Product Overview: First American Corporation’s ParcelPoint

By Directions Staff

_First American Corporation
11902 Burnet Rd.
Austin, TX 78758-2902
Phone: 512-834-9595

First American Corporation's ParcelPoint product is a database offered by the company's First American Flood Data Services division. It offers a geocoded point at a parcel's "point of entry" (e.g. driveway). The company's objective is to have 80% of the U.S. included in the product by the end of 2008.

First American Corporation is a large company that offers much more than "flood data." It is an $8 billion company with 29,000 employees and 1,800 offices. The range of products offered includes title insurance, mortgage insurance, property information and credit information. The Flood Data Services division provides flood risk assessments for the banking and insurance industries.

ParcelPoint Background
According to a press release issued by the company, "[ParcelPoint] relies on real property latitude and longitude coordinates, combines the company's extensive parcel and address information database with its proprietary analytical models to render highly accurate location identification." This statement is important because this company has a substantial GIS installation and an abundance of related data, making it possible for the company to locate subject properties and map and assess the flood risk anywhere in the US.

The parcel geocode is placed at the point of entry for each individual property. This is significant for first responders, E911 and other users who need locational precision. Quoting the release again, "Originally developed by First American to provide flood-zone risk data to the mortgage and insurance industries, First American's new ParcelPoint technology can be incorporated into limitless applications that require accurate location information." The company created a database to fulfill its own needs, and subsequently realized that it had a viable product on its hands.

Traditionally, Flood Data Services has provided flood risk assessment for mortgages and, in effect, underwrites the "unlikelihood of flooding" of the properties it researches. To accomplish this, the company is deep into GIS technology which it uses to make flood assessments, create and research accurate maps of flood plains and precisely locate those properties it is charged to evaluate. This gives the company an in-house understanding of GIS and how datasets should be built. The database's spatial components include the point and the parcel boundary, and associated attributes come from the company's "extensive parcel and address information database." Initial data attributes include address and APN (assessor's parcel number), but a representative from First American indicates that they will be able to attach additional First American property data based on client needs, and could include ownership, size and assessed value, for example. They have also started to form partnerships for additional data sets.

Wouldn't it be cool if?
An intriguing potential differentiator in First American's data is the number of additional attributes (to which the company has access due to its range of businesses) that could be attached to parcels and parcel aggregations (pushed up from the parcel level to more traditional geographies). When you consider the amount of data that now exists in the other parts of First American, the range of data that could be attributed to the parcel level and larger geographies could make a very rich dataset.

Let's look at a few of the possibilities. While these data would be proprietary at the parcel level, if they were aggregated up to larger geographies, they could provide very accurate information on lifestyle and marketability of a particular area. You could model leverage (leverage in this case is the equity-to-loan ratio) and use it as an index of wealth beyond that which has been derived from other sources. Who lives in those parcel aggregates (numbers of people, nature of lifestyle) is probably also available and could be updated when the individual parcel changes ownership, is refinanced, if the parcel is subdivided, etc.

An index of wealth is important because it allows for an understanding of lifestyle and available disposable income. Someone with a high income, but who is highly leveraged and has a large portion of his income going to debt service, doesn't have a lot of remaining purchasing power. In contrast, a household with high income and low debt service generally has a greater marketing potential. Even moderate income with low debt service translates to net higher wealth. Knowing the detailed nature of an area is the essence of location intelligence. If First American were to go in this direction with this new product, it could be highly valuable to the business geography set.

Published Thursday, May 10th, 2007

Written by Directions Staff

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