I went driving for dollars yesterday in DC with a local and found over 20 vacant houses. I was able to get the owners information for some of the properties, but I do not know where to look for the phone number for these people. Any advice on how to locate these property owners better? I have so many property addresses i'm struggling with finding the people. Please render any advice you may have.
There are a number of issues involved.
First, while it's true you can obtain the owners name, bank name etc., from the county tax records, you can only go so far. In the neighboring counties to NYC, they have problems with zombie homes, where homes are abandoned and the owners ran off. The banks, while foreclosed never took title because it would make them liable for things such as accidents. In view of this, the state established a zombie home registry, where the location of these homes are registered, as well as the names of the persons responsible for management. I don't know if the registry is open to the public, or if other states have established such registries.
While zombie homes are problems in "C" neighborhoods, what appears to be abandoned homes occurs to "A" neighborhoods as well. I am in an area where homes exceed a millions dollars, and checked into these apparently abandoned homes.
My mother in law would be the owner of an abandoned home if not located in a high rise coop. She suffered a fall and a cracked vertebrate a year ago, live with us for a while in NYC, and then moved in with my sister in law in CA. We kept the phone service, utility service on in her residence but she hasn't been there for a year. But if you call her number, no one is home to answer the phone. My wife goes there several times a month to pick up the mail and clean house. We know of several people in the same situation, taken care of by children, keeping the empty paid off home because they believe they would move back there some day. In my mom in law's case, you would have to find out who her children are, and if you did, you be told it's not for sale.
Many such homes are in the process of probate, and you'll have to find out from probate court who the administrator or executor of the estate is. My dad served as executors for a few, and the process can't be rush. Their are heirs involved and there may or may not be a will, in case of intestate estates involved. It could take two years.
Then there are case where people suffered from dementia, and moved in with kids or nursing homes. Unlike my mom in law who is just sick and injured, even if you found the person or their children, they may not be legally make decision to sell. They may need a guardian appointed which may involve a court hearing. In my mom's case, she was incapacitated for the last 5 or more years of her life, we agreed that my brother should have a POA to do things for her such as banking, but as far as selling the property my dad left her, we felt all of us should agree. It was only sold after her death.
There's been discussions on this board about this subject, some people have success in knocking on neighbor's doors to find out what's going on. Frequently, neighbors are asked to keep an eye on the house and know more about it than anyone else.
So, in conclusion, zombie homes, probate homes, homes own by people with dementia, the efforts involved to locate these people to make a deal is far in excess of what you get in return, that I did foreclosure homes auctioned by banks, as when it comes up for auction, the banks is ready to sell it. In other words, a much better cost/benefit.