How Can You Find Out Who Owns a Property?
One way to find out who owns a property is to contact the county tax assessor and county recorder's offices. Some departments have websites that allow users to search by address, while others require a face-to-face visit. Tax records and the current deed to the property should indicate its owner.
In some cases, the neighbors of a piece of property may be able to provide information about its owner. Asking a few questions about a property in a specific neighborhood may provide the correct information without necessitating a trip to the county records.
Another simple way to try to locate the owner is to send a letter or postcard to the street address. If the property is vacant, there may be a forwarding address on file that reach the owner of the property. It is up to the recipient to reply, however, so he may not provide the requested information.
Other public county and state records may also be useful for finding a property's owner. Marriage, motor vehicle and voting records associated with an address may give clues about an absentee owner.
If manually searching records does not provide the information, professional skip tracers and other services can scan multiple government databases quickly, for a fee. One of these services may be able to locate an owner where other records searches fail.
- Determine the location of the property
Determine where you need to look to find information on the property. Enter the street address into Google Maps to find out what county the property is in and whether or not it is within city boundaries. Alternatively, many counties offer a GIS mapping service that may be available online or have an office available for walk-in access to the public.
- Determine who has the records you need
Search for the contact information for the office that has the property ownership records that you want. Online databases such as NETROnline and SearchSystems are particularly valuable because they compile the contacts for public records nationwide and provide links to any that are available online. Searching Google for the city or county name and "property records" or "tax assessor" may also lead you to the appropriate contact.
- Pay a fee, if necessary
If the property records you are searching for are in an area that doesn't provide a free online search, you may have to pay a fee to get the information that you need. Sometimes clerks give information over the phone, but if not, ask what the local procedure is for requesting public records in that jurisdiction.