Property Records in the United States
Property records are tax data, deeds, mortgages, liens, leases and more maintained for use by environmental consultants, appraisers, abstractors, title searchers, bankers, lenders and financial institutions, realtors, developers, assessors, recorders, and all others who are interested in learning the value of a piece of land. Property records in the United States are often handled on a county level and can be obtained by the county’s assessor or the city/county recorder of deeds’ office. Today, with the advancement of the Internet, many of these public offices place the records online, where search options include: subdivision, S-T-R, owner’s name, address of the property and parcel number.
Taxes for land and other real property are assessed by the county assessor; he or she calculates how much the property is worth, then a tax is levied against the owner according to local tax laws. Taxes are also used to determine how much in insurance premiums the owner should pay.
The county assessor is typically an appointed or elected public official, and may have to determine tax amounts for a municipality or township, as well as the county. Property taxes make up a large bulk of government revenue. The International Association of Assessing Officers is the professional organization of assessors, and can offer information regarding research in property appraisal, assessment administration, education and property tax policy. Private companies also offer this same service, and those who are paid to calculate the value of the property are called “appraisers.”
Once established, property records are reviewed on a recurrent basis (either annually or bi-annually) to determine how much property tax is due to the government. Properties may have to be re-evaluated often because of renovations and an increase in property value. Making improvements to a home, for instance, can have an upside and a downside: it will increase the value and attractiveness of a home to potential homebuyers, but can increase the amount of property tax that needs to be paid as well.