How to Find the Owner of a Home

By Teo Spengler - Updated March 27, 2017
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Use public property assessment records to find the owner of a home. Search those records either in person or online, using the street address of the home, the parcel number or the legal description of the property.

Locating the Assessor's Office

Every state has an assessor's office tasked with valuing real estate within its jurisdiction. Often the agencies operate at a county level, and they may be given a name other than "Assessor," including State Auditor, Recorder, County Clerk, Treasurer or Office of Real Property Taxation.

Learn how your state organizes its real property valuation by conducting an online search. For example, the Free Public Records Directory (see Resources) publishes a website where assessor and property tax regulation is laid out by state. Pick your state from the menu and learn the title of the office you are looking for as well as the website or other contact information.

Alternatively, run an online search using the city and state where the home you are interested in is located. If you still have trouble, call the city hall in the vicinity of the home and ask for the name of the agency that assesses property values.

Contacting the Assessor's Office

Once you find the name and location of the relevant property assessor's office, visit the office to obtain the information. Some offices accept phone call inquiries on house ownership, while many provide a database for an online search.

For example, California's real property tax records are maintained by the county assessor in each county. Most assessors provide an online database that is searchable by parcel number and address. Some, like the Assessor-Recorder's Office in San Francisco, allow you to use an interactive map to identify the home that you are interested in.

Obtaining a Property Report from a Title Company

You can also find the owner of a home by asking a title company to put together a property report on that address. You'll have to pay for the report, and the fees differ widely among companies.

But title reports give you lots of information. By purchasing a title report, you obtain not just the name of the owner of the house, but also the legal description of the property, all open recorded liens or known liens, property tax status and property assessed value and completed chain of assignment information.

Chain of assignment information tracks debt on the property. It links up debt the same way a prosecutor tracks evidence in a criminal case, accounting for the murder weapon from the time it was found at the murder scene through the trial. If the prosecution loses track of who had the gun along the way, it is no longer reliable evidence.

Just so, the title company traces debt on the property from one debt buyer to the next to prove where the debt originated and where it has been since then.

About the Author

From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. World traveler, professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.

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