What are Washington Property Records?
Washington property records are official documents that provide details about real property within state limits. Property records encompass documents such as property deeds, titles, plats, mortgages, judgments, and any documents that provide information about public or privately owned land. The Washington Public Records Act (PRA) mandates that all documents produced by regional, state, and federal authorities be made available to the public. Property records only become public when landowners register them with county officials following a real estate transaction.
Washington property records are typically held and administered by county, district, state, or regional administrative offices. Interested persons may obtain these records by querying the office of the County Assessor and Treasurer in the judicial district where the property is situated. Property record searches may be conducted through the Washington Department of Revenue at the state level. These offices are charged with documenting ownership transfers and other significant property-related information recorded in Washington.
Are Washington Property Records Public?
Yes. Washington property records are made available to members of the public according to the Washington statutes - Chapter 42.56 RCW. This law allows Washington citizens to review and copy property records upon request. Only documents exempted by law are withheld from disclosure.
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 information to obtain complete property records:
- The property's exact location.
- The property owner's details.
What Information Included in Washington Property Records
The information in Washington property records varies, depending on the type of property record in question. The following are some types of documents and their respective components:
A quitclaim deed does not assure the validity of the grantor's title. Whatever form of ownership a grantor possesses over a piece of property is transferred through a quitclaim deed. The grantor's property ownership is not guaranteed; thus, the buyer must assume the risk that the grantor may not be the owner.
A quitclaim deed's grantor does not guarantee that they are the property owners listed in the document or that they have the authority to transfer it. Quitclaim deeds are used for various things, including as gifts of property, amended earlier deeds, and resolving legal disputes.
Although, It is always ideal to have the deed recorded in the county records after it has been prepared. When a deed is recorded, the public is informed that a transaction has occurred. According to Washington's statute, the grantee who recorded first is given priority if there is a disagreement between the two grantees.
Bargain or Sale Deed
In Washington, what is referred to as a bargain and sale deed is known as a special warranty deed. In this deed, the grantor promises several things about the title in a bargain and sale deed, but the agreement only applies while the grantor is the land owner. As a result, the grantor makes three promises:
- That they are the owner of the property;
- That there were no liens on it while they had it; and
- That they won't interfere with the transferee's ownership rights.
Banks that have bought the property after foreclosure frequently employ bargain and sale deeds. In other circumstances where the grantor is unwilling to make the extensive covenants associated with a warranty deed, a bargain and sale deed may be utilized instead.
A grantor can protect the title against their actions or inactions by using a specific warranty deed. Buyers are not as protected by special warranty deeds as they are by regular warranty deeds.
Statutory Warranty Deed
A statutory warranty deed transfers the property from the grantor to the receiver, along with a list of specific stipulations. By using this deed, the grantor assures the transferee that
- They are the owners of the property and have the authority to convey it,
- No one else has the property,
- It is free and clear of obstacles,
- No party with a superior claim to the property will interfere with the transferee's rights, and
- They will defend certain claims regarding the title to the property.
In purchase agreements, when the buyer seeks guarantees on the title to the property, warranty deeds are employed frequently.
Washington property maps are visual presentations of the property. It displays detailed boundaries of the U.S. of Washington, along with the locations of Olympia, the state capital, and important cities and interstates.
Washington Mortgage Record
In Washington, when debtors borrow money to buy homes, the mortgage companies create paperwork known as mortgage records. The record includes property's initial sale price and the contribution. They disclose the rates of repayment and interest as well as any unpaid balances on a property.
Washington Lien Priority Record
In Washington, a lien grants the creditor the authority to seize a person's property in order to recoup a loan or settle debts. Liens provide protection by enabling a person or organization to confiscate property in order to pay off obligations legally. The "first in time, first in right" rule, which states that the lien recorded first in the land records has higher priority than liens later recorded; it is also the norm that most liens adhere to.
Where to Search Washington Public Property Records
Washington residents can obtain property records from the custodial government agencies tasked with maintaining them. Generally, Washington property records are managed by the office of the County Assessor and County Treasurer in the county where the property is located. However, inquirers may also query the county clerk's office to obtain these records.
For example, residents of Washington's Kings County can obtain property records from the Office of the Kings County Assessor. Alternatively, inquirers may query the Kings County Treasurers' Office for property tax information and, consequently, the personal information of the owner of the property.
How to Do a Property Records Search in Washington
According to the Washington Public Records Act, residents have a statutory right to request and property records. In order to conduct a Washington property record search, the requesting party must provide the following information:
- The location of the property - including the house number, street name, and address
- The full name of the property owner
Requests are typically processed by the office of the County Auditor or the County Assessor.
For example, Pierce county residents may obtain copies of property records from the Pierce County Auditor's Office. Interested persons may search recorded documents on the database using the instrument number or the name of the property owner. Recorded documents available on the database include maps, index books, excise, and so on. Queries may also be made via mail to:
930 Tacoma Avenue S
Tacoma, WA 98402
How to Find the Owner of Washington Property Using Public Records
For a person to find the owner of a Washington property, they must first know the parcel number or address of the real estate property. Then, they must take this information to the property record custodian's office in the judicial district. To obtain the required information, the requester will be required to furnish the custodian with their full name, the address of the property, and the Assessor parcel number (if applicable).
What are Washington Property Records Used For?
Washington property records allow researchers to learn valuable information about lands and properties in Washington. Washington residents consult property records for a variety of properties, including:
- To settle boundary dispute: The property records serve as a demarcation for the boundary lines as several properties may share a piece of land which may cause conflict. With property records, owners can identify their land limits and refrain from going past them.
- To provide valuable insights into the property: The property records provide valuable insights like a new investment opportunity, i.e. sellers willing to sell at a low price; it also shows the property's current market value. (usually, the previous selling price is a good indicator of market value) and the history of the property.
- To validate the ownership and chain of title: Although anyone can lay claim to a property, only the rightful owner can provide proof of claim due to the Property records; it allows for validation of ownership. The property records also show a complete list of all the property's previous owners–From the initial to the current owner.
- Settling outstanding lien disputes, mortgages, and foreclosure on the property: Property records are the evidence used to resolve lien disputes, i.e., property as collateral, mortgages, or avoid foreclosure of real estate property.
How to Find Washington Property Tax Records
Anyone who wishes to obtain the Washington property tax records may visit the county assessor's office in the county where the property is situated. Some offices make provision for these records to be searchable online.
What to Do When You Can't Find Property Records in Washington
Washington residents experiencing difficulty finding property records through official government resources may opt to obtain them through third-party aggregate sites. These sites typically collate public records to make them available to interested inquirers for a fee.