It’s no secret: Perhaps the most important piece of information for commercial real estate professionals is property owner data.
Who owns a property? How long have they owned it? How much do they owe on the property? How many other properties do they have?
These are all tidbits of information that can help commercial real estate professionals win new business.
It’s also no secret, however, that tracking down property owner records is not an easy task. Especially owner contact information.
The good news:
More foolproof ways of finding owner details and contact information have continued to emerge, adding layers to the classic-though-aging process of using public records.
Los Angeles County Property Owner Search
Finding commercial property owners is especially interesting in a place like Los Angeles County, an area that’s home to more than 10 million people.
LA County lures investors from all corners of the globe.
The county’s commercial real estate has a long track record of being one of the best areas for investment for those taking a long-term, buy-and-hold approach.
However, this has driven up prices and made the market highly competitive.
In order to discover new deal opportunities in LA, many CRE investors are expanding their search and going off-market.
One of the best ways to do this is by scouring Los Angeles County property records for owner data that could be telling about a person’s future plans for the property.
Below, we’ll look at how you can utilize public records and Reonomy for a foolproof means of finding and getting in contact with targeted commercial owners in Los Angeles County.
Los Angeles County Property Records
If you’re looking to start your property owner search for free, the first place you’ll go is likely publicly available property records.
In LA County, that includes the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office and the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s office.
Los Angeles County Assessor
The Los Angeles County Assessor has four core responsibilities:
(1) To locate all taxable property in the County and identify ownership;
(2) To establish a taxable value for all property subject to property taxation;
(3) To complete an assessment roll showing the assessed values of all property; and
(4) To apply all applicable legal exemptions to property taxes.
As such, the Assessor’s office is usually a good resource for someone in search of details about assessed values, property tax exemptions, and value reviews.
Los Angeles County Recorder
The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder, otherwise known as the County Clerk, is the keeper of all public records, including:
- Birth and death records
- Marriage records
- Military discharge records
- Property document recording and real estate records
Property document records include property titles, deeds, declarations of homestead, liens and more.
Los Angeles County real estate records are available dating back to 1850.
These documents will tell you who officially owns a property, and whether there are mortgages and other liens.
(Such as a mechanic’s lien that a contractor puts against a property for work unpaid, or a lien by the municipality for taxes unpaid).
Liens, in particular, are useful for investors and/or brokers looking to connect with owners of distressed property in Los Angeles County.
They are a sign that a property owner may be interested in selling, refinancing, or partnering with someone as a means of paying off their debts.
Los Angeles County Treasurer’s Office
The Los Angeles County Treasurer’s Office actually sits within the same division as the Assessor’s office.
Commercial real estate professionals will want to use the same database for property owner information as discussed above.
Los Angeles County Property Search by Owner
There are many reasons why someone would want to obtain information about commercial real estate owners in Los Angeles County.
For instance, a lender may want to know how much debt a person has on a property and may want to compare that to what the property is currently worth
That’s information that can be revealed through a property owner search.
Alternatively, a property record search could tell you about a person’s ownership pattern – do they tend to sell properties every so often, or are they buy-and-hold investors?
Depending on the information you need about the property owner, there are various ways to search the Los Angeles County Assessor records and the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder records.
Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office
There are a few ways to search Los Angeles County property records at the Assessor’s Office.
The most basic search allows users to search by Assessor Identification Number (“AIN”) or Property Address.
Users can also conduct a Legal Search by using the assessor’s legal description for the property.
Finally, users can search for Los Angeles County property owner information by using the Map Search function.
In practice, the Basic Search and Map Search are the most practical ways for someone to search Los Angeles County property records.
Let’s look at an example:
Say an investor is driving down the street and sees a “For Sale” sign in front of 1320 Pacific Ave., in Venice, CA.
The investor is interested in learning more about this retail property for sale, but wants to do a bit of preliminary due diligence on the property before contacting the broker.
He decides to search the Los Angeles County Assessor’s online database to obtain some property information.
He begins by doing a basic search by property address.
The initial search returns 500+ results, which isn’t that helpful. Results include properties in Los Angeles, Glendale, Long Beach and Santa Monica.
Instead, he searches using the map function by property address. This gets a bit closer to the information he needs, but it’s still imperfect.
The results would indicate that 1320 Pacific Ave. is the orange-shaded property in the map below.
But in fact, we have to click around the screen to locate 1320 Pacific Ave. (shaded in red below), which is actually kitty-cornered to the property highlighted in orange.
Nonetheless, the investor can now click “Get Parcel Detail” for more information about the property.
The property card tells us a lot about the property. It’s a retail asset built in 1920 and it’s assessed for roughly $500,000.
The current owner has owned the property since 1992, but the property card does not tell us exactly who owns the property.
So, this information is a start, but it’s still not exactly what someone needs when conducting a Los Angeles County property search by owner.
Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s Office
While Los Angeles County property records are incredibly useful to have, most people express frustration that the LA County Registrar-Recorder’s Office has not made these documents available online.
Instead, a person must request the documents (in writing or by fax), or go to the Clerk’s office in Norwalk, CA to access these documents in person.
The Norwalk office is only open from 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday.
It’s certainly not the most convenient system for those looking to conduct a Los Angeles County property owner search, especially for those just perusing commercial real estate opportunities at a high level.
However, those who are serious about finding specific Los Angeles County property records will find the Clerk’s office helpful even if it takes a while to navigate the system.
Using Reonomy to Find Owner Contact Information
For many in CRE, however, time is money.
Whether you know the name of an owner or not, you can use the Reonomy Platform to either search and discover new prospect owners, or lookup owners you already know.
Reonomy’s database of property owners is made up from a combination of public records and private data sources.
The result: a searchable data platform that allows you to quickly research property owners and their assets, then access their contact information and reach out directly.
For any non-single-family home asset in the US, you can tap into the available ownership details including:
- The reported owner (LLC or individual)
- The members of an LLC
- Phone numbers, email, and mailing addresses of owners/LLC members
- The mortgage signatory
You can also dive into further research and search by an owner name, to sift through all of the commercial assets they own.
Reonomy can inform your ownership search at every step, from prospecting to outreach, and everything in between.