How do I get parcel boundary shapefiles with tax roll, land use and zoning info included?

Is it possible to just create the parcel boundaries data from scratch, i.e. could I create parcel polygons in QGIS?

I would imagine there is a somewhat efficient way to do it considering companies like Corelogic and Digital Map Products have nationwide coverage.

  • Please keep questions solely one question. Ask another question for subsequent questions.
    – Maksim
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 14:30

1 Answer 1


"Efficient" and "create from scratch" are polar opposites in this case. The efficient way to get parcel data is to get it from someone who already has it. In the US, it's typically available on a county-by-county basis, often from county tax auditors.

For example, the parcel shapefile for Summit County, OH is a 65.5 MB download. It's also available as a spreadsheet or KML. Or you can access this county's parcel data without downloading it by connecting to their web feature service. Other counties may not have such conveniently accessible data. In some cases you may have to contact the county auditor and request the data be sent to you.

Each county's parcel data will be on the order of 10-100 MB, so nation-wide coverage would take a long time to download and take up a lot of storage space. That's why anyone is willing to pay for services like the ones you mentioned.

  • Thanks @csk that was helpful! How do the county tax auditors "create from scratch" the parcel boundaries? I would assume they hire a GIS company or they have a GIS team, but what is the technical process to create the parcel boundaries from scratch?
    – csft306
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 17:49
  • Parcel boundaries are based on land deeds and surveys done by professional land surveyors. Very old land deeds have descriptions like, "starting from the big rock, go 305 feet NNE, 15 ft S, etc." If you digitize a description like that, it's unlikely to produce a closed polygon. If neighbors have a dispute over their shared property boundaries, that's when the lawyers get involved to haggle over whether the big rock has shifted since the original deed was drawn up, and whether "NNE" is based on true north or magnetic north, not to mention polar drift...
    – csk
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 18:09
  • Anyways, the parcel boundaries are digitized once from the original paper records. Then they get updated when properties change hands, or are divided up or merged.
    – csk
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 18:12
  • wow, that's interesting. So I guess it's a big effort to digitize the parcel boundaries the first time around. But then from there on it's just a matter of maintenance.
    – csft306
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 18:44
  • Parcels used for taxes may not be the true boundaries. Some jurisdictions will exclude things like sidewalks or if the true parcel extends to the street centerline from the taxable part of the parcel.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 23:17

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