What are Montana Property Records?
Montana property records are legal documents containing information relating to real estate ownership. Real estate, in this context, may be land, residential or commercial property. Residents create these documents based on the requirements outlined in the MCA 7-4-2636 and record them at the Clerk and Recorder office in the county where the property is located. Montana property records include deeds, mortgages, liens, property tax records, plats, and property survey records (certificates of surveys). Certified copies of property records can be obtained from state databases or online and in-person from County Clerk and Recorder’s Offices.
Are Montana Property Records Public?
Yes, Montana property records are public per Montana Public Record Law. The Montana Department of Revenue and the State Library maintain databases where individuals can find public records for property ownership. Interested persons should be able to retrieve information like owner name, physical address, legal description, geocode, land summary, assessment code, appraisal information, dwelling information, deed information, and other property ownership records information.
Property records are available for public viewing through government agencies or third-party aggregate websites. Accessing property records through third-party sites is typically straightforward, and the records are not geographically limited. However, because the sites are not government-affiliated and run independently, the information contained in the records may vary. Searching parties should include the following information to obtain complete property records:
- The property’s exact location.
- The property owner’s details.
What Information is Included in Montana Property Records
The kind of information included in Montana property records varies depending on the lookup the person is conducting. For instance, requesters who want to conduct property records search via the Montana Cadastral tool should expect to retrieve extensive property information like:
- Primary information including property category, subcategory, geocode, assessment code, property owner and address, COS parcel, certificate of survey, subdivision, and legal description.
- General property information including neighborhood, living units, zoning, linked property, exemptions, owership%, ad levy district
- Property factors including topography, utilities, access, location, fronting, parking type quantity, and proximity.
- Land summary, including land type, acres, and value
- Deed information, including deed date, book, page, document number, and document type.
- Owners including default information, primary owner, ownership %, and interest type
- Appraisals including tax year, land value, building value, total value, and method
- Market land information, including method, width, square feet, type, depth, acres, and valuation
- Dwelling information like:
- Existing dwellings (type, style, and year built)
- Dwelling information (residential type, year built, effective year, story height, grade, class code, year and degree remodeled, style, roof material and type, attic type, and exterior walls and wall finish)
- Mobile home details (manufacturer, model, serial number, width, and height)
- Basement information (foundation, basement type, finished area, quality, and daylight
- Heating/cooling information (type, fuel type, system type, and heated area)
- Living accommodations (bedrooms, family rooms, full baths, half baths, and additional features)
- Additional information (fireplaces, garage capacity, stacks, opening, cost & design, descriptions, stories, prefab/stove ad flat add.
- Other buildings/improvements including type, quantity, condition, description, year built, functional, grade, class code, and dimensions.
- Commercial information like:
- Existing commercial buildings (building number and name, structure type, units/building, and year built)
- General building information (grade, class code, identical units, percent complete, and year remodeled)
- Dimensions (area, perimeter, use SK area, ad wall height)
- Features (exterior wall description, construction, economic life, % interior finished, partitions, heat type, AC type, physical condition, plumbing, and functional utility
- Elevators and excavators
- Ag/forest land including acre type, irrigation type, class code, timber zone, productivity (quantity, units, commodity), and valuation (acres, value, and per acre value)
In contrast, individuals who want to use the My Property tool to search for Montana property records would be able to find extensive property information. My Property tool has the following five search options that record seekers can use to get property details:
- Property Record Card: This tool allows individuals to retrieve the following information when they search for property records in Montana:
- General information (property information, assessment code, county, levy district, neighborhood, situs address, legal description, owner name, and date when property was last updated)
- Value history (year, market value, and taxable value)
- Property characteristics (property type, living units, topography, utilities, access, location, fronting, parking, parking proximity, and quantity)
Residential dwelling information like:
- Story height
- Year built
- Effective year
- Year remodeled
- Roof type and material
- Garage cars
- Additional fixtures
- Full and half baths
- Fireplace stacks and stories
- Mobile home make, model, width, and length
- Market land (type, value, method, acres, and square feet)
- Agricultural land (type, acres, productivity, and value)
- Other buildings & improvements:
- Canopy (type, year built, condition, grade, quantity, value, and functional)
- Garage, frame, detached, and unfinished (type, year built, condition, grade, quantity, functional and value)
- Commercial structures (class, grade, unit, year built, effective year, year remodeled)
- Interior exterior (wall type and height, construction class, heat type, AC type, plumbing, and physical condition)
- Building features (type, unit and value)
- Permits (number, amount and date)
- Parcel Map: This tool allows individuals to retrieve similar property information when a search is conducted via the Property Record Card tool.
- Certified Values: This tool allows individuals to retrieve property information like:
- Tax year
- County name
- Taxing jurisdiction
- Special mobile market
- Special mobile taxable
- Manufactured home market
- Manufactured home taxable
- Personal property market
- Personal property taxable
- Real property market
- Real property taxable
- Centrally assessed market
- Centrally assessed taxable
- Total market
- Total taxable
- Tax increment financing district taxable
- Newly taxable
- Net gross proceeds taxable
- Exemption: This tool allows individuals to retrieve similar property information when a search is conducted via the Property Record Card tool. However, additional information like exemption year, type, land and building SQFT are provided.
- Personal Property: This tool allows individuals to retrieve similar property information when a search is conducted via the Property Record Card tool.
Where to Search Montana Public Property Records
Residents can search Montana public property records using the My Property tool on the Montana Department of Revenue website. The State Library website also has a Montana Cadastral tool where users can search Montana public property records.
Alternatively, public property information can be retrieved online or in-person at County Clerk and Recorder's Offices. For instance, individuals who want to obtain copies of property records in Ravalli County must go to the Clerk & Recorder Office front counter to get them. The office is located at:
Ravalli County Clerk & Recorder/Elections Office
215 S 4th Street, Suite C
Hamilton, MT 59840
Phone: (406) 375-6555
Fax: (406) 375-6554
C&R Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Elections Email: email@example.com
Some counties in Montana partner with an online platform called iDoc Market to enable individuals to assess property public records. Researchers must know the state and county where the property is located to conduct a search on iDoc Market. They must also pay a subscription fee to retrieve property details. Counties not partnered with iDoc Market have online platforms where researchers can obtain property records.
How to Do a Property Records Search in Montana
To do property records search in Montana, interested members of the public may use the My Property Search Tool or Montana Cadastral Tool.
The My Property Search Tool may be used in one of the following ways:
- Property Record Card: Users must enter a property number, assessment code, name, or address in the search box provided to access property information. They can improve search speed by selecting the county in which the property is located.
- Parcel Map: Users must choose a specific county from the county drop-down to locate properties via this tool. Then they can conduct a search by name, address, property number, or assessment code.
- Certified Values: Users can select a county year and taxing jurisdiction to view the total market and taxable property values within the selected taxing authority.
- Exemption: Users can search for properties exempted from tax by inputting a name, address, or property number in the search box provided on the website. Alternatively, they can select a county from the drop-down to view a county's list of exempted properties.
- Personal Property: Users must provide an assessment code and select the county that issued the assessment from the drop-down to retrieve personal property records in that county.
Conducting a property records search using the Montana Cadastral tool requires choosing a county from the drop-down. Then, the record seeker must conduct a search by name, geocode, assessment, certificate of survey, address, or subdivision. The requesters will be able to retrieve property information like land summary, deeds, building, and commercial information.
Alternatively, a person can search for property records online or in-person at County Clerk and Recorder's Offices. For instance, the Blaine County Courthouse in Chinook has computers in its second-floor lobby where individuals can search for property records that date back to 1973.
How to Find the Owner of a Montana Property Using Public Records
Montana Public Record Law allows residents to inspect and obtain copies of property records, including information about property owners from statewide property databases. However, property owners who have requested non-disclosure of their personal and property record information may be excluded from public databases.
Inquirers may also find the owner of a Montana property online or in-person through the County Clerk and Recorder's Offices. For instance, individuals seeking to retrieve information about landowners in Missoula County can use the Land Records tool provided by the Clerk & Treasurer's office. Searches may be conducted by tax ID, geocode, book/page, name, legal description, or doc ID. However, since the search aims to find the landowner, conducting a search by name will be the best option. A search by name requires the researcher to input the grantor or grantee’s first and/or last name in the search box. The search result will reveal the names of the grantor and grantee, book and page number, the date the land was filed, document type, and parcel.
Individuals can also find owners of properties by requesting US land records from the U.S. National Archives Office. The Office has an Online Search tool that requestors can use to get US land records. Alternatively, they can fill out NATF Form 84 or visit the Office at:
National Archives and Records Administration
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC 20408
What are Montana Property Records Used For?
Montana property records can be used for different purposes depending on the entity requesting them. Generally, Montana property records can be used to make investment and pre-purchase decisions, resolve property disputes, and know property history with public records. For instance:
- A lender may request property records to have a third-party agency like a bank or title company hold the property in trust until the borrower pays the loan off. They may also use property records to determine if the real estate is worth their financial investment.
- Property records can be requested to resolve disputes between individuals or parties with competing claims to a property.
- Property buyers can obtain property records to retrieve property ownership records and property sale records. The pre-purchase information obtained from such records helps the buyer know the property value and other details that help determine if the property is worth purchasing.
- Individuals can request property records to learn about the historical value of properties in Montana.
How to Find Montana Property Tax Records
Per MCA 15-8-701, Montana property tax records contain information about the assessed value of the real estate. They are maintained by various county record custodians and are deemed public record information per state law. Residents can find Montana property tax records online or in-person at County Treasurer Offices. For instance, Yellow County Treasurer’s Office has a Tax and Assessment Data Search tool that can be used to find property tax records. Interested persons are required to conduct a search by tax code, property owner, street address, legal address, or geocode. A property tax records search typically reveals:
- Owner information including tax code, name, mailing and property address, township, geocode
- Property assessment information, including assessed value summary and assessed value detail tax year
- City of billings SID payoff information
- Rural SID payoff information
- Property tax billing history
- Jurisdictional information
In-person applicants can obtain Montana property tax records in Yellow County by visiting the Treasurer’s Office at:
Yellowstone County Treasurer’s Office
217 North 27th Street
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 256-2802
What to Do When You Can’t Find Property Records in Montana
Sometimes requesters might be unable to find property records via the statewide databases or at the County Clerk and Recorder's Office, especially if the property in question was not recorded with the County Clerk and Recorder's office. Where this is the case, the record seeker can locate the unregistered property by following these steps:
- Check if the property has a current mortgage and write to the lender for the deeds pack.
- Check old documents to know if there was a previous mortgage that has been repaid. This is because the lender might keep the deeds if the mortgage was recently paid.
- Check if the property owner has the title deeds with their Will. Some property owners place their deeds with their Wills. However, if the property owner is deceased, the record seeker can contact local law firms that may retain the original Will and title deeds. Also, they can contact local accountants as some people leave their deeds and Will with accountants who may deal with their finances.
- If the property owner is still alive, ask them if they recall receiving any documents when they purchased the property. Contact the law firm who acted at the time of the purchase to inquire about the property, if they have any documents regarding the property in their custody, or if they have the deeds in their possession.
If the record seeker has exhausted all avenues and cannot locate the property records, they may need to consider using alternative public search resources like StateRecords.org.