By Joseph F. Schuler Jr.. Escobar and Robb Services of Potomac, Md., uses a leased real estate and property tax database to pinpoint prospective clients. The full-service remodeling company also repairs and treats cedar shingle roofs (see

Using the leased Criss+Cross Plus Real Estate directory on CD, which is sold by Haines and Co. of North Canton, Ohio (, the company researches older neighborhoods with cedar roofs. Remodeler Neil Robb leases a five-county database for $2,500 annually. The company can plug in ZIP codes, find out where there are concentrations of cedar-roofed houses, and send crews there to distribute fliers advertising their services.

Besides telling whether roofs are asphalt, cedar, slate, or tile, the record gives the homeowner's name and phone number. It tells when the house was built, what it sold for and when, the last permit applied for, and its assessed value. Other building details include square footage, the footprint, building material, and in some areas, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

Each county -- 99 are available in 10 states -- costs up to $800 annually.

A similar, but costlier, online database, for 1,385 counties in 48 states, is offered by First American Real Estate Solutions (