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A Guide To Using Miami's Online Property Records

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Curbed University delivers insider tips and non-boring advice on how to buy, sell, or rent a home or apartment. Today: How to use Miami's online property records for real estate research. Have something you'd like to know more about? Send it over to miami@curbed.com.

All property sales in Miami-Dade County are public record, which means anyone can look up the buyers, sellers, and other info about a particular property... if you know where to look. Where to look is a website called the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser, which has a relatively user friendly interface useful for looking up all the goodies. (And it's a whole lot easier than NYC's daunting system called ACRIS)

There are two other websites that help you find more in depth info, namely the Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts, which will usually have information about mortgages and foreclosures, and the Florida Department of Corporations, which is useful for figuring out who really owns that house hiding behind an LLC. We'll get to those in a later lesson here at Curbed University. For now, the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser has enough surprises in store. Let's use the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser's online search tool to look up a house that has been in the news a lot lately, namely 42 Star Island Drive.

? This map is the first thing you see when logging into the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser. At the upper left corner is a search bar where you can search by owner name, address, or folio number. Or, if you know the location, but not the exact address, the map is clickable. Just click on the property you're searching.

? At different scales, the map will show you different things. For example, here we have zoomed in on 42 Star Island Drive, and we are now looking at it in aerial view mode. You can see property lines and where individual buildings are located within those lines. The level of detail of the aerial shots may not be as high as, say, Google Earth, but that's fine. The aerial imagery is only here for visual orientation and not for doing things like spying on your neighbor. Use Google for that.

? Once you've found the property you're looking for, there's a plethora of additional information at your disposal. Here you can see the house is owned by a one Leonard Hochstein, the well known plastic surgeon. (who, you will notice, did not put the name of his wife, Lisa, one of the Real Housewives of Miami, on the deed. But who knows what that's about.) The bed/bath count is included, as well as square footages, and other details. To the left are additional tabs for information like assessment information, the property's legal description, and recorded sales. Let's go to recorded sales.

? Although it's been widely reported, including in the New York TImes, that the Hochsteins paid $7.9 million for the house in 2012, the last recorded sale lists a much more modest figure of $2,000,100 filed in September of 2012. Now, children, $7.9 million may be a steal for that house, a large and well known historic estate on one of Miami Beach's most expensive islands by the great architect Walter DeGarmo, but $2 million is downright train robbery. And whatever people may think the Hochsteins paid, the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser is the official source, so that's what counts. Lenny and Lisa got the best damn deal in town. (Well, at least Lenny did.)

Continuing on, there in the property viewer, you can select one of a number of featured online tools, including just how much the property owners pay in taxes.

? Mr. and Mrs. Hochstein will be paying $74655.20 in property taxes for the year of 2012. And it's due in a few days.

· Miami-Dade Property Appraiser [miamidade.gov]
· Curbed University archives [Curbed Miami]

42 Star Island Drive

42 Star Island Drive, Miami Beach, Florida