Access to recorded documents such as deeds, mortgages, liens, and other records related to ownership of property can usually found at your county recorder’s or clerk’s office. Some recorders’ offices allow online access to their records where searches can be made by name, date, document number or document type. Some provide this service free of charge, while others may charge fees. In addition to land ownership records, some recorder’s offices also allow online access to other records, such as UCC financing statements, powers of attorney filings, and business names. Additionally, some also provide online access to military discharges, wills, and vital statistics, such as birth, marriage and death records.
For example, the Harris County Clerk’s Office in Texas maintains several online index databases, including real property records, maps and condos, marriage licenses, assumed business names, informal marriages, birth and death records, Conflicts of Interest, and Uniform Commercial Code. Although images of original documents are not available online, there is no charge to search these databases. Searches can be made in a variety of ways, such as by name, file number or date. Alert messages are displayed when invalid search information is entered and the system allows you to correct the search criteria and continue the process making your search very user friendly.
Florida’s Collier County Clerk of the Circuit Court also provides online access to several databases. Record searches can be made for official land records, Board of Commissioners meeting minutes and records, foreclosure judgments and sales, registered lobbyists and disclosures, tax deeds, and zoning maps. Search results provide document images that can be viewed and printed right from your home or office. Additionally, Florida also has a statewide service. Here you can access records such as deeds, mortgages, affidavits, judgments, liens, and marriage records, and pay a small fee to order these records online. Searches can be made by county, region, statewide or by judicial circuit. Although this database isn’t as comprehensive as what Florida counties provide directly, it is very useful if you’re looking statewide for information.
The Marquette County, Michigan Register of Deeds Office provides two ways to search for recorded document information. One is fee based, and the other is free of charge. The free search is a named base search which provides basic information about the recorded instrument; i.e. document type, parties involved, date of recording, etc. More extensive information can be obtained from the fee based system. Here you will have the ability to search the tract index, retrieve document images, and retrieve all of the information that is included in the free search.
Although the name of theses recording agencies varies by jurisdiction, such as register of deeds, registrar of deeds, recorder, auditor, county clerk, etc., their function and the types of documents recorded are similar. You can find a complete list of all these recording agencies by state and county at the Free Public Records Directory, Land Records and Deeds Resources category page. This website can make your search a whole lot easier, since they indicate where online searching is available, which ones are free and which ones require fees or a subscription, as well as providing contact information for each agency. In addition to recorded documents, the Free Public Records Directory provides links and resources to many other types of public records, such as property tax records, jail and inmate records, GIS and mapping, voter information, permits and inspections, and more. You can search for public records by category, state, county, and municipality.