Savvy Buyers: What’s up with that house?

People are always asking us how they can find more information about a particular property. Of course, the easiest way is to contact your friendly and helpful realtor who can do all of that work for you...but many people like to do their own research. So, for all of you curious people out there, here are some resources that you may find useful in your search:

State Department of Assessments & Taxation

This is the best place to start when you are seeking general information on a property. To pull a property's tax record, first select the county and then search by the address. Want to learn more about reading a tax record?   Check out our blog about it.


Interested in finding out if a house obtained permits before putting up a fence, finishing that basement or obtained a rental license before renting it out? Every county has a different online system for searching for permits. Some of the databases are only for a certain time frame, so it never hurts to call and ask about a particular property. Here are a few (click on the county to go to the website):

Anne Arundel County

Baltimore City

Baltimore County - No online search capabilities, but you can call with an address 410-887-3353

Carroll County - No online search capabilities, but you can call with an address 410-386-2674

Frederick County

Howard County - You have to create an account, it is free. You can also call them at 410-313-2455

Montgomery County

Prince George’s County

Plats & Recorded Deeds

So everyone knows (or at least Tess thinks everyone knows) that Google Maps enables you to see the lot where a property is located (you have to zoom into the map). How would you obtain the actual plat for a property? You would go to your county’s courthouse to the Land Records division (typically overseen by the Clerk of the Court). This magical place gives you the opportunity to pull recorded public information about a property like the deed and plat. Maryland put all of this information online and it can be accessed here. Of course, you can also go to the land records building to do your own search (Quick side note: Tess loves these places because she is a real estate nerd).

Market Value

I wish we could give you a link to a site that would provide accurate home values but the truth is, your best resource is a realtor (or an appraiser – see our awesome blog on how an appraisal works). There are websites that will give you an idea of the value of a home (we’re looking at you Zillow), but as a team, we do not advocate the use of these sites due to the many inaccuracies we’ve seen. Their “Zestimates” may not take into account the upgrades that a home has in comparison to other homes in the neighborhood. We too often see Zestimates that are very far from the true value. Your best bet is to reach out to a professional who knows the area.

Feel free to reach out to us anytime. We’re here to help!