There is a wealth of information regarding real estate available to the public, free of charge, via the internet. Real estate records are maintained by the government on a county level. The two best sources for information online are generally the office of the Register of Deeds and local tax records.
The Register of Deeds office maintains records regarding births, marriages, deaths, and ownership of real property, including mortgages (Deeds of Trust), association and condominium restrictions, easements, rights-of-way, and other matters that “run with the land.” Note that not all Register of Deeds offices offer access to the same amount of information online.
Here are links to the Register of Deeds for the four North Carolina counties in the Charlotte metropolitan area:
The Clerk of Court keeps records regarding lawsuits, judgments, and liens (including liens filed by municipalities). All clerk’s offices have access to a centralized reporting system for such matters and most if not all provide terminals available to the public for conducting research on such records. Unfortunately, the reporting system is not available to the public on the internet at the present time, and is only available online via a paid subscription.
The following are links to the Clerk of Court for Mecklenburg and three surrounding counties:
Finally, local tax records (often used with other data to form the basis of map-based systems such as GIS/POLARIS) can be a valuable research tool for real estate questions. Note that tax records should not be considered definitive as to matters of ownership, because they are not updated as quickly as actual title records with the Register of Deeds.
Links to local tax offices and real estate “portals” are here: