What is Deschutes County DIAL?

Did you know that you can look up a property online and find out who owns it and how much they bought it for?  It’s true and it’s really easy.  Deschutes County has a great online system for public records managed by the county assessor.  If you haven’t already used this service you will be surprised at how much information is available about any given property.

So why would you be interested in looking up a house on DIAL? 

Sales Information.  This is primarily useful when you are thinking of buying or selling a home.  We give our clients prior sales information on any property they are considering purchasing because it helps determine the motivation of the seller.  For example, if we find that a seller bought the house 6 months ago for $162,000 then they are likely trying to “flip” the house and have probably made some improvements to it.  Sales information is also useful if the house has been sold 10 times in the last 20 years.  That would raise a red flag for us.  Sales information is also useful to get an idea of what your home is worth.  If you know that a house down the street sold recently, once the sale is recorded with the county you can find out how much it sold for.  You can also find out the names of your new neighbors.

Structural Improvements or Repairs.  Structural improvements almost always require a permit.  Permits are recorded with the county assessor and will show on DIAL.  This will tell you what was done and who did it.  While the county does have to give the final stamp of approval for work done, not all contractors are created equal and if the homeowner did his own work, well……buyer beware.

Property Taxes.  You can see property tax statements for your neighbors’ homes.  If any of your neighbors own homes similar to yours you can compare your assessed value with theirs and their tax bill with yours.  Don’t tell me you wouldn’t raise a stink with the county if your neighbor was paying $500 less in property taxes than you for essentially the same house.  It is also possible to find errors in the county records.  Errors in square footage or acreage can make a difference on your property taxes.

Curiosity.  Some times it’s just fun to know how much your neighbor paid for their house.  Have you ever wondered how big that house on the corner is or how big your neighbor’s lot is?  Deschutes County DIAL will give you square footage and acreage.  While DIAL won’t tell you the amount of a mortgage it will tell you if there is one or if a seller paid cash for a house you are considering.

Update:  There is a new version of Deschutes County DIAL available as of January 2013.  In our opinion this new version is dramatically better than the old version.  For an explanation of what is new and how it is better, read our March 25 post about the new DIAL.  If you like the old version better it is still available through the link in the following paragraph.

Do you want to look up your house on DIAL?  This link will take you to the search page.  In the first section of the page check the boxes for information you want to see.  Beware that “Detailed Sales Information” can make the report pretty lengthy.  In section 2, “how you want to search,” the address is usually the best way.  In Central Oregon so many homes are owned by LLC’s and Partnerships that unless you are certain of the name the address is the best way to search.  Enter the search terms in the box in section 3 and away you go.

One more thing, I don’t recommend trying to use Deschutes County Dial to create a Current Market Analysis of your home.  The system really isn’t set up to look at multiple recent sales in your neighborhood.  If you are thinking of selling your home or know someone who is, the best way to determine the value of a home without paying for an appraisal is to call us.  We have access to much more detailed sales data through Central Oregon MLS.


About Dan Seim

Dan Seim is the primary contributor to Preferred Residential's blog. He has been writing about real estate issues that affect home owners in Bend and Central Oregon since 2011.