There are a couple of ways to find out how much a property sold for in Chicago, Illinois. The first, and possibly the easiest, is to get in touch with a real estate sales person or broker and have them look it up on the multiple listing service. Multiple listing services maintain information about closed sales for several years. In fact, the MLS is the primary tool used by appraisers to find comparable sales in connection with determining the value of a property.
The “old-fashioned” way is much more complicated and time consuming. However, if a sale was handled privately, i.e., if someone sold their home without having listed it for sale through a broker on the MLS, the old-fashioned way is the only way.
First thing you’d have to do is find out the property tax number. If you go to the Cook County Treasurer’s office (located in the County Building at 116 North Clark Street), and give them the property address, they can give you the property tax number.
With the property tax number in hand, you can go to the County Recorder’s office. Someone there can get on the computer and look up the document number for the last recorded deed, provided that the sale didn’t take place too long ago. If it was too long ago, they will tell you to get a “ legal description” (they’ll tell you how) so that they can look up the document number for the last deed in one of the dusty old record books. With the document number of the last deed in hand, they will send you to the microfilm vault, where you can look at a microfilm copy of the deed. On that deed, you will probably see that the property in question was transferred for “ten dollars and other good and other valuable consideration.” Don’t worry! All is not lost.
On the deed, you will see tax stamps. Those tax stamps, with a little bit of math, will tell you how much the property sold for. You see, the City of Chicago, Cook County and the State of Illinois all tax real estate transactions on the basis of the purchase price. Thus, you will need to find out the tax rate at the time of the transaction. Once you know that, here’s how you would figure out the price: Let’s say that the City’s transfer tax at the time of the transaction was $7.50 per $1,000. Let’s also assume that the tax stamps show that a tax of $750 was paid. If you divide the tax rate (7.50) by the amount of tax paid (750) you get 100. Multiply that by the measuring unit (1,000) and you get $100,000 as the purchase price. Hope that helps.