How To Look Up and Discover Property Ownership Records Online

Knowing who owns a property can be very useful information in real estate transactions, legal disputes, genealogy research, and more. With property records increasingly available online, discovering property ownership details is easier than ever. This guide will walk you through the key steps for looking up property ownership records online.

Why You Might Want To Look Up Property Ownership

There are several common reasons you may want to research property ownership records:

  • Real estate transactions – When buying or selling a home, it’s important to verify the legal owner and check for any liens, judgments or other issues that might affect closing.
  • Legal disputes – If you have a boundary dispute with a neighbor or other legal issue involving a property, ownership records can provide key details.
  • Genealogy research – Property deeds and tax records often list names and relationships, which can aid in tracing family histories.
  • Identify vacant/abandoned properties – If you spot a run-down, vacant home, looking up ownership records can help you identify and contact the owner.
  • Market research – Real estate investors often research property records to aid investment decisions or identify motivated sellers.

Online Resources For Property Ownership Records

Many public records are now available online through government websites as well as third-party property data services. Here are some top resources:

County/City Databases

  • Property assessor – Assessor’s databases provide property details like owners, parcel boundaries, valuations, tax details, sales history, etc.
  • Recorder of deeds – Recorder’s records include property deeds, liens, easements, plats, covenants and more.
  • Tax collector – Tax records give info on property valuations, tax amounts due/paid, exemptions and more.
  • GIS parcel viewer – Interactive parcel maps let you click on properties to get info like owners, addresses, parcel IDs.

Third-Party Websites

  • Zillow,, Trulia, Redfin – Offer property details like owners, sales history, tax data, parcel boundaries.
  • – Free genealogical property records like deed indexes, tax lists, probate case files.
  • ($) – Paid subscription with searchable property and land records databases for genealogy.

Tips For Effective Online Property Search

  • Search the specific county/city website where the property is located.
  • Gather property details like address, parcel ID number, owner names – this aids search.
  • Try searching by both property address and owner name for fullest results.
  • Use interactive parcel viewers to click on map properties and get data.
  • Check multiple online sources to compile thorough ownership profile.

Searching Property Records In-Person

If ownership details for a property aren’t available online, you may need to visit government offices in-person to access physical records. Useful offices include:

  • Recorder of Deeds – Property deeds, liens, plats, covenants, easements, etc.
  • Tax Assessor – Property valuations, tax details, exemptions, ownership transfers, etc.
  • County Clerk – Land title records, sale/transfer filings, marriage/death indexes.
  • Probate Court – Wills/estates with property transfers, executor deeds, etc.

In-person search tips:

  • Bring property address, parcel ID number or owner names to aid record search.
  • Know records you want – deeds, tax history, title abstracts, etc.
  • There may be search fees, copy fees or record retrieval wait times. Ask first.
  • If allowed, photograph records with your phone or tablet camera to save copies.

Vital Details Found In Property Ownership Records

Property ownership records can reveal a wealth of useful details, for example:

  • Names of current & past owners – Plus info like addresses, relationships.
  • Sale/transfer history – Including sale dates, purchase prices paid, financing.
  • Property legal description – Survey coordinates, parcel size, subdivision name.
  • Tax details – Assessed valuations, exemptions, amounts paid/due.
  • Liens & judgments – Like mortgage liens, mechanics liens, court judgments.
  • Land use restrictions – Zoning codes, easements, mineral rights, covenants.
  • Building details – Square footage, bedrooms/bathrooms, renovations.

Tips For Organizing Your Property Ownership Research

Conducting a thorough property ownership records search can involve gathering data from multiple online and offline sources. Stay organized with these tips:

  • Create a property research folder or binder – Organize printed records, notes, screenshots, etc.
  • Use spreadsheet to track data – Log dates, record sources, key details in an Excel sheet or Google Sheet.
  • Take clear photos of records – If allowed, use phone to photograph key documents for reference.
  • Bookmark helpful websites – Save county databases, parcel viewers and other useful sites in your browser.
  • Follow up on clues – Names, dates and legal descriptions are clues to finding more records.

Thoroughly documenting your research creates a useful permanent reference file on a property’s ownership background – valuable for real estate transactions, legal issues and ancestry records.


With property records increasingly online, tracing ownership history is easier than ever before. This guide outlined key online government databases, third-party property sites and offline offices to access vital ownership details like deed chains, tax histories and land use restrictions. Following record search best practices – gathering key ID numbers, checking multiple sources, bookmarking helpful websites and carefully documenting your findings – will lead to success. Just a few hours of targeted research can uncover fascinating lineage records or critical details to inform real estate deals.