A Guide On How To Search Property Records

A Guide On How To Search Property Records

Property records provide detailed information about a property’s history, ownership, and past events. County or city authorities carefully record these events when significant changes occur. These changes include: 

  • sales or transfers of ownership; 
  • tax liens;
  • alterations to the property’s dimensions.

When you use a public records property search, it may reveal information about previous owners, property deeds, and sometimes personal details about the seller related to divorce or bankruptcies. A thorough search can also reveal information about land restrictions, the property’s original builder, or historical photographs.

Today, when searching online property records, you can find various resources, including sales history and tax information.

For instance, sales history is available on county websites. You may also find it by visiting the recorder of deeds office in person. These records typically reveal previous ownership details, purchase prices, and current mortgage statuses (if any).

One of the most important parts of this search is gaining access to tax history. This can provide information on tax payments, assessed values, and any existing unpaid burdens (liens) on the object.

Liens are unpaid debts to lenders, contractors, or homeowners associations. They are crucial factors to consider as they may impact the property’s ability to be sold and its financing options.

Such records also let users do a deed search. It reveals information about a property’s history, like current and past owners, lot specifics, assessment values, and zoning details. You can get valuable insights into the owner’s motivation to sell the home.

For instance, divorce, the birth of a child, and other information can be found via this search, and it could help during negotiations, like getting a lower price.

However, users should understand that even official records may have inaccuracies. Therefore, use this data, but double-check it for more accurate results. 

Houses have history, and it’s not just about the date they were built or who used to live there. Before buying a house, people should check property records by address of the chosen property, as this can provide valuable data that can even influence the price negotiations. This article explains everything you should know about the property records search.

Before we explain how to check property details, we want to point out several major factors to consider beforehand. People often use public data for these occasions:

  1. To learn about one specific property.
  2. To identify a group of properties based on certain criteria. 

In the first case, people seek detailed information about a specific property because they seek investment opportunities, and others want to conduct a purchase. Knowing the property’s history, ownership, and legal issues is crucial before making decisions.

If it’s the second case, people are most likely seeking properties in a specific area with certain zoning rules or specific features such as a swimming pool or a large backyard. 

Users can utilize public websites online when searching property records by address or by specific attributes. You may also ask users on Reddit about official websites where to search. For instance, one user on Reddit asked the following:

“What’s the best place to look up property ownership records and recent sales/amounts? Ideally looking for the names or entities of individuals that purchased various properties. Focusing on LA area.”

In response, one user mentioned using the city website and the property assessor, while the other suggested looking up GIS maps. We also have a guide for you that will help you find the necessary data. 

Methods Search Property Records

So, how to search property records? We’ve mentioned that Reddit users suggest different methods. And it’s true, you can use a method that’s more convenient for you. 

County Assessor’s Office

The County Assessor’s Office has a core mission: to estimate the value of real property in cities, towns, or villages. This value influences property tax bills. Assessor’s offices must keep property values updated according to the law.

There are 3,142 counties in the U.S., each with its own Assessor’s office. While some offices have websites for information, some may allow access only offline (so you have to schedule an appointment or visit when convenient).

To find property information, you can visit the Assessor’s office or use their website remotely. Choose the property type you’re seeking: 

  1. residential;
  2. commercial;
  3. agricultural;
  4. vacant properties.

County records provide details like property owner, bedrooms, bathrooms, zoning, and size. Few counties allow address-based searches; typically, you search by a person’s name.

For example, to find a property in county records, you first need to locate the owner’s name and then match it with relevant documents. In court records, you search by date rather than by address.

GIS Data

GIS is a Geographic Information System. It analyzes and displays data with geographic references. It provides mapping information and zoning details that are utilized in fields like surveying and construction.

GIS data is critical in the strategies of property-centric businesses. It can impact areas like investment decisions, lead generation, and marketing campaigns. GIS data provides insights into aspects like land ownership, zoning regulations, flood zones, census data, and other relevant information.

For investors, GIS data can reveal hidden details like parcel boundaries or dual zoning. As you know, such information significantly influences investment decisions.

County Recorder’s Information

Another option is to gather information from the County Recorder’s Office. This office ensures all public records of actions and transactions are current and properly filed. County Recorders manages notices of sale, mechanics liens, deeds of trust, mortgages, etc.

This information includes transaction data like purchases, deeds, liens, and foreclosures, providing valuable insights for property searches. While property owner searches are free, searches related to specific documents like liens or deeds may incur costs depending on your county’s policies.

The County Recorder’s office provides essential data for investors focusing on specific niches like bankruptcy or probate. For instance, it gives access to info related to bankruptcies or probate cases.

County Court Records

This method offers a more direct approach. Investors, agents, and home services companies often use County Court Records to find information on court-ordered property seizures. Moreover, online platforms usually provide options to search for liens, notices, and orders.