Finding Vacant Properties

30 Replies

Here is something I picked up recently to find local vacants...

Call up the local water department and ask for a list of homes with the water shut off. There should be a local water code stating that you are allowed to request this information. You'll pay a fee and should receive a list of all of the homes in the area with no water. Many of those will be vacant. Now you have thousands of homes to refine your search.

Great Idea.. please forgive my ignorance I'm a newbie... what do you do with the properties? because i have more than a few vacant homes both residential and commercial  in my neck of the woods

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Originally posted by @Tory Ellis:

Great Idea.. please forgive my ignorance I'm a newbie... what do you do with the properties? because i have more than a few vacant homes both residential and commercial  in my neck of the woods

 Tory, welcome the BP family! I believe the idea behind it is to be able to locate the properties and see what the status of the property is. Ex. Foreclosures, homes for sale, tax properties, etc... The list goes on and on. So depending on what area of RE you're interested in, you can start working on getting yourself one of those properties.

Please correct me if I'm wrong anyone.

Originally posted by @Ned Carey:

@Tory Ellis  the idea is to track down the owner and see if they are interested in selling.

 OK so I do that by going to ACRIS and finding the person who has the deed, am I correct?

Can anyone confirm if this is a national thing or only Texas? I feel like if I called my water company and asked for a list of disconnected houses that they wouldn't give it to me even for a fee...

@Loren Thomas  if it is privately held you may run into issues with the privacy policy of the company. If it's run by the local government as most water companies are; you can file a Freedom of Information Act Request. By law they have ten business days to respond to your request. This doesn't mean fulfill it, but just respond. 

Depending on the request and how much is required to compile it, they are aloud to charge fees. If they are going to honor your request they can notify you by sending an invoice, or notice of intent to invoice. At which point you have 30 days to accept and pay or decline. If you accept, the entity that you are requesting information from has 30 days to comply and fulfill your request from the date all monies are paid and you have answered any/all questions they have about your request.

If they deny your request, you are more than welcome to submit a modified request. If you fail to pay and the 30 day period to respond has passed, you may be required to start the process over (my office requires this). This is simply because the information has changed since your original request.

Tips for request information:

1) be specific on the details of what you are looking for. 

       Good: I would like the addresses of all properties that are not currently receiving service in your departments service area. (This simplistic one will normally get around privacy issues since you don't request names).

        Bad: I would like address for all your customers. (No details, and you miss the ones your looking for)

2) Be courteous. When I call on a public request, the other persons responses or lack of interest in my questions will determine my attitude in wanting to complete their request. If the other person is helpful, I try and complete the request as quickly as I can. If they are uninterested, then I am uninterested in fulfilling their request.

3) Pay the fee: we had one person try and argue with our fees. They are dictated by the US FOIA laws, we don't set them. It took 110 days to complete their request, simply because we would call and ask a question just to reset the clock on them. We followed the rules set forth by the laws, and if you are not nice, then neither are we.

4) Submit your request in writing to the appropriate person/department. Failure to do so only delays the response time, or you may not get one at all. If you send it to the wrong place they can discard it.

Loren I hope these help. If it is a privately held company, you can submit request in similar fashion. But if they have a privacy policy in place, they may not be able to comply with your request.

Originally posted by @Tory Ellis :
Originally posted by @Ned Carey:

@Tory Ellis  the idea is to track down the owner and see if they are interested in selling.

 OK so I do that by going to ACRIS and finding the person who has the deed, am I correct?

 Tory, I haven't a clue what ACRIS is. There are two steps to doing this:

1) find out who the owner is. Generally the land records office is the official place to go but many areas have this information online. Perhaps that is ACRIS in your area.

2) Locate the owners contact info. This is by far the hard part. The process of finding people is called "Skip Tracing" Finding people is a combinations of hard work like knocking on neighbors doors and lots of research or paying for the information. A Google search will bring up a ton of pay sites. In some cases I have paid a private investigator to find people. 

@Ned Carey  thanks for the info.. That is exactly what ACRIS is in NYC.. LOL I'm sorry I just assumed that ACRIS was the same thing nation wide. I entered the property address and zip to search for the docs and they give you a list of everyone who owned the property, what they paid for it,what they sold it for,etc.. My question is am I looking for the person who's name is on the deed ? Or that doesn't necessarily mean that person owns the property?

The person who is on the deed is the owner. That is what a deed is - proof of ownership. Tee Grantor on the deed is the old seller, the grantee is the current owner. 

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I offer a list of vacant properties for any city, zip code or county. Verified by the USPS as vacant and comes with county tax payer information and tax billing address.   

Originally posted by @Account Closed :

I offer a list of vacant properties for any city, zip code or county. Verified by the USPS as vacant and comes with county tax payer information and tax billing address.   

 Hi Aaron

How much would that list cost? 

thanks