A property deed is a legal document that describes a parcel of real estate, including its location, boundaries, and current owner. Property ownership is a matter of public record, so you can get the ownership information for a home if you have the address. The most current source of ownership records is usually the property assessor or appraiser responsible for the home's location. The assessor's office values property, so new deed information is sent to the office soon after the home changes hands. You can also visit the register of deeds or recorder of deeds for the county in which the property is situated.
Contact the Property Tax Assessor
To search using the assessor, find the property tax assessor office's for the house's location, such as a county, town, city or village. Check the municipality's website first, as some have assessment information online; search by property address to get the owner's name. Alternatively, contact the assessor's office by phone and provide the property address to the clerk, who can then find ownership information. Some municipalities charge small fees for conducting searches.
Contact the property tax office for the home's location if you can't locate or reach the assessor. The property tax office has ownership records as well, but the information might not be as current. As with the tax assessor's office, this can often be done via an online search or by calling the office.
Read More: What Is a Quit Claim Deed?
Search County Land Records
Visit the county land records department for the property's county if you can't get the information from the tax collector or assessor. The county's land records may be held by the county clerk, the recorder of deeds or the register of deeds. You can go to the county's website to obtain contact information.
Ask the clerk for assistance with checking land records for current property deeds. Systems vary by county, so follow the clerk's instructions to search for the home's most recent deed. Some municipalities do not provide ownership information online because of local privacy laws or simply because their systems may be outdated. You may need to fill out a special request form or visit the office in person to get the information. Additionally, if the property is located in a large city, you may need to search the city's records rather than the county's, as some cities' deeds are filed with the city. You can contact city hall to get the location of the land records if that's the case.
- Black's Law Dictionary: What is a Deed?
- Reference: Where Can I Find Free Property Deed Records?
- Cook County Recorder of Deeds: How To Check Your Deed
- University of Kansas. "Community Toolbox: Using Public Records and Archival Data." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.
- American Title Associates Agency, Inc. "FAQs." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.
- You need to visit the city land records office in some larger cities because the county does not handle the city's deed filings. Contact city hall to get the location of the land records.
- Some municipalities do not provide ownership information online because of local privacy laws. You may need to fill out a special request form or visit the office in person to get the information.
Anna Assad began writing professionally in 1999 and has published several legal articles for various websites. She has an extensive real estate and criminal legal background. She also tutored in English for nearly eight years, attended Buffalo State College for paralegal studies and accounting, and minored in English literature, receiving a Bachelor of Arts.