You can access public real estate records through the state and county office in charge of maintaining real estate records. Offices that maintain these records vary by name, including county clerk, auditor and register of deeds. Some offices may charge a fee to view the records, while others may be free of charge.
A local court house or clerk's office is a good resource when looking to access public records. There are also online databases that allow you to access public records from a variety of government agencies, and clerk's offices may maintain their own online database.
Some offices may offer a service to search the records on your behalf for a fee, depending on the municipality. It's also possible that commercial and residential Realtors have access to real estate data bases called the Multiple Listing Service, which provides information on property sales history.
There are online databases, such as U.S. Land Records, that allow you to search various recording offices throughout the United States. As of November 2015, you can gain access to filed records in 20 states. To use U.S. Land Records, simply choose from the listing of 20 states, and agree to the terms of the website to gain access to the database.