I'm fairly new to real estate and to Bigger Pockets, but I'm fascinated by the possibilities. I've been searching and scanning the different topics but have not found clear answers to the questions I'm going to pose to you. If you know of specific threads where this is covered in detail, feel free to just point me there instead of going over it all again.
We found this property that has a nice house on it. It has been vacant for three years now, and nobody has been paying the taxes in those three years. According to what we've been told, the couple went through a divorce and abandoned the house. The mortgage co. that financed it went out of business. The mortgage co. that picked up the title from there also went out of business. Now it seems that nobody around there knows who holds the title deed.
I have the name, current address, and phone number of the last occupant of the house. I know that the county is still sending him the tax bill. I spoke to people from the county tax assessor's office, the trustee's office, and the registrar of deeds. I was unable to get more information from them than what I've shared above. How do I find out what bank or lender currently has the legal right to the property, and what other steps can I take right now to "redeem" the property or have my name put on the deed? I want to buy this property, but I want to be sure I have all the bases covered.
Welcome to BP.
Here's the short list of things you'll need to determine if there's further possibility:
Property - estimate value based in what similar properties have recently sold for
Equity - you can estimate by deducting all mortgages and liens from estimated value
Title - your county recorder will have info on owner(s) of record. If owner is corporate, such as a bank or entity other than a natural person, probably not going to get very far.
Interests - sometimes there are multiple owners (or heirs) and each may have own agenda
Opportunity - what plans do you have to monetize this property? Fix and sell? Fix and rent? Some other exit plan?
It's worthwile noting that many vacant houses are merely REO (bank owned) or Zombie houses that previous owners have skipped before lender completes foreclosure. I have yet to read or hear a report of someone succesfully purchasing such a house by contacting the lender or servicer.
Welcome to BP!
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