Normally, homeowners get a copy of their deed after it is recorded by the county recorder, but let's say you can't find your real estate deed and want a copy. You can easily get ahold of a copy by visiting your county deeds office, but Cook County makes things even easier by keeping all of the county's property records online.
Cook County Recorder of Deeds Search
Cook County allows you to retrieve copies of your deed online for a small fee. Head over to the County Recorder's website, and click to access the 20/20 Search portal. If you know your property's Property Index Number or PIN, a 14-digit number found on your property tax bill, type that into the search bar. You can also search by typing your surname or the date range when the deed was recorded – this will be close to the date you bought the property. Once a property deed is recorded, it stands as unequivocal proof that you own the property.
Read More: How to Search Property Title Deeds
How to Order and Pay for Documents
Once in the deeds register, you should see a listing for your property deed. Click on this document to add it to your cart. You now have the option of downloading a copy or having a copy mailed to you. You can also order a certified copy of the deed if you need a true copy that's authenticated by a public official. Prices vary depending on the type of document you want – currently, it's $2.50 for a download, $10.00 for the first two pages of a mailed version plus $1.00 each additional page, and $20.00 for the first two pages of a certified copy plus $2.00 for each additional page. Postage is an additional $2.25. Pay by credit card if ordering online.
Another option is to visit the office of the recorder of deeds in Chicago or one of the three other office locations listed on the Cook County Recorder's website – there's no need to make an appointment. Staff in the recorder's office can search for your deed by your name, property address, PIN or legal description. There'll be a fee to pay comparable with the online request fee, but you'll get your Cook County deed copy straight away. If your deed was recorded prior to 1985, you'll have to visit the office in person as the online register starts on this date.
Are Property Deeds Public Record?
Property deeds are public record, which means that anyone can search the register and order a copy regardless of whether they own the property. If you're researching someone else's property, perhaps because you're interested in buying it, you can still search the public records online without having to show your identification. The easiest way to search is using the property's unique PIN. Since you won't have a property tax bill handy, find the PIN by typing the property's street address into the Cook County Property Tax Portal. The search should pull up a photo so you can be sure you've captured the right property's PIN.
Order a property deed quickly and easily through the Cook County Recorder of Deeds' online public database.
Jayne Thompson earned an LL.B. in Law and Business Administration from the University of Birmingham and an LL.M. in International Law from the University of East London. She practiced in various “Big Law” firms before launching a career as a commercial writer. Her work has appeared on numerous legal blogs including Quittance, Upcounsel and Medical Negligence Experts.