Conducting Ownership Search in Winnebago County Illinois
- GIS Search
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While Winnebago County offers several resources for Ownership Reports, detailed search work should be done through online title plants or in-person searching. We will next examine the components of a Ownership search and how this information is viewed through Winnebago County.
GIS / Tax Maps - Narrow PIQ
Beginning a proper Ownership search requires narrowing the PIQ (Property in Question). Does this effect just one parcel? Does the parcel affect in reality several? For example - you want to conduct a ownership search, but the structure sits on one parcel, while it has adjoining land that might be affected by an encumbrance.
A Grantor/Grantee name search will provide numerous results from different tracts of land. We need to be able to be able to identify our Assessors Parcel Number (APN) or Property Information Number (PIN).
Use the Wingis.org website navigate and locate your parcel for verification. Once that is done you can move onto your land search. Keep in mind the public GIS site is not the same as a paid version, but they have subscription options available.
Recorder of Deeds - Land search
When viewing an online land searching service, unless mentioned - you will need to call to confirm the coverage date, also called an effective date. The coverage date is the date the Recorder of Deeds is covering for recordings, the time between the current date and the coverage date is known as the gap. This gap period is when you have the most risk in your search - because it is the unknown.
Theory of title searching, in Ownership Reports: start from the last insured Warranty Deed with Title Insurance and comb forward. You will want to annotate any documents you see on the record from this point. Every document recorded on record must be viewed with caution - you will see encumbrances and releases of encumbrances, transfers of title, perhaps TODI (Transfer on Death Instrument), probate records.
Pull all documents affecting title and annotate them onto your report. You will need to read them to see how they effect, if they have limitations on dates
Treasurer - Tax search
A tax search must be completed at the Winnebago County Treasurer. A current tax year search can be completed through the Treasurer website. A more advanced multi year search can also be done online for Winnebago County.
It is vital that you understand taxes accurately. Sold taxes will appear “paid by the County”, when in fact a tax buyer has bought them and will move to perfect the tax lien as soon as possible and take possession. Tax sale information can be found, here.
Judgement - Name search
Name searches are to identify personal and business liens or judgments. Name searches on all parties in title from the last Warranty Deed forward should be ran for good measure. Look at the local County court docket search, bankruptcy (PACER) search, as well as the State Tax Lien search. Also note - the Illinois State tax lien search, will also pick up Federal tax liens.
Keep in mind:
- Federal Tax Liens are active for 10 years from the assessment date of the tax.
- Illinois the State has 20 years to collect on an Income Tax Lien.
- Bankruptcies pose an active risk and should be noted for 7 years after filing.
- Also, per ALTA (American Land Title Association) standards, a general judgment is considered collectible seven years from the date that said judgement was rendered.
- [For interesting comparison, Mechanic liens pose an active risk to the parcel for 2 years after filing.]
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Orders receive a full PDF report with referenced document copies
- Legal description
- Current record owner
- Current tax status
- Any open liens, mortgages or other adverse items of record
- Name search on parties in title
- Effective date