Being able to find the property records of a piece of real estate that you’re interested in is extremely important. Thankfully in New York City, these public records are held together in the Automated City Register Information System or ACRIS. But trying to use the somewhat outdated site is not a particularly easy task. To help with that, we’ve created this complete guide to show you how to use ACRIS.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything that you need to know about ACRIS. What it is, how to use it, what it can do for you, and more. If you’re interested in properties within the city limits of New York City, then knowing how to effectively use the ACRIS database is incredibly important for you, and that’s where we come in with this guide.
Here is everything that you need to know about using the ACRIS database.
What is the NYC ACRIS?
Before we get into how to use ACRIS, let’s start by giving you a quick rundown of what it is. ACRIS is a comprehensive database that allows you to find all of the relevant property records on real estate in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens over the last half-century.
The database itself is run by the Department of Finance of the Office of the City Register, so it’s a governmental site. That said, you can rest assured knowing that all of the records that you find using ACRIS are as accurate as you can get. They are the exact same records that the city of New York has, so you can’t get anything more up-to-date than that!
Step-by-Step Guide to Using ACRIS
Getting started is super simple. The first thing you need to do is just access ACRIS by using the following link to the NYC Department of Finance website: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/finance/taxes/acris.page. Once you’re on the site, you’ll see the page shown below.
On the homepage, click the blue rectangular button on the right side of the page that says “Begin Using ACRIS.” Once you hit that, you’ll be taken to the ACRIS main options page. Here, you’ll be prompted to choose what you want to do within the ACRIS database. Select the top option from the list, “Search Property Records.”
When you hover your mouse over the options, it’ll turn light grey, as you can see in the image above. That’s how you know you’re selecting the right one. Once you get to the property records section of the site, you’ll finally be able to start finding the history of whatever property you have in mind.
The next page will give you all the different ways that you can search for property records using ACRIS. The options include:
- Party name
- Parcel identifier (borough, block, lot)
- Document type
- Document ID/city register file number.
- Transaction number
- Reel and page
- UCC/federal lien file number.
This page can be seen below:
Depending on what information you have available to you, you’ll choose the relevant option from this page. In this guide, we’ll go through a quick example of using the “Parcel Identifier” option, which is basically just using the property address. To find the parcel identifier, you’ll need to look it up by clicking on the “Address and Parcel Lookup Button” on the next screen, located in the bottom right.
Once you get to the next screen, you’ll just need to enter the borough or county, the street number, the street name, and the unit if it’s an apartment or co-op. For our example, we just entered 2942 W 5th St in Brooklyn.
After entering the information, just hit “Find BBL” at the bottom. This will then give you the parcel identifier, which you can use to find the property records. Once the site provides you with this information, simply click on “Document Search by BBL” in the bottom right and then “search” on the screen that follows. You’ll end up seeing something like this:
And voila, these are the actual property records for the property that you’re looking for. This page will give you a quick summary of what each document is, with the ability to view them in detail by clicking on the “DET” or “IMG” buttons on the left.
That’s all there is to it. The other search methods will work in somewhat similar ways, but we’ve found that using the address and subsequent parcel identifier was the easiest and most consistent. And since you’ll almost always have the address of the property that you’re interested in, there’s no reason not to use this method!
Are There Any Other Options Besides ACRIS?
As you can probably tell from the screenshots in this article, the ACRIS site is not exactly up-to-date and super user-friendly. Because of that, people are always wondering whether or not there are any alternatives to find property records in NYC.
Fortunately, there are. The great thing about the alternative options available — including Marketproof, AddressReport, and PropertyShark — is that they pull data straight from ACRIS. So when you use some of the other options out there, you still get the same data that you’d get if you were just using ACRIS, but in a much more user-friendly manner!
If you’ve tried using ACRIS, even with our step-by-step guide, and you just don’t like how it works or how it feels to use, then we suggest checking out Marketproof. Of the three alternatives we’ve briefly presented here, this is the most intuitive to use and also provides the most consistently accurate data of the other sites we’ve tested.
If you’re searching for property records outside the city limits of New York City, then ACRIS might not be the best option for you. In that case, you’d need to resort to the county-specific governmental sites and search for the property records there. If you’re forced to go that route, you’ll soon appreciate how complete ACRIS is, even if it’s a little outdated and hard to get used to!