When entering owner name and address information in Assessing, it is a good practice to first verify if the new owner you are adding already exists in the database before typing the complete new owner name and address. Doing so not only helps ensure that your data is more usable for others but can also save you time and typing.
Using the Choose Existing Owner… icon (located within the Edit General Information dialog box) will keep your owner tree view list clean and reduce the number of name variations in Assessing, which in turn does the same for any downstream consumers of your data in Tax Collect, Utility Billing, and/or Building Permit.
To use the owner look up tool, select the Choose Existing Owner… icon while in the Edit General tab dialog box. Scroll through the list of owners or type in the owner name in the Find box below. If you find the same owner you are adding to the current parcel in the list of existing owners and you would like to use the existing information for that owner, simply choose the owner name within the list and press the Select button. This will populate the owner name and address for you, so not only will you be eliminating unnecessary variations but you will save yourself some typing. If you see multiple instances of the same owner name existing in the list of existing owners it is because the same owner name was already added (rightly or perhaps wrongly) with different second owner and/or address information. Click on each instance individually within the list to display any variations within the owner and address information.
One common source of multiple listings for the same owner results from inconsistent punctuation, particularly with respect to middle initials. For example, on two parcels owned by the same person, one might have been entered as “SMITH, JOHN A.” and the other as “SMITH, JOHN A” (i.e. no period after the middle initial). Another frequent source is the many ways in which married couples can be listed — e.g. is it “DOE, JANE & PATRICK” or “DOE, JANE AND PATRICK” or “DOE, JANE” and “DOE, PATRICK” (listed as the second owner). Other sources include:
- Do you consistently use periods after “JR” and”SR” or not?
- Do you consistently add the suffix after the last name or after the first name (e.g. “LAST JR, FIRST” or “LAST, FIRST JR”)?
- Do you consistently abbreviate “TRUST” or “TRUSTEE”?
- Do you consistently format the names of married couples?
- Do you consistently format the names of corporate entities (e.g. is it “COMPANY, LLC” or “COMPANY LLC” (i.e. without the comma)?
Together, these minor differences result in separate and distinct owner records in Assessing. Consequently, the properties do not group together under the owner tab which makes searching for properties by owner less efficient. While we all agree that you should not be making significant changes to names and spelling from the way in which they appear on the deed, most generally agree that by adhering to basic standards you can help make your data more usable for all. And while we don’t necessarily advocate for one standard over another, we do recommend that above all you be consistent.
For more information on editing owners, particularly with respect to making owner and address changes when an owner owns multiple parcels, you can refer to the online documentation.