Best Practices for Leveraging Real Estate Data

Fundraising intelligence is all about gathering relevant information to make an informed and educated gift ask. Whether you have a paid subscription to an online research platform, or are using free resources like Zillow, real estate information is critical information in the prospect research game. Real estate provides an understanding into a major gift prospect’s personality, net worth, debt, and other factors that may affect their willingness to give to your cause.

An iWave subscription provides access to CoreLogic real estate data (United States) and Manifold real estate data (Canada). 

Here are some best practices to maximize the information you can collect from these datasets.


Within CoreLogic, you will find U.S. real estate, mortgage, consumer and specialized business data compiled from property records, tax assessments, property characteristics and parcel maps from tax assessors and country recorder offices across the nation. Currently, over 150 million commercial and residential property records are in this dataset.

CoreLogic can be used to: 

  • Prospect for new donors by zip code, street name, or asset range
  • Find multiple properties for a single donor, regardless of the county or state they are in
  • Determine their wealth capacity by researching current property values and mortgage details, including how much of the mortgage is still outstanding
  • See changes in purchase, sale and mortgage information for a given property
  • Learn which properties have been paid off “free and clear” with a mortgage release document (new data added monthly)

There is a lot to learn about prospective donors with real estate research!

Best Practice: Look for Planned Giving Opportunities

We all know we can’t take anything (including our house) with us into the “Great Beyond.” A home is something to pass over to a spouse or pass down to the next generation. But sometimes, a home can be donated as part of a planned gift. This is especially true if the donor has several properties.

Helen Brown has more to say on this subject: “Let’s say you work at a small college and you’ve got childless husband-and-wife alumni couple with a ski resort condo, a vacation home at Los Sueños in Costa Rica and a primary residence in Boston’s Back Bay. They’re consistent donors and lifelong volunteers to the college. There’s no question that the planned giving officer needs to know about them.

And in this case, it’s not only the real estate that’s interesting but also what it tells us about these special people. Here is an active, outdoorsy couple who possibly enjoy golf, tennis, and skiing. A pair that enjoys regular seasonal travel, but whose lifestyle may require extra cultivation time because they are probably not in town very often. What decisions do you need to make about how to engage them?”

Related: Get the Planned Giving ebook

Best Practice: Crunch Those Numbers

Real estate can often be the key (pun always intended) to solving the wealth capacity puzzle. You may have your own indicators, factors, or formulas that you rely on to synthesize the wealth information you find. Here’s the iWave approach:

When determining capacity based upon real estate, the value used follows a set hierarchy: Current Value, Assessed Value, or Tax Amount (if the previous two pieces of information are not available).

Consider the table below:

Property Value Primary Residence Multiplier Additional Property Multiplier
< $500,000 5% 7.5%
$500,000 – $999,999 7.5% 10%
$1,000,000 + 10% 15%

Capacity based on Real Estate = Value of Primary Residence + Value of Additional Property.

Consider this example:

Primary Residence is valued at $1,000,000 and Additional Property is valued at $1,000,000.

$1,000,000 x .10% = $100,000

$1,000,000 x .15% = $150,000

Capacity based on real estate only: $100,000 + $150,000 = $250,000


Remember to add an additional 5% of real estate where Total Value of Mortgages is 50% or less of the Total Value of Real Estate. To illustrate this, imagine Total Value of Real Estate is $2,000,000 and Total Mortgages is $750,000. Since Total Mortgages is less than 50% of Total Value, this means we have a Giving Capacity Bonus of 5% ($100,000).


Researching Canadian real estate has its challenges with the main obstacle being privacy laws in Canada prohibit individual property values from being public knowledge. This might be enough to stop you in your tracks right there. Don’t worry though – there is a workaround. If your fundraising team is going to present a gift ask to a Canadian prospect, you cannot discount real estate in the prospect research process.

Manifold Data Systems provides accurate real estate estimates based on 6-digit Canadian postal codes. There are 782,000 postal codes across Canada and each code represents about 15 homes. Manifold collects and analyzes data from Statistics Canada, a government agency that produces census and key statistics data focusing on Canadians. Manifold lets you see the average property value, annual household income, and household donations for each postal code across the country. All this information is open and available for your research and fundraising purposes.

The best practices outlined for CoreLogic still apply to your Manifold research, however, your capacity rating calculations will rely more on educated guesses rather than actual property values. 

Ready to see how real estate information can power-up your prospect research? Click here to get a demo of iWave.

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