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How to Use the Assessor’s Office to Locate Property Ownership
Stacy Brown

Stacy Brown is a graduate from the University of South Carolina where she obtained a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Masters degree in Social Work. She currently works as a social worker for a dialysis clinic in Spartanburg. Stacy enjoys spending time with her dog, Bella, and her family and friends. She is always interested in her stepfather's treasure finds and enjoys helping him write about these memorable hunts.


By Stacy Brown
Published on 07/29/2007

          As most of we treasure hunters know, you can’t just hunt on any piece of land that looks good to you.  It sure would be nice if we could.  All land belongs to somebody and that somebody may not like you on it.  The first step in scouting out your hunting grounds is determining whether it is permissible for you to hunt.  Now the woods behind your grandmother’s house are probably fair game.  As for the old homestead off of Hwy. 221, you will probably need permission.  This article will outline how to locate property ownership.  After determining who owns the land, then you can beg and plead for permission to gracefully glide your detector over the precious

How to Use the Assessor’s Office to Locate Property Ownership

             Every county in most every state has an Assessor’s office.  The Assessor’s office is operated by the county and maintains all property including ownership, property type, map numbers, assessment codes and other related information.  Many Assessors’ offices can be accessed via the internet.  From any search engine type your county, state Assessor’s office and it can usually be found.  Another website that I have found helpful is http://www.indorgs.virginia.edu/portico/assessors.html.  This page gives a listing of most of the counties/cities in each state and will take you directly to their website.  Using the internet is of course the most efficient way to search for property ownership.  If your county’s Assessor’s office does not have a website, then you’ll have to visit them yourself.

            Once you are able to access your county’s Assessor’s office website, determining property ownership is at your fingertips.  As previously mentioned, all land belongs to somebody.  It is now your job, to locate that somebody if you want to hunt on their land.  The County Assessor has jurisdiction over real estate property only. 

            Most Assessors’ office websites will prompt you to enter the information you already know about the land.  For most if us, this will usually be a physical address.  If wanting to look up a particular’s person’s property ownership, you can of course type in a name as opposed to an address.  For our sake, we will usually use the address or street command.  There are several ways to enter an address (by street name only, by street number only, or both) and each Assessor’s office may differ.  Other information that the site could ask for is a Map Number, GIS PIN, or Deed Volume Number.  The Map number is usually a tax map number that is specific to the county.  The GIS PIN is a number assigned by the Geographic Information System program.  The Deed Volume Number is exactly what it reads.

            After you correctly enter an address, you will find an abundance of information about the land.  It will display the current owner, in which you can click on to find out more.  This will usually give you maps, assessment information, sales information, land data, and building characteristics.  Maps are helpful to view.  They usually give a nice layout of the land and surrounding areas.  Some Assessor’s office websites have very advanced mapping which may include aerial photos that can illustrate the area nicely.  This allows you to view the land in its entirety and plan your hunting route. 

            As you are learning information about the land, don’t lose sight in what you are trying to find out. You will need to find the current owner of the land in order to ask permission to hunt the land.  The website should also list previous owners, which might be of help to you too.  If the land in question is rental property, you of course would need to contact the owner.  The owner of the property will be listed on the website and his/her contact information should be included there too.  Depending on your search methods, you may have to search a little deeper for some contact information.  Good luck in your search and happy hunting!