California help needed please - Posted by michaela-CA

Posted by John Behle on April 28, 2007 at 11:00:55:

What’s next “wraparound Whiskey?” Sounds like you have taken the principles of creative real estate to rum running. I always knew you were getting more creative and innovative each day.

The Bay area is a great place. I started my investing in Novato in land and a business park.

California help needed please - Posted by michaela-CA

Posted by michaela-CA on April 25, 2007 at 15:07:32:

Ok, I now see how much easier some of these things were in Georgia.

It seems, that the tax collector is not giving out the owner’s name and the court records search has to be done by owner’s name. I’m used to having the owner and then going to the courthouse and physically tracing back the title. That doesn’t seem to be possible here (at least as far as I’ve seen). It seems I can only work with what’s on the ocmputer.

But still - how do I find out the owner’s info when I have the parcel # as well as address? I assume that some counties in the same state work the same way.

ANy suggestions appreciated



Re: California help needed please - Posted by Scott-CA

Posted by Scott-CA on April 25, 2007 at 20:05:43:

Michaela, have you looked at If you pay $25 for their “professional membership” (or something like that) you can search by address, APN, etc. and it shows the owners name for no cost. Hope this helps…


Re: California help needed please - Posted by Rich-CA

Posted by Rich-CA on April 25, 2007 at 18:31:37:

The county level functions vary in quality here in CA as much as they do from state to state. Some smaller counties are not automated at all, some were automated in the 70s and only have a rudimentary web presence.

For example, recorded documents are on a variety of systems. Contra Costa (where I live) and San Francisco are on one. The other Bay Area counties have others. Also in Contra Costa, you have to order recorded documents but you cannot see them on the web. The CCC Assessor does not have property records on the web. The Tax Collector has information on the web but when I enter my address (where I have lived for 18 years) it says its invalid (I get the paper bill, so I know its in their system). This kind of half assed systems implementation (my former profession) is typical here.

A couple of things about CA that are very different than anywhere else. The Bay area has about 7 million people (all of GA only has 9). 1 in 7 Americans live here. By ourselves we’re the 8th largest economy in the world (we were the 7th before the Governator took office). We have 37 million people, just a couple million shy of New York plus Texas (#2 & #3 in pop) combined. The counties have an unusual autonomy in how they do things compared to other states.

CCC does have a public auction list and NOD do have to be published in the paper for a certain number of weeks. There are also Title clearinghouses that do much of the legwork (I don’t have that info as I do not invest in CA as the ROI is not generally very attractive without a very large risk due to property prices).

Things are also very political. That’s part of the mess. The Governor we recalled had some supporters get windfalls when the newly approved power plants bypassed better sites for land owned by his donors. This is also the only state that had been fined millions every year for the last 9 years because we don’t have a single child support interface into the Federal systems. Every other state made the requirement on time and, after tens of millions in investment, our system failed because of the incompetence of the state workers. This is one reason the counties each handle their own stuff. They have to if they want it done right.

Re: California help needed please - Posted by Irwin(ca)

Posted by Irwin(ca) on April 25, 2007 at 15:34:41:

The information is available from the Tax Assessor (not collector). The ease of obtaining it however, may vary from county to county. You could try calling the Tax Assessor and asking.

Alternatively, title companies make that info available on-line, so you might want to make friends with a title rep.

I can try to help you out and get you the info if you e-mail me.


Re: California help needed please - Posted by michaela-CA

Posted by michaela-CA on April 25, 2007 at 22:03:40:

thank you! That’s the kind of info I was hoping for. Someone else turned me onto a free 2 day trail with another ocmpany, which I’m doing right now (researching
about +80 properties right now and will probably come up with another 120 or so in the next 2 days, so that I get my ‘money’s worht’ out of the 2-day trial ;-).

I willcheck out netronline.


Re: California help needed please - Posted by michaela-CA

Posted by michaela-CA on April 25, 2007 at 22:05:57:

thank you! This is the kind of info, that I really needed. The local stuff is all new to me. But I figure the more difficult an area is, the less likely other investors are persuing that area ;-). So, it’s all has it’s good and bad. You say that Contra Costa isn’t on the web and docs have to be ordered. So I can’t go to the courthouse and do any research at all?


Re: California help needed please - Posted by BTI

Posted by BTI on April 26, 2007 at 11:47:45:


First thing you need to do is find a title company. If you have the address, the title company will prepare a property profile for you free of charge and it will provide most of the basic info you want. Just ask for the customer service rep and make them your friend.

As for Rich’s assessment of the future foreclosure market he’s right it going to jump in volume but not as bad as places like say Florida where climbing property taxes and insurance issues are a big factor.

California had prop 13 which limited increases a continuing owner might suffer. I once had a $900 a year tax bill and my new neighbors was $9,000
so if a buyer could afford the house when he bought it, a rise in his ARM of a couple % isn’t going to force him into foreclose.


Re: California help needed please - Posted by Rich-CA

Posted by Rich-CA on April 25, 2007 at 22:40:14:

You can go to the courthouse to research docs. The recorders office has all the deeds and the Tax Collector has the tax info. All of these are in Martinez. There are Superior Court branches in Richmond, Walnut Creek and Brentwood, but I think all the documents are centralized at the County Seat (Martinez). Contra Costa and Alameda Counties have the most antiquated systems and rarely have the same ones due to political rivalries among the bureaucrats.

Just checked my house on and found that its actually pretty close. Price is a bit high but the parcel number is correct and the satellite photo they are using is only 2.5 years old.

Just checked the search feature for Alameda County and it is a completely different system than Contra Costa. Contra Costa and San Francisco use the same Recorder’s system.

Santa Clara County (the largest in the area) has a web based system where you can get a deed (and therefore the owner) based on parcel number. The also have the most expensive Real Estate in the area.

Right now sales at Market are pretty depressed (in West Contra Costa where I am DOM exceeds 4 months except for “bargain” properties). We’re poised for a lot of foreclosures, especially in Solano County (Vallejo and Fairfield) due to the fact that nearly all of the 2005/2006 sales were ARM loans with 80/20 zero down features. Doesn’t take much of a change to tip the scales on those since zero down implies few financial reserves.

If there’s anything else I can do, feel free to contact me either through this forum or directly.

Re: California help needed please - Posted by michaela-CA

Posted by michaela-CA on April 26, 2007 at 12:12:31:

Ok, this is what I don’t quite get:
I’m sure I can’t just go to any title company and ask them to take time out of their busy day to make reports for any property I want to know about. They’re in business to make money and I’m sure their time is valuable. Why would they want to do that? Hope for potential future business with me? That still seems like a lot of work for a ‘maybe’.


Re: California help needed please - Posted by BTI

Posted by BTI on April 26, 2007 at 21:02:10:


To add to what the other Brian said, title companies in California do this every day for anyone, the have to by law. They provide these services to real estate agents for free and California law says if they provide it to agents for free, they must provide those same services to anyone for free. And of course they hope to get your business and build a relationship.

BTI (aka: Brian(ut),The Frisco Kid, and Billy, amongst others)

I thought you had gotten married when you went to Florida, but no mention of a spouse during your move to the Bay Area, did you get married, or does some lucky guy still have a chance? No, not me, my wife of 47 years says no second wives even if we are presently living in Utah.

Re: California help needed please - Posted by Brian (NoCA)

Posted by Brian (NoCA) on April 26, 2007 at 14:47:10:

Actually, the customer service departments at the title companies I’ve worked with have been great. Tell them you’re a full time investor, just moved to the area, and will send all business to them in exchange for some property information. In the past they have given me a password to their online databases. If they know you are serious about bringing business to them, they should help you out.

Re: California help needed please - Posted by Joe Kaiser

Posted by Joe Kaiser on April 26, 2007 at 23:43:32:

And be sure you ask that they email it to you.

You end up with a nice PDF that you can email and upload and
whatever else (we have to share ours among staff and have an online
project manager to park them at).


and… - Posted by michaela-CA

Posted by michaela-CA on April 26, 2007 at 21:16:34:

just imagine the case the AG would then have: not only a
real estate investor scamming on poor poor equity rich owners of houses in foreclosure - no, you’re also a bigamist. Now there’s a platform, that would get him the votes :wink:

Your wife is obviously quite smart!


Re: California help needed please - Posted by michaela-CA

Posted by michaela-CA on April 26, 2007 at 21:09:07:


thank you for that info. That’s make it easier. I just hate going to a title company, asking for favors. I just have too much dam* pride for that (I know pride can get in the way - and it has :wink: )

nah! I was blinded by a liar in Pensacola. No husband. Been there, done that, don’t think I ever want to go there again - lol.

It’s just me and my dog - woof woof


Re: California help needed please - Posted by Kristine-CA

Posted by Kristine-CA on April 26, 2007 at 23:25:20:

Michaela: no favors need be asked for. Tomorrow, call any large
escrow/title company in the area you are working: First American,
Lawyers Title, Commonweath, Fidelity National. Call the general
number and ask for customer service. People in customer service
answer the phone all day long and take doc requests and property
profile requests and label and sort requests.

The request goes like this: I would like to order an property profile
please? They ask for the property address or parcel # and your fax/
email, etc. They may ask who are, meaning which agency, etc. Just
say the name of your company—your name. They are not trying to
figure out if you are legit or not–only trying to fill out the customer
service info form in front of them.

Again, there is no favor here. They are hoping that their services:
their comps, their labels, their docs are the ones that get you deals and
that you’ll use their escrow and buy title through them.

If you run into any problems with any of them, move to the one that’s
happy to do your requests. You should be able to email your requests
if you find a customer service person who is really on top of their
game. Kristine

P.S. This is California, dear. Pride will get you nowhere.

Re: California help needed please - Posted by michaela-ATL

Posted by michaela-ATL on April 27, 2007 at 14:29:17:


thank you. I will try to remember to swallow my pride :wink:


Back in Atlanta again? - Posted by Marc Donovan

Posted by Marc Donovan on April 28, 2007 at 07:18:34:

You sure move around a lot.

Re: Back in Atlanta again? - Posted by michaela-ATL

Posted by michaela-ATL on April 28, 2007 at 08:54:28:


nooooo, not back in Atlanta. Right now I’m subleasin gin Oakland, CA. I think I will try to find woething in Berkeley I kind of like it there. I think the Bay area is where I’m going to stay. I love it here!