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How To Find Out Who Owns A Property In Your Area

Sidney Richardson5-minute read

July 20, 2022

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Have you ever driven by a house and fallen in love with the exterior? Whether you’re actively searching for a home or not, there might be times when you find a place that could be your dream home (or just a good investment). The only problem? It may not be for sale anytime soon.

If you’re interested in learning whether a home is currently for sale, if it will be in the future or if it is inhabited at all, it’s a good idea to get in contact with the property’s owner. But how can you go about doing that? Let’s talk about some of the ways you can find out who owns a property and what to do once you find them.

Why You May Want To Find The Owner Of A Property

There are many reasons why you might want to contact the owner of a property you stumble upon. If the house looks abandoned, you might want to find the owner in order to purchase the building and flip it. If it’s simply a gorgeous home, that you either want to live in or use as an investment property, you might contact the owner to find out if they would consider selling it for the right offer. If there’s no house at all, just land, you might be curious about finding an owner to see if you could build a home in that perfect location. There are plenty of possibilities.

While there is no guarantee that the owner, whoever they are, will agree to sell to you, it usually doesn’t hurt to reach out – especially if you’ve fallen in love with the home.

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9 Ways To Find Out Who Owns A Property You Want

If you’ve found a home or a plot of land that you’re interested in purchasing, there are several different ways you can go about trying to find who owns it. Let’s go over nine methods you can try to track down the owner of a property.

1. Visit The Local Assessor’s Office

If you’re scouting out a property, one of the first places you can try for owner information is your local tax assessor’s office. You may be able to look up a property there and find out not only who owns it, but how much they pay in property taxes – which is useful to know if you’re interested in buying the house or another property in the same area. Keep in mind that you may have to pay to access documents.

2. Check With The County Recorder

Another place you may be able to check is the county recorder or clerk’s office. A county recorder keeps track of lots of information, from records of births and deaths to deeds and other property ownership records. Property information is public record, so you may be able to find out not just who owns the property in question, but also some of the history of the home or land and who owned it prior.

3. Ask A Title Company 

You could also check with a title company to inquire about the current ownership of a property. Title companies have the power to perform title searches, which can allow them to learn more information about the property than just the owner, such as whether there are liens on the property or other issues. A title search is not free and will generally cost you $75 – $200+ depending on your area. These searches are generally done as part of the process of closing a home loan to ensure the home’s title is clear of issues, but you could also use a title search to learn the true owner of a home and whether the property has any liens against it.

4. Talk With A Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent can also potentially help you find a property’s owner. Real estate agents have access to not only public property data that you could access yourself but also a database called the multiple listing service (MLS). Through the MLS, your agent might be able to find out if the home you’re interested in is for sale (or has been recently). Should the property be available, a real estate agent will also be useful in walking you through the home buying process.

5. Contact A Real Estate Attorney

If none of the above options have yielded results for you, you could also consider contacting a real estate attorney. An attorney may not have the records you need, but they could have ideas or information on how to find a property owner. 

6. Search The Internet 

If you don’t want to contact an attorney, agent or government official, you could also attempt to simply search the internet to find a property owner. There are plenty of websites that may share public property information if available, but keep in mind that this won’t always be accurate. Internet search results could be outdated or unreliable compared to some of the other methods of obtaining information in this list.

7. Visit Your Local Library 

If your local library has public records or archives of local information, you could also search there for property ownership information. You may also be able to access your state or county’s property or land records online at a library.

8. Knock On The Door

If you don’t want to go digging around for records, there is one very simple solution that you could be overlooking – you can just go knock on the door. If there’s a house on the property, you might be able to get in contact with the owner if they’re home. Keep in mind that many property owners may not enjoy a stranger approaching their home, so an alternate method of making contact may be necessary. Consider leaving the homeowner a note or letter explaining your situation and any potential offer you’d like to make, along with your contact information. 

9. Ask The Neighbors 

If you want to contact a property owner and they’re not home (or they’re out of state or away for some other circumstance) you will have to find another way to get in touch. One way to do so is by contacting the neighbors. They may have a way for you to contact the owner – or, if you don’t want to speak to the owner, they might just have useful information about the property in general. Remember that, like contacting the homeowner, neighbors may not be thrilled about a stranger at their door either, so be courteous and leave a note if necessary.

Next Steps After You Find The Owner Of A Property

If you manage to track down the owner of a property you’re interested in and the owner is currently selling or is interested in selling, the next step is finding out how you’re going to finance the purchase, assuming they accept your offer. At this point, its’s a good idea to make sure your credit is in order and you have the funds to make a down payment. You may want to start the mortgage process and get preapproved to find out how much you can borrow. Once that’s done, to solidify your offer to the seller, you may also want to offer earnest money.

The Bottom Line

When searching for a home, you may assume that the only places you can look are listing sites, but that’s not true. Sometimes if an owner is willing and you make a good enough offer, you can purchase a property that you find on the street. This method, while possible, is not always feasible, so keep in mind that finding a property’s owner and making an offer on their house may not always go as smoothly as you’d like.

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Sidney Richardson headshot.

Sidney Richardson

Sidney Richardson is a professional writer for Rocket Companies in Detroit, Michigan who specializes in real estate, homeownership and personal finance content. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in advertising from Oakland University.