Local public records property searches can help you learn quite a bit about commercial real estate owners and their assets.
The problem however, is that while more and more counties have provided online access to their public records, there are still places where the only option is to visit the county recorder’s office in person. Furthermore, the information available to the public can vary widely from market to market.
In Maryland for example, the public property records come with very unique limitations, most notably the inability to search for properties by owner name.
In this article, we’ll look in more detail at the pros and cons of Maryland’s public records, and how to run a property search through the state’s online portal. We’ll also review how Reonomy can help you avoid the dead ends you might run into when using free sources to look up commercial property data.
Maryland Property Search
Typically, property ownership records and the associated online portals in the United States are maintained on a county level.
In Maryland however, the public property records across the entire state are accessible all in one place through the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT). This is one major perk that individuals looking for property data in multiple locations across the state would certainly appreciate.
On the downside, the search functionality of the SDAT website currently does not let you look for properties by owner name. After you choose the county, you can only search by address, property account ID, property sale, or parcel number.
The SDAT’s “Finding Your Property Information Online” webpage states:
Because of this major limitation, let’s first look at how you can use the Reonomy platform to look up Maryland properties by owner name. Later in the article, we will also illustrate the process of searching for property information using the SDAT website and other public sources.
Maryland Property Search by Owner Name With Reonomy
The Reonomy Platform offers eight different categories of search filters, including:
- Asset Type
- Building & Lot
Searching by owner name is quite easy. Simply click on the Ownership tab, and use the “Owner name” or “Owner of record” filter. You can use the first filter to search for a person, or the second one if the property is owned by an LLC.
Once you get a list of results, you can dive into individual properties to analyze their characteristics and find specific details.
This could be information on the physical build of an asset:
Or you could review the property ownership details, and access the contact information of the true property owners:
You could also view the commercial tenants in the building:
The Sales tab lists the property’s sale transaction history:
The debt history of the property is also available:
And so is the property tax history along with the year-over-year changes, and assessed and market values of the asset:
Maryland Property Search by Address With Reonomy
Searching for properties by address is also quick and easy with Reonomy.
In the top-aligned search bar, start typing the address of the asset you’d like to research:
Upon clicking the address of your choice in the dropdown of suggestions, you’ll be taken to the property’s profile page, where you can access ownership, building and lot, and transactional information as we illustrated in detail in the previous section.
Maryland Property Search Using Public Records
Let’s look at what information we can derive by searching for properties using Maryland’s State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT), as well as CourthouseDirect.
SDAT Real Property Search
As we mentioned earlier, the State Department of Assessments and Taxation allows users to search for property information across the entire state of Maryland.
SDAT does require pretty specific information to conduct a search. You can look up a record by either the street address, property account identifier, map/parcel, or property sales. If you’re unsure of any of these details, SDAT may not be of much use to you.
For example, let’s say we are trying to execute a Maryland property search by address.
The process is pretty simple – after choosing your preferred Maryland county, you need to select your search method. In this case, you’d select “STREET ADDRESS.” You don’t need to enter the street number or the street name suffix.
Be aware that even if you are able to pull up the property, you may discover that the listed owner is an LLC, and there is no information on any of the individuals associated with it.
However, you may be able to tap into the sales deeds documents for the property that would show the changing of hands history.
Sometimes this may help you see the name of the actual individual owner.
Unfortunately, more often than not you will discover that the transaction was just a transfer between LLCs, leaving you with no real information on who the owner is or how to contact them.
Additionally, SDAT is also only required to update its information once every three years.
CourthouseDirect Property Search
CourthouseDirect is an online hub that contains property records for more than 1,600 jurisdictions nationwide.
Using the platform is relatively simple. In order to search for property information in Maryland, you’ll need to select the county where the property you’re interested in is located.
Next, you need to select “Property Reports” under Available Services as illustrated in the screenshot below.
In order to complete the search however, you will need to create an account and choose one of the three available pricing plans:
- Plan I allows you to pay as you go, and it is recommended for casual users who don’t need more than 5 documents a month;
- Plan II has a minimum monthly charge of $25, and it allows users to download up to 21 documents at $4.75 per download;
- TVP is the highest tier plan with a monthly minimum of $50, and an unlimited number of downloads at $4.75 per document.
If you are a real estate professional looking to invest in or service commercial properties in Maryland, you know that getting in touch with the owner directly is the best way to find potential business opportunities.
As you can see from our discussion above however, sifting through public records is not only time consuming, but it can also be incredibly frustrating as you may very well end up right back at square one without any contact information for the property owner.
If you want a surefire way to access accurate property details and owner contact information, including phone numbers, emails, and mailing addresses, you should give the Reonomy platform a try.