How to Research
a Chain of Title
* Click on red words to access the glossary.
1. In order to find the current owner, go to the Board of Taxes Database web site. This database will locate current assessments, address of a property, name of the last recorder owner(s) and the date of the last recorded deed or transfer.
2. Start at City Hall in the Department of Maps (Room 163). After giving them your address, the staff will retrieve the plot map and they will be able to tell you the registry plan number and the plot number.
3. Continue down the hall to the Department of Records (Room 154), where public access computers are available to research all recorded documents since 1976. To continue with the chain of title prior to 1976, it will be necessary to view the transfer sheets.
4. Give your plot number to the staff at the Department of Records (you may need to take a number in order to talk to someone behind the counter), and you will receive a microform sleeve containing all of the transfer sheets kept by this office -- usually dating back to the mid-nineteenth century.
5. To finish your research, go to the City Archives, where you will have access to deeds on microfilm and the original deed books themselves, as well as to grantor/grantee indices, sheriff’s deeds, etc. Each deed you read should contain the deed book number of the previous deed, helping you construct the chain. If this information is not present, however, you can use the date of the transaction and the name of one of the parties in order to find the deed book number in the grantor/grantee index. The City Archives will have the resources for you to trace the chain as far as back as possible, often to the founding of Pennsylvania.
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