An interested party can search for Texas land records, including property deeds, at a Texas county clerk’s office or county recorder’s office in the location of the property.
Some counties in the Lone Star State allow requestors to search for a deed online; others honor their request only by mail, email, phone, fax or in person. If the party requesting the deed needs a certified copy, they’ll typically pay a fee for it.
Property Deeds in Texas
The terms “property deed” and "title" are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. A title is the concept of the legal ownership of a home or property.
A property deed is the actual legal document that contains specific information about ownership of the real property. It is used to convey (or transfer) title from the grantor (seller) to the grantee (the buyer.) A deed shows the public who the current property owner is.
Property deeds contain:
- Legal description of the real property.
- Names of the property owners.
- Signature of the party transferring the real property to the new owner.
Types of Property Deeds
Most states have property deeds, and Texas is one of them. The state uses four types of deeds:
- General warranty deed.
- Special warranty deed.
- Quitclaim deed.
- Deed without warranty.
According to the Texas Public Information Act, real estate deeds are public record. This means any party can request to inspect a deed or obtain copies of it. Deeds are generally easy to search for online or obtain via the county clerk’s office or county recorder’s office during business hours.
Does Texas Require Property Owners to Record a Deed?
Texas does not require the owner of a property to record a deed with the county clerk's office or county recorder’s office in order for it to be valid. A grantor only needs to execute and deliver the deed to the grantee. At that time, a transfer of real property takes place between the current owner and the new buyer.
Recording a deed simply lets the public know that a transfer has taken place between the parties. This is useful to the new owner if a seller acts fraudulently and attempts to transfer more than one deed to the same property.
Recording a deed also allows title companies to insure the chain of title and lets tax authorities know where they should send the tax bill.
Why Search Texas Property Records?
A party looking for a property deed may need to conduct a search for a variety of reasons. The deed authenticates proprietorship and establishes the identity of the true owner of a property. Accessing a real estate deed is also valuable when multiple parties do not agree on who owns a property.
Texas residents can also use deeds to settle easement or boundary-related issues and to gather information on a property before making a purchase.
Conducting a Texas Deed Search
Every Texas county allows interested users to conduct a deed search and request copies. For example, the Montgomery County Clerk's Office maintains public records for the county starting in 1836; its database includes deeds, mortgages, judgments, land patent records and tax liens.
An interested party can search for a deed online using the county’s search page. If they want certified copies, they can request them by submitting an Official Public Records Copy Request form by mail with payment of the applicable fee in a check, cashier’s check or money order, and mail it to: Montgomery County Clerk, P.O. Box 959, Conroe, TX 77305. They must also include a copy of their ID and a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
The Montgomery County Clerk’s office will send the deed to the interested party within 24 to 72 hours based on the time and date the request was received, the availability of office personnel, and the volume of work the interested party requests. If the party does not need a certified deed, they can just print a plain copy via the county’s search engine.
Searching for Texas Deeds Using Third-party Websites
In some instances, the searcher may have difficulty finding Texas property deed records from a county recorder’s office and should consider widening their search by using third-party websites to obtain this information.
Real property records via third-party sites are not geographically limited; but information contained in their databases may not be up to date, and there is usually a fee to conduct the search.
Public Records Search to Find a Texas Property Owner
Interested parties can find a Texas property owner via a deed, as long as they know details, like the property's county of location or street address. If they cannot find the owner through a deed search, they can access the office of the county tax assessor or collector.
For example, the Montgomery County Tax Assessor-Collector's Office has a searchable database through which the public can gather information regarding any property on which the county collects taxes.
If they still have difficulty finding the property owner, they may consider searching county court records for matters related to a specific property. If they find court records mentioning that property, those records may include the owner's identity.
- Texas State Records: What Are Texas Property Records?
- Texas Legal Docs: Deeds in Texas: It's the Type That Counts!
- Texas Attorney General: Overview of the Public Information Act
- MCTX.org: Recording & Research Fees
- MCTX.org: Montgomery County Clerk Online Services
- MXTX.org: Official Public Records Requests
- Montgomery County Tax Office: Find Your Property Tax Balance
- Legal Beagle: How to Find the Legal Description of a Texas Property
- Legal Beagle: How to Add My Spouse's Name to a Property Deed in Texas
- Confirm that the real estate agent has the deed written up properly with the specific land descriptions before filing the deed.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.