Perhaps you've just driven past an old house that looks in need of repair, or there is an empty rental you'd like to see cleaned up. Whether you are looking to purchase or not, finding the owner of a specific home or piece of property should not be difficult. Most county property databases are now available on the Internet and since property ownership is a matter of public record, anyone can access that database. Armed with a street address and the county of the home you are interested in, finding the owner should be fairly simple.
Find out the street address of the property. However, if this is not evident, you can get a list of the properties on a street or portion of the street from the city or county clerk's office and determine the address this way.
Ask the neighbors. Often the neighbors of a vacant house are aware of its history. They might not be able to give you the contact information for the owner, but they most likely will know their name and possibly the name of the city in which they currently live.
Go online and locate the tax assessor or county clerk's office for the county the home is in. On the website there will be a link to a search page that enables you to access the county's property database. Click on this link. Type the address of the property in which you are interested in the appropriate text boxes. After you click the search button, you should get a page that lists the property, its dimensions, the amount of taxes owed and the name and current address of the property owner.
Go to the county clerk or tax assessor's office in person, if the information is not available online. Ask the clerk if you can see the records for the property in which you are interested. They may charge a small fee for printing out the information for you. You can also ask the clerk any other questions you may have about the property.
Send a letter to the address on the house. If for some reason, there is a name but no contact information on the printout you received from the clerk's office or in the information you found online, write a brief letter stating the reason for your interest in the house. Send the letter to the address of the home. It may get collected or forwarded to the current owner. Alternatively, you could put a note in the door of the house. The owner or a representative of the owner may check on the house occasionally and your note might get to them.
Michelle Hogan is a writer and the author of 13 books including the 2005 bestselling memoir, "Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America." Hogan studied English at American University and has been writing professionally since 1998. Her work has appeared in "The New York Times," "Redbook," "Family Circle" and many other publications.