A vacant property presents a problem for someone interested in buying it. How can you find out whether or not the owner is open to selling? Don’t worry, we have you covered. Read on to learn how to find out who owns a property.
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How to Find Out Who Owns a Property
Finding out who owns a property you’re interested in is easy. In fact, this simple process can often be done online. Some counties, especially in rural areas, may not have public information in an online database.
In these cases, an online reverse address lookup or a trip to your city hall will get you the ownership information you’re after. Take note of any information you can clearly identify about the property. Gather all the information you can from the street, house number, and city.
Some properties may not have house numbers clearly marked, so it’s helpful to write down the house numbers of any neighboring and adjacent homes. If you’re able to look at a land registry map later in your search, this will help you find the specific property you’re looking for.
- Street name
- House number (if applicable)
- City and state
- Nearby house numbers
If you feel comfortable doing so, check with the neighbors near the property to see if they can end your search early and tell you who owns the property. They might be able to put you in contact with the owner or pass your contact information on to them.
If you can’t get information from nearby neighbors, you still have several options once you have the address. Depending on the county where the property is located, you might be able to do a quick search of county records online to find the property owner.
If not, skip ahead to Visit a County Records Office. Here, you’ll find a recorder of deeds, who’s job is to keep track of all public information concerning real estate ownership.
Search for the Property Owner Online
You have two options to try and locate the name of the owner of a property online if you have the address.
- County/state assessor website
- Reverse address lookup
County/State Assessor Website
Start by looking for the website that contains property records or real estate assessment data. Usually, searching your county and state plus “assessor website” will lead you to it. Some counties have land registry information online where you can view a map to find the property, even without a street address.
For example, you can search for the term “Davidson County TN assessor website.” The top result is The State of Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury website, which contains real estate assessment data for every county in the state.
From here, you’ll enter the address information you have on the property, click submit, and review the property owner results. You’ll also get information like the parcel ID, property class, and changes in ownership.
Reverse Address Lookup
A reverse address lookup is a search tool that returns information when you enter an address. You can also do this with a phone number. Visit a website like Whitepages and select the Reverse Address tab above the search bar. Enter the property’s address to receive a list of names associated with the property.
Note: Not every name that is returned from your search will be a current or past owner. Even renter’s names can come up using a reverse address lookup tool. Typically, the names of anyone who receives mail at that address will be included in the results. It’s not the most ideal method for a property search.
Visit a County Records Office
It’s not always possible to locate the property ownership information you need online. Still, you can get it with a quick visit to any of the following county record keepers.
Tax Assessor’s Office
Your county tax assessor will have up-to-date ownership information on any property in the county because the owner is required to pay property taxes. Tell them the address of the property.
Then, say you’re interested in the most recent information, including the property value, ownership records (including mailing address), and property tax records.
County Clerk or Register of Deeds Office
Your County Clerk or Register of Deeds will also be able to access this information for you. During business hours, bring the address and parcel ID (if you have it) to the office.
With it, you can do a title search (search the county’s title records) to find the current owner of the property. In addition to finding out the owner’s name, you’ll also be able to see:
- Owner’s mailing addresses
- Property ownership disputes
- Tax liens on the property
- Recent transactions
- Previous owners and property deeds
Contacting the Property Owner
Once you have the property owner’s name and mailing address or phone number, you can contact them with your interest in the property. Remember to be warm, polite, and direct when you reach out.
You may want to try calling the owner first. Leave a brief message with your contact information if you’re unable to speak to them directly. If you don’t have the owner’s phone number or can’t seem to get in touch with them this way, send a letter to the mailing address.
We covered the etiquette for contacting an owner who hasn’t listed the property for sale in this article. In any case, you want to address the following points when you reach out:
- Introduce yourself and explain how you got their information.
- Hello! My name is _____, and I live here in _____. I got your information from _____ and wanted to contact you about the property on _______.
- Explain your interest in buying the property.
- I’m interested in the property, and I’d like to buy it if you’re open to selling. Would you be open to it with the right offer?
- Make a fair offer.
- After doing some research and consulting _____ to find the home’s value, I’m prepared to offer $__,____ for the property.
- Be prepared to hear “No.”
- I understand that, and I appreciate your time. Here’s my contact information if you change your mind and decide to sell.
With a little sleuthing and persistence, it’s not difficult to find out who owns a property. Accessing county tax and deed records can give you all the information you need, from possible liens on the property to the current owner’s mailing address.
The property information you get through your research could help you negotiate with the owner. Knowing these methods to locate a property owner can be the difference between passively admiring a vacant home and finally making it yours.