It doesn’t matter if you’re a mortgage broker or lender, investor, developer, energy provider, roofer, cleaner, or a window salesman…
For anyone looking for leads and new business via commercial owners and their assets, knowing the history of property ownership is crucial.
In this article, we’ll discuss the best ways to go about obtaining property ownership history details.
We’ll also look at what ownership history typically entails, and the individuals and businesses who can use it to the greatest benefit.
Ownership History of Property
Ownership history details can be valuable regardless of the asset type—from a duplex, to land, general multi family, office, retail, industrial, hotels, etc.
The information entails much more than just the names of the LLCs or individuals who have owned the property over time.
In actuality, ownership history is a combination of past transactions, current and past debt, and the parties involved
In full, ownership history is a combination of the following:
- Sales HistoryThis includes the amount and date of previous sales, as well as all the parties involved in each transaction.
- Current and Past DebtFrom most recent mortgage amount, to past mortgage amounts, loan origination and maturity dates, the lenders on each loan, and property liens and foreclosures. This also includes any construction loans (or liens) on an asset. Debt history on a property speaks heavily to the current and past owners and their financial standings.
- Asset/Building HistoryThis includes the year the asset was built, along with any renovations. Asset-related information points to the decision-making process of the owner, their willingness to spend, and their potential future intentions.
Just about all of this information can be compiled from a combination of different public records sources, or can all be accessed at once within the Reonomy Platform.
We’ll cover some of the potential advantages to using a platform like Reonomy later in this article.
What You Can Learn From Ownership History
If you know the ownership history of a property, you typically have access to several important pieces of information that you can use to your benefit.
As mentioned above, this data includes sales history, debt history, tax or mechanics liens, and much more.
You can use this information to make inferences about properties and their owners, to help identify leads and potential investment opportunities.
It might also help you identify owners that you specifically do not want to do business with, as well.
For example, if you look at an asset’s sales price and date and the mortgage information for that transaction, you can infer the amount of equity an owner may have in the property.
Bonus for service providers and brokers:
Owners with significant equity may have the funds available to invest in significant improvements such as solar panels, roofing, new windows, appliances, and so on.
They may also be interested in purchasing other properties in the area.
Bonus for Lenders:
Owners with limited equity (demonstrated by still owing a significant amount on the property) may be interested in refinancing at a lower rate.
All of this information can be used for research.
All of these different points speak to the likely future intentions of the current owner, as well.
Infer Current Owner Intent
For investors and other buyers of commercial real estate, knowing the date that a property was most recently purchased can help identify owners who are more likely to be interested in selling.
The average holding period for a commercial asset is 10 years. Spotting properties not sold within the last 10 years points to their heightened chance of being sold.
The Reonomy Platform can be used to search via sales history, where you can weed out properties sold in the last decade.
If you also have information regarding the price the owner paid for the property and their financial position, you can more easily determine how much the owner might be willing to sell the property for.
Owners who are in financial distress may be willing to sell their property below market value.
If you’re looking for a good deal on commercial property, look for owners in pre-foreclosure and, depending on the terms of their mortgage (for example, owners with balloon mortgages), owners approaching the end of their mortgage.
Brokers and lenders can use the same data to identify owners who are likely to be interested in refinancing.
Besides looking for owners with signs of financial distress, you can compare the terms of the property owner’s existing mortgage to what you can offer and try to better their terms and/or interest rate.
Identify Property Service Leads
Do you have a roofing, HVAC, solar installation, renovation, commercial cleaning or similar business?
There are a few different ways to identify owners who might need your building services through ownership history.
As we said above, owners with significant equity in a property are very likely have funds available to invest in capital improvements.
Roofers, window installers and HVAC professionals should look at the date the property was built. Older properties may be ripe for upgrades in these areas.
Owners who have recently purchased properties may be looking for cleaning services, solar installation, landscapers or gardening services.
Find Potential Buyers
If you’re looking to sell property, it’s well worth looking at the ownership history of properties for recent sales.
Those owners who have sold property recently may have cash on hand from the asset sale that they’re looking to reinvest.
Mortgage brokers and lenders may be interested in reaching out to these individuals as well.
Estimate Past and Potential Future ROI
Looking at a property’s previous sale prices and dates in combination with changes in the overall real estate market can help investors identify an asset’s value.
Not only the property’s current value, but also trends that indicate how the property’s value is likely to change in the future.
This can help determine which properties are likely to offer the greatest return on investment.
Avoid Problem Properties (and Owners)
You can also use the ownership history of a property to look for ownership red flags.
Properties with a history of many transactions in a short time or a higher than normal number of transactions may warrant further investigation.
It’s possible that these properties have inherent issues that would make you wise to avoid purchasing or servicing them.
Property service providers would do well to watch out for property owners with signals of financial distress, such as a history of liens.
You may do well to avoid performing contract work for these individuals.
Contact Property Owners Directly
Whether you’re interested in purchasing a property, offering mortgage refinancing or providing building services, reaching out to the owner directly will generally be most effective.
And, in the case of individuals looking to invest in property, it can also save you money by helping you avoid costly broker fees and competition from other bidders.
When using Reonomy, along with the sales history, where you can see an asset changing hands, you can also access the contact information of current property owners.
That includes the phone numbers, email, and mailing addresses of the individuals masked by an LLC.
How to Find History of Property Ownership
You can find the ownership history of a property with your local public records resource, or by using the Reonomy Platform.
Reonomy History of Property Ownership
With Reonomy, you can either search for a known owner:
That includes the ability to search for an owner by name, by the name of an LLC.
You can, however, also discover completely new properties with any combination of preferred asset type, location, sales history, debt history, tenants, and more.
When analyzing any individual property, you’ll be able to see its sales history, which includes the two parties that made the transaction (on the level of reported owner—i.e. and LLC or company).
Then, within Reonomy’s Ownership tab, you’ll be able to see the individuals that are apart of the properties ownership, along with their contact information.
Perform a Public Records Search
To search the public records for a specific property, you need to contact the recorder’s office of the county where the property is located. The search method will vary by county.
Some counties offer online databases, while others only provide access to physical files, which you will need to search in person.
Search options for online county records databases are often limited to one or two types: search by owner name or search by property address.
Most online databases won’t allow you to search by asset class, for example. This can make it difficult to search for a range of properties that meet your criteria.
Generally, you will need to enter either the owner name or property address exactly as it’s been recorded in the database.
- For example, if you enter “9th Avenue” as the street address, but the database has the same address listed as “Ninth Avenue,” your search may not return any results.
Then comes the issue of maneuvering LLCs.
This can require performing additional searches to find names and contact information for the individual owners associated with the LLC.
If an LLC consists of a large group of individuals, and you’re able to obtain contact information for each of them, you may still be unable to tell which of the members are directly involved with the property and thus the best to approach for your purposes.
Visit the County Recorder’s Office
If the information you’re looking for is not available online, you will need to visit the county recorder’s office to search in person.
Typically, you will only be able to perform your search during normal business hours. Small county offices may have even more limited open hours.
Regardless of the asset you’re looking for, finding the ownership history on a property can be fairly demanding.
With the right information, however, you’ll be keyed into some of the most powerful insights in CRE.