Perhaps the largest barrier to hurdle in the commercial real estate industry is knowing how to access the right data. When looking for new opportunities, having access to the right information is crucial.
For commercial real estate professionals, one of the key obstacles in finding new opportunities is learning how to find commercial property owners. There are very few databases that exist that allow someone to readily conduct a property owner search, and it’s awfully hard to pursue a deal without this critical information.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the different ways to find commercial property owners, and how that information can be used to source different types of commercial opportunities.
Unfortunately, tracking down this information is challenging. There’s no central, public repository that allows users to easily search for commercial property owners based upon a specific set of criteria.
With the ability to search through on and off-market properties on the Reonomy web platform, however, ownership data is being made easily available and searchable on a national scale.
Reonomy Property Owner Search
Running a property owner search on Reonomy is quick and easy, and can be done using a number of different physical and financial property characteristics.
When searching for owner information on a commercial property, Reonomy users can begin a search by address, asset type, building and lot information, sales history, debt history, or all of the above (if necessary).
Property Owner Search by Address
You can search for property owners within your market with varying levels of granularity. Begin your search with a state, city, county, zip code, neighborhood, street, or even an exact address.
Property Owner Search by Asset Type
You can also use Reonomy’s web platform to search for property owners based on a specific asset type. Whether you specialize in something as broad as all-industrial, or as granular as vacant mobile home lots, you can start your search with an asset type and dig in further to find property owners.
Reonomy location and asset type filters are typically used in tandem to hone in on more specific properties.
From your list of results, you can click on any property to see its details, which include building-level specs and characteristics, sales history, mortgage history, and ownership information.
You can also start your search with the very same, granular details mentioned above.
Property Owner Search by Building and Lot Characteristics
Property owners can also be found by adding more granular building-level filters to your search.
If you’re searching for an apartment building owner, for example, after adding an asset type filter, you can use Reonomy’s building and lot filters to search for buildings based on number of units, building area, lot square footage, building age, renovations, and more.
Property Owner Search by Sales History
Based on someone’s motive in searching for a commercial property owner, sales and debt history can come largely into play as well. For potential off-market buyers, sales history can make or break the value of a commercial property.
On Reonomy, you can use search filters to find property owners of buildings sold within a certain time or price range. You can also search specifically for the most recent sale date and price.
Property Owner Search by Debt History
Similar to sales history, the debt history can also make or break the value of a commercial property.
Debt brokers and originators looking to find property owners can add debt history filters to their search to identify properties with an ideal mortgage history.
You can use Reonomy to search for properties based on their most recent mortgage amount, mortgage origination and maturity dates, and most recent lender. Once you identify properties with the ideal financial standing, you can again click on an individual property page, and visit the Ownership tab to find the owner of that property.
When searching with any combination of the aforementioned filters, you can also find commercial property owners in bulk. If you’re certain of the granularity of your results, you can export a lengthy, in-depth lead list straight from Reonomy’s search platform.
Public Record Property Ownership
Public records websites are also a common way to begin a property owner search. Sources of information include county assessor websites (like HCAD and SDAT), as well as other public records sites like ACRIS. Let’s take a look at each of those examples to see just what types of information they actually provide.
HCAD has an online tool intended to provide information about property values and taxes. The district includes approximately 1.8 million parcels of property with a total market value of approximately $575 billion.
To find commercial properties, HCAD allows users to search by account number, by address, or by owner name.
Very few users will have a property’s account number, unless you are the existing property owner. Most owner searches will be conducted by address.
This is a good starting point, assuming you have a specific property owner or parcel in mind. If you wanted to search for all properties owned by John Smith, for example, it might be difficult to decipher if the properties owned by any given John Smith are the same as the person you have in mind.
You’d have to know enough about the owner to narrow down the search a bit more, by potential co-owners or property locations, for this information to be useful to you – particularly in a geography as large as Houston. Even if the name were less common, you’d still only retrieve information within the Harris County Appraisal District, which might not be representative of all the property that person owns.
The challenge here is that commercial real estate is often held in a limited liability corporation (LLC). Even if you track down information about a specific property, you might still struggle with your property ownership search.
Public records usually won’t tell you who the members of the LLC are, and certainly won’t provide their contact information.
SDAT is another online database that is often used to find commercial property owners. Unlike HCAD, which only allows a user to search a single county, the SDAT platform allows users to search commercial property ownership records in counties across all of Maryland.
Users start by selecting the county of choice, and then choose a method for filtering the results: by street address, property account identifier, map/parcel or property sales.
SDAT is one of the few tools that allows users to easily search for recent property sales. This function is particularly handy because you can search recent sales by land use category: Residential vs. Non-Residential. This helps refine your search when looking for commercial property ownership information. SDAT even has an option to search for Improved vs. Vacant land.
One of the downfalls of SDAT, though, is that it does not allow you to search by town, neighborhood or zip code. This can make it tricky to find commercial property owners unless you have a specific street address in mind.
For instance, you may know that John Smith has significant real estate holdings in the Baltimore area, but unless you know the property’s exact location or transaction date, tracking down information about those holdings could prove downright impossible.
ACRIS is a useful tool that many people utilize when searching for commercial property owners in New York City. In many ways, it combines the best features of HCAD and SDAT—you can search by the owner’s name, street address, within a certain date range, and in different boroughs and counties.
ACRIS also allows users to search by business name – an option not commonly included on other online platforms.
One of the features that’s particularly useful with ACRIS is that it allows you to search by document type. For instance, you can search exclusively for “deeds and other conveyances.”
You can also search for just mortgages affiliated with any given property owner or associated with a specific property address. This helps refine your search and makes it easier to find commercial property ownership information.
The best place to start your public records ownership search is with your local assessor. Depending on where you are, just insert [YOUR GEOGRAPHY] [CITY or COUNTY] ASSESSOR into Google as an initial starting point. For instance, you might search for the Cook County Assessor’s Office or Maricopa County Assessor’s Office in Google.
Or, if you’re in a state like Massachusetts, where the county form of government is less heavily relied upon, you can start by searching at the city level, such as with the City of Boston Tax Assessor Database. With the latter example, the City of Boston Tax Assessor Database will provide some initial information, including property ownership information.
You can then take that information and search the Suffolk County Registry of Deeds to search for copies of deeds, mortgages, liens and other recorded documents. This two-step process seems cumbersome at first, but once you get the hang of it, can reveal tremendous information about commercial property owners.
The Value of Property Owner Information
There are several reasons why you’d want to obtain information about a commercial real estate property owner.
For someone looking to invest in commercial real estate, information about current property owners can be incredibly insightful. If you know how much debt a person has on the property, for instance, and compare that to what a property is currently worth, you may find that an owner is underwater on the mortgage – which could be a motivation to sell.
Similarly, property records can help uncover unusual ownership patterns. If a property has traded hands multiple times in a short period of time, this could be a red flag for potential buyers. Or it could be a signal that previous owners did not have the expertise needed to redevelop the property, which could indicate an opportunity for a more experienced developer to suggest they enter into a joint venture.
For debt brokers, knowing how to navigate property owner information is also incredibly valuable. Someone who knows how to search public records can figure out not only how much debt was placed on the property, but also the terms of that debt.
What is the interest rate? When is the loan set to mature? Will a balloon payment be due any time soon?
This information can help a debt broker compile a robust list of prospects who may be interested in refinancing into a lower-cost debt structure.
Finally, property owner information is incredibly valuable to service providers. Commercial roofers, solar power operators and others can filter information to reach out to property owners directly based on specific criteria. For example, a commercial roofing company may want to target people who own buildings at least 100,000 square feet in size.
Dive Into Property Ownership
Finding trustworthy property ownership information is like a holy grail of commercial real estate. Finding accurate information about commercial property owners has traditionally been incredibly difficult, but with advances in systems and technology, has become easier in recent years.
Whereas public records will give you basic property ownership information, Reonomy’s more robust database allows users to find a property owner’s name, mailing address, phone number and email address. Reonomy allows you to search beyond the reported owning entity, taking a deep dive into the ownership of specific LLCs.
Reonomy also allows users to search beyond city or county lines, making their searches more robust. Rather than searching for commercial property ownership information street by street, city by city, or county by county, users can search for a specific property owner or entity and then analyze that owner’s entire portfolio regardless of geographic boundaries. It’s a seamless approach – one that saves users time and money.