How to Find Out Who Owns a Property

By
Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Executive Realty 91362

Researching The Ownership of a House or Piece of Land to Purchase

Are you trying to find out who owns a particular piece of property? If you have ever driven past your ideal home and wished it was for sale, there could still be a possibility to buy it.

Perhaps if you contact the owner, they might be interested in selling. But if you don't know who owns this property, it will be impossible to make them an offer.

We will look at how to find the owner of a property so that you can make them a great offer to buy your dream home. Whether you are leaving a rental apartment or home, finding that property to purchase can take more time and effort if it is not already listed for sale.

You may find a diamond in the rough when you expand your search by having off-market properties on your list.

How to Find a Property Owner

If you want to find the owner of a home you like, you have a few options. Some methods are easier than others, let’s take a look:

The Local Assessor's Office

As long as you have the address of the home, you can search your local assessor’s website to check the property tax records. This will not only give you the name of the owner, but you also find out how much they have to pay in property taxes.

You can find this information out from the property assessor's website for free. However, there might be a charge if you need to look at physical documents.

The County Clerk’s Office

Another place where you can access public records is the county clerk’s office. You can find out quite a lot of useful information and even look at the deeds when searching these records.

You should discover the name of the owner, and you could find out a lot of other interesting information about the history of the property at the same time.

Real Estate Agents

If you're already in the process of searching for a home, ask your buyer's real estate agent for help. While your real estate agent might use the publicly available records and searches we’ve previously mentioned, they might be able to find out a bit more through other methods.

Once you are successful in finding an owner and you have put the property under contract, your agent can start the process of researching the home's history.

There are many pieces of information about a property home buyers should know before making a final commitment to purchase.

The Local Library

The local library could have a database that you can search. You might even be able to check this online, rather than paying a visit to do a property search in person.

Search Online

An easy way to check the ownership of a home is to check online. Some websites offer reverse searches where you simply put in the address and it tells you who lives there. Check websites like Whitepages.com or 411.com to see if they have the information you need.

The downside of using sites like these is their accuracy. While you might get a name for the owner, this could turn out to be incorrect.

If you then try to approach the owner of the home to make an offer, and you have the wrong details, it's unlikely to go well. You might also find that there is a charge for some of the information you want to find out, so it could be better to check with the local assessor or county clerk.

A Title Company

If you go to a title company, they can check property deeds and do title searches. As well as finding out who owns this property, the title search will uncover any issues that you would need to know if you are going to buy the home.

This is something that you would have to do anyway during the home buying process, and as a consequence, it's not free. It can cost more than $200 for the title company to perform this research for you.

A Real Estate Attorney

If you are struggling to find the information you want through the methods we've shown, you can get help from a lawyer. While this will be more expensive than some of the other options, they might know some ways to find the information that has escaped you so far.

The Direct Approach

If you want to take a risk, you can always just go and knock on the front door. You might get to speak directly to the owner, where you can ask if they have any interest in selling the home.

If someone who isn’t the owner answers, they might let you know how to get in contact with the owner. You could leave a note if you don’t get a response, asking them to let you know if they are considering selling.

There are a few reasons why this might not be the best way to approach the situation, however. You have to be aware that the owner won't expect your approach and could be defensive or simply give you an answer without really thinking over the offer. And chances are, the answer you'll get won't be the one you're looking for either.

Finding Out Who Owns the Land You Want to Purchase

If instead of a house, you're looking to buy a plot of land, you aren’t simply going to be able to knock on someone's door to speak to the owner.

There are a few things you can do to uncover who owns the plot of land:

Google Maps

Before you go any further with your research, you'll want to find the address of the plot if you can. Using the satellite imagery should give you a better idea of the address of the plot. Even if you don’t get the exact address, you can get the latitude and longitude coordinates.

Parcel Maps

Some states offer parcel maps online that show boundaries and ownership information. To find out if this information is available, just search for parcel maps and the state or county.

Online Real Estate Services

Some real estate online services will help you find the contact details of the current owner of the land, plus other useful information. These services can be costly, sometimes requiring a monthly subscription. A service like this might not be worth the cost unless you are doing a lot of real estate investing.

Speak to the Neighbors

If you knock on the door of the nearest home to the plot, you might find that the person living there knows who owns the land. You never know you might even find yourself talking to the owner of the plot. Even if they don't know who owns the land, they might be able to offer you some other useful information.

Final Thoughts

When you see your perfect property even if it isn't for sale, it might not be the end of the story. There are many ways to get in contact with the owner so that you can make them an offer that will encourage them to sell.

Posted by

Bill Gassett is a thirty-two year veteran to the real estate industry. He enjoys providing helpful information to buyers, sellers and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Placester, RESAAS, Credit Sesame and others.

Comments (15)

Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning Bill - we just had an off market sale here in Armonk.

Oct 25, 2021 09:47 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

These are a lot of good ideas for finding out who the owner is!

Oct 26, 2021 05:17 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

As always, great consumer information, Bill

Nov 01, 2021 06:02 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

A great way to avoid a hairy situation. Thank you so much for the information! Very handy

Nov 01, 2021 06:32 PM
John Pusa
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest - Glendale, CA
Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service

Hello Bill Gassett these are very valuable list of suggestions for how to find out who owns a property.

Nov 01, 2021 07:35 PM
Tony Busanich
TD Bank - Freehold, NJ
1-4 FAMILY HOME LOAN SPECIALIST

Thank you Bill, for thisgreat post with excellent and useful information. 

Nov 02, 2021 04:08 AM
Buzz Mackintosh
Mackintosh REALTORS - Frederick, MD
“Experience, reliable, leadership”

It's amazing what information you can find when you start digging !

Nov 02, 2021 04:23 AM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

Thirty-two years, Bill?!  I'm exhausted just reading that number.  Congratulations on a long-lived career.

Nov 02, 2021 06:19 AM
Bill Gassett

It's actually 35 Alan I just need to update on here:)

Nov 03, 2021 01:26 PM
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

There are a few more ways to also research the ownership of a piece of property.  I will not be sharing those at this time, however...as that is where my 29 years of learning and expertise helps make me money!!  Congrats on 32 years!!  My 29 seems like yesterday when I started...wish I would have started sooner...

Nov 02, 2021 06:38 AM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Bill,

Clearly you found pretty much every which way to track down the owner of a property. Not that most people would want to sell, but you never know. If you get lucky once in a while, you will be a hero to those buyers.

Nov 02, 2021 04:26 PM
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

Thanks for all the comments guys on how to find the owner of a property!

Nov 03, 2021 01:26 PM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA
ePRO, SRES, GRI, PMN

You have pointed out numerous ways to find out who owns a property...in most cases. If the property is owned in a trust but you don't know who the trustees are, you may have a challenge. If the property is owned by a corporate entity, again, finding the one in charge may be hard to do.

If it is that important...perseverance will win out!

Nov 04, 2021 10:43 AM
Bill Gassett

Good points John!

Nov 04, 2021 12:36 PM
Lynn B. Friedman CRS Atlanta, GA 404-939-2727
Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty - Love our Great City - Love our Clients! Buckhead - Midtown - Westside - Atlanta, GA
Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers

Great info for the public AND new agents! 
Thanks -

Nov 04, 2021 06:28 PM
Adam Feinberg
Elegran - Manhattan, NY
NYC Condo, Co-op, and Townhouse specialist

I usually use Streeteasy (a Manhattan centric listing site owned by Zillow)-  which includes links to the last sale from the NYC Department of Finance. If it doesn't have what I need, I can go straight to the NYC Dept of Finance or if I need deeper info on the property- Propertyshark is a one stop site. 

Nov 06, 2021 12:35 PM
Gwen Fowler-864-710-4518 SC * Mountain* Lake*Home
Gwen Fowler Real Estate, Inc - Walhalla, SC
Gwen Fowler Real Estate, Inc.

It's very interesting the things we can find out just by searches like this.  It's helpful in so many ways but it sure cuts down on our individual privacy.  

Feb 02, 2022 06:46 AM