Listed Owner didn't claim Property

6 Replies

I went driving for dollars over the weekend and added a few properties into the Deal Finder app. I did a skip trace today and got the info for one of the owners. She and her husband came up in the skip trace.

I called the mobile number provided, the woman answers. I told her I drove past her property and was interested in buying.  She said that she didn't own any property in Columbia. I told her the address and she said she didn't know the address.  I said okay, thanks for your time and ended the call.

I then went to the county assessors website and look up the property.  Behold, there is her and her husband's name right on the county assessors website.

Has anyone had this happen to them before?

@ Ryan Copeland

I think you are dealing with people with similar first and last names.

There are instances recently in elections where it was claimed that dead people voted due to the fact checking public records, a person with that name is actually dead. As it turned out, the person who voted had the same last and first name as the dead person. In many cases, three generations of the same family had the same name, like Martin Luther King,  Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Luther King III, but the public records has incomplete information.

In my case, some 35 years ago when I bought properties, and prior to closing, I would be contacted by title companies regarding someone in my county with the same first and last name as me, had many traffic fines he never paid, and asked if I knew anything about it. They found it incredulous that I knew nothing about it and believed I was lying. I don't drive the cars described and never drove in the areas described. At several closings, I had to sign an affidavit that I am not that person. Did it half a dozen times.

In fact, I from time to time Google myself, and still found my name, phone number, associated with an address that I never lived at. If that guy with my name had a vacant property, someone like you looked up the public information, called me at the number listed at some public site about a property, I would tell you I don't know anything about the property and never lived there. If you were that caller, you'll be wondering why I am lying and denying I am the owner.  I have to say I am NOT that guy, I don't own that property, I don't owe all those traffic tickets, and please don't call me again, as I'll block your number.

Looks like the person you called has the same issues I had over the years. Coming to think of it, I might even be able to pull a scam if that happened, sell a property I don't really own, and pocket the profits if you're so insistent that it's me.

Thanks for the feedback @Frank Chin . It is really insightful. The property I called about is ideal too.  Any ideas as to how to possibly find the right owner?

@Ryan Copeland

Issues regarding locating owners had been discussed here. One way is to leave a note or card at the front door. Another is to do a mailing to the owners. I owned rental properties and received such correspondence over the years.

Another issue is many vacant properties foreclosed by banks remain in the prior owners name for legal and insurance reasons. If the bank takes title, they'll be sued if there's a slip and fall. I bought bank foreclosures at public auctions where the public records still has it under the prior owners name. It's funny my deed for the foreclosure shows the name of grantor, as the bank, but noting .. "XYZ ... Bank  ...., with deed to be filed" . I have no problem with the wording as I have title insurance. But for someone looking up public records to get info, it means it's still in the prior owners name, up to the time of the auction, and from what I gathered, the owner of the property I bought was the developers and has been gone for at least two years. If you try public records, some luckless dude with the same name will wind up getting calls from guys like you.

Then, if you're driving for dollars, there's properties where owners died and maybe in probate, or maybe not. But that's another big long story.

Many times I've had to try to track down the record owner of a property.  I'd start by pulling together a chain of title and see if it makes sense.  Is it grantor grantee; grantor grantee or are the anomalous deeds that don't seem to make sense.  Is there a mortgage from the record owner still open of record?  Does it show the address of the Borrower?  Does the deed into the record owner have a scriveners stamp on it?  That is the name and address of an attorney, title company or realtor?  You could call them and see if they have any info on the owner.  If there isn't one, who is the grantor and can you locate them?  If so they might be able to help.  Whose the notary on the deed and can you locate them, if so they might know the deed parties?  Try knocking on the door of some of the houses on the block.  I'm never surprised at the amount of information you can get from knowledgeable neighbors.  You can also check and see if the record owner owns other property in the county.  If so that might help locate them.  If you get stuck and would like some help send me a DM.

How good is your relationship with a local title company or officer? You might ask them to run a quick title search to find the owners and at least mailing addresses. From that you might be able to skip trace emails and numbers.