A collaborative effort from the High Country Association of Realtors and the Appalachian District Health Department will soon change how the public can access information on Ashe County properties. And it’s being offered for free.
The new database will allow citizens to see how many septic systems, wells and permits are at a property. In addition, the database will make it easy for Realtors to search for a property based on a parcel number, address and name.
Also, if a person cannot remember an address, just typing a road in the database will bring up all parcels along that route.
According to the Appalachian District Health Department’s septic system permit search page, the department started transferring the septic and well permits of Ashe County to Starpoint Global, in order to create an online database.
“We are now making the all of our information accessible to everybody and they can look at it from the quietness of their own home,” said Dawn Ellis, a local director for the High Country Realtors, and owner of First Class Enterprises in Jefferson.
The ADHD anticipates the process of transferring all of the county’s current files will take between 4-6 weeks. After completion, Ellis said the department will be able to easily transfer the deed information into the database, making it easily available to local Realtors and the public.
In essence, the database will combine information that can be found at the Register of Deeds, tax parcels and mapping information in one place. In addition, the information will cover the entire district instead of a single county.
“We can do this online and know it as close to accurate as possible,” Ellis said. “If we cannot find (the information) now with all of the documentation StarPoint is putting online and what the health department has already put online, then we’re pretty firm in the fact that we cannot find a permit for either a well or septic tank.”
In addition to making the database available to the public, it will also make the buying process in the county efficient, and in turn, easier. Also, it will help Ashe County and the ADHD be more efficient, by not being disrupted to search for old permits and parcel numbers in their archives.
“This house was built in 1890, 1910, pick your time frame, and we couldn’t find it because of human error, papers come and papers go,” Ellis said. “With this database, that won’t happen anymore.”
In turn, it will make the housing market more efficient, by having the most up-to-date information on all parcels.
“We want to make it beneficial and easy for everybody to come into this county,” Ellis said. “We want you to move here, we want you to buy something here. We don’t care if its a manufactured home or a lot, we are going to make it as easy as possible for you to do that.”
Ellis said the funding from the project came when Ashe County’s MLS (multiple listing service) and Board of Directors merged with the High Country Association of Realtors. There was an agreement that $25,000 would be put aside for projects specific to Ashe County.
After Starpoint, based in Chapel Hill, completes the system, the Appalachian District Health Department will add new permits by the house’s parcel number, name and address.
“There is not enough money for Starpoint to scan each and every document” “They don’t want to do it one at a time. This week we may get one permit issued and next week they might get 20. What kind of deal is that?”
Ellis said Starpoint also saw the potential in creating the database and how Ashe County’s lead could be followed throughout the state.
“(Everyone) sees that private industry is leading the forefront with the Association of Realtors, a private entity, giving money to a county entity to use for county purposes,” Ellis said, mentioning it was a “win-win situation” for both sides.
Upon completion, Ashe County will be the only county in the region to have information about its permits online. Ellis said they expect costs to be approximately $7,000 for Ashe, and after completion, they plan on making the same possible for Watauga County on a $13,000 budget.
Eventually, the High Country Association of Realtors would like to expand the database information into Avery County as well, but since they are in a different health district, their system may be different.
“My focus is getting Ashe County online, then the next step is getting Watauga County online,” Ellis said. “From Watauga, we’ll then turn our attention to Avery County.”
Wil Petty can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @WilPetty.