The owner of the property is the last recorded owner of record. With respect to foreclosed property, the owner would be the entity named in the the last recorded Trustee's Deed Upon Sale.
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A deed conveys ownership of property.
A mortgage places a lien - not an ownership interest - on property. The mortgage lien allows the lender to foreclose upon the ownership interest of the deeded owner should the deeded owner default on the mortgage. Through the foreclosure process, the lender may obtain a deeded ownership interest in the property.
Approximately 20 states use a "deed of trust" - which differs from a mortgage in that the deed is held in trust by a third party - a trustee. A deed of trust may permit the trustee the right to a non-judicial sale of the property should the borrower default on the mortgage loan (note).
I am not a CA attorney, laws vary from state to state, therefore you should always consult a local attorney.
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