By Joseph F. Schuler Jr.. Pittsburgh remodeler Ken Moeslein has turned a county Web site -- created to show property owners assessed values and comparable houses -- into a tool for scoping out homes prior to sales calls.
Clicking on the real estate link at www.county.allegheny.pa.us/, Moeslein's salesmen can see a photo of the home they're about to visit, a footprint sketch with dimensions, and discover if the owner owes taxes.
Moeslein, of Swing Line Windows, says the site helps salesmen determine the type and size of windows, roofing, and siding, making it easier for them to bring the right samples. They can almost estimate the job's cost from the Web site data. Moeslein's operations manager uses the site, too, to dispatch crews with the right ladders and tools.
Moeslein has used the site since it went on line last year. "When we use it and none of the competitors do," he says, "it makes us look that much smarter."
Robert Fry of Governmax.com, a software service provider to local governments, estimates that about 300 of the nation's 3,066 counties put real estate data online.