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Pennsylvania Property Records

What are Pennsylvania Property Records?

Pennsylvania state administrators store the property records that property owners file with local agencies during real estate transactions. These documents are available to interested members of the public per Pennsylvania Right To Know Law. There are different types of property records, including property deeds, mortgage reports, and index maps.

Persons who wish to obtain these property records — especially property deeds — must visit the Recorder of Deeds’ office in the county where the property is located. These record custodians also allow mail-in requests and provide databases that interested persons can use to obtain property records online. The only requirements are that the requester provides the necessary details to facilitate a search and pay administrative fees.

Are Pennsylvania Property Records Public?

Yes. Pennsylvania’s Recorders of Deeds store property records in the public domain according to the state’s Right To Know Law. Thus, interested Pennsylvania residents can get property records by visiting their local government offices.

Property records are available for public viewing through government agencies or third-party aggregate websites. Accessing property records through third-party sites is typically straightforward, and the records are not geographically limited. However, because the sites are not government-affiliated and run independently, the information contained in the records may vary. Searching parties should include the following information to obtain complete property records:

  • The property’s exact location.
  • The property owner’s details.

What Information is Included in Pennsylvania Property Records?

The information in Pennsylvania property records depends on the type of record. Pennsylvania property deeds include details regarding the legal transfer of a title from a grantor to a grantee. Additional information includes the legal description of the piece of real estate transferred. There are several types of deeds, each containing basic information and additional details.

Deeds of Trust

Deeds of trusts are contractual agreements between a home purchaser and a mortgage company when buying a home. Mortgage lenders agree to put up the home’s asking price on the homebuyer’s behalf, and the buyers agree to repay the loan. In exchange, the mortgage lender holds on to the property’s legal title until the buyer completes the payment.

Grant Deeds

A grant deed is an official record that details the transfer of a property’s title from a grantor to the grantee after a successful negotiation and payment. A grant deed assures the grantee that they are the only ones with title to the property and that there are no outstanding or undisclosed liens on it.

Special Warranty Deeds

A special warranty deed is a legal document that details a property’s ownership transfer. It guarantees the buyer that the seller has the right to transfer the property and that there were no liens or encumbrances during the seller’s time. However, it does not protect the buyer against any outstanding lien before the seller’s time.

Quitclaim Deeds

Unlike grant deeds or special warranty deeds, quitclaim deeds do not give buyers any assurances that a property is encumbrance-free. Instead, they signify only that the grantor has the right to sell or transfer title to the property. Quitclaim deeds are commonly used to transfer family or foreclosed property.

Meanwhile, mortgage records are legal documents that bind a property owner to the mortgage lender that provided funds to buy the home. Pennsylvania mortgage records show how much a property owner paid for their home and how much the mortgage lender contributed to that sum. Mortgage records also document the agreed payment scheme, the interest rate, and legal recourse available to the lender if the homeowner defaults on payment. Researchers can also look through a property’s mortgage records to see how many owners it has had since its construction.

Index maps are official documents that give a visual description of a property. There are different types of maps, including survey maps (plat maps), parcel maps, and subdivision maps. Survey maps show a property’s exact dimensions, while parcel maps show a property’s boundaries in relation to others. Subdivision maps are documents that show how large properties break into smaller lots.

Where to Search Pennsylvania Public Property Records

Pennsylvania residents and other interested persons have a right to request property records from their presiding agencies. Typically, requesters can obtain Pennsylvania property records from their local recorder of deeds office. Alternatively, they may query their local tax assessor’s office.

For example, individuals interested in getting Montgomery County property records may query the Montgomery County Recorder of Deeds office or the Montgomery County Board of Assessment Appeals.

How to Do a Pennsylvania Property Records Search

Pennsylvania’s Right To Know Law gives its citizens the legal authority to request and inspect deeds, mortgage records, and other property records. Individuals who wish to find the records for a specific property must gather its essential details, such as:

  • The property’s actual location, including the county, the street name, and house number.
  • The property owner’s details, including their full names.

Pennsylvania residents or researchers can take the above information to their recorder of deeds office, or their county board of assessment appeals to get the corresponding property records. Mail-in requesters must write down their request and include the following information:

  • Owner’s Name
  • Address (including township/borough/municipality)
  • County Parcel Identification Number
  • Book and Page number of the document
  • Requester’s name and phone number

Many county recorders of deeds also provide online databases with indexed property records. Interested persons can set up user accounts and print out certified PDF copies of property records for a small fee.

How to Find the Owner of a Pennsylvania Property Using Public Records

In Pennsylvania, property buyers usually attempt to gather all possible information about a property, including the owner’s details. Per the Pennsylvania Right To Know Law, anyone can request property records from the county recorder of deeds office. Then, parties can inspect their details. Requesters must have the following information:

  • Address (including township/borough/municipality)
  • County Parcel Identification Number
  • Book and Page number of the document

Researchers may submit requests in person or by mail.

What are Property Records Used for in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania property records document all details about the state’s properties and make them available to the public for various uses, including:

  • Pre-purchase research: responsible property buyers research property before making a purchase decision. By looking through Pennsylvania property records, buyers can discover crucial information about a property, such as any existing structural problems, legal issues, or liens.
  • Establishing a property’s market value: Property buyers and sellers must agree on prices before signing a deed. Property records provide historical context for setting prices as they show how much a property has sold in the past.

How to Find Pennsylvania Property Tax Records

Pennsylvania collects property taxes from homeowners according to its Real Estate Tax Sale Law. According to Pennsylvania’s Right To Know Law, tax records are confidential and available only to taxpayers or authorized third parties.

Eligible requesters can obtain Pennsylvania property tax records by submitting a request to their local Board of Assessment Appeals Office.

What to Do When You Can’t Find Pennsylvania Property Records

The office of the local recorder of deeds is the first port of call for anyone who wishes to access Pennsylvania property records. There, interested persons can inspect and obtain copies of property deeds, survey maps, and mortgage records for any property unless specifically sealed by a court order. Where accessing Pennsylvania property records proves difficult, interested persons may use the tools and resources available through third-party record search companies.