How to find out if someone owns property

Written by amber keefer
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How to find out if someone owns property
(house image by Ian Holland from Fotolia.com)

If you want to find out who owns a particular property, you may be wondering where you can go to find out. Property title is evidence of ownership. In most cases, it is not difficult to find out who currently owns a certain property or to research a property's title history. There are a variety of sources where you can search.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Visit the local courthouse or county recorder's office where the property is located. Real property records generally are filed with the recorder's office (sometimes known as the register of deeds office) where you can request copies of land records.

  2. 2

    Check tax records. You may be able to find out who owns the property through the district's tax assessor's office. The name of the current owner(s) of a particular land parcel should be posted, along with a mailing address. Unless there have been recent changes in ownership, these records should be accurate.

  3. 3

    Search the Internet. Many municipalities now have websites and databases, which allow you to access local government records. Many state and local tax assessors' and recorders' offices nationwide have developed official websites allowing for available public records to be retrieved online. Other electronic property searches can be conducted on the Internet. Some databases have designed search tools based on city/state/Postcode, which allow you to retrieve information online in just a few seconds.

  4. 4

    Seek the assistance of a real estate agent who often can access home ownership records. Residential real estate agents are trained in knowing their local markets. They get to know a lot of people in the local community, allowing them to acquire a good deal of insider knowledge.

  5. 5

    Talk to a title company. Hiring a professional title abstractor, often referred to as a title examiner, is another way to learn about the ownership of real estate property. An abstractor will provide a written summary of the information collected, the result of examining deeds, titles, mortgage contracts and other information related to a particular property.

Tips and warnings

  • Real estate that was part of an inheritance may be on record in the estate file of the person who willed the property to another.
  • Transactions involving the sale and/or transfer of real estate are a matter of public record and include documents such as deeds, mortgages and liens. Although property records are saved in the county records office, they may not be stored in the same area. Different types of documents are filed in different books according to the day and month that the transaction occurred.
  • While property reports, which can be downloaded online for a fee, may include some limited information, these reports are not the same as a full title search and don't include a search for ownership transfers or liens recorded against the current owner(s) of the property. These reports usually are a copy of county tax records showing the name of the assessed owner.

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