How to Check Property Records?

If you plan on buying a new house, or a piece of property, there are several risks associated with this. First of all, you are not sure who owned the house before you, or whether the house or the property has had multiple owners in the past. Also, you don’t know whether there were some legal problems the previous owner (or owners) had, which may cause a lot of legal problems for you as well. All of a sudden, you might find yourself trapped in legal bindings and, as a result, you will spend a lot of money even though you had no responsibility whatsoever. This is why it’s very important to check property records before any purchase, and to do it in a proper way – to avoid any potential issues.

What to Check?

  • You should look for property deeds pertaining to prior ownership of your property. Property deeds transfer title of a piece of land to an owner, and clearly indicate the state of affairs between prior and current owners of a house or real estate.
  • You should also look for Property Tax information, its assessed value or any Foreclosure information.
  • If you want to have information on the seller of real estate, you can check with the federal records, and see if they have some legal problems, such as litigation, or if they recently filed for bankruptcy.
  •  Another important thing to check on is the existence of encumbrances. These refer to all documents that prevent the transfer of one’s property to other users i.e. owners. The reasons for this can be manifold, but if an encumbrance exists, it most likely means that there may be a legal problem with the owner of a property in question. The operative word here is “may be”, so you shouldn’t be too afraid if an encumbrance comes up. An encumbrance can mean many things, for example – a mortgage. It doesn’t have to indicate a criminal activity such as a fraud, or any such thing. In this day and age, it’s pretty rare that you come across a property without any encumbrance whatsoever; most of them can be dealt with quite sensibly.

Where to Check?

  • Property Records Search: Public records are the best place to start checking up on any property. Every city has a place where they keep information on property records, so you shouldn’t have a lot of problems locating it. The most obvious places to start looking are public institutions such as the municipal/county’s record office of public records, tax assessor’s office or any such public department that might hold legal property documents. The good thing about these institutions is that they employ people who are very well-equipped, so they’ll most probably help you out in the best way possible.
  • Online Records Search: Apart from conducting physical records research, you can also go online and find the information you need. Today, the internet has enabled us to find a lot of valuable information without leaving home, so be sure to use this opportunity.  You can look for real estate in a certain area, and the results you get will be in accordance with your inquiry, which will save you a lot of time. Check Property Records by State and find out information on Owner’s name, assesses value, sales history & more. You can also search information on the seller i.e. owner of a property you want to purchase. The things you can find out include property tax records, and here you can learn not just the name of the owner but also the status of their taxes – whether they’re paid for or not.

When you’re conducting property searches, the key thing is not to rush things.  It is better to be safe than sorry, so take your time and find all the information pertaining to the piece of land in question. With all the information, you can recreate the so-called chain of title – the ordered number of all the owners, if there were more than one. This will give you a clear picture of the whole ownership status, and you’ll know exactly if everything was done in accordance to law.

If you can locate every deed, owner (seller) and buyer (new owner), you have a good chain of title and there shouldn’t be any legal problems for you. You will get the best results if you combine the two research methods discussed above, and if you take enough time to find all the valuable information. Conducting a good property search is no child play, and it should be taken seriously, because it can save you a lot of stress in the long run.