What are Property Records?

Property records are the legal documents pertaining to land or home ownership. These documents contain vital information, including that of the legal owners of real estate properties. “Property records” generally refers to deeds (or documents stating who has legal ownership of the property), but may include property tax records, county appraiser records, auditor records, lien records, land records, and county assessor records.

These documents are considered to be matters of public record, which means they may be accessible by anyone wishing to learn more about a property. Consulting them becomes necessary in a number of cases, such as in the event of a boundary line dispute, lien, inheritance, or will disputes.

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Types of property records

Property records refers to the collection of documents related to home or land ownership, and can be composed of any or all of the following:

Property Tax Records:

Legal documents stating the amount of taxes a property owner paid the jurisdiction may be available. Other details may include the size of the land, its value, and the type of structure on the land, if there is one.

Deeds Records:

These are the legal documents detailing who legally owns property and what the property includes (plot of land, apartment building, house, commercial building, etc.). Information about the owner or owners, such as names, addresses, and phone numbers may be listed.

County Appraiser Records:

Documents pertaining to land appraisal or land valuation may also be available for viewing as part of the public record. They may indicate the estimated value of the real property (the land and the structures upon it). Properties are typically reassessed approximately every three years, when there is new construction, or when a property changes ownership.

Auditor Records:

These records may include documents that contain information about transfers of ownership of property, property boundary information, assessment records, and government tax revenue, among others.

Lien Records:

Lien records are the documents suggesting that the owner of a property could not pay some amount. Liens can be voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary liens are financial contracts, like mortgages. An involuntary lien is placed on a property when a homeowner cannot pay what is owed and reference to that event is included in the public record.

Land Records:

Land records are documents that chronicle the transfer of public lands from the U.S. Government to private ownership and the like. They may provide information about land use issues and previous owners of the land. Additional background data on these owners may be included, such as age, place of birth, and citizenship.

County Assessor Records:

Like the county appraiser, the county assessor estimates the value of a property. However, appraisers do so one plot of land at a time, while assessors tend to evaluate the value of multiple properties at the same time, sometimes an entire neighborhood of homes, buildings, complexes, etc. at once. The records of this assessment are included in the public record.

How can you get access to property records?

Because property records contain information about a property, its value, and its owners, they are sought after and regarded as valuable to many, often consulted by property owners, real estate agents, and attorneys. Some counties or jurisdictions have digitized their information, so these documents may be found online. In others, you may have to go to the county records department, which is the office that maintains and keeps these legal documents. To access property records, you may need to pay a fee. Contact your local county records department for more information.