If you know you’re interested in purchasing a particular house, one way to make sure you have all the information available in the public record is to search property ownership records. These records are considered the main standard and the legal place where the truth about property lines is established. While people have become adept at searching property listing sites and reviewing the details pulled from places like the MLS, there are additional property details that could be helpful to know and, sometimes, to discuss with the seller in order to gain full clarity.
Why search property records?
One of the biggest reasons to assess property records in the course of buying a property is to see who owns the property and whether there are co-owners or liens on the property. Even if you didn’t know about it, liens on your property can stop a sale in its tracks or pass to you as the new owner, and you don’t want to take on someone else’s debts without your knowledge.
Other details you might discover could include easements, such as an agreement for someone to use your driveway because they don’t have road access to their property. You can also learn things like whether the house is in good tax standing, how recently it’s been bought and sold, and even zoning information.
Are there any downsides to searching property records?
Some property record searches will take more time than others since most counties and other governments have some kind of records department and different histories and records could be kept by different entities. However, many larger governments have moved these records online, making it fairly easy and usually either inexpensive or free to request details about a property on the website.
One key point to mention is that if you find a discrepancy between the details your seller provides and the property records, it’s best to approach this issue with tactfulness, not assuming that someone somewhere is lying about the truth. Since records can be missing or misprocessed, it’s always possible that the records themselves are wrong, so be ready to collaborate with the seller to understand why one document says one thing and their marketing materials say another (a common issue is a difference in square footage, for instance).
Are there other ways to give yourself more information about the homebuying process?
Your real estate agent should make it their business to know as much as possible about selling a home and buying a home in your area, so in an ideal world, they’d present you with things like property line maps, disclosed details about the house, and more. All of this information contributes to your desire to buy the house or, in some cases, reduces your interest. That being said, your seller also has a strong motivation to offer you additional details about buying a house in Cincinnati if you want them.Even simple questions like how much the monthly utilities tend to run can inform your choice to buy a home, so make sure you ask what you want to know.