California is not only one of the largest, most populous states in the country, but it also has one of the most active commercial real estate markets.
The sheer volume of transactions across the state might lead one to believe that tracking down property owner information would be easy.
The reality is quite the opposite, however.
In this article, we will take a look at the best resources that investors, brokers, lenders, and other industry professionals can utilize in their search for commercial property ownership information in California.
Property Owner Search in California
California’s huge commercial real estate market has some pretty unique characteristics.
The median lot size of the state’s more than 3 million commercial properties is less than 15,000 square feet, which is approximately 52% below the nationwide average. As a result, the buildings sitting on these lots are also smaller in square footage (1,070 sq. ft. on average vs. 1,314 sq. ft. nationally) and tend to support fewer units per lot (17 vs. 21) on average.
These intricacies make the ability to find accurate ownership data in a timely manner even more imperative.
There are a handful of resources that commercial real estate professionals can rely on when conducting a California property owner search. These platforms help people navigate property records, county by county, in a state that is unmatched in terms of size and real estate complexity.
California Property Owner Search With Reonomy
Whether you’re a broker, investor, lender, roofer, or appraiser, you can bypass the hassle of public records, and use Reonomy instead for all your property search needs.
The platform’s robust database allows you to not only find the exact property you are looking for with ease, but to also see the asset’s owners, whether individuals or LLCs, along with their contact information.
Find Your Target Properties
Let’s say you’re an investor looking to buy into a new market or into an Opportunity Zone. Or maybe you’re a mortgage broker looking to find property owners in need of refinancing.
Whatever your case may be, Reonomy can help you find the right investment opportunities and business prospects off-market.
You can search for commercial properties by location, asset type, sales history, debt history, ownership, and a number of other specific filters.
Examples of property searches could be:
- An office building
+ in the MSA of San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
+ of 30-50 units
+ in an Opportunity Zone
+ that has not been sold in 10 or more years.
- A multi-family home
+ in San Diego County
+ with a mortgage that originated 7-10 years prior
+ with Bank of America as the lender.
- An industrial vacant land parcel
+ in Sacramento County
+ of at least 50 acres
+ that has not been sold in 10 or more years.
Each “+” in these examples represents an additional search filter.
You can quickly execute a search for these types of properties, including or excluding any number of filters, and then easily access the owner details and contact information for any of the assets in your results list.
Access Ownership Details of a Property
Once you have identified a property you’d like to investigate further, you can visit the Ownership tab on its profile page, where you will be able to see who the reported owner is.
In the likely case that the owner is an LLC, you can also see the individuals associated with the owning entity.
Furthermore, you will find the phone number, email address, and mailing address of these individuals, which is incredibly useful if you’d like to reach out to them directly.
Search Portfolios by Owner Name
If you do know who the owner of a commercial property in California is and would like to see what other properties they own (in and out of state), you can also use Reonomy to search by owner name or the owner of record.
To do this, simply enter the Reonomy search page and visit the Ownership tab.
Here, you can search for owning LLCs or individuals and see all of the commercial properties they own. If you prefer, you can also re-filter the results to sift through their portfolios more granularly.
Learn more about finding property owners in California here.
California Public Records Property Owner Search
A different approach to your property owner search would be to combine Reonomy with a review of the information available through California’s public records.
While Reonomy frequently updates its database with new public records as they become available, it could be beneficial to cross-reference data by also searching the state’s property ownership records directly.
There are a number of different public sources to review when searching for property records in California. In most cases, the best place to start would be the county clerk’s office where the property is located.
Let’s look at a few examples for some of California’s largest counties.
Los Angeles County Clerk
While tracking down a specific property owner in a county of more than 10 million people may seem impossible, there are a couple of sources that can make the process less challenging.
You can start by searching the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder, otherwise known as the County Clerk.
Unfortunately, at this time the LA County Clerk’s office does not allow online access to its real estate records. Instead, the website provides information on how to access the documents in person and how to request hard copies by mail.
You can visit the Clerk’s office in Norwalk, CA between 8 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday, in order to search the property records in person.
It’s not the most convenient system, but it’s a way to obtain high-quality, reliable information about commercial property owners in Los Angeles County.
Another option would be to search the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office, which compiles information from the Assessor, Auditor-Controller, and Treasurer & Tax Collector to provide property tax bill records.
One of the most valuable tools on this website is the feature that allows users to search for a property by address, assessor ID, intersection, or their current location. The latter two options are relatively uncommon among other assessors’ websites.
Say you’re driving by a property and don’t know its exact address. You can plug in the nearest cross streets or, alternatively, allow the website to locate you on your mobile device to provide options near your exact current location and help you identify the property you are interested in researching.
San Diego County Clerk
San Diego County, which has experienced an explosion of commercial real estate development in recent years, provides a one-stop shop for people looking for property records in the area.
Public records from the Assessor, Recorder, and County Clerk’s Office are all available through one central website and can be searched all at once. Users can look up properties by deed and/or map book and page, document type, document number, property owner name, date, or map number.
As you can see, you can search in a variety of ways but the platform assumes that you have access to these details. It also makes researching a general area, such as La Jolla or Pacific Beach, much trickier.
San Francisco County Clerk
San Francisco County has been a darling of the real estate community for years. The area has benefited from a tight labor market, strict commercial development regulations, and an influx of foreign investment.
Individuals interested in San Francisco-area real estate can turn to the City & County of San Francisco (CCSF) Office of Assessor-Recorder to track down property owner information.
Another useful tool is the San Francisco Property Information Map maintained by the San Francisco Planning Department, which gathers its information from various city departments (unlike most other counties, San Francisco County is comprised of just the City of San Francisco).
To search the SF Property Information Map, a user must know the assessor’s parcel number (APN) or address of the property.
Once again, this makes conducting a property owner search in the area more challenging, especially for those who are hoping to create a list of prospects and don’t have a strong starting point.
Riverside County Clerk
Riverside County also provides a few different tools for people interested in searching California property records.
The Riverside County Recorder, for instance, allows users to search using Lexis Nexis and track down any recorded documents associated with a given person’s name.
In this case, you obviously need the person’s name to begin your search, not even a property address will suffice.
Moreover, the Riverside County Recorder’s online records date back only to 1980, which can be somewhat limiting for commercial real estate professionals trying to understand ownership changes over time.
The Riverside County Assessor has finally provided online access to its records.
The property search tool allows users to look up records by Assessment No. (PIN) or address. Alternatively, you can use the interactive map to locate the property of your interest.
Once you’ve identified a property, you can access various details including its address, legal description, sales history, assessed value for the last four years, and more.
Additional options that may come in handy include the ability to download a property report in PDF format, as well as view similar sales in the area.
Listings and Other Alternative Tools
There are a few other platforms that people can utilize in certain scenarios when conducting ownership research on properties in California.
Listings platforms, for example, while generally not very helpful for property information searches, can sometimes be used to connect with owners—i.e. for-sale-by-owner listings.
These online databases however tend to be limited in the scope of information they provide about California property records and owners. Additionally, most listings platforms include only a limited number of properties, typically those offered for sale or lease.
In comparison, there’s no limit to property coverage when it comes to public records, and unmatched depth and breadth in Reonomy’s off-market property database.
Start Your California Property Owner Search Today
Tracking down accurate commercial property ownership information can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
It’s not an easy task, particularly if you have to mine multiple databases, and even worse, if you have to mine those databases in person, as is the case in many California counties.
As we discussed earlier in the article, Reonomy can take the guesswork out of this process for commercial real estate professionals.
The platform allows users to search for specific properties or research general areas. Either search will uncover detailed information about property ownership, even if the ownership is concealed in an LLC or other alternative ownership entity.
While other online databases can be a great starting point for property research, only Reonomy provides comprehensive, up-to-date information that makes prospecting new leads and commercial real estate deals easier than ever.