4 Ways to Find a Property Owner of a House
How do I find who owns a house? If you are a newly licensed agent, you may also be asking, “Why would I need to know how to do this?”
There are many reasons why knowing how to find the property owner is valuable. The most obvious reason would be for prospecting new leads. Maybe one of your buyers wants to make an offer on an off-market listing. You may be working with investors who are interested in a vacant house.
So, how do you find the property owner? You can accomplish this in several ways. Some are simple and some require some extra effort, but all are effective methods.
As a real estate agent, you have several resources you can tap into to get this information. We have listed 4 ways you can go about finding the owner of a property. The first two don’t even require having a real estate license!
The Tried and True Method
This one is simple. Just knock on the door and ask!
It might feel awkward to just knock on a stranger’s door, but as a real estate agent, this is considered a lead opportunity. If the owner is not home, leave behind your business card or door hanger with your contact information.
If you are targeting a specific home for a buyer and the owner isn’t home, don’t leave just yet.
Go knock on the neighbor’s door!
Remember: be prepared before you walk up to their door. Announce that you are a real estate agent and have your business cards ready and your name badge on.
Most neighbors are receptive and friendly. They will know who is living next to them and offer you the property owner’s name. But, be respectful of those neighbors who are not comfortable and may not want to share that information with you.
Visiting the County Recorder’s Office
Another way to find who owns a home is to use the County Recorder’s Office.
Technically, you don’t need to have a real estate license because it’s of public record.
This method will require a little more effort on your part.
You will have to physically go down to the county recorder’s office and request the records for that specific property. Here you will find all the information like the owner of the record, liens against the house, and title transfer.
So, if you are unlicensed and just need this information for whatever reason, this is a great option.
The Property Owner is Listed in the MLS
The MLS stands for the Multiple Listing Service. It is an online database of all the properties that are listed on the market. Agents can find all the details on a property by using the MLS including the property owner.
While its primary use is to find listed properties, you can also search public records on the MLS for properties off-market. The search criteria will allow you to enter either the address or the APN number if known.
What is an APN? The APN is the Assessor’s Parcel Number and it’s a unique code given to each lot when subdivided by the county Assessor.
Using the MLS is extremely helpful when you are trying to locate the owner on a specific off-market property. This will be invaluable when working with an investor interested in making an offer on one or more homes.
Creating an Opportunity for the Property Owner
Most agents will use the public records on MLS to create an opportunity when the listed inventory is scarce. It allows the agent to create targeted marketing specifically for the owner of the home letting them know they have a buyer.
While the public records on the MLS are practical, it does not have a comprehensive overview of the property.
This brings us to the other effective method used by real estate agents.
Do a Title Search to Find Out Who Owns a House
This is the best way to find out who owns a house.
A title company has access to all the same public records but it’s online and more comprehensive. This makes finding information way easier!
You can get access to do a title search online with the help of a title representative. They are crucial to your business as a real estate agent. This is why most agents will form a relationship with a title rep that they can count on and trust.
How Does a Title Search Work?
They can give you access to their title search system by giving you your own login info. You can search by address or by APN number. If you have the owner’s name, you can also enter it to see what other properties they may own.
The title search will give more detailed information beyond the owner, such as year built, bedrooms, bathrooms, and square footage.
Also, it will tell you all the recorded mortgages on the house, what position they are in, when they were started and when they end, information about current and past owners, and liens. The title report will also disclose assessed property values, current tax information, and delinquent tax information.
Pulling a title report is extremely thorough. It’s probably why it’s the most commonly used method by real estate agents.
Applying the Title Search to How You Prospect
Doing a title search is also a great way to send targeted marketing information. Here is an example:
You are an agent who wants to send postcards to all property owners who have 3 bedrooms, 3 bath homes in Beverly Hills because a buyer is interested in that area but there’s no inventory.
A title representative can pull a mailing list specific to match those criteria.
Once you have a list of all the homeowners, it’s just a matter of connecting with them and opening escrow.
Final Thoughts on Finding a Property Owner
Finding the owner of a property just became a lot easier now that you have the tools and resources. Let’s review the methods that you have at your disposal and when you would want to use them.
Keep it simple and start by knocking on the owner’s door. If they’re not home, ask a neighbor.
When going to the property is not an option, take a trip to the County Recorder’s Office. You will be able to make your request for the details on the property in question.
If you are a licensed real estate agent, remember you have access to the public records on the MLS for a simple search and use the title for a more detailed search on the property.
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