The tenth anniversary of the founding of Google seems like a good time to reflect on how the world wide web has transformed the real estate business by making so much information available at the click of a mouse. In the old days if you needed information about a piece of property, whether it was title, zoning, or assessment, you had to travel to the town hall to obtain it (or pay someone else to go). Since everything is filed by town in Connecticut, and not by county, that meant traveling to one of the 168 towns. For example, if you wanted to research the zoning of a property, you had to go to the town hall to review the zoning map and the zoning regulations. In addition, if you needed information from a state agency, such as the Department of Environmental Protection, you had to travel to the offices of that agency, generally in Hartford.
Now a tremendous amount of information needed by real estate professionals is available on the web. The websites of Connecticut towns are no longer just for finding out the town hall hours. For example, many towns now have copies of their zoning regulations post on their websites. So if you need to research the zoning status of a property, there is no need to travel to the town hall. The same is true of real estate tax and assessment information.
Of course, not all information is available on the web. If you need something in writing, such as a receipt or a certificate of zoning compliance, then you are still going to need to make a trip to the town hall. In addition, most towns do not have electronic real estate records. Many towns now have computerized indexes to the land records, which make conducting title searches much easier. The electronic records are usually completely up to date. These indexes are not, however, available through the internet. Some towns have started putting land records on the web, but most towns have not done this.
In order to find a town’s website, simply do a search under the name of the town with Connecticut after it. The town’s website will generally come up on the first page of results.
Even more impressive are the websites of the state agencies in Connecticut. They all have a wealth of information and are very user friendly. For example, on the Department of Environmental Protection website, www.ctdep.gov
, you can obtain information on topics such as the Connecticut Transfer Act or underground tanks. All of the laws and regulations enforced by the DEP are there also, as well as up to date forms. The Connecticut Secretary of State website (www.sos.gov
) was recently updated and is much easier to use than the old site. Anyone can research corporations, LLC’s and other firms, search UCC records, and obtain forms. Be careful to use correct spelling when using these sites, because if you are looking for the name of a company it may not find the records without the correct spelling.
All of this great information is not limited to Connecticut. Information from other states is also readily available. I recently represented a client who purchased a business in
Vermont. I was to find information on the corporate status of the business, UCC filings, and business taxes, all through research on the web.
The web is changing all businesses, and real estate is no different. The amount of information about real estate is tremendous and it is growing all the time. When you need information about real estate in Connecticut, or anywhere else, the web is definitely the place to start.