How to Find Real Estate and Land Register Information in USA

Practical Guide

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How is it possible to access land register information in the United States of America, especially in the States of New York and Florida?

Land and property records in the United States are generally managed at the local or county level. Usually, they are available to laypersons, who can search them based on the name of the parties registered on the deed or on the mortgage or based on the address of the property. The websites containing property information are generally in English and Spanish, but translation options are usually available (for instance, the main tool search for New York City property records provides a long list of languages available).

  • In the State of New York, property records are managed by the County Clerk’s Office and the Assessment or Tax Assessor’s Office in most cases. However, there are distinctions between New York City (including its 5 counties or boroughs: Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island) and the rest of the Counties in the State.

    In the case of New York City, land and property records information is mainly held by the City Register Office, which is under the New York City Department of Finance control. The County Clerk’s Office for each borough or county is also in charge of holding property records within their jurisdiction. In some cases, there could be additional information, such as court records or legal documents that might affect the property itself. To perform a land or property search, the County Clerk’s Offices generally refer to the Department of Finance search engine, named Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS at The ACRIS system provides specific information about every deed or mortgage recorded on any land or property and includes information from 4 of the 5 boroughs (Staten Island uses the Richmond County Clerk's portal at

    The ACRIS and the Richmond County Clerk’s portals are available to any layperson, and it is not necessary to sign up or register to perform a search, and they both allow different searching options. It is possible to search, among other ways, based on the name of the party of a document, the type or ID number of a document, or the parcel identifier (i.e.: borough, block, and lot number of the property). The latter method is the most commonly used. One way to obtain borough, block, and lot number of the property is through portal, a centralized database launched in 2014 that provides free access to government offices' websites and public records all over the 50 states, providing information about the property's main features (including area, buildings, land use code, zoning designation, legal description, tax account number, etc.) and property tax assessment, current assessed value, and a short property sales history (including date, instrument number, seller and buyer information, and type of deed or mortgage connected to the property).
  • In the State of Florida, the property appraiser website of each County in the State links the properties to the deed by which the owner of records acquired ownership and to the website for the real estate taxes collected by the county in connection with the property. Usually, no registration is required. To find the proper property appraiser website, one can google “Property Appraiser” with the name of the county where the property is located (for instance, for Miami-Dade County or for the County where Fort Lauderdale is located).

What property information is publicly available in the United States?

The relevant portals usually contain information about the property, including a description of the main features, such as total land and living area, number of rooms, some pictures of the property, and a map of the location, as well as and some statistics and background information about the neighborhood. The property profile might also include pictures of the property as well as the assessment history for such property, including building type and tax class, market value, taxable assessed value, and tax exemptions.

It is also possible to check the history of sales and title deeds, along with mortgages, liens, and other relevant documentation regarding the property. The system includes a digital copy of all the original documents.

Most of the information regarding ownership and title is publicly available. However, financial information regarding owners or parties involved in property transactions may be restricted.

Usually, the information found in the different websites are not binding, yet they can be valuable. However, even though the information tends to be accurate, ownership can always be contested by the original legal documents. On the other hand, the assessed values may not match the actual market value of the property, and the taxable value is not a legal guarantee of the actual taxes levied on the property.

Which property-related documents are available in the United States?

Generally, by searching for a property profile in US relevant websites, a layperson may find the deed by which the property was acquired, and the mortgages or other liens levied on the property. In these cases, it is advisable to rely on the expertise of a real estate lawyer, who will be able to determine if there is any irregularity in the property transmission and if any liens are pending on the property.

For instance, a digital copy of all the documents mentioned above starting in 1966 is available in the NYC ACRIS system. Downloading these documents in digital format is free of charge. It is possible to obtain a regular or certified paper copy. The cost for each page is $1.00 and $4.00 respectively. Documents before 1966 are only available in paper format.

What other property-related information is available in the United States, especially in New York and Florida?

Different local, state, and federal agencies provide other property-related information such as zoning regulations or contamination and flooding-related risks.

Each area of New York City is subject to different zoning regulations, which establish, among other things, the use of land (e.g. commercial or residential use) or the maximum building height. Online Zoning and Land (ZoLa) Use Maps are available through the New York City Planning website.

Similarly, information regarding the risks or levels of contamination to which a property is exposed is also available through the interactive maps of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).

It is also possible to find out if a property is in a flood-prone area and therefore should have flood insurance. Through the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) made available by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, any layperson can consult this information.

In Florida, basic zoning information is included on the property appraiser website; for additional information, it is necessary to contact the city where the property is located to obtain a “Zoning Determination Letter”.

Certain information related to environmental remedial actions connected to the property is available as public records; records of contamination, flood risk zoning and similar concerns are autonomously and independently published by cities on their website. An investor should contact a real estate attorney to determine the risks related to the any investment property, especially if of commercial nature.

In any case, it is always advisable to rely on the expertise of a real estate lawyer for a more specific evaluation of the external elements that may have an impact on the property itself especially if this is a property that will be used for commercial purposes.

Is it possible to obtain information on pending litigation concerning the property?

Generally, in preparation of a litigation concerning a property located in the US, the perspective plaintiff might want to conduct a lien search within the relevant court records, Also, such plaintiff might want to file a lien or a claim of lien on a specific property, reporting the description of the property.

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