When someone purchases a house, the property deed will typically be recorded at the county courthouse. At this time a fee will be paid to the county clerk/register for recording the deed. During business hours public records are usually free for the general public to look into.
These records may be searched by using the internet, or by going to your county’s register office. Generally, the county will charge a small fee for each document you request a copy of. Some online sources will give you basic information on a person free, such as publicrecords.onlinesearches.com, but charge for additional information. You can find your county recorder’s office by doing a simple search online.
When using online tools, looking up relatives or friend’s deeds might be easier as you already have some information on them.
How to search online:
When searching online for property deeds, you’ll have to put their first and last name. This will bring a list up that provides all matches that came up from the counties database.
Select the entry from the list with the nearest date to when you believe the person your looking up purchased the house. This is where searching for relatives or friends property deeds also becomes easier, as you can just ask them the exact date. If you don’t know the approximate date in which the deed was given and/or property was purchased, click on every entry until you find the property deed that you are looking for. Once you go through any possible fees to pay and gain the information, print a copy of the deed.
A deed might not have been recorded if the property was purchased on a land contract. Sometimes deeds are not recorded in public record until the land contract is paid in full. In a case such as this, the house deed would be found under the name of the person who holds the land contract.
Example of searching online:
Here is an example of the County Recorder’s website for Riverside County, CA. http://www.countyofriverside.us/livinghere/officialrecords.html
Under Records for the State/Other Counties, there will be a search tool that will allow you to search listings by name by name like described above.
Public records can also be searched for at the county courthouse. Older records like your grandparents or great grandparents house deeds might not be found online, because of the numbers of records that exist. These types of records though will most likely be able to be found at your local county courthouse, as well as recent county records. Recent records of deeds are able to be found online, and might be easier to search online.