Mortgage Check

How to research a seller’s mortgage

Let’s suppose you’ve found the home for you and you’re preparing to make your offer. Before you write your offer, you want to have a better understanding of how much wiggle room the seller has between the list price and mortgage amount taken out on the property. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Go to the Tapestry Record Search website, a tool for researching recorded real estate documents.
  2. Click Search Now.
  3. Select Dane County from the Choose a County drop-down list.
    Enter the owner’s first name and last name and click Search.
  4. Agree to the terms and conditions and click Continue.
  5. Next, enter your credit card information and submit. Note: the cost for a search is $5.95.

A document summary will appear, something like this:


The first document in the above list represents a mortgage that has been recorded on the property. Double-clicking this first entry will take you to a summary of the mortgage. You’ll see for this particular example the mortgage was recorded on 12/18/2007 for $284,000.


The other document in this example is the Trustees Deed – the deed that was recorded with the county when the property changed hands. From this deed you can see the home was purchased for $355,000.


In this simple example the owners of this home had $71,000 in equity ($355,000 – $284,000) whey they purchased their home. This is great information to have prior to a negotiation and very much worth the $5.95 and 5 minutes of time it takes to produce.

In addition to mortgages and deeds, a host of other documents are available on Tapestry, including: second mortgages and home equity lines of credit, mortgage satisfactions (i.e. payoffs), liens, and lis pendens filings initiated by banks on properties that may be subject to foreclosure.

If you’re working with a buyer agent, ask your agent to research the seller’s mortgage(s) prior to making your offer. A service-oriented agent will be happy to assist.