Check The Property Record For Any Home

May 7th 2016


Image courtesy of Brent Moore via Flickr

Buying a home is one of the largest single investments that most people will ever make. Therefore, it makes sense to be as well-informed as possible before purchasing. Careful research about a property can prevent unpleasant surprises later on. This can include unpaid taxes on the property or improvements that have been performed without obtaining the correct permits.

Research can also give you the upper hand when it comes to negotiating a real estate deal. You can find out if the seller has recently divorced or if the property has been recently purchased and is being flipped for a quick sale. If you are willing to dig a little deeper, you can also discover whether the property has any notoriety attached to it or a famous previous owner.

Visiting Your Local Courthouse

Your courthouse will have have the lot number for your home on file. Having access to your lot number will make tracking down other records for your property much easier. This is because the street address or number may have changed over time, making it an unreliable reference point.

You can also obtain a copy of the original building permit for the property, which will include a significant amount of information about the property, including the names of the original owners of the property, as well as the architect and builders. You can also find out how much the property cost to construct, when it was built and what its original dimensions were.

Another important document that you will be able to obtain from the courthouse is the property’s abstract. This document includes a record of all of the legal transactions and deeds that are associated with the property. This will include a list of all the prices at which the property has sold for over its period. If there appear to be any additions to the property, look at the building permits to confirm that the structure is as stated. Finding the lot number or the original building permit may cost a small fee.

Using the Internet

The Internet has made the task of finding information about a property significantly easier. No longer is it usually necessary to visit the local courthouse in order to pull up information about a property. Most counties keep property records online. You can find the present taxes on a property online and discover if the taxes have been paid or not. You will also find the name of the current owner of the property and the lot number. Real estate websites like Trulia also have plenty of relevant information about a property, including access to US assessor property records and historical sales transactions.

The Local Library

A visit to the local library can unearth information about a property that would not otherwise be found on public records. You can ask the librarian to direct you to the local newspaper microfilm section. From here, you can search for any references to the property. If you looking for a more recent incident, then you may be able to find the information using Google or another search engine.

Your newspaper archive can also tell you a lot about the neighborhood where your house was built. If your property has been rented out, there may be rental ads in the archives, which can give you a picture of the rental history of your property. In some cases, you may even be able to obtain photographs that show what the property used to look like and how the surrounding area has developed.

Local Municipal Planning Agency

The local municipal planning agency deals with matters such as keeping records of home sales, assessing property taxes and issuing building permits. The local municipal planning agency can also help you find information that may be missing from the home deed. If a house has passed to a new owner as the result of an inheritance, it may not have been recorded in the deed, but the local municipal planning agency should still have a record.

Finding the Previous Owners

If you are looking for more specific information about a property, tracking down the previous owners may be worthwhile. This is no longer as difficult or as expensive as it once was, thanks to the Internet. There are a number of commercial search services that will charge a small fee to track down contact information about an individual. Alternatively, a quick Google, Facebook or LinkedIn search will sometimes provide you with a free way to find a previous owner.

Multiple Listing Services

Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data can give you a lot of information about a property. While you will probably not have access to an MLS service yourself, your realtor will be able to get this information for you. The MLS service will be able to tell you if the property has been sold recently or whether it has been withdrawn from the market.

Finding detailed records for properties has become a lot easier in recent years thanks to the increasing sophistication of databases and the amount of information that is available online. Make sure that you are taking full advantage of all of the available information about a property before you commit to purchasing it.


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