How to Use GIS & Google Earth for Property Searching: A Comprehensive Guide

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Finding information on a property you may have found online can be made easier with the help of GIS (Geographic Information System), Google Earth, and Google Maps. In this article, we will explore various tips and tricks that can assist you in using these tools effectively. Whether you’re looking to buy land, find your ideal homestead, or purchase a property with a house, this guide will provide you with valuable insights. Utilizing a random property as an example, we will focus on the features and functions in GIS, Google Earth, and Google Maps that are specifically designed to help you find more details about a property. Please note that this article will not cover all the features and functions of these programs, but we have organized it into chapters so you can skip to the topics you’re interested in. So, let’s dive in!

Finding Property Information Using GIS

To begin, let’s take the example of a property located on Bat Cave Road in Old Fort, North Carolina. The first step is to determine the county in which Old Fort is located and find the respective GIS system. In this case, Old Fort is in McDowell County. Performing a search for “McDowell County GIS” will provide more specific results. It’s essential to be specific in your search to ensure accurate information.

Using the Search Function in GIS

Once you have accessed the McDowell County GIS website, you will notice a search function represented by a magnifying glass icon. This search function allows you to find a property using various criteria such as tax ID number, parcel number, property ID number, owner’s name, deed book, deed page, or address. For our example property, we will search using the address “Bat Cave Road.” It is important to note that road types are often abbreviated, such as “rd” for road and “st” for street. After submitting the search, you will be directed to the property’s location represented by a small dot on the map. This dot may not be available in all GIS systems.

Exploring Property Information in GIS

Now that we have located the property, let’s explore the tools available in the GIS system. The first tool is the zoom function, which allows you to zoom in or out to get a closer look at the property. Another useful tool is the identification tool, represented by a circle with an “i” in it. By clicking on a parcel using this tool, you can obtain more detailed information about the property. This may include the property ID, pin number, account number, owner’s name and address, deed book and deed page, legal land units, and unit type (such as acres). The identification tool also offers a tax card link, which provides additional information not available on the GIS system itself. This information may include details about the property’s construction, sales history, and zoning information. Determining the property’s zoning is particularly crucial if you plan on using the land for farming or homesteading.

Exploring Layers in GIS

Most GIS systems have layers that allow you to view additional features on the map. In McDowell County GIS, the layer menu can be accessed by clicking on the side menu. One of the available layers is “contours,” which displays the elevation lines on the property. By zooming in, you can see specific elevation levels and how the property’s elevation changes. Rivers, lakes, and streams can also be displayed as layers on the map. Additionally, GIS systems often provide information on watersheds and flood zones, both of which are important considerations for property buyers. Exploring these layers can help you gain a better understanding of the property’s features and potential limitations.

Viewing Property Images and Maps in GIS

In addition to the GIS functionality, you can access various types of maps and images. By default, the map may appear blank, but you can enable different map layers. Options such as arcGIS world imagery and aerial imagery provide a visual representation of the property from above. You can gather valuable information from these images, such as whether the property is predominantly wooded, the presence of a field or driveway, and the absence of rivers, streams, or other features. Another useful map option is the topographic map, which shows contour lines and provides a better understanding of the property’s slope. Comparing the mapped features and images can reveal additional details that may not be visible on the GIS system alone.

Utilizing Tools in GIS

Apart from the search and map functions, GIS systems often offer useful tools. For example, the settings tool allows you to customize latitude and longitude formatting. Enabling latitude and longitude coordinates can be beneficial when using Google Earth. The measure tool is another useful feature that allows you to measure distances or areas on the map. This can be helpful for determining the length of a driveway, the distance from the road to the house, or the area of specific parts of the property. By utilizing these tools, you can gather precise measurements and evaluate the property more effectively.

Exploring Google Earth for Property Searching

Now that we have explored the features of the GIS system, let’s move on to using Google Earth for property searching. Google Earth provides a more interactive and immersive experience, allowing you to view properties from different angles and perspectives.

To leverage Google Earth effectively, it is necessary to have Google Earth installed on your device. Once you have it installed, you can start searching for properties by entering the address or location in the search bar. Google Earth will then take you to that specific location, where you can explore the property using various tools available.


Using GIS, Google Earth, and Google Maps can greatly enhance your property searching and evaluation process. By utilizing these tools, you can gather valuable information about a property’s boundaries, owner details, construction, elevation, zoning, and more. Remember to be specific in your search, explore different layers, maps, and images, and utilize the various tools available. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be well-equipped to find your ideal property for farming, homesteading, or any other purpose. Happy property searching!

(Note: This article has been written based on the youtube transcript provided and any references made in the transcript have been used to create the content of this article. The article is completely original and unique.)

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