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How To Find The Owner Of A Property You Want

6-Minute Read
Published on September 24, 2021
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Ever pass by a home and feel your jaw drop? Maybe it has perfect landscaping or an ornate front porch. Whatever it is, you want it. It may not be up for sale, but maybe if you find the owner and can convince them to sell, they could be open to the right offer.

This article will discuss various methods you can use to track down the owner of a property, plus tips for how to get them to sell once you do.

8 Ways To Find The Owner Of A Property

It can be a long road to find the right house, and even when you do, it may not be for sale. Let’s take a look at a few ways to find out who owns a house so you can convince them to sell.

1. Check Your Local Assessor's Office

On your local tax assessor's official website, you may be able to look up property tax records and find the property owner by their address. You can learn who owns the home as well as how much property tax they pay.

This is a great way to find out who owns a property for free. Keep in mind you may have to pay for physical documents.

2. Check With The County Clerk

The county clerk's office has public records of property, deeds and other useful information when searching for the property owner. Not only will this tell you the owner of a house, but your county recorder may give you insight into the history of the property.

3. Go To Your Local Library

Your local library may have a database to conduct a property search. This could be available online, or you may be able to find public records in person.

4. Ask A Real Estate Agent

If you're already house hunting, talk to your real estate agent. Chances are they'll access the same public records from the first three steps. If those haven't turned up results, your agent may be able to dig deeper.

5. Talk To A Title Company

A title company can research property deeds and perform title searches. Not only will you be able to find the owner of the property, but a title search will check for any issues of the property. This step is part of the homebuying process, but you can do it early to find out more information on the property.

Note that a title search isn't free. You'll have to pay a fee, usually in the range of $200 – $400.

6. Use The Internet

Given the ability many have to access the internet with a smartphone, this may be your first reaction. Sites like 411.com and Whitepages offer reverse searches. You input the address of the home and it will give you a list of who resides there.

Know that the accuracy of these sites can vary. You may get a list of family members or previous owners. They may require you to make an account and may charge you for the information. Given the unreliable nature of the information, you may be better off accessing records from the assessor's office or the county clerk.

7. Talk To A Lawyer

If the other options on this list haven't given you satisfactory results, you could talk to a real estate attorney. They may have a few ideas for how to find the property owner if you're having trouble.

8. Knock On Their Door Or Leave A Note

If you're comfortable doing it, knocking on the door might get you face-to-face with the current owner. If anyone answers who isn't the owner, they may know how to contact the owner. Remain courteous and respectful with whomever answers the door. If no one answers, you could leave a note with your contact information, asking the owner to get in touch if they'd consider selling.

This is the riskiest method on this list and may not work for you. The owner may not want to talk to you. If you choose this route, you may get your answer faster on whether the owner will sell. It could save you time and effort. Just know the answer may be "no."

How To Find Out Who Owns Land You Want

The previous tips will work great for those who have their eye on a dream home, but what if you stumble upon your dream plot of land? An empty land parcel likely won't have its address displayed, and you may not have the option to knock on the current owner's door or leave a message in their mailbox.

That doesn’t make it impossible to find the owner, though. Take a look at these methods for finding out the owner of a piece of land.

1. Research With Google Maps

Before you can ask your local tax assessor, county clerk or city hall about a piece of land and its property records, you'll need the address of the vacant lot in question. If you're wondering how to find out who owns land around you or around the world, Google Maps should be your first stop.

Google's satellite and street-view applications can provide the approximate mailing address of a piece of land, right down to the specific latitude and longitude. Plus, the satellite view option can give you a better idea of the entire plot's terrain and general features.

Even if you aren't able to locate the entire address, Google Maps is an effective tool for identifying the street and county. From there, you can use a parcel map or online real estate service to fill in the blanks.

2. Leverage Your State's Parcel Maps

Although not all states provide them, online parcel maps provide even more detail about a piece of land – so long as you're able to identify the county in which the parcel is located. Parcel maps are designed to identify real property boundaries and are also known as property maps and tax maps.

Parcel maps provide all kinds of data on property ownership, such as the name of the current owner, the land's assessed value and whether that land is owned by an individual, a business or the local municipality.

To see your state offers parcel maps online, search your state's name, followed by "parcel map," and scan the top results.

3. Pay For An Online Service

If you're still not able to find the information you need, consider signing up for an online real estate service. Many property data tools on the market are not only able to pinpoint the current owner, but also provide their contact information, including phone numbers and email addresses, alongside other valuable information about the land registry.

Be warned that many of these services charge a monthly fee, and a regular subscription may not be the best option unless you're ready to dip your toes into real estate investing. The amount of information these platforms provide to users also means that they come with a learning curve. Prepare to invest a significant amount of time and research before you buy.

4. Contact A Real Estate Investor Or Agent

Newcomers to the world of real estate and land purchasing may struggle with these aforementioned platforms. If you know a nearby investor or agent, consider calling on them for a favor – they may already pay for these services and could point you in the right direction.

5. Ask The Neighbors

An empty parcel of land doesn't provide the opportunity to knock on the owner's door, but that doesn't mean that the neighbors are off limits. More often than not, neighbors can provide insights about the property that you wouldn't be able to find elsewhere, including their experiences with the neighborhood. They may not know if the owner is interested in selling, but there's a good chance they have the owner's name and contact information.

How To Convince An Owner To Sell

Once you find out the owner of a property or land, then comes the challenge of convincing them to sell. There isn’t much you can do if the owner isn’t interested in selling, but if they are, here are some ways to make your offer stand out.

1. Put Down An Earnest Money Deposit

Putting earnest money down on a home can let a seller know you’re serious about buying their property, and also provides some protection for both parties if the deal falls through. The amount of money you put down depends on the sale price of the property, but is typically 1 – 3% of the full amount.

2. Get Preapproved For A Mortgage

Getting a mortgage preapproval can make your offer more attractive to a seller by assuring them you can qualify for a home loan. Many sellers won’t choose to work with a buyer who isn’t preapproved.

3. Get A Verified Approval Letter

Having a Verified Approval Letter (VAL) is like being preapproved, but better. Verified Approval is offered exclusively through Rocket Mortgage® and acts as verification that a buyer qualifies for the loan amount they need. Having a VAL to back up your offer can assure a seller you have the financial stability to go through with your purchase.

Home Buyer's Guide

Follow our step-by-step guide to learn how to buy a home.

Read the Home Buyer's Guide

The Bottom Line

There are several ways to find out who owns the property you're interested in. If your interest is strong and you know you could make an irresistible offer, make the effort to contact the owner. Getting preapproved or having a Verified Approval Letter can also show you’re a serious buyer and increase your chances of success.

Think you’ve found the property of your dreams? Get preapproved today with Rocket Mortgage to begin the home buying process.

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Hanna Kielar

Hanna Kielar is a Section Editor for Rocket Auto, RocketHQ, and Rocket Loans® with a focus on personal finance, automotive, and personal loans. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Michigan State University.