How to Get Property Ownership Info
This summary has been provided for your convenience. However, the Clerk-Recorder’s Office cannot give legal advice and, therefore, suggest that you contact your own legal advisor to assist you.
Ownership of a property is a legal determination, and not one the Clerk-Recorder’s Office has the legal authority to make. There are a number of resources for you to do research to make your own determination about the ownership of a particular property.
Searching the Records
In most simple cases, the easiest way to determine the ownership of a property is to search the Assessor records to determine the current assessed owner(s). Once that has been found, the name of the owner(s) can be searched in the Official Public Records to determine if there has been a recent transfer, or if there are any other reasons that the property’s ownership may not reside with the assessed owner(s).
The Assessor’s Office uses the Official Public Records and other means to determine reappraisals and the assessed owner of record. The assessed owner is not necessarily the legal property owner. Additionally, there is a delay between transfer documents being recorded, and the transfer being reflected in the Assessor records, so the records should not be relied on to make determinations of ownership.
Assessment records are available in limited form online, and available to view at no charge in our office during business hours. Records can be purchased during processing hours. The assessed owner’s name is not available online due to legal restrictions.
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Official Public Records
Documents recorded in the Sonoma County Recorder’s Office include ones that transfer ownership of property. The index of documents is available online to search, and document images can be purchased and downloaded online. All documents are available to view at no charge in our office during business hours. Records can be purchased in person during processing hours.
Official Public Records are indexed by name. Other ways that documents can be searched for include recording date, document number, and document title. Although newer deeds may have the Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN) indexed, it is recommended that you not rely on searching by APNs to make any legal determinations, as deeds are not the only way to transfer property, APNs change, and APNs are often listed incorrectly on the deed. The legal description is what should be referred to in order to determine the property that the document is referring to.