When Cornerstone Homes of Richmond, Va., decided to expand into the Raleigh, N.C., market a couple of years ago, the company knew it needed a way to speed up the land acquisition process.

Following a meeting at the International Builders' Show in Orlando, Fla., last year, the company turned to mPower Technologies of Appleton, Wis., makers of mPower geographic information system (GIS) software.

Greg Calcari, mPower's vice president of business development, says most GIS systems let builders take state and county data and build electronic maps. The real value in mPower is that it has business intelligence that lets builders run searches on the land parcels similar to the way they would do a Google search. In Cornerstone's case, the software searched several thousand parcels and returned 170 properties that fit the company's parameters. Cornerstone used mPower to conduct searches based on the following criteria:

  • Parcels are at least 15 acres.
  • Fifty percent of the residents live within a two- to three-mile radius of the property.
  • Shopping is close by.
  • Water and sewer are available.
  • Property is zoned for multifamily.
  • “The software saved at least six months of research time,” says Custis Coleman, Cornerstone's site acquisition manager.

    Setup costs about $30,000. Monthly fees are based on the number of counties for which a builder wants data. Cornerstone's application is hosted by mPower.

    Learn more about markets featured in this article: Richmond, VA, Orlando, FL.