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Found an empty property but don't know who the current owner is? Curious as to what your neighbor paid for their home 10 years ago? Interested in who the owner of a particular investment property is? Understanding how to find out who owns a property is an important part of real estate and is a common technique used by real estate investors as the initial step for turning a potential lead into a potential sale.
Learn how to find out who owns a property including where to search, how to search for a property owner, and what owner information is provided online.
Where to search for a property owner
In most counties across the United States, ownership details for a specific property or parcel can be accessed online for free or for a small fee to registered users. However, the information provided will vary greatly from state to state or even county to county. Some require you to pay to access ownership information if you aren’t the owner, while others don't even offer the information online.
Nonetheless, ownership information can be obtained from three main sources, which may go by different names depending on the municipality.
- County assessor (property appraiser, land registry, property records, or land records)
- County tax collector or tax assessor (tax records
- Recorder's office (county clerk or registry of deeds)
Smaller or more rural counties may not provide property owner information online, but owner information can still be found by visiting the county clerk's office or recorder's office directly.
You can find your local municipality's search portal by typing your city or county name in combination with any of the words above into your local search engine. You can also use the public record tool from NetRonline.com, entering the property zip code or city and state. The website will indicate whether the information is provided online for free, by registration or subscription, or not available online for the various county offices with direct links.
The easiest place to start is by accessing the property card from the county assessor or property appraiser. The property card provides information about the specific property, including:
- Owner name
- Mailing address of the owner
- Past owner names
- Previous sales price of property
- Assessed value
- Property information like square footage, bedrooms and bathrooms, year built, and more
If the property information is not provided online, you can also search for the owner in tax records. However, the information provided from the tax records is limited to property tax information only and will not include additional information about the property itself like above.
The last option is to search for a property owner by deed in the clerk's office or registry of deeds, although this method of searching for an owner is often a last resort, as most counties require you to search by name to pull up the property deed record.
How to search for a specific property
Once you've found the appropriate website, you can search for a specific property in one of three ways:
- Property owner name
- Property address
- Parcel number
The address is typically the easiest way to search but may not be viable in every case.
How to find a property owner without an address
It's fairly easy to find out who an owner is if you have the property address, but what if you don't have the full address? Most websites will allow you to do a partial search. For example, if you know the street is Grey Street you could search by street name only. You could also search by house number only if you were missing the street name. While this method can work, it can be time consuming, especially in highly-populated areas because of the large number of results.
Try to first narrow down possible property numbers by looking at a neighbor's house number, using Google street view, or by searching around on the property map if provided on the property appraiser's site. If you are still having difficulty or find that you frequently need to find property ownership details without a land or property address, you can use a paid service like PropertyShark or Reonomy to help you find the property owner information in a faster and more efficient way than manually searching.
Finding a property owner is much easier than most people think, assuming the information is available to the public in that county. Some states have laws against disclosing ownership information, and for this reason accessing owner, sales, and other information about the land or property won't be an option without ordering a formal title search.
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