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How to Check Official Real Property Ownership in the U.S.?

In the U.S., real estate records are public data. A typical consumer can usually easily check official real estate ownership records. This article explains how this works.

Usually, there are three county government departments to deal with on real property transactions. County Clerk, who handles all document recording, including real estate deeds, mineral rights, marriage certificates of residence, death certificate of residence, company registration and filing. County Assessor, who specializes in assessing the appropriate tax value for the real property within the county. And finally County Treasurer, sometimes also called County Tax Collector, who base on County Assessor’s tax valuation, collects annual taxes from real property owners.

The most official source is with County Assessor. In Texas, it is called the County Appraisal District. Real estate records are maintained with county government. The first step is to find out what county your land or your house is located. For example, our land in the City of Woodville is located within Tyler County, Texas.

County usually maintains an APN (Assessor Parcel Number), Parcel Number, or Parcel ID to identify the unique land or house. Search the county assessor website for Parcel Number, Owner Name, or property address, as shown below. This information shows county recorded ownership information and the address of for receiving annual county real property tax statements.

California is a special case – state regulations prevent the display of ownership information on County Website. Although not available online, you can still verify ownership information by alternative methods such as phone, fax, email.

Most of the time, you will also be able to see property or land details.

A majority of counties also have digitized county map, making them available online to check location, shape, and boundaries of the land.

Keep in mind that there are situations where county assessor does not have the most updated information.

  1. The deed is signed, but Buyer has not yet sent the deed to the county for recording. From a legal perspective, a Buyer becomes the new owner of the land or house ON THE DAY deed is notary signed by Seller. Sending the deed for county recording is a form of public notification and announcement of new ownership. If a deed is signed, but not recorded at the county, the new owner is at a disadvantage in legal and court cases.
  2. Another common delay is between county departments. After the deed is recorded with County Clerk, new ownership information is sent to County Assessor. After County Assessor updates the new ownership information, it is then forward to the IT department to update public-facing real property systems. It is common to take between two weeks to two months to have all department synchronize with such new ownership information.
  3. If County Assessor finds an error in the Deed, Buyer needs to work with Seller to file a deed correction. During such time, a delay on new ownership is not available for the public.

We hope you find this information useful for your search of your dream residential land. At Elegment Land, we own all the vacant residential land parcels directly as the owner (and selling as owner). Feel free to reach us if you would like to check ownership information, get driving directions to visit the land, or check utility information. We are always here to help. hello@elegment.com or call/text +1 832-856-2002.

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