Locating Cook County, Illinois, property records can be a daunting and time-consuming task. There are many pieces of information to acquire before obtaining the recorded documents. Conducting the research online is one option. Another is to obtain the PIN and legal description of the property and conduct your own research at the Cook County Recorder of Deeds Office. The Recorder of Deeds Office has six locations in Cook County, so it is not necessary to go into the city of Chicago to obtain records.
Find the legal description of the property and obtain records online
Search the Cook County Assessor's website for the property, to obtain the PIN. There are four options. Search by PIN, address, neighborhood, or religious properties. Select "search by address" and enter a street address. Click "search" when information is complete.
The search will yield a screen with information such as the PIN, photograph of the property, land values, and property characteristics. The PIN is the most important piece of the information to be taken from this page.
Obtain a legal description of the property using the PIN to search the Cook County Recorder's Office website. Use the "Property Identification Number (PIN) Search" option. Enter the PIN obtained from the Cook County Assessor's website. Hit "search." The results screen will show recorded document information from the present to 1985. Click the newest document number to pull up the recorded document. The legal description of the property is included under the main document information heading.
Use the legal description to obtain information and copies of property records. This can be accomplished two ways. First, from the entire listing of recorded documents for the property, choose the ones you want, one by one. Select "Add to Document Container" to order the document. Each document allows you to order a downloaded version, standard version, or certified version. Fees vary for each version of the document requested. Add all the documents you wish to order to the document container. Hit "checkout" and hit "submit order" to complete the transaction.
Visit the Cook County Recorder of Deeds office to conduct your own research on the property. Copies of records may be obtained the same day.
Visit the Title Room in the basement of the Recorder of Deeds office. If you do not have a legal description of the property, provide the clerk with the PIN. The clerk will provide a legal description of the property. When you have a legal description, you are free to investigate the records on your own.
Locate the property records on your own at the Recorder of Deed's Office
Locate one of the large tract index books scattered around the title room. Use the "section-township-range" from your legal description. Search the tract index book. The book is sorted by "township-range" and within that, "section." For example, using "section-township-range" 19-39-14, search for 39-14 then locate 19-39-14 within that section of the book. Write down the name of the subdivision and subdivision book number to consult. This example will send researchers to subdivision book 485-B.
Search the appropriate subdivision book, which is Johnsonn1/4S1/4 Subdivision for this example. Inspect the table of contents to locate the page on which your subdivision begins. Locate that page and go to the 'block' listed in the legal description. For this example, you are looking for "block 4, lot 20."
Inspect the right-hand column for the lot description indicated in your legal description of the property. That lot number will be the records to review. Write down the information provided. Document number, instrument, date of instrument, grantor, grantee, date instrument was recorded and land description.
Locate the paging books on the right-hand side of the title room. Locate the book and page for each document you wrote down. The document number has to be broken down to locate the book and page. In this example, use document number 820733. Count in five numerals from the right and draw a slanted line. 8 / 20733. The first number in this breakdown is the book number. The next two numbers, 20, is the page number. The last number is the line entry sought. In this example you are looking for book 8, page 20, line 733.
Locate that book, page, and line, and for this example it tells you to locate book 2035, page 153 for the full document.
Repeat this process to locate all documents you wish to review.
View the actual document. Go across the hall to the vault room and fill out a form to view your records. The form requires your name and contact information, document numbers and the page and book for each.
The clerk will locate the microfilm or microform for you. He may ask you to return later in the day to view the records if they are busy.
View the film down the hall in the microfilm room. Orders for documents may be placed there. Return upstairs to pay for your documents and pick them up. Fees begin at $10 for the first page of a document, as of 2010.