how do we find out who owns a property?

Asked by Jennifer Mccutchen, Downtown, San Francisco, CA Mon Jan 11, 2010

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Kathy Weber, Agent, Murrieta, CA
Mon Jan 11, 2010
Jennifer Mccutc,

The easiest way to find out who owns a particular property is go to your Country Recorder's office.

The records are "open" to the public for viewing.

You can also check with a local Realtor as they have the same access under the MLS.

Best of luck!
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1 vote
Cory, ,
Mon Jun 6, 2011
You have several options:

Go to the assesment office of the county or parish the property resides and ask someone there.

contract a real estate agent or title company to do the research for you.

Go to, they are a simple title research company that conducts this research for you.
0 votes
Jed Lane, Agent, Petaluma, CA
Mon Jan 11, 2010
As said Realtors have access to property records on line. It is an essential tool. Any of us can get you the information pretty quickly.
If you don't want to ask an agent to look it up you can go to City Hall and look it up yourself.
0 votes
Lance King, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Mon Jan 11, 2010

Quickest way is to have your agent/broker do it as it is very easy if the current record is accurate, although there are exceptions as noted below. If you don't have one and are planning on buying this is a good place to look as there are a number of reputable agents/brokers who contribute here regularly.

Best Regards,

Lance R King/Managing Broker
0 votes
Lisa Cartola…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Mon Jan 11, 2010
Hi Jennifer,

The owner of record is actually public record. If you are working with a Realtor, they can acutally look up the tax records for you. Most of the time the tax records are accurate, but there are times when they are not:

1. If the property was recently sold and the tax records have not been updated yet.
2. During the foreclosure process the transfer of the property to the bank is not always reflected in a timely manner on tax records.

The other option you have is to try and knock on the door or ask neighbors near the property if they know anything about it.

Hope that helps!

Lisa Cartolano
Alain Pinel Realtors
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0 votes
Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Mon Jan 11, 2010
Very good answer from Kathy. That'll give you the answer about 99% of the time.

If it doesn't, there are other techniques. There are services--look up "skip tracers" online--that, for a fee, will attempt to track down the owner. They tend to be reasonably successful even if checking tax records doesn't work.

Or--one technique investors use--is simple door-knocking of the neighbors' houses. It's very likely that one or more neighbors knows who owns the property, and knows a lot about the situation. I've done that a number of times, and you'd be amazed how much you can find out not just about the ownership question, but about the history of the property. There's usually at least one person on every block who is kind of the local historian. Usually has lived there a long time, knows everyone, knows the gossip, and likes to talk.

So: First check the tax records, either yourself (they're online in most communities--just search for "_______[city or county name]____ tax assessor") or contact a Realtor, who can pull the same information up. If that doesn't work, try one of the methods I suggested.

Hope that helps.
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