What to do with Vacant Homes?

8 Replies

I know that in real estate finding vacant, unlisted, damaged properties can be a good thing. In my local area of Haverhill, MA, i been looking into an eyesore of the community that is just off a main road. It is completely vacant, with an abandoned car sitting next to the property since 2008. Not exactly sure what happen to the owner but the front door is barred off shut. It is a multi family house with 2 units. It is along a row of nice quality homes across the street from a great view of the Merrimack River. I looked outside the house and spoke to neighbors to see if they knew anything about the house or owner. One man suggested that someone hasn't been living there for years and couldn't verify on the address of the property. This is property could use a great amount of work but it is truly an eyesore.

Now by discovering this property I know something can be done to fix the situation. I am still fresh off of learning and just getting my feet wet in real estate knowledge period, so I don't have the resources yet to know exactly what to do. It could possibly be a wholesale opportunity, so someone with the resources can do something grander with the property, but that is the only option I know.

If this in anyone could be a first potential deal, what steps should I be taking on this property. It seems like it could have amazing value if fixed properly and is in a nice area where other homes are currently being fixed and built.

Any input or guidance on how I can turn this discovery into something meaningful I would be glad to hear it.

Look up the property on your county's website (not sure but looks like this could be yours http://www.somervillema.gov/departments/finance/assessing).   Once you look it up find out who the current owner is then get their mailing address which is located on the same site.   Start sending them letters or try to Google them to get a phone number for them to see if they are interested in selling the house.   If the property owner is a bank then forgot about everything I just said as you won't be able to buy it directly from them until they decide to have it listed. 

Jeremiah, @Account Closed   is right, except as you probably know, in MA, property assessments are listed in the town, not the county, and Somerville won't contain Haverhill records.  Haverhill's assessment records (along with a number of other MA towns), are listed on Patriot Properties, here is the link to Haverhill.   For more info, you can look it up in the registry of deeds (which is listed by county) at Masslandrecords.com.  

I would caution, however, against focusing only on one property that looks like a deal.  There can be many reasons a property appears to be abandoned, and focusing on one that turns out to not be available would be a waste of your time.  Instead, look for many opportunities and work them at the same time.

Account Closed thank you, I appreciate the direct links. And the experience I initially posted was the first house that I seen that I knew was abandoned and vacant. I have seen other properties that are also distressed but I wanted more insight on what to do following finding the distressed properties. Those were the steps I was unclear of because I could drive around and search for vacant properties, but I need to connect the dots and relate the findings to generate any type of deals.

@Jeremiah Damiron  if this house has been vacant since 2008, I would think it more closely fits an experienced rehabber than a first project. There is a possibility of waaaay to many skeletons in the closets in that one. Roof leaks, mold, bad plumbing, wood rot, termites, pests, and so many other potential issues. I have done a whole lot of rehabs, and I wouldn't touch one like that without a huge profit margin in case something unknown popped up.

If you have the Zillow app or Google Earth app (I'm sure there many other) it will tell you exactly where you are and the address.  

Also on your computer you can pull up Google Earth and type the street name,  city name,  state and then scroll up and down the street until you see the image of the house you are interested in.   When you see the house it will tell you the address. 

Street numbers and addresses are not always accurate on Google Earth/Maps.  But when you zoom in on google, at some point on map view before you zoom in all the way, you can see faint reprentations of property lines and houses.  You can count how many houses from the nearest corner.    Google GIS maps in Haverhill and see if you can find the GIS maps for that area and it will give you lot/block info and sometimes street numbers.   When you go to Patriot properties, you can pull up all houses on that street, and then look at them one at a time til you find the one that has a picture of that house. (Most, but not all, will have a photo.)  Or enter lot and block numbers.  

Or go to the property, look at the house/mailbox numbers, or ask the neighbors what their street numbers are, and by process of elimination figure out the street number and go to that on Patriot.   Once you have map/lot number, the Haverhill building department may have information on the property.  

@Ann Bellamy  Wow, thank you, the Patriot Property website is great and easy to use.

I found the address of the initial property I was speaking about and the owner is a woman in fact and not a bank or trust. Now that I've gotten the correct address, I'm going to look up more information online for the property and see if I stop by where the land records are held here in Haverhill.

I appreciate the feedback, it has been a great pleasure!

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here