Help! Abandoned home for years. Deceased owner!

17 Replies

Very rookie here with a unique situation. 

Before becoming interested in real estate. I've noticed driving through my area that there is a home vacant for several years (2 years since I've lived here). Did some research and the home has been vacant since 2004. The year the owner passed. Did more digging and found out that the city was trying to claim it. There were also family members (wife and kids), I'm assuming fighting to keep the property. Anyway since then it hasn't been placed on the market. Property has been sitting there for a decade. I literally just now found out the deed was transferred to children a few weeks ago. Talk about luck or coincidence. My question is what now? How should I approach this situation? Should I find these family members send them the yellow card? As you can see I have tons of question. Any tips on how you would approach this would be fantastic. 

Find the current owners and write them a hand written letter expressing your interest to purchase the home in as is condition with a fast closing. Let them know that there will be no need for real estate agents, broker fees or the need to fix up the property to sell. Once you contact them ask them what they'd like to get for the property. Assuming they don't ask for some outrageous number, then take 40% off that price and present an offer. This has worked for me in the past hopefully it'll work for you too. Good luck!

@Crystal Aravalo , After your first contact with the new inheritors, I'm not sure about the idea of asking them how much they would like for the property (unless they bring it up). Maybe instead, try to find (low $) comps of other abandoned homes in the area to see what they sold for in recent times (via Zillow for example, by looking at the local SOLD prices that come up on their birds-eye maps, because the exact address or nearby ones will show up)? Then hopefully their expectations will be in a realistic range from the get-go, and you could end up saving even more than 40% than their off-the-cuff desired amount! 

Welcome to BP. All the best...

Originally posted by @Rick H. :

What is unique about this situation? 

It is not unique. It is only an anomaly to you. 

Start learning and Keep digging.

 You sir do not belong on bigger pockets. I assume this forum was made for people to help one another (Unique or an anomoly). This particular situation was something I haven't encountered with yet. Even through the digging and researching. I'm looking for people who actually have some very useful information I can use. With that said, Thanks to all the gentleman who have given me awesome advice. 

From the story I stated this is a particularly sensitive situation and I'll tell you why. 

As you can understand, they lost there father a few years back, been fighting city for the property for years. They literally just received the dead a week and a half ago. After 10 years or so. Thought at first it would be indecent to bombard them with my business. So sir, instead of being insensitive or inconsiderate I thought I would ask whether or not I should forgo the opportunity or wait a while longer. You can call it showing signs of respect. You can't really learn or research how to be respectful in these types of situations, now can yo?. Perhaps I didn't make my "unique" situation clear enough. Apologies. 

Updated over 6 years ago

Their* deed*

Updated over 5 years ago

Their* deed*

@Crystal Aravalo

- Send them a handwritten note first. If no response, send them a follow up letter saying you understand it might be a sensitive issue, but was wondering if the family might want to sell if they got a fair offer for their property (in the mean time, meet with some estate attorneys, real estate attorneys, title companies, to expand your network). If still no response, you might want to go see them, and since you've already sent 1-2 letters, when you go see them, it's not such a "cold" visit. 

- Yes, do run low comps so you have something to go by when you end up talking to this family (but really study why some properties sold for less/more than other properties in that area so you know what you're talking about. could be different lot size, year built, one house is on the "better" side than others, living space sq footage might be different, etc).

- Also try to get a feel for who's really in charge in that family. You have to make sure you're talking to the one who can influence the rest of the family. And have the mentality that you want to provide a solution. You don't explicitly say this, but this is more of an attitude you have regarding this whole interaction. Everybody want/needs something. Some people when their parents pass away, would rather sell off the property, split the proceeds and get on with their lives. Others have different want/needs. Find out what that is. And if making this sale happen for them helps them reach their goal, well, you've also gained something from it too.

Johnny

Originally posted by @Johnny Kang :

@Crystal Arvelo

- Send them a handwritten note first. If no response, send them a follow up letter saying you understand it might be a sensitive issue, but was wondering if the family might want to sell if they got a fair offer for their property (in the mean time, meet with some estate attorneys, real estate attorneys, title companies, to expand your network). If still no response, you might want to go see them, and since you've already sent 1-2 letters, when you go see them, it's not such a "cold" visit. 

- Yes, do run low comps so you have something to go by when you end up talking to this family (but really study why some properties sold for less/more than other properties in that area so you know what you're talking about. could be different lot size, year built, one house is on the "better" side than others, living space sq footage might be different, etc).

- Also try to get a feel for who's really in charge in that family. You have to make sure you're talking to the one who can influence the rest of the family. And have the mentality that you want to provide a solution. You don't explicitly say this, but this is more of an attitude you have regarding this whole interaction. Everybody want/needs something. Some people when their parents pass away, would rather sell off the property, split the proceeds and get on with their lives. Others have different want/needs. Find out what that is. And if making this sale happen for them helps them reach their goal, well, you've also gained something from it too.

Johnny

 Thanks Johnny sounds like a plan. I'll definitely be writing to them today. Thanks for the advice. Let's see how it goes. 

I was worried with the length of time they fought for the property and the short period of time of receiving the deed. Theyd curse me lol. 

The city won't go after the property for no reason. There may be liens for unpaid taxes and other maintenance costs. Do your due diligence or you may find yourself in a very deep hole.   

Originally posted by @Crystal Aravalo :
Originally posted by @Rick Harmon:

What is unique about this situation? 

It is not unique. It is only an anomaly to you. 

Start learning and Keep digging.

 You sir do not belong on bigger pockets. I assume this forum was made for people to help one another (Unique or an anomoly). This particular situation was something I haven't encountered with yet. Even through the digging and researching. I'm looking for people who actually have some very useful information I can use. With that said, Thanks to all the gentleman who have given me awesome advice. 

From the story I stated this is a particularly sensitive situation and I'll tell you why. 

As you can understand, they lost there father a few years back, been fighting city for the property for years. They literally just received the dead a week and a half ago. After 10 years or so. Thought at first it would be indecent to bombard them with my business. So sir, instead of being insensitive or inconsiderate I thought I would ask whether or not I should forgo the opportunity or wait a while longer. You can call it showing signs of respect. You can't really learn or research how to be respectful in these types of situations, now can yo?. Perhaps I didn't make my "unique" situation clear enough. Apologies. 

 Throttle back the attitude.  You're new here.

No one can tell you how to be yourself. Focus, you want to buy the house and you want to get it at a good price. Offer buying the house as a possible solution to any problem they may be having or present desires they may have for selling the house. Use your imagination as to how you would word your solution for them that also includes you buying house, closing fast, cash or whatever you feel will work and that you can truly do. 

@Crystal Aravalo I'm surprised that my post generated such negative responses in you. That's your business, not mine.

I've been working deceased and missing owner properties for probably longer than you've been alive. That doesn't mean much, however the point is that there's always more to learn, where it be about the business of the facts and circumstances of a given case matter. 

If you are attached to a certain result, you will be blinded by other approaches. If you think I'm insensitive, that's your business. However, I got in this business due to the death of my own Father when I was young which left a deep impression on me. 

Now, nearly 40 years and thousands of cases later, I think I know a thing or two about abandoned properties and deceased owners. There's more to working deals than just stumbling upon a property and reverse engineering title and probate.

I sincerely wish you luck as you will need help along the way from others who have walked the walk before you. It would be unfortunate should you decide to walk it alone.

Not negative, in my point of view. I  just thought your comment didn't help me whatsoever. I simply stated an opinion of my own. No big deal. It would have been helpful to recieve some advice from your 40 years of experience and thousands of cases later but instead you simply stated start learning. Which is exactly what I'm doing. Reason for my questions. Good day to you sir. 

Anyway,  As an update to everyone. I actually got the deal!!!!!! Extremely happy about it!! I won't really delve into it anymore but exactly how I felt this situation should be approached was approached with a less aggressive manner. The written letter worked PERFECTLY! It made it more genuine, I believe. Instead of sending him the yellow card. Thanks again to everyone that helped. Truly, thanks a million!

Originally posted by @Jon A. :
Originally posted by @Crystal Arvelo:
Originally posted by @Rick Harmon:

What is unique about this situation? 

It is not unique. It is only an anomaly to you. 

Start learning and Keep digging.

 You sir do not belong on bigger pockets. I assume this forum was made for people to help one another (Unique or an anomoly). This particular situation was something I haven't encountered with yet. Even through the digging and researching. I'm looking for people who actually have some very useful information I can use. With that said, Thanks to all the gentleman who have given me awesome advice. 

From the story I stated this is a particularly sensitive situation and I'll tell you why. 

As you can understand, they lost there father a few years back, been fighting city for the property for years. They literally just received the dead a week and a half ago. After 10 years or so. Thought at first it would be indecent to bombard them with my business. So sir, instead of being insensitive or inconsiderate I thought I would ask whether or not I should forgo the opportunity or wait a while longer. You can call it showing signs of respect. You can't really learn or research how to be respectful in these types of situations, now can yo?. Perhaps I didn't make my "unique" situation clear enough. Apologies. 

 Throttle back the attitude.  You're new here.

 Lol. Definitely wasn't an attitude simply stating a feeling. Good day sir. 

Originally posted by @Crystal Aravalo :
Originally posted by @Rick Harmon:

What is unique about this situation? 

It is not unique. It is only an anomaly to you. 

Start learning and Keep digging.

 You sir do not belong on bigger pockets. I assume this forum was made for people to help one another (Unique or an anomoly).  

 Rick Harmon is an asset to Bigger Pockets and is a master when it comes to the situation you are dealing with. He correctly pointed out that your story wasn't special and these situations are occurring all the time. People die every day and leave their property behind without a will which leaves it in limbo for years.

You can see by the number of followers Rick Harmon has that people think highly of his words. I am one of them.

Congratulations on your first deal. My advice is to make sure you have a ratified purchase/sale agreement not simply a handshake deal.   

Originally posted by @Nat C. :
Originally posted by @Crystal Aravalo:
Originally posted by @Rick Harmon:

What is unique about this situation? 

It is not unique. It is only an anomaly to you. 

Start learning and Keep digging.

 You sir do not belong on bigger pockets. I assume this forum was made for people to help one another (Unique or an anomoly).  

 Rick Harmon is an asset to Bigger Pockets and is a master when it comes to the situation you are dealing with. He correctly pointed out that your story wasn't special and these situations are occurring all the time. People die every day and leave their property behind without a will which leaves it in limbo for years.

You can see by the number of followers Rick Harmon has that people think highly of his words. I am one of them.

Congratulations on your first deal. My advice is to make sure you have a ratified purchase/sale agreement not simply a handshake deal.   

Everyone has their point of views. But I innocently came here with a question on how to approach this. Respectfully, Im not sure how his following has helped me with a question. Before this forum I actually asked this similar question two days before on a different forum and received similar advice. Literally a copy and paste.  Just needed some reassurance. Start learning and digging, to me at least, isn't the reassurance I was hoping to get. I know this forum isn't going to hold my hand, but any type of advice given, is the best way I can get a full grasp On how to deal with an issue. It was a simple question, I just needed a bit more advice and to be honest it just sounded a bit rude to me. It was like a person with wealth and riches that don't care to share how he became wealthy. The reason for my reply to him. If this is at all offending anyone. Apologies!

And in addition I had everything in place before I sent my handwritten mail on Friday. Just went right up to the property and handed it to the owner who later called me. Wrote them a second letter for a follow up, ( reason why I asked my question here) instead that Sunday the owner called me and told me to set it all up.  I had an end buyer already waiting. Worked through the weekend and today and the seller was adamant on getting rid of the property as soon as possible. Because she's moving across country, it all worked out. This is my second deal I've closed. I've studied and researched and learned for almost a year. It's just taking me now to apply them. 

@Crystal Aravalo

That's great Crystal. I'm so happy for you, and give you credit for having the guts to go talk to them! There are hundreds of people who are thinking about things they're learning, but by doing, you've separated yourself from a lot of people. Just do more of it, align yourself with great people and you'll learn far more than just reading about real estate. I go to Doylestown PA to visit friends once in a while and know some people in Lancaster as well. And my business partner is from PA. Let me know if you need help with anything. 

Happy investing :)

Johnny