Charles N. Davis' house search was a bit unconventional.
Instead of flipping through classified ads or cruising “for sale” listings on the Internet, the University of Missouri journalism teacher scoured public records.
His first priority was to live near the best schools, so he asked the school district for graduation rates, test scores and data on class sizes. After narrowing his choice of neighborhoods, Davis visited the police department and asked for crime statistics.
But he wasn't done yet. Armed with school data and crime numbers, he started thinking about his monthly budget, and he obtained property tax rates.
When he was done with his public records search, Davis walked through the winning neighborhoods looking for “for sale” signs. He quickly found the house of his dreams.
While that might seem a tad extreme, public records can be a consumer's best friend. Among the vast reserve of local, state and federal records are reports and statistics that can help you in a house search, do battle with a health insurance company or fight a parking ticket.
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