and tool that’s available, again, totally for free in Google Earth and if it’s there for free,
you might as well use it. So hopefully you learned
something new here. Thanks for watching, and
I’ll see ya next time.

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