“Its kind of neat to look at the Augusta National (Golf Club) and see how it has changed over the years,” said Michele Pearman, the city’s geographic information systems project leader.
Included in the site’s new features are aerial photographic images from five years dating back to 1997. A few clicks of a computer mouse allow users to scan through almost 15 years of changes to a property, which can be handy for appraisers and others in the real estate field, Pearman said.
The update, which provides a new look and new features to the Web-based property tool, was launched last month.
Pearman said the changes were necessary to align the city’s property information site with the latest updates in geographic information systems software. She said that the overhaul cost is about $10,000 but that it put Augusta’s site on the leading edge of what is available from similar public sites in the region, if not nationwide.
The updated site also integrates each parcel’s community information, such as school zones, bus routes and nearby parks, fire stations and hospitals.
Pearman said the long-term goal is to integrate even more city data with the GIS site, including business information and crime data.
“It is really designed more for the professional community and for citizens who want more information,” she said.
One feature for professionals is the ability to look at sales of other properties in the surrounding area and comparable property sales with a couple of mouse clicks.
“They really like that function because they can see patterns of sales and also things that haven’t sold since 2003,” she said.
Tom Davis, who has been in the property appraisal business for 33 years, said that using the update requires a “learning curve” but that the technology had become indispensable for people who deal with real estate sales. He uses similar sites in counties all around the Augusta area, and said some are better than others.
“The easiest one in the area to navigate is Richmond County’s site,” Davis said. “I’ve been to the site about three of four times this morning.”
Davis said GIS mapping sites allow him to do a lot of preliminary work without leaving the office or carrying around rolls of maps or large books on real estate plats, which he said was necessary several years ago.
“It’s just a good all-around tool for us to use,” he said. “It is something we use every day, all day long.”