How to Find Property Records and Real Estate Reports

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How to find property records online
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Resources for Property Records Searches

Property ownership records can be found through several methods, often varying by location due to different jurisdictions managing these records uniquely. Here are some general steps and methods you can use:

Online Searches

County Assessor’s Website: Most local government or county assessor’s offices have online databases where you can search for property ownership information by address, owner’s name, or parcel number.

Property Appraiser’s Website: Similar to the assessor’s office, the property appraiser’s website for your area might offer online search capabilities for property records.

Public Records Online: Some regions may have dedicated online portals for public records, including property ownership, separate from the assessor’s or appraiser’s websites.

In-Person or Direct Contact

Visit Local Government Offices: If online resources are limited or non-existent, visiting your local county assessor, county recorder, or similar governmental office can provide access to these records. You might need to request access to physical files or digital terminals within the office.

Request Information via Phone or Mail: Some offices may allow you to request property ownership information over the phone or through mail, especially if you cannot visit in person due to distance or mobility issues.

Third-Party Websites

Real Estate Websites

Zillow is the world’s most visited real estate website. It provides a wide range of services and information for people who need to buy, sell, rent, or invest in a home. The site helps visitors connect with real estate agents, mortgage lenders, and other service providers.

In addition, Realtor.com allows you to browse public property records for various properties across the United States. You’ll find extensive information about homes, lands, and lots for sale. Examples of the information you’ll find on Realtor.com property descriptions include photos, descriptions, details, square footage, lot size, sales history, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, information on schools in the local area, taxes paid, and much more.

Redfin sometimes provides ownership information as part of their property listings. However, this might not always be up-to-date or as detailed as government records.

Public Records and Background Check Services

For a fee, various online services offer access to public records, including property ownership. These can be useful if you’re researching extensively or need information from multiple jurisdictions.

BeenVerified offers a detailed property record search. Just visit the website and select the appropriate search method. You can search for records via the property address, the person’s name, phone number, or email address. For example, select the Property tab, enter the address (potential addresses will auto-fill as you type), and then click the search button. The form will search through billions of public records and compile a detailed report that may include such information as:

  • Location information, including the address, county of residence
  • Information about the property, including the lot size, approximate date of construction, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms
  • An aerial map view of the specific address, including the house and surrounding neighborhood
  • Ownership details, approximate taxes paid, and more

You’ll get a preview of the report with basic, summarized information. Provide your name and email address so you can access the report.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • Privacy Laws: In some jurisdictions, property ownership records might be partially redacted to comply with privacy laws. For instance, the owners’ names might be available, but their contact information could be hidden.
  • Fees: While accessing property records is often free, especially in person or through government websites, some jurisdictions may charge a fee for copies of documents or for using certain online services.
  • Accuracy: Always cross-reference information from multiple sources if possible, as databases might not be updated simultaneously, leading to discrepancies in the data.

Start with the local assessor’s or property appraiser’s website for the area in which the property is located, as this will likely be the most direct and cost-effective method. If you encounter difficulties, consider the broader range of options mentioned above.

What Does a Private Investigator Need to Know?

Private investigation cases often involve property research in some form. A private investigator needs to know where to find the information, whether researching the details of physical property such as a house, land, real estate, jewelry, or intellectual property. In addition, private detectives may have to monitor subjects living on various properties. Use these resources to research a home or neighborhood with a Property Report. Find information such as:

  • Home values or worth includes both the purchase price and estimated rent
  • Property ownership information: who currently owns the property
  • Real estate sales history: when was the home bought and sold
  • Property details, including such details as lot size, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, number of floors, type, and more
  • Current & previous residents
  • Phone numbers associated with the property address
  • Area sex offenders registered in the area
  • Satellite & map images and more

Other Property Lookup Tools

Official Federal Land Patent Records—The Bureau of Land Management provides information about public land transfers. Its database covers federal land title records for Eastern Public Land States issued between 1820 and 1908 and land titles issued between 1908 and the mid-1960s.

Other Resources for Property Information

In addition to these helpful websites, check out the articles below that provide an overview of valuable apps for obtaining property information:

Questions and Comments

Please comment below if you have any questions about finding property records and real estate information.

Michael Kissiah is the owner of Brandy Lane Publishing, LLC, which owns and operates a small portfolio of websites, including eInvestigator.com. Michael created eInvestigator.com more than 20 years ago after working as a private investigator in the state of Florida. Since that time, he has become an expert at how to find information online and has written over 1000 articles on topics related to the investigation industry. In addition, he is the author of the "Private Investigator Licensing Handbook", available at Amazon.com.

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