A property report is a comprehensive document containing details that a buyer, seller or real estate professional or investor may want to know about a particular piece of real estate, be it commercial, residential or raw land.

What is a property report?

A property report is a variety of documents put together that provide a comprehensive profile of a property. In residential real estate, prospective homebuyers, sellers, mortgage lenders, real estate lawyers and other professionals rely on property reports to give them in-depth information about a home.

The report provides a 360-degree view or picture of a particular property, including information about past and present ownership, sales history and property taxes. Depending on the type of report, it may also include information about physical boundaries, legal encumbrances and local market statistics.

What info does a property report include?

A property report provides comprehensive details about a property, including its address, the names of the current owners, a physical description of the building or site (including its layout and design), improvements and additional structures, its history, sales and listing activity, local market statistics, neighborhood demographics and foreclosure activity in the area. In addition, it may include photos with interior and exterior shots of the home and surrounding property.

Property reports often figure prominently in real estate listings, and are often created when a home is being put up for sale — allowing potential buyers to access important information all in one place. When compiling a report, real estate brokers and agents usually access both public and proprietary data to create a complete picture of a property. Often this sort of property report will also provide information on nearby schools and community amenities, such as parks or public beaches.

What are the different types of property reports?

There are a few kinds of property reports.

  • Surveyor report: aka “real property report,” is created by a licensed surveyor to define and identify a property’s physical boundaries and footprint, along with any easement rights; it may also include the zoning classification. Surveyor reports note surface water on the property, including ponds or wells, and old cemeteries that may be located on the plat (a a map of a particular neighborhood, subdivision or tract of land, detailing each parcel or lot). These reports are usually necessary when adding a fence, garage or patio to an existing home.
  • Title report: Prepared by title companies, this type of report reveals any liens or other encumbrances on a property’s ownership (title), tax rate and status, along with giving a legal description of the property. An abstract of title is a chronological document that summarizes the history of a property, going back further than the title report. Both are often commissioned by potential buyers when a property is in contract. If they are financing the purchase, their lender often requires a title search and report, to ensure the ownership is free and clear.
  • Timeshare developer report: A legal document prepared and shared by the developer of a timeshare property for the benefit of potential buyers. It details the property’s layout, features, specifications and details of use, including restrictions on, say, pets and guests. The report will share a list of fees, such as annual dues, and other details, including amenities and rules on exchanges.

Property report vs home inspection report

Though they both figure in real estate transactions, a property report differs from a home inspection report. A property report provides financial and home improvement records and details, along with neighborhood and community data. It does not necessarily include details of the home’s condition.

In contrast, an inspection report evaluates the condition of a property. Home inspectors prepare reports after inspecting the roof, plumbing, electrical wiring, foundation and ventilation. These reports lay out potential electrical hazards, structural concerns, findings of mold, or other problems.

Property report vs appraisal

Features contained in property report often overlap with those of a home appraisal, but the two briefs, while both professionally prepared, are not the same.

A home appraisal determines how much a home is worth — its fair market value — and sets a dollar amount on that worth. Home sellers may commission an appraisal to help set a listing price before putting a property on the market. If a buyer is getting financing, the mortgage lender often requires an appraisal before approving the loan, or the amount of it. An appraisal may also be required when an owner refinances or takes out a home equity loan or line of credit.

A licensed professional — a party uninvolved in the home sale itself — conducts an appraisal. The cost of an appraisal depends on many factors, including the size of the property and its location. In addition to examining the home in question, the appraiser will examine recent sales of similar properties in the neighborhood or nearby, to help determine the property’s worth.

In contrast, a property report may reflect local market history and the previous sale price(s) of a home, but it does not list a property’s current market value or indicate any sort of evaluation, nor does it explicitly compare the property with others.