Real estate investors know that the profit is made when you buy a property, not when you sell it. That means: paying below-market prices to purchase a property.
So where do you find properties at a great price? One of the most obvious is when you see a house that’s been abandoned. It’s vacant. No one lives there. Maybe it’s starting to get run-down. The tall grass and dirty windows are a dead giveaway.
Clearly they’re no longer cared for. The person who owns them is unable or unwilling to invest the time and effort and money into maintaining the property. And that’s good news for you because it means they may be willing to sell you their abandoned property at a steep discount…
… if only you can find out who they are. Where do you find the owners of these properties?
Well, put on your detective’s hat, Sherlock Holmes, because here’s how to get the clues you need…
Step 1. Check the mailbox.
If there’s no mail in it, that’s good news! It may mean that the owner is still picking up their mail. If there is mail, you may get a name, although clearly they aren’t picking up their mail. (Also, it may not be the name of the owner but it’s a start).
Step 2. Talk to the neighbors.
While neighbors might normally look suspiciously upon someone new in the neighborhood making inquiries about a local homeowner, they probably hate that the house is an eyesore that brings down the neighborhood property values. Introduce yourself as a buyer and ask the neighbors if they know who the owner is. If they’re desperate enough to see the house fixed up, they may help you a lot.
Step 3. Find the address of the property.
In most cases this is easy enough, although some areas this can be more challenging. (So, ask the neighbors, especially if it’s in a rural area where addresses aren’t always as easy as looking at a number on the sound of a house.)
Step 4. Visit the tax assessor’s and county recorder’s offices.
These offices will have the name of the owner of the house on record, and sometimes another address for them. All you need is the address of the house to help you find the information—which may be available online (in some counties) or at a physical office (in other counties).
In some cases, that information might be enough. However, it’s possible that the owner’s address is listed as the abandoned property you want to purchase.
Step 5. Use the internet.
Once you have a name, jump onto the internet to look up the name of the owner. Use the phonebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook to track down an owner. If the owner is a corporation, trying looking for a website under that company’s name. If the owner is a person, try searching on Facebook.
(Pro tip: If you get several names of abandoned property owners this way, hand them off to a virtual assistant to help you.)
While not every owner will want to be found, or even can be found, you can find a lot of owners this way and even if you spend a couple hours searching, the money you save on these low-priced properties can be worth it.