How to Find Property Ownership Information

Nicholas J Price
5 min read
We're all in business because we want to grow, and vice/versa. An expanding and energetic enterprise needs to pay attention both to the changing needs of the marketplace and keep a close eye on the long run. This post serves as a basic how-to for medium and large looking at how they can expand in keeping with both needs.

Finding property ownership information

We've covered how to do a Legal Entity Search (LES) before in this space. Basically, the LES process is intended to aid the process of mergers and acquisitions. Unfortunately, there's no one database of all the legal entities that exist in the world.

How LES is handled varies from country to country and state to state. In the case of US states, although you can count on there being a searchable set of data to work with for each, they can require different kinds of inputs. These aren't just names but also types of registered entities, and even sometimes corporate filing numbers.

Similarly, the data produced by an LES in different individual states might be different: filing numbers, Employer Identification Numbers, agent names and addresses, mailing addresses, dates of incorporation and IRS filings should be there'but may or may not, depending again on your search terms. So a business interested in acquiring entities in several different states will need to have resources to take on all the complexities of each of their laws, compounded.

If this sounds complicated, prepare to level up, because international entity acquisition is a whole different ball game. There are of course paper directories compiled for most countries usually by individual firms in that country, and a scale up from this, various databases organized also by private entities according to varying geographic or political categorizations of entities. The latter are of course more powerful, but they also require a subscription'the cost of which can sometimes exceed the value of the information you're trying to locate in the end.

Buying real estate

Land (and the stuff that's built on it) is the most basic form of property, so it makes sense that the law is most developed when it comes to acquiring real estate.

If you know the piece of real estate you want to buy or build on, half the battle is won. The other part can get involved, but isn't necessarily a challenge. First, of course, you'll need the address. You can use internet mapping services like Google Maps to find intersections close to it and zoom to find the address.

The analog way of proceeding involves visiting the property and asking neighbors who owns it. Or alternatively, you can upgrade. In the US, you visit the website of the property appraiser for the county the property you're interested is located in. Some of them even have a map function. Locate the information by searching the address, owner's name, parcel number or subdivision.

Most land is owned by some type of a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). The point of an LLC as opposed to more formal partnerships or corporations is to protect the members' individual assets. So, some LLCs are owned by individuals, others by groups, and an individual invested in one LLC is almost certainly involved in others.

In search engines like Reonomy, you can find LLCs that own real estate through their 'owner of record' function. You can then use that name to expand the search to their full portfolio, adding the names of different LLCs along the way.

Buying a business

As we've said, land is the most basic form of asset. But a business is composed of many assets. They have not only the land they're located on but also equipment, employees, slogans and trademarks, and a number of other intangibles which are particular to the trade. How, therefore, does one go about buying a business and/or incorporating its assets to your own project?

The two most common options at the point when you're asking this question is to either (1) buy the legal entity outright by purchasing all the shares of a corporation (or, in the case of an LLC, the company's membership interests) or (2) arranging to buy the assets and dissolve the company.

The majority of people expanding their business choose the second road. This is advantageous because your liability for that enterprise is limited. You don't need to worry about fulfilling the terms of any liens, loans, or pending lawsuits that the company may be responsible for.

However, the first option has its advantages too. By acquiring a business outright, you inherit all its value invested in things like patents, copyrights, or work contracts automatically. In many cases it's simpler to do this than to have to renegotiate the takeover of each individual asset. And the two approaches can be added together: it's totally OK to find out what an LLC or any other kind of company owes if you can find out the owner's name (and usually also their Social Security Number). Give this to the IRS' Tax Lien Department, state tax authorities and county clerk's office and you can access all of this.

How technology can excel the acquisition of land and business

Although the potential to expand through finding the right piece of land or the right entity for your needs can seem frustrating because of the incredible variety operating on these various levels, fortunately technology has made these difficulties easier to navigate than ever before.

When it comes to expansion on the local, state/regional, national and global scales, Diligent's entity management software platform has you covered. We'll provide you with both a dedicated sales team to choose that suite of management tools that fits optimally with both your own internal structure and the ways you want to expand your organization, and ongoing support staff to adjust the platform to your needs.

This allows your team to turn headaches into expanding and virtuous efficiencies and synergies across all your various operations. With us you'll file on time wherever you do business, your structure will remain clear across all jurisdictions, and you'll obtain the absolute best entity management outcomes. Please call or email us today to discuss our solutions.