Typically, homeowners can get a copy of their property deed by visiting their county deeds office. Cook County, Illinois' property records are easily searchable online through a property index number (known as a PIN) or a street address. On December 7, 2021, the Cook County Clerk's office took over operations for the Cook County Recorder of Deeds office, which used to have these records but no longer exists.
What Is a Property Deed?
Property deeds are legal documents used to convey the transfer of ownership of real property from a grantor (seller) to a grantee (buyer). They are public records and are maintained by a county clerk's office or recorder of deeds office, depending on the location.
Deeds differ from state to state regarding the information they contain, but they must be on paper and usually include:
- Names and addresses of the seller and buyer of the property.
- Property description, including exact property lines with common points like sewer lines or roads for reference.
- Signatures of the seller and buyer, which must be consistent with the names listed on other documentation regarding the property.
- Granting clause that transfers ownership from the grantor to the grantee, describing the grantee's rights and lists other people who may also take title.
- Consideration clause stating that the grantor received something of value for the property, typically money, the amount of which is on the deed.
Locating the Property Index Number
The PIN is a 14-digit number representing a land parcel. This numerical code is the property's legal description and identifier for the purpose of real estate taxation. The code points to the parcel location on Cook County tax maps. A homeowner can find their PIN on a deed or property tax bill or other documents they may have from the purchase of their parcel.
A PIN will not always match a particular parcel, and some addresses may not be available online. In most instances, the Cook County Assessor's office can provide a property photo to help the homeowner match the address to the PIN. If they need additional help with examining county tax maps, they can visit the county's Real Estate and Tax Services Division on the 4th floor of the Cook County Building at 118 N. Clark Street.
Using the County's Online Search Portal
The Cook County Clerk's online database allows individuals to view property deeds on record. After locating the right property deed, a person who wishes to order a copy will pay $5 to download the document. As of May 20, 2022, the clerk's office will no longer sell certified or standard copies of documents through the search portal. However, those who need copies can get them from any clerk's office location.
Plats, condominium declarations, and real estate transfer declarations are not available for sale through the search portal. Individuals who wish to have copies of these documents can buy them from the County Clerk's downtown location. For general assistance, call 312-603-5050 to speak to a live operator. If a homeowner doesn't have their PIN, they can conduct a search by address.
Non-government Deed Providers
Some companies resell property deeds online, but these can be costly; property deed copies are cheaper when purchasing directly through the Cook County Clerk's office. These companies have no affiliation with the clerk's office or any other Cook County government agency.
Third-party sellers often claim that having a certified copy of a property deed is the only way an individual can prove ownership. There is no requirement that a homeowner has a certified copy of their property deed if it is recorded with the county clerk's office. The office recommends that property owners keep copies of their property deed, which was likely given to them at closing.
- Cook County Clerk’s Office: About Property Index Number
- Legal Beagle: How to Find Cook County, Illinois, Property Records
- Legal Beagle: How to Pull a Title on a Property in Illinois
- Legal Beagle: How to Get the Deed for a Property
- Legal Beagle: How to Find the Property Owner of a Street Address
- Cook County: Recorder of Deeds
- Investopedia: Understanding Property Deeds
- Cook County Assessor's Office: Home
- Cook County Property Tax Portal: Frequently Asked Questions
- Cook County Clerk's Office: Welcome to Cook County Clerk's Office Record of Deeds Search
- Cook County Clerk's Office: PIN Address Quick Search
- Cook County Clerk's Office: Recording FAQs
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.