Real estate is also called real property or immovable property. Real property includes the land itself, plus any property directly attached to the land. Any subset of land that legal human actions have improved is deemed real property. This can include roads, canals, ponds, buildings, and anything else permanently on the property.
Gaining access to real property records is important for property owners, real estate agents, and attorneys, because the information can change the property’s value. Real property records have all the information you may need about a property, including real property interests, deeds, plats, liens, and judgments.
The legal documents that transfer the ownership of a property from one party to another are called deeds. Information contained in a public records search can reveal the name of the true property owner.
Deeds outline the grantor and the grantee of a piece of property, with the date the two parties transferred the real property interests. States have different requirements for the kinds of deeds a party can use to convey real property interests, so an attorney may need to look up the deeds on a property to determine ownership.
There are many types of deeds, but the most common are general warranty, special warranty, grant, and quitclaim deeds. A general warranty deed guarantees the grantor’s right to sell a piece of property to the grantee. General warranty deeds are a promise that a clear title came from the previous property owner. A grantor can use a special warranty deed to defend the title against his or her own actions or omissions. Special warranty deeds do not offer buyers as much protection as general warranty deeds.
A grantor does not have to defend title claims in a grant deed. Grant deeds merely contain a covenant that the grantor has not already sold the real property being given to the grantee, and that the grantor is giving the property to the grantee without any liens. A quitclaim deed does not guarantee that the grantor’s title is actually valid.
A quitclaim deed simply transfers whatever type of ownership a grantor has on a property. It makes no promises about the extent of the interest on said property, so a buyer must accept the risk that the grantor may not have valid ownership.
One of the most popular things to look up in the public records database is real property mortgage information. Looking up the mortgage information on a piece of property can identify any mortgage liens, lenders, and borrowers in a property’s history. Mortgage reports provide important information about the ownership of a property, which is crucial to real estate agents and attorneys. For example, a real estate agent can learn the name of the title company, the sale amount of the property, liens on the property, the date of sale, and loan information. This can help the agent properly assess the property’s current value.
A plat, or a map indicating the boundaries of an individual property, is an important document to have. For land owners, real estate agents, and attorneys, plats provide an accurate picture of the size of a property, its location, and what real property it has. Plats can show if a property extends to include a lake or pond, for example.
Real property information isn’t complete without lien information — facts about voluntary and involuntary liens entities have on a property. If a property has one or multiple liens, it can make its sale more difficult. Real estate agents need lien information before attempting to sell a home, because it helps assess the actual property value. Liens will also change the way a real estate agent gets paid from a sale, because the proceeds first must go to pay the lien holders.
Real property records are important for many different people, in many professions. Having a detailed, accurate account of a property’s history, ownership, liens, and other information gives a picture of where the property actually stands. Having access to cost-effective, easily obtainable public records online can help you access all the information you need about a property.