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New city data set brings two decades of property records to one place

Records on property transactions are available

A data set released by the city Friday puts all recent property transaction records—from deeds to mortgages—in one searchable place.

“The release of nearly two decades of property tax in a searchable format will be an important tool for residents seeking to make the most important decision of their lives -- the purchase of a property,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement on the project.

The new tool is searchable by address, and it provides a visualization of property transfers across the city over the past 20 years, giving Philadelphians an idea of how and where properties have changed hands. Searchers can find the types of documents associated with a property, as well as the the name of the person or group that granted a document, the name of the grantees, the monetary values associated with the property, and the dates of the transactions. For now, the dataset goes back to 1999, and includes 3.7 million records.

At the very least, the tool makes it easier for anyone doing some digging into their property’s history, or that of a property they’re considering buying, by giving Philly residents the ability to sort and analyze the data regarding a property and neighborhood. Up until now, the procedure to find a property’s past transactions was much more laborious. It included a trip to City Hall or a search on Atlas, and you could only check out one transaction at a time.

“(The data set) will permit the public to better understand property transfer trends in Philadelphia,” James Leonard, Commissioner of Philly’s Department of Records said in a statement.

Of course, the data set still has its limits. In order to get a full look at a deed or any other document, you’ll have to head to City Hall or get an online subscription from the city’s records department’s PhilaDox service. But for now, it gives a way to see the city’s transformation since 1999.