Deeds and Mortgages and Documents, Oh Yeah!

A woman called us for help because she suspected that her boyfriend was married.  She had looked up marriage records in her county and didn’t find anything.  She knew that he may have married elsewhere, but didn’t know where to search. He was originally from Boston, and he could have married there, but neither the City of Boston nor the State of Massachusetts has an online marriage database.

She just wasn’t sure where to go next.

We suggested that she use our site to go to the recorded documents database in her county to see if he owned a home and how the property was vested (owned).  Sure enough, she found his address and all the documents that have been filed in his name at that address.  The documents showed that he had purchased, financed, and recently refinanced the property with his wife.  The vesting was “Married, filing jointly,” meaning that it was very likely that he was married.

The woman who asked for help thanked us, and promised that the man would get an earful the next time he called for a date.

What makes recorded documents so valuable?

Recorded Documents are generally considered to be deeds, mortgages, liens, and judgments, but they often contain so much more.  You can often find military discharges, bonds, trusts, child support enforcement, business registration, power of attorney filings, financing statements, Uniform Commercial Code filings, trusts, partnership documents, leases, and Wills.  Some counties also provide birth, death and marriage certificates, and quite a few will give you copies of the documents online—for free.

Try it yourself at the Maricopa County, Arizona Recorder’s database:

Maricopa County Recorded Documents

There’s no need to sign in and you can view the documents without paying a fee.

Or try the Cuyahoga County, Ohio Recorder’s offering found here:

Cuyahoga County Recorded Documents

Compare the two and you’ll find that many of the documents they provide are the same, but each provides additional categories that the other doesn’t offer.

Florida has a statewide service that they provide through, but the database they provide isn’t as robust as what the local Florida counties provide directly.  But if you’re looking statewide for information it can’t be beat.

How do you find these treasures?  One of the difficulties in trying to find these databases is that they have so many different names.  Many people call these “grantor/grantee indexes.”  Florida calls them “Official Records.”  Georgia calls it their “Real Estate Index” (available statewide).  In some states you have to search the county “Clerk of Court,” while in others the records are filed at the “Registry of Deeds.”  The other problem is that the search engines have gotten so large that often the link that you want is buried behind hundreds of thousands of other results—if it even exists.

As you might know, we’ve been working since 1996 to find public record databases and provide an online directory of public records on our web site.  To make it easy for our visitors we try to keep the link titles as consistent as we can.  All recorded document links on our site are labeled as “Recorded Documents.”

To help you find the kind public records you want, we’ve grouped the most commonly used categories together.  Go to the left-hand column of almost any page on our site and you’ll find helpful search fields.  The drop-down menu on the top left in U.S. States says “By Topic.” Click on that and go to the “Recorded Documents” section for that state.

Or better yet, just click here: Recorded Documents

Alternatively, pick a state and then county page that you want to search and check to see if that county makes recorded document information available online.  Or do a search by zip code, city and state, or county and state and click on the link to the county you want to search.

Keep in mind though that not every county provides their recorded document information online.  And many that do now charge a fee for document copies or contract with a third party for fee-based searches.

One last thing—all of our links are handpicked and qualified by our staff.  We also write a brief description of each link and add any helpful hints so that you’ll know what to expect from each database.

Let us know if you need help or know of anything we’ve missed.

Day of Judgments

A customer named Dan called us after paying for a $5.00 Bankruptcy, Judgment & Tax Lien search through our Premium service. His search in Nevada brought up a 2010 judgment for the subject “EDWARD L. STEVENS” but it did not return a result for a 2005 judgment that Dan found using another online service.

Dan explained that the 2005 judgment in Clark County, NV against Edward Stevens was for $2,250, and awarded to Players Place, LLC. Dan wanted to know why our system didn’t show this judgment. Ours only showed him the 2010 judgment in the amount of $500, awarded to a medical office. We added that there were actually two questions we needed to answer: 1) Why isn’t the 2005 judgment in our database? and 2) Why isn’t the 2010 judgment in the database of the other service Dan used?

We explained to Dan that both online services he used are third party vendors. Search Systems gets the bankruptcy, judgment and tax lien data from the county courts at regular intervals. To uncover the full truth about both judgments, we should look at the source of these filings – the Clark County Clerk-Recorder’s Office.

Using our free public records directory, we visited the Recorded Documents page for Nevada and clicked on the link for Clark County Recorded Documents. That brought us to a search page, where we input the name of the defendant: “Edward Stevens.” Scrolling through the results, we found both judgments and verified their filings numbers with the results Dan had from his pay searches. As it turned out, the County showed us that the 2005 judgment was satisfied and the 2010 judgment was still open. The reason the 2005 judgment did not appear in our pay database is likely because it was satisfied and the court amended their data upload to us, removing the record from view.

So why did Dan’s first pay search at the other online service not show the satisfaction of the 2005 judgment? Why did that service not show the 2010 judgment at all? As we’re not privy to the details of the other company’s database we can only make an educated guess. We believe their judgment database is outdated and static. If they aren’t receiving regular updates from the sources (the courts), then satisfied judgments are still showing as outstanding. And more recent filings do not appear at all.

By using both the pay search and the free directory at Search Systems, we were able to get the full picture on the debts owed by Edward Stevens. This is a good reminder about how important it is to make sure your sources are giving you current, complete information. Otherwise, you could make the wrong judgment about your research subject.