What are Illinois Property Records?
Illinois property records are a compilation of documents, maps, and other materials that provide information about real estate development throughout the state. This includes ownership details, zoning changes, mortgages, and tax liens. Illinois property records are used by lenders, buyers, and sellers to determine the value of a property and understand its ownership history. Government agencies also maintain them for taxation purposes.
As codified by the Illinois Revised Statutes of 1874, the County Recorder of each respective judicial district is required to maintain records of property in its jurisdiction. At state level, the Illinois Secretary of State and State Archivist maintains the Illinois Regional Archives Depository System, which comprises Illinois property record information within state limits. Per the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, interested persons may view or copy these records unless specified by a statute or court order.
Are Illinois Property Records Public?
Yes. Members of the public can access Illinois property that has been registered by its owners. While selected information may be exempt from public disclosure, the Illinois Freedom of Information Act's provisions allows public access to public property record information through authorized custodians.
Illinois 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 details to obtain complete property records:
- The property's exact location.
- The property owner's details.
What Information is Included in Illinois Property Records?
Property records in Illinois and other states usually include the following: Deeds, Liens, Plat Maps, Mortgage reports, Licenses, Restrictive covenants, and others. The information contained in the records depends on the document in question.
Illinois Property Deeds
Deeds are generally legal instruments that are executed under seal or before witnesses. However, in this context, a deed is a legal document that records the transfer of ownership of a property. It includes the names of the seller and buyer (legally known as grantor and grantee respectively), a description of the property in question, and the date of transfer. There are different types of deeds. The four most common are: General warranty deeds; Special warranty deeds, Bargain and Sale deeds, and Quit claim deeds.
General warranty deeds indicate that the grantor guarantees the granteee that the property in question has no issues presently and has had no issues in the past. It is said to be the best type of deed. It usually contains six covenants made by the grantor to the grantee.
Special warranty deeds are similar to general warranty deeds. The major difference between them is that with special warranty deeds, the grantor guarantees that the property in question has no issues only during their period of ownership. This means that the grantor cannot be legally held responsible for any issues the property has outside their period of ownership.
Bargain and Sale deeds are used in exceptional circumstances. With this, the grantor does not guarantee the grantee that the property is free from any issues, nor does the grantor take responsibility for any issues the property might have in the future. In many places, the Bargain and Sale deed has been replaced with Quit claim deeds.
Quit claim deeds are also called "Non-warranty deeds". This is because they are deeds in which the grantor disclaims any interest they might have in a piece of real property and passes that claim to the grantee. The grantor claims no responsibility for any issues. This is usually used between friends and acquaintances who generally know each other.
Plat maps delineate the boundaries of a piece of property about neighboring properties.
Restrictive covenants are agreements between parties restricting the use of land owned by one of the parties.
Mortgage reports document the history of mortgage lenders and borrowers concerning the property in question. They help to give the grantee an idea of how much the property is worth by showing them the prices the property was worth at particular times in the past.
Where to Search Illinois Public Property Records
The County Clerk's Office of each municipality is the surest bet at getting information about property records in Illinois. Some counties have online databases, so the researcher need not visit the office in person. Some do not. Alternatively, requesters may query the office of the County Assessor, especially where the property record of interest is a property tax record.
How to Do a Property Records Search in Illinois
Firstly, researchers must know the particular property's exact location down to the zip code, the street number, and house number within the county within Illinois. Also, they have to know the property owner's details. With the two intact, searchers may proceed to the county's Recorder of Deeds or Tax Assessor's Office to process their search. In most instances, they have to pay copying fees.
An alternative means is for the searcher to run the search on the county's online database. For instance, property records for Cook County of Illinois can be searched for using the Cook County Clerk, property records for DuPage County can be looked up at DuPage County, those for McLean County can be tracked at McLean County, and so on.
How to Find the Owner of an Illinois Property Using Public Records
To find the owner of an Illinois property using public records, the searcher has to have the necessary information, including the town where the property is located, the street name, and the house number. After that is secured, the searcher may do one of three things.
First, they may go to the county's recorder of deeds office and provide the information required to facilitate the search. The inquirer will have the information they are looking for as long as the property in question has been registered.
The second option is for the searcher to visit the tax assessor's office. All property owners pay taxes on their properties, so the tax assessor has detailed information about the owner of each property. Some properties are tax-exempt, but the tax assessor's office has information about even these categories of properties.
The third option is the state department of Illinois. This is useful, especially for properties that are owned by businesses. The state department of Illinois has an official business webpage with detailed information about registered companies and corporations. Searchers may consult the website to search for companies.
What are Illinois Property Records Used For?
Property records serve several cogent purposes in Illinois. They are as follows:
Knowing the Condition Of The Property
The prospective buyer must understand all the aspects of the property before disbursing money on it. Property records will educate the buyer on the general condition of the property.
Ensuring Clear Boundary Lines
Plat maps are the particular documents that help with this. By examining the maps before buying the property, the prospective buyer will save themself from future disputes with owners of neighboring properties.
Knowing Covert Information
Property records of some properties need to clearly state the encumbrances the property has. These encumbrances could include easements, mortgage payments, equitable servitudes, liens, and unpaid taxes. Upon discovering any of these in the records of a property, the prospective buyer can thrash out the encumbrances with the grantor and their legal advisor or go for another property.
Valuation Of Property
Property records also help to determine the value of a particular property. This may need to be done during the dissolution of marriages, sharing of wills, inheritances, and using the property as collateral. To determine the valuation of a property, concerned parties will need to consult the chain of ownership and how much each person paid to acquire the property, the tax paid on the property, and other related documents.
Contesting The Valuation Of Property
Sometimes, tax officers miscalculate a property's value, which makes the tax incorrectly higher than it should be. (It is rarely lower.) In such a case, the owner of the property can contest the valuation of the property. To do this, they need the property records.
How to Find Illinois Property Tax Records
Property taxes are taxes measured based on the market value of the property. The scope of what the tax covers and how it is measured differs with each state.
To find Property tax records in Illinois, interested persons can either visit the tax assessor's office in person or consult the tax office's online database.
What to Do When You Can't Find Property Records in Illinois
Some properties have protected addresses. This means that when a search is run on them, the search will return no information. It was initially used to protect judges and other law enforcement officers due to the delicacy of their jobs. However, it has now been extended to other people. In this case, little can be done about it.
In other cases, it is a particular document among the records that cannot be found. If that happens, the searcher will have to rely on the other documents in the records of the particular property.