How to Search Public Property Records
When buying or selling real estate, it’s good to have as much information about properties as you can. Searching public property records may just bring you the answers you’re looking for.
Information about real estate transactions, deeds, tax payments, and more must be made publicly accessible, which can be beneficial for you.
When Buying a New Home
When making one of the most significant purchases of your life, you need to be sure to gather all of the available information. If you’re in the market to purchase a new house, public property records can be terrific tools for your decision-making process.
1. Quality of your agent
First, property records allow you to check the history of your real estate agent or broker. What other properties has he or she sold in the past? Did the homes sell above, at, or below their listing price?
2. Cost history related to your home purhase
When you have a list of homes that might be a good fit for you and your family, you can find out more about the properties and neighborhoods.
For a specific property, you can check property records to see how much it sold for in the past, how much the property taxes were, who previously owned the property, whether there are any easements or assessments, and more.
3. Research comps
You can also find out about other homes in the neighborhood that are similar, also known as “comparables” or “comps,” by looking at their price and tax histories.
When You’re Investing in Real Estate
If you’re interested in purchasing a property for rental income or price appreciation, public property records can provide a wealth of useful information.
Public property records can help you find investment opportunities. You can use them to learn more about the owner, the deed, the price and tax history, any mortgages, assessments, judgments, or liens, and more.
For example, if a property is in foreclosure, there will be a lis pendens notice recorded which must be made publicly available with the deed. Lis pendens is Latin for “suit pending”.
Divorce, probate, and bankruptcy records may point to someone who is looking to sell.
You can find potential cash buyers by checking for liens; if there’s no lien for a recently sold house, it was most likely purchased with cash
When You’re a Real Estate Broker or Agent
If you’re helping someone buy or sell a house, the more information you can provide, the better. Public property records contain a goldmine of facts that you can share with your clients.
You can discover information about a specific property, like its characteristics, property tax history, and price history. Check nearby homes to find information about comps in the neighborhood. You can look at historical price changes within neighborhoods or city blocks.
Where to Find Public Property Records
You can find public property records in most county tax offices or deed recorder’s offices. If you’d like, you can actually visit these offices to see deeds and other information for yourself, but it’s usually much easier to simply search online. Go to NETROnline for a directory of county tax and recorder’s offices.
Most county databases allow you to search by property address and/or by the property owner’s name.
The Easiest Way to Search Property Records Online
You can go to multiple sources to find tidbits of public information about properties, but an easier way to find this information is to visit a site that brings it all together like RealtyHop’s Property Records Search.
Property information is gathered together from government land and tax records, and added alongside proprietary real estate listings. This allows you to have a full view of a property’s data in one place.
Reports include detailed property descriptions, maps, photos, historical sales transactions, property tax data, and investment opportunity statistics, including the capitalization rate or cap rate.
The cap rate is one way to look at your potential return on investment. It is the ratio of the potential rental income to the price of the property. The income part of the equation is called Net Operating Income or NOI, and it is the income less expenses needed to manage the property. As an example of a cap rate, if you purchase a house for $500,000 and the income is $50,000, the cap rate is $50,000/$500,000, or 10 percent.
How to Search RealtyHop’s Property Records Database
It’s simple to search for property records using the Property Records Search. Simply enter the owner’s name, whether individual or organization, or the property address.
If you want to narrow your search to a specific city, use the sidebar on the left.
The list of results allows you to view the records by clicking on the name of the party or parties involved in the transaction or the property address. If you click on a name, you will see all of the transactions that person has participated in within the cities included in the database.
If you click on a property address, you will see the transaction history for that property. Transaction information may include the name of the real estate agent. If you click on that name, you can see information about that real estate agent and a list of his or her transactions.
Free searching is available and will limit your results to 15 records per search.
You can upgrade to the Pro plan for $19 per month to access 500 records per search, as well as mailing/data lists and detailed property reports which aren’t available with the free plan. If you’d like to advertise listings, you can directly post them with the Pro plan.
RealtyHop will add Premium and Elite plans soon that will provide even more results per search, as well as branded market reports for sales advertising.
Give it a Try
If you want the most information about a property in one place, try RealtyHop’s Property Records Search.