If you are thinking of buying a piece of land or a new home, you have to do your due diligence and make sure everything is above board. The best way to do that is to do a property owner search through public property information records. Using a property lookup will help you determine whether or not the chain of title is intact, checking for air
easements, and making sure that the seller is entitled to sell the property.
Property history public records contain a lot of information, including the full history and legal ownership interests in the land, dating back hundreds of years in some instances.
Most of these records are kept in the county recorder’s office, where the land records are tracked and maintained. Most of these records are publicly available and can be accessed and reviewed upon request. You can also find rich property information online through various public records sites.
Let’s look at the details you need to do a property records search.
What To Look For During a Property Owner Search
County offices store a huge volume of property records, but the average deed registry office will only file a few records. You can make requests online or shift through physical records with the help of a clerk, but it helps to know what you are looking for.
You can find records like deed titles, which may include:
- Bankruptcy records
- Articles of association
- Lease assignments
- Rights of way
- Trust agreements
- Memorandums of trust
- Partnership agreements
Alternatively, you can look at mortgage records during your property records search. This refers to all loans related to the financing of the property, which includes mortgage modifications, UCC filings, releases, transfers of mortgage, and satisfaction of mortgage paperwork.
Perhaps the most important documents to look for are encumbrances that can affect your ownership or the value of the property, especially liens. Liens include contractor notices, child support records, affidavits, releases of liens, and certificates of judgment.
If you are worried about neighbors disputing the land, you can ask for survey maps, parcel maps, assessment maps, subdivision maps, right-of-way information, and plan line maps to ensure everything is in order.
Who Can Ask For the Information?
These documents are extremely important as they are often the items that resolve property disputes. The service is usually requested by bankers, lawyers, commercial lenders, lawyers, etc. You could hire a lawyer to look up the information for you, but there are advantages and disadvantages.
The primary advantage is that you don’t have to try to decipher complex property information on your own. Lawyers are more likely to spot red flags within the documentation than you are. Of course, the disadvantage is the extreme cost of hiring a lawyer to do the search.
You can do the search yourself through trusted online portals. It’s much easier than making sense of the county records system because you’ll find all of the relevant information at once.
What Should You Look For?
Sometimes unscrupulous sellers or realtors will avoid disclosing information like unpermitted work and other important details that might wreck your sale. It’s best to consult the source of information directly. Look for arguments or disputes over ownership, complaints from neighbors, concerns over eminent domain. You can go a step further and look into the owner. Is the property attached to any current loans? Or a divorce proceeding?
Taking out a few minutes to look up the relevant information can save you years of legal trouble and expenses down the line.
What Do You Need To Conduct a Search?
All you need is some information – including addresses, names, lot numbers, and contact information. Digitized records have made it easier than ever before to look up records, but if you are too vague, you may get overwhelmed with records that take hours to sift through. Be as thorough as possible to laser-focus on the relevant details.
It’s better to be safe than sorry. Before you make a big purchase, conduct a thorough property owner search and look up information about the property. The chances are that everything will be above board, but if it isn’t, you’ll save time and money.