How To Confirm the Seller Owns the Property
Most information that you want to know about a property will come from the county government. Some counties have everything you need online with easy to access. Others have nothing online and you will have to make a lot of phone calls. Most counties are in between those two extremes and offer some information online.
The first step then is to do an online search with your county name, state and the word "government". For instance, if I am looking for a property in Costilla County in Colorado, I would enter "Costilla County, CO government." The search will produce many results for different pages of the county's website. You want to start at the main website because you will use different areas.
The first place I start with is the Assessor's page. Many counties have some property information online. And one of the basic pieces of information on a property is the owner. If the Assessor's page has a "Parcel Search", then you simply need to put in the parcel number and click through until you find the spot that lists the owner's information. (Note: You get the parcel number from the seller.)
Sometimes, the Assessor's page doesn't have this information or the page may not have been updated. It can take weeks, even months for the Assessor's site to show the correct owner. So if you want to make double sure you know the correct owner or if the Assessor's website doesn't have the information, then you want to go to the Recorder's page of the website. Find a phone number, call the Recorder's office and simply ask who the owner is. Again you will need the parcel number.
Different counties refer to the parcel number differently. The APN, Assessor's Parcel Number, is also referred to as the parcel number, property number, property id or some variation. If they ask for a number to identify the piece of property, they are talking about the parcel number.
Happy Land Hunting!