When trying to figure out information about potential land, online resources are great. They are easier and more convenient than physical documents. Landmen who are looking to secure land for drilling need to certify various things before being able to get the lease for a piece of land. It is vital to get the information quickly, so the project can begin. Online public records can be extremely helpful for landmen trying to find property information.
Benefits of Online Records
Technology has increased convenience in many ways, one of which is record-keeping. Searching for public records online is easier than in person for many reasons. First, you do not have to deal with lines of people or restricted hours. One of the main things that keeps people from going to their county clerk’s office or courthouse is the long waits. On top of waiting in line, you need to wait for the clerk to go to the archives and find the information. The entire process could take a full day.
Even if they want to, however, many people cannot go to the county clerk’s office or courthouse because they do not have time and it closes before they can get there. For landmen, there is usually no time before or after work to stand around for hours waiting for records. With online public records, there are no set hours, so you can search at 2 in the morning or 10 at night.
Searching for public records online can also save you money. Most states charge you not only per page but also for time you spend searching. Online databases are either free or charge exponentially less than county courthouses. If you have a job that requires extensive research about land ownership, such as a landman, you can save hundreds of dollars by using online records instead of physical documents.
1. Know the Public Records Laws
As a landman, it is important that you make searching for online public records as easy as possible. One way is by knowing the public records laws. States and counties each have specific laws regarding public records. If you do not know the rules and regulations about what you can access and what you cannot, you may be turned away or ignored. Becoming versed in the public record laws will give you the ability to make more compelling arguments about why certain records should be released to the public, a skill that will come in handy when you are researching potential properties.
2. Make a Personal Appearance
It is more difficult to deny or dismiss someone when they are standing right in front of you. Check online to see if certain records are available. If the clerks are ignoring your requests, go down to the courthouse and interact with them personally. The clerk will have a harder time sending you away when you make a case in person about why the records should be released to you.
3. Be Polite to Clerks and Agencies
Whether you are online or in person, always be polite to the clerks and agencies. They will be much more inclined to help you if you have been nice to them. Because a large part of your job as a landman requires accessing records, it can become frustrating if someone keeps denying you. Do all you can to stay calm. Do not accept “no” for an answer but have a polite discussion instead of yelling. Use your knowledge of public record laws to explain why you should be able to access the records you need.
4. Optimize Your Search Based on Type
With online public records, you have the option to optimize your searches, which will save you time and make the process more convenient. Online databases are organized by the type of record that they contain. For example, CourthouseDirect.com gives visitors instant access to real property documents, historical deeds, liens, oil and gas leases, and grantor indexes. The database serves people who need records for landowner information. Attorneys, appraisers, banks, landmen, mortgage lenders, and real estate agents often use the system. Find the ideal database and optimize your search so you can quickly find the information that you are seeking.
5. Know the Best Practices for Online Searches
Certain tricks make is easier to quickly find information. When you are typing in a search, it can save you time sifting through records if you have a more specific request. Use special characters to search for word variations. An exclamation mark at the end of a word will select all searches with the root word and any ending. For example, typing “bankrupt!” will get you results for bankrupt, bankruptcy, bankruptcies, and any other endings for the word bankrupt. You can use an asterisk in place of any letter. If you do not know the exact spelling of a name, you can insert an asterisk and it will return results with all options. For example, you could type “Johns*n” if you are not sure whether the name is spelled with an “o” or an “e.” Putting quotation marks around a phrase will provide you with results that include that specific phrase. Optimizing your searches will prevent you from needing to do multiple searches to find one piece of information.
6. Know Which Databases to Use
Depending on the type of information you are seeking, some databases are better than others. For landmen, some online resources will be more effective than others. One of the best places to begin is the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website. It provides much of the desired information for landmen including land patents, surveys, master title and oil and gas plats, and historical indices for certain states. The BLM website also provides geographic reports that have information about mining claims, federal leases, rights of way, and communitization agreements.