Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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WSJ’s Mark Maremont: tips on finding executive digs

July 8, 2011

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This is the Martha's Vineyard vacation home of Comcast Corp. CEO Brian Roberts. The Wall Street Journal found that Comcast's newest jet logged 24 trips to Martha's Vineyard in its first six months of use.

Yesterday I highlighted The Wall Street Journal’s piece on corporate-jet use. When Mark Maremont and Tom McGinty checked FAA flight records to see where the flights were heading, they found corporate jets often landed near executives’ vacation homes. Today, Mark offers more tips on finding the homes of executives – or others.

Today’s Tip: Use assessment or appraisal records to see whose name is on the tax bill.

If the name isn’t on the assessment record, you’ll probably find it on the property deed, Mark says. Even when a trust or another entity owns the home, there will sometimes be a name and address attached to it.

Mark Maremont, senior editor, The Wall Street Journal
Mark Maremont

You can search county assessment and appraisal data online based on a property’s location. This process is easier in Florida because every county has an online database, Mark says. Here’s a round-up of real estate assessors’ websites by state, prepared by Portico at the University of Virginia. BRB Publications offers another free public-records portal. If there isn’t online access, you can often call.

In California, however, it can be difficult to find property-ownership information or even people’s home addresses, Mark says. In cases like that, Mark suggests using voting records, federal election contribution records or zoning-variance or planning-board hearing records to match names and addresses.

“Usually the actual owner goes before the zoning or planning board to get a variance to build a pool or add a guest house,” he says.

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