Upon sale of a property, different information becomes available, including the property area, any tax liens, assessed value, sale price, and transfer of ownership. On CheckPeople.com, you can search for the name of the owner, property tax records, the parcel number, the tax ID number, and the taxes paid. Different sources will tell you how long the person has owned the property if they’ve made any illegal improvements to it, and facts related to property debt or foreclosure.
You can search for a property owner through a title company, a real estate site or agent, and public records.
Local Title Company
Many companies will offer a property profile for free. They might make copies of mortgages and deeds available as well. Some of them will try to find out if any liens or judgments were filed against the seller by searching for his name. This information is important because existing debt might be tied to the property. Verifying the seller’s identity is critical if they have a common name. With so much information publicly available, the risk of getting the wrong person is very real.
Real Estate Companies
Many real estate sites let you search for a home by location. Some even provide information about unlisted homes that are not being sold. You can check sites like Zillow, Realtor.com, and Trulia. Most of the time, they source information from public records. Again, its accuracy needs to be confirmed.
Real Estate Agents
Your agent should be able to provide more information about the seller. More specifically, you need to ask them to check if the agent who sold the current seller the home is the same one representing them now.
Many real estate agents will be able to verify the owner’s identity as well as download deeds because they have access to the online database of the title company. They can also look into a property’s sales and mortgage history going back many years. They might even find quitclaim or interspousal deeds between spouses, which would probably mean they got divorced.
Tax Record Search
A tax record search will reveal the full records the tax assessor responsible has on file in his office. Apart from the property owner’s details, the data they contain will also include the number of rooms, type of roof, and the property’s original construction year. You probably think you have all of this information already. However, it might emerge that the property listing notes different square footage than what tax records show. What does this mean? One of three things:
- The seller is wrong/is misrepresenting
- The tax assessor is wrong/is misrepresenting
- Improvements were made to the home, but no permit was issued for them
As a prospective buyer, you can check to see if the seller had a permit from the urban planning department. Pricing will be affected by any illegal addition to the home. Some real estate agents subscribe to Property Radar and other private online services to obtain access to records.
Public Record Information
Last but not least, public record information about a property can prove indispensable to your decision to buy or not to buy. Government offices have many public records on file. There is a place to look for information about a home regardless of which city you’re in. City halls, county recorders, county courthouses, and other county or city departments all maintain public records.
Hopefully, the office you go to will have knowledgeable and helpful staff that is ready and willing to find the owner’s information, property deeds, and property encumbrances. You might want to know if the seller has ever been involved in a lawsuit or filed for bankruptcy. Federal court records will have this information.