By Bob Uphues
Today the Cook County Recorder of Deeds informed us — well, not just us, but everyone who subscribes to their property transfer list service — that, at least for the time being, they won't be providing anyone with the list of properties that change hands in Cook County.
The property transfer list is a very handy trove of information. Not only does it satisfy the minds of nosy neighbors everywhere, it gives timely, solid information on who is buying property, who is selling it and the sale price. It also has information on which properties are being sold through foreclosure.
While anyone can look online for the history of Cook County properties online at the Recorder of Deeds' website, the transfer list is the only place where you can get a list of properties being sold in a specific municipality during a specific time frame. The transfer of commercial property, for example, can tip off potential new development. Without knowing what properties are changing hands, it's tougher to find out that kind of information.
According to Bill Velazquez, the chief deputy recorder, the Recorder of Deeds ceased the service, because it apparently doesn't have the authority to sell the lists.
"It turns out to offer the lists we have to have [county] board approval to do so," said Velazquez. "The previous administration didn't give that approval."
Velazquez said Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough wants to get that issue on the county board's agenda soon, perhaps as early as their next meeting, which is scheduled for April 17.
However, once that approval is granted, it may still be more difficult to obtain the lists, because Velazquez said it will likely cost much more to get them. The annual cost for the lists in recent years was $100.
"We've done some surveys of other counties, and that list was severely underpriced," said Velazquez.
Velzaquez said the county might provide a sliding cost scale depending on the type of information a subscriber might want. The figures haven't been worked out yet.
"But it will definitely not be as cheap as $100," he said.