To find a Property Index Number (PIN), owners can look at their deed, tax bill, or other documentation from when the real estate was purchased. For those who are unable to locate these documents, the Cook County Assessor’s website is also an excellent source. Cook County uses this PIN, as a way to identify a parcel of land as defined for the purposes of real estate taxes. This number is also called a permanent real estate index number, and the formatted code points to the location of the parcel on Cook County tax maps.
Why Knowing a PIN is Important
It’s a good idea to look up the PIN on the Cook County Assessor’s website, as it also provides a legal description of residential (six units or less) properties. The Assessor also has very detailed information on commercial and industrial properties, but that information is not available to the public on the website. It can be obtained through a freedom of information request. Also, the Law Offices of Gary H. Smith has access to the detailed information through a subscription service they license directly from the Assessor’s office. Property owners should verify that the description matches the address.
The 14 digits in the PIN signify various information about the property:
- The first two digits are the area number, which signifies township
- The next two numbers are the subarea number, or section
- The next three numbers are the block number
- The next three numbers are the parcel number
- The last four digits are generally zeroes unless the property is a condominium or leasehold, in which case those four numbers signify the unit number
The PIN enables staff of the Planning, Building and Development Department quickly identify parcels on the digital maps of the county, for the purpose of permitting, and it also helps customers receive accurate and timely information about their property.
It’s also important for property owners to be aware of the PIN number to protect against a practice called PIN slamming. Some properties straddle the line between two parcels of land, and if at the time of purchase, only one PIN is disclosed, the property owner may not realize that the property is actually two parcels and that they are also responsible for the property taxes on the second parcel. The slamming comes when the property owner receives the property tax bill for the second PIN or when they’re notified that their property is to be sold because the second PIN has unpaid taxes.
Property owners can double-check the PINs attached to the property by running a search on the Cook County Assessor’s website or by ordering a search of PINs before purchasing the property.