If you want to know how many homes are in your community, you don't have to walk the streets and count them. Your local city or town hall has records on every property, whether it's a home, farm, business or manufacturing plant. The assessor probably has a spreadsheet that can display a list of every residential parcel with a single mouse click. In fact, you may be able to get that information on your own computer.
Determine which community you are interested in. You may want the total for all of the properties that fall within the city's physical borders but not all of those that have a city mailing address. Neighboring towns outside the city and rural towns that encompass a village may not have their own post office zip code.
Specify the types of houses you want to count: single-family houses, multiple-family houses or both. Multiple-family homes can exist on a single parcel, but the connected buildings can be owned individually. Be aware of the various housing schemes in the community before making a blanket request for total number of homes.
Check your city, town or county website for assessment records. If they have listings for every property by community broken down by type of property, you may be able to the count them.
Visit the assessor's office with your request. If you want the total number of houses, not the total number of lots, be clear with that request. Under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, an agency is not required to create a record if it doesn't exist, according to Citizen.org. If the assessor is not willing to provide you the total number of houses on your request, submit a written request asking for the department's entire assessment roll for the year. This record could be provided electronically or printed out over several pages. Then you can do the count or spreadsheet calculation yourself.
Aaron Gifford is based in New York. He has been on staff at the "Syracuse Post-Standard," the "Watertown Daily Times" and the "Oneida Daily Dispatch." He's also written for "Long Island Newsday," "Empire State Report" magazine and "In Good Health." He has been writing professionally since 1995. Gifford holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University at Buffalo.