Property surveys are used to outline the boundaries of land and buildings or other structures on a property. These surveys use the Public Land Survey System to subdivide and describe land and property in the United States. Property survey records are useful to settle property disputes and to pinpoint the location of plots. They are also employed by government agencies for tax and planning purposes. Property surveys are usually provided to buyers when the sale closes. Recording practices vary from one area to another, but local government agencies usually file copies of property surveys in their records after a sale is closed.
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Contact your town or city hall and ask which department is responsible for recording property surveys. This is usually the job of the Office of the Assessor, the City Register or the County Recorder.
Visit your local property records department and request the property survey records you need.
Access the records of some Assessor's Offices online. For example, the Los Angeles County Office of the Assessor, the largest in the country, provides online access for its 2.6 million property assessments. The City of New York provides access to property survey records through its Department of Finance website.
Provide the records office with the name of the owner of the property -- or of a previous owner -- and a precise address or plot number. Filing methods vary; however, properties are usually indexed by the Assessor's -- or Record Office's -- identification number, the name of the property owner, or the address of the property. Some offices, such as the LA County Officer of the Assessor, require you to send a letter explaining your reasons for requesting information before you can gain access to their records.
Hire a company or private investigator to search for the property survey records. These companies require payment but provide anonymity and convenience.
Tips and warnings
- Government property records are collected for tax and planning purposes and may not include the information you need. Ask your local records office to give you copies of all the survey information attached to the property you are searching.
- Some online search companies are scams. Use only reputable companies to search for public records. Check the company's contact information and confirm it is accurate. Also, avoid companies that don't offer a money-back guarantee on their services and only accept obscure payment methods.
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