Title to real property is the legal evidence of ownership, and the deed to that property is passed from one owner to the next. Possessing “title” to real property means that all relevant public records have been checked to certify ownership of the property. Public records include deeds, mortgages, and liens and can be obtained online or by visiting your county public records office. Title companies are another source for property records because they search the public record and keep the information on file.
Gather any information or documentation you have on the property you are interested in investigating. This could include the name and address of the property’s current owner, the street address or legal description on the deed, and the city or county in which the property is located.
Find the official website for the city or county where the property is located. Select the name of the office that holds the real estate record, such as Recorder of Deeds, Office of Land Records, Property Appraiser, Property Appraiser) or a similar name.
Select “Deed Search” and begin your search using the owner’s name, address or legal description of the property. The deed will show the name of the current owner as the “buyer” or “beneficiary” and the name of the previous owner as the “seller” or “grantor.”
Look up the records of all the previous owners of the property by repeating your search with the names of the buyer and seller that appear on each deed until you come to the transaction of the first buyer and seller. Mortgage and lien records will also be displayed.
Print the records you need.
Collect all the information you have that identifies the property. This could include documents such as the deed, mortgage, or property tax and the owner’s name and address.
Contact the Department of Public Records in the city or county where the property is located and ask which office holds deeds.
Visit the deed office and follow the instructions to search for a property record. Be sure to indicate if you want just the current records or the full history of the property. Old script files are often kept in a different location.
Perform the search taking into account the documents you want to copy. Be sure to tell the office staff whether or not you need certified copies of the documents.
Find any information about the property that interests you, such as the deed, mortgages, or property tax records.
Call a local title company in the city or county where the property is located and provide the information you have to the representative.
Request the “property profile” of the specific property in which you are interested. The profile report contains title and history information obtained by the title company through title searches of public records. This option will save you a lot of time, but you may have to pay for the service. Always make sure to ask first.