When we were looking for houses, the lot the house was on had a pretty huge impact on how we felt about it. Looking for someplace with enough land to grow a sizeable vegetable garden meant that there was usually a decent sized parcel as well. Side note: Its surprising how poor the information is about listed houses. It doesn’t seem crazy at all to me to have the parcel available. Whenever we went to a viewing we tried to come prepared with the aerial view, however that could be obtained.
Actual aerial photography was pretty out of the question (I looked at drones and RC flying machines briefly…), so satellite/publicly available imagery seemed to be the solution. First things first, obviously checked Google Maps. The area is relatively uninteresting and rural, so the imagery wasn’t fantastic. If you can see the dot at the end of the driveway, that’s the house.
Turns out that with the new Google Maps it’s not trivial to find the date the imagery was taken. The first result on Google lead me to this site which said the only way to get the imagery date was to download Google Earth. A short download later, and I discovered that apparently Google Maps uses a different dataset, because the house was visible with a *little* more resolution.
To be fair, the resolution wasn’t nearly that high when I first looked. The date stamp on it is 24/09/2013, so at the time of this writing it’s less than 6 months old. Presumably it took a couple months to get the imagery up there. The big issue with this was now we had an aerial view of the land – where are the property lines?
Our real estate agent actually pointed us towards a utility that I was unaware of (available here), and it turns out that the data is pretty awesome. At the time it was by far the best imagery I had seen. Not only that, it had imagery dating from 1976 (before the house was even built) up to 2011. Not annual images, but enough years to be really cool to look through.
One thing you’ll notice by comparing the two is that Google Earth’s seems to be on a bit of peculiar angle. I suppose that’s just where the satellite was at the time? I certainly have no idea, and it’s not immediately perceptible what’s going on with the picture, but it skews things pretty noticeably when comparing two images. In particular, if you look at the length of the dog run it looks quite radically different.
So now we have a decent source for aerial imagery.