How do I find out the owners of a property

1 month ago

I need to file a prelien

Chief Legal Officer Levelset

Finding the owner of record for property on which a construction job is taking place can be critically important. Finding the owner (or GC, or construction lender) can sometimes be difficult and time consuming, but in many cases it must be done in order to provide proper notice and maintain lien rights.

In many states, property ownership information is pretty simple to find through on online search of the property records (tax assessor sites; county GIS mapping; etc.). In California, though, the owner of the property is not provided online through those type of sites. This means that searching for the property owner via deed or tax assessor information must be done either by phone, or in person in the county in which the property is located. Generally, the county recorder’s office in which public record ownership documents are kept is located in the county courthouse or city hall.

Going to the recorder in person and looking up the property is not the only solution, however. Depending on process and how much time is available prior to the notice deadline, some parties send a request to the GC or their hiring party for “pre-lien information.” While this is an odd process to contemplate, since the party making the request for information just turns around and re-send the information to the parties who gave it, it can sometimes help to get information not otherwise easily available.

While county website in CA don’t have property ownership information, there are many third-party property ownership databases that do have this information. These databases usually have an associated fee, and while generally pretty up-to-date, they are not “live” databases, and can be subject to a delay after property is transferred.

Additionally, a potential lien claimant could use a third-party service provider, a software product, or an attorney, each of which may have property ownership research built into their offering as part of their fee, to provide assistance with property ownership research.

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