How To Find Out Who Owns a House Online
There are many reasons why someone might need to find out who owns a piece of property such as a house or other building. You might need to contact the owner about events happening at their property, or to suggest maintenance, to handle a dispute over something, to bypass an unhelpful property manager, or any of a number of other reasons. The good news is that it is actually very easy to find out who owns real estate. In this article I will present an overview of the many different ways you can obtain this information, usually for free.
Property ownership in the United States is a matter of public record. This means that who owns what is information that the public can access. The mechanism for that access may not always be incredibly easy, although in this modern age most places have at least rudimentary online access to records.
Finding Out Who Owns a House Online
There are several ways to find out who owns a house. The first thing you should try is your county’s tax assessor or county recorder. Those are the governmental entities that generally handle ownership information about real estate, because they are the people who collect the property taxes and they need to know who owns what. At minimum, you will need to know the address of the property you want to get information on.
County Tax Assessor
Depending on where you live, your county tax assessor will have a record of who owns what property. Also depending on where you live, that information will be available online through the tax assessor’s website. If the information isn’t online, you can still get to it but will need to physically visit the office. How easy this will be is entirely up to the staff at your local office. In most places, they will be helpful if not lightning-fast. The tax records on a property should show you owns the property, the appraisal and transaction history of the property, and any existing tax liens or deficiencies on the property.
The county recorder’s office keeps records of all land and property ownership in its jurisdiction. All property ownership is covered by deed and all deeds must be recorded at the county recorder. Some progressive county recorders have this information available through their website, otherwise it’s a trip to the office. The office is usually located within the courthouse. Be polite – county staff have big workloads and deal with the public all the time, so being nice and friendly will pay off – but be aware that this is public information and you are entitled to access it.
Ask a Realtor
If you know a real estate agent or realtor, they have the resources to find out who owns a particular property. They may already know and depending on why you need the information, may be able to provide it to you as it is already in the public records. Different regions may have different rules about what information may be provided to third parties. Usually, if something is a matter of public record there is no issue but your realtor or real estate agent should be able to tell you.
Ask a Title Company
If you really need to know who owns a particular house, you could approach a title company. They perform searches on properties for a living and charge for the privilege. Typical title searches cost anywhere between $200-300 so you’re going to really need that information or have some genuine difficulty in using other routes to justify this expense.
More Internet Resources to Find Out Who Owns a House
There are a few web resources you can use to find out who owns a house online. Some are better than others and some may incur a small fee for each search.
NETROnline, Nationwide Environmental Title Research Online, is a website that provides access to many records across the country. It offers access to environmental information, public records, property data and historic aerial shots of many areas of the continental United States.
Property Shark is a commercial website that can tell you exactly who owns a house. The site has access to most, if not all, ownership details including owner, their address, contact details if available and any supporting data the site can find. You do have to create an account to use the service but the first search is free if you do.
U.S. Title Records
U.S. Title Records is another commercial operation that provides access to property ownership details. The search costs $19.50 for a basic search or more for a much more detailed search. The service is apparently immediate and will definitely show you who owns a house if a record exists. Enter the address and Zip code and a report is generated. You can either print it or download it as a PDF.
With all of these online resources you can search by record type, then county or Zip code. A list of available records will be provided and you can choose whichever you need. Different counties will have different amounts and qualities of records but you should find at least basic information.
Many realtors and some smaller title search companies will likely use one of these three websites or others like them. Performing the search yourself is certainly cheaper than having them do it!
Do you know of any other way to find out who owns a house online? Tell us about it below if you do!