The 12 Best Ways to Find Property Ownership Records

By: ROS Team

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Has this ever happened to you: you are driving down the street and pass by a house that takes your breath away? You are not sure whether it is for sale or who the owner is. In this article, we’ll provide insight into how to find out who owns a property.

How to Find Out a Property Owner

If you’ve ever experienced the scenario above and wanted to identify the property’s owner, there are at least 12 ways to get this information. We’ve listed them below:

1. County Tax Assessor’s Office

Every county has a tax assessor; the tax assessor’s office maintains the tax records for the county’s property owners. Likewise, you can refer to the county’s tax assessor’s official website to property owner information. This is the simplest and cheapest way to find the owner of a property; you’d only have to pay for any document copies you receive.

2. County Clerk’s Office

The county clerk’s office maintains official government records like notice of sale and the bill of sale. The property owner’s information would be included on these documents.

3. Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents also have access to official property records. They’re also able to do some additional digging to locate additional property information like sales history.

4. Local Library

The local library is an often looked-over repository for historical records, including those containing property owner information.  Visit the library to view their online records database or hardcopy archived records.

5. The Title Company

Requesting property records from a title company can cost you anywhere between $200 and $400, but you would also be getting some worthwhile information other than homeowner information. For instance, a title search will also detect if there are an issues with the property. Title searches are usually done during the buying stage, but we can also use it to get general property owner information.

6. Internet Searches

The Internet can be the cheapest way to find a property owner if you’re unsure if a house is, or will be, listed for sale.  By searching the property’s address online in search engines or on websites like 411.com, you can often find the property’s owner information. Keep in mind that the information you access is only as good as the latest update; in other words, if the online information is current you may get inaccurate information. With this in mind, we don’t recommend relying fully on internet searches to confirm property ownership.

7. A Lawyer

You should consult with a real estate attorney if the other options weren’t fruitful. He or she can provide further assistance with finding who owns a property.

8. Ask the House’s Residents

This is the fastest way to get the information you’ll searching for: whether or not the house is, or will soon be, listed on the real estate market. Approaching the inhabitants of the home may be awkward or uncomfortable, but you can also consider leaving them a note or writing them a letter.

9. Google Maps

If you only know the general vicinity of the home and not the actual address, you can sometimes use Google Maps. It’s different view levels and help you zoom in and get the exact property address.

10. Parcel Maps

This resource isn’t available in every state, but you can sometimes collect more information about that property’s owner with online parcel maps. Parcel maps, also known as property or tax maps, can identify a property’s exact boundaries. You can find out information about the property’s ownership, the estimated value of the house, and whether it is owned by an individual or by a business.

11. Paid Websites

If the free options are not providing you with the desired results, you can always consider using paid online services. The extra information you get, like cell numbers and email addresses of owners and information about the land registry, may be worth the price.

12. Ask the Neighbors

Neighbors can be a useful (and free) resource for getting property owner information. It may be wise to approach them in much the same way as you would if you were reaching out to the owner directly.

Tips for Convincing an Owner to Sell

Let’s say you successfully use one of the above ways to get the homeowner information. But all your efforts are useless if you don’t approach it prepared to convince the owner to sell the property to you. Here are some tips for persuading them to at least consider your offer for their property:

1. Share the Amount You Want as an Earnest Money Deposit

Earnest money shows your goodwill and interest in buying a home. Earnest money is usually 1% – 3% of the total value of the property.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Home Loan

Sellers prefer to work with potential buyers who are ready to move on a deal. Presenting a home loan pre-approval letter demonstrates that you are not only interested in the house but you’re eligible to buy it with financial backing from a lender.

3. Offer More than Market Value

Inform the homeowner about the current market trends and that homes are selling quickly. Then share that you’re able to offer more than the market value of the home. This is often a successful way for at least the current owners to listen to your buying proposition.

Those who don’t have real estate might never understand the extensive work that goes into finding the public records of the property’s previous owners.

Property ownership records can be rich sources of information as they can include the following:

  • The name(s) of the previous owner(s).
  • The official address and/or parcel number.
  • A geographic description of the building(s).
  • Property Features.
  • History of previous sales, including previous sales prices.
  • The tax assessments.
  • Liens on the property.
  • Records related to property construction such as building permits.
  • Mortgage loan information associated with the property.
  • Records of any legal disputes concerning the property.

Public record for property owners is great, but such records are often difficult to track because not all information is available to the public online.  Here are some tips on how to find property ownership records for your property.

1) Public Records at Government Offices

In the United States, local governments maintain a database of public records for property owners. Such records are usually on file at the county courthouse, city hall, recorder’s office, or deeds registrar. For more information, simply call or visit the local office dedicated to keeping property records and request assistance finding the information. You may also find property information on file in federal court records, especially if you are looking for information about bankruptcy.

Cities like New York City maintain property records online through the Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS).

You will find most types of property record information on this website based on the property’s borough, block and lot (BBL) number, or address.

The first line in the list is your go-to option if you are seeking a property record. It runs like this: search property record.

It will lead you to a new page with various options, again. These options are actually to make your search user-friendly so that they take less time and even less energy for you to get your required document.

2) Real Estate Agents

Real estate agents can provide you with valuable information and deep insight into the market. They can also help you find out the history of a particular property through the multiple listing service, or MLS, database. Here, you can also confirm if the property is under contract or if it’s still available for sale.

You can also reach out to the agent who first sold the property to the current owner for valuable information. Some agents have access to a title company’s online database, which allows them to look at the property’s sales and mortgage history.

Additionally, agents subscribe to tax records and can do searching property records provided with detailed tax information on file at the tax assessor’s office. You may learn how old the house is, how many rooms it has, and the type of roof it currently has.

3) Title Companies

If you still can’t find a public record of property ownership in question. You can reach out to a local title company for help finding the required information.  Most title companies don’t charge for such information even if you request copies of the property’s deeds and mortgage documents.

The most valuable information you can get from title companies is whether or not there is a lien against the property. Title companies can search by the owner’s name to see any court judgments against the property or any debt tied to the house.  Be sure to confirm the owner’s identity since common names might show up in someone else’s record.

@title is an example of a title company where you can easily find all your title-closing needs with the highest degree of professionalism and integrity.

4) Real Estate Sites

Real estate websites can also help you in searching property records. There are dozens of user-friendly real estate websites where you can find property owner records.  You will have to apply filters or add search terms to get the information you’re looking for, but at least the information you find is free of charge.

5) Commercial Vendors of Land Records

Real estate websites provide public record property ownership data for free. Still, if you want to dig deeper to pull all the information available. You’ll need to hire a commercial vendor of land records.

They have user-friendly websites that pull the property information you’re seeking. It is worth the investment if you are not sure about the title or need information for legal proceedings.

They are likely to charge you for their services, but you will undoubtedly get the exact information you need. They have user-friendly websites like NY Rent Own Sell that pull the property information you’re seeking. It is worth the investment if you are unsure about the title or need information for legal proceedings.

The Bottom Line

Before purchasing a property, get as much information as you can so you can make an informed decision about the property. You can always tap into any of the above-mentioned resources for more information. It is great if you can get the information for free. But it may not be a bad investment if you have to get a commercial vendor for additional information.