Public Property Records: How to Find Public Property Records in Your StatePublic property records are a great source of information when you're looking into buying a new home or apartment when you are interested in buying a specific house or land and you do not know who is the owner, or even when you are asked to prove your ownership when asking for a credit and many more situations...
Property records are part of public records, meaning that anyone can access to these documents. If in the past you would have to go to local recorders of deed's offices, to file multiple forms and pay different fees, nowadays, the process is much easier thanks to new technology and e-commerce. Let's deepen the subject and learn more about property records and how to find public property records in your state.
What are Public Property Records?
Property records are official documents that specify the owners, the nature of the transaction, all the details of the property such as its size and characteristics, and much more, and this whether it is a house, a parcel of land, an office or an apartment. They are absolutely required when a party transfers a property ownership right (in part or fully) to another party.
For instance, during a sale or a gift from parents to children. There are many different types of public property records: deeds, deeds of trust, warranty deeds, oil or gas leases, bills of sale, deed restrictions, purchase agreement, power of attorney, releases, federal tax liens, state tax liens, mineral deeds, building sketches, road documents, affidavit, release of lien, and much more...
Part of public property records, deeds are the legal documents that transfer ownership from a party to another. If deeds will reveal the name of the owner, they will also give you information about the chosen type of deeds: general warranty deed, special warranty deed, quitclaim deeds, bargain and sale deeds, grant deeds. They offer different levels of protection to property owners and if you are about to buy a property, this is an important thing to analyze in order to reduce the risks.
Different Types of Property Records
There are multiple types of public property records. We'll here detail the major types of public property records. These are the most common:
Warranty Deed - A warranty deed is the most common option for transferring a title from a grantor to a grantee and it also offers the grantee the most protection. In this case, the grantor warranties that every aspect of the title is in good and due form and makes legally binding promises that protect the grantee against claims such as debts or problems in regards to the conveyed land. In this case, the grantor would have to compensate the buyer.
Special Warranty Deed - With a special warranty deed, the guarantee of the grantee does not cover the entire history of the property, which means that it offers less protection. In this case, the grantor guarantees against problems or claims related to his period of ownership. It is most commonly used for commercial property or residential real estate transactions.
Grant Deed - A grant deed is pretty similar to a warranty deed unless that it doesn't warranty against third-party claims. It transfers property from the grantor to the grantee for an agreed sum. Still, it does guarantee that no other party has a claim.
Certificate of Tax Lien - This document is created with a lien for nonpayment of property taxes is issued, it is only attached to the property upon which the taxes are unpaid.
State Tax Lien - A lien attaching to property for nonpayment of state income tax.
Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions - These documents will describe limitations that may be placed on a property.
Deed of Trust - This is a written document that states that land is transferred to a trustee as security for a debt or other obligation.
Easement - The granting of a legal right that one has in the land of another person's property. As an example, it can be the right to cross (public utility easement).
Why Would You Need to Look for Public Property Records?
Public property records attract interest when someone wants to buy a property and check the history of the property, the type of deeds, the owner currently has, or when there is a dispute concerning a property. It can be related to a boundary line dispute, question-related to an easement, concerns regarding mortgages and foreclosures, or simply solving issues related to wills, inheritances, and property shares. All these problems are quite common and require clarification by using official documents such as public property records.
Moreover, public property records could also help future buyers to check if any issue such as liens, unresolved financial problems, nonpayment of property taxes, etc. are attached to this property, as well as financial information such as:
- Sale transaction dates
- Sale amounts (not available in non-disclosure states)
- History of property ownership
- Liens on a property
How to Find Public Property Records Online Depending on Your State?
Method N°1: Look For Property Records With Local Offices
Every city has a place where the public can go to search for information on a property. Property records are maintained at either the county courthouse, county recorder, city hall, or another city or county department. Many counties maintain their records online.
For example, for Orange County, in California, start your search here on the dedicated page of the Clerk-Recorder's website, for Polk County in Florida, start your search here, on the dedicated page of the Property Appraiser. Depending on the state and county, the website will be more or less intuitive and clear, also, depending on the state and county, fees can be asked, or to download the record, or to access the record.
A great way to save time (and money as well!), many websites specialized in a background check and people search are also offering reverse address lookup that enables you to access to property records. When running a reverse address lookup, you will be provided with information about a property's history, the name of the owner, and possible legal issues. It allows to dig into the property's past and learn about the owners.
A definite advantage is a nationwide search. Once you enter an address in the search field, it will screen all the databases, connected to many different sources nationwide and search into billions of public records in order to give you a complete and detailed report.