A common source of leads for the quick-turn real estate investor that exists practically everywhere is abandoned properties. There are several advantages to pursuing these types of properties that are known to investors. One is that if a property is abandoned there is a good chance that the owner is disinterested in the property and might be willing to sell it.
Another is that since the property is not actively listed for sale there is likely to be little competition from other potential buyers. If you can contact the owner you will probably be the only investor they are speaking with. Yet another is that abandoned properties are readily available in most areas.
There are, of course, a few potential drawbacks to abandoned properties as well. One of these is the trouble it takes to find the owner, which is what this article is about. Another is that it is very common for abandoned properties to have title issues which may be troublesome or impossible to fix. And finally, since the owner is often disinterested in the property it may have severe defects that will require a thorough inspection to reveal. However, if you design a business model to handle these requirements effectively and efficiently, abandoned properties can be an effective source of deals.
Lists of abandoned properties can best be obtained by canvassing a neighborhood street by street with a digital camera. This will provide you with the most accurate picture of the neighborhood you have chosen to work in. You can also work with lists acquired in other ways, such as the notice of default list, published monthly, of properties with defaulted mortgages, lists of condemned properties, lists of properties with absentee owners, or lists of fire damaged properties. These types of owners can all be located using the same methods and all have a potential to result in workable deals.
There are several different basic methods available for contacting missing owners given only a property address and the owner's name (starting with just the property address the owners name can be discovered from the county appraisal district records). The most relevant factors are time and budget constraints. If you are farming a neighborhood you can leave notices on the doors of target properties on a regular interval of once or twice a month perhaps.
You can also send a piece of mail to a property with the words "do not forward, return receipt requested", which will cause the post office to return it to you with the previous occupant's forwarding address. You can use the services of a private eye who does this sort of thing in your area, or you can do the same work the private eye would do and use a skip tracing service to find phone numbers and relative's phone numbers for the person of interest, making as many calls as you have to until you get who you're looking for.
You can also use a specialty service like find the seller which specializes in providing this service to real estate investors.
The best way to approach the owner when you make contact is with honesty. Tell them you are an investor interested in buying the property, and tell them how you got their number if they ask. Get the relationship off to the right start and the work of closing the deal is halfway done.
The author has permitted the reprinting and redistribution of this article.