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The Geezer
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Category: General
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Experience:  Retired Civil Engineer, USC Professor & Realtor, financier
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I would like to find out who is the owner of an abandoned ...

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I would like to find out who is the owner of an abandoned house. Where do I look up the records of home owned in Los Gatos, CA? The address isXXXXX
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  The Geezer replied 10 years ago.
I do this all the time to locate the owners of vacant lots I am interesting in purchasing. It once was a simple thing to do on-line. But it dawned on certain elected officials that their home addresses could be searched if the property ownership rolls were made easily available to the public.

Now we have to go one step closer to the source to find the name and address of a property owner. (The site address is not necessarily the same as the address of the owner, as your question correctly implies.)

There are services that provide complete lists of property owners in each county, sorted a number of different ways, including by Assessor's Parcel Number and by Site Address. Most realtors subscribe to this service for their office, as the cost is substantial. Any good realtor can look this up for you in about 2 minutes by consulting their microfilm or CD.

Each of the major title insurance companies have similar resources. You can call the office of a local title company in the county where the property is located, request the Customer Service Department, say you are with the Overly Inquisitive Real Estate Group, and ask the specific question "Who is the owner of record, and what is their mailing address, for the house atXXXXX"

(They provide this information in the hopes that a relationship develops between the real estate agent and the title company, who might eventually write the title insurance policy and collect the insurance premium.) If you have a realtor friend (and who doesn't these days) use the name of their company (with permission, of course).

And finally, the ultimate source of the data you want is the County Assessor's Office. Most Counties have counter personnel who will show you how to look this up yourself, also in about two minutes. The downside of this is that you have to visit one of their offices personally.

So, to summarize, it's OK for a crazed loony impersonating a realtor (or a crazed realtor for that matter) to get this data more or less directly, but somehow dangerous to put the entire thing on line as most counties already do. Hmmm....
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