I have been a member for quite awhile but mostly reading and not to much posting. Well I've have one now. Anyone have any experience or advice on how to go about tracking down the owner of a property that has been vacant for years. If anyone knows the do's and do not's will save me some time.
Thanks for any help
Hi @Jo-Lynn Silun , one quick suggestion is the tax assessor's website. It may not be the same for every state so you may have to search google with "tax assessor website [your state]"
I hope that helps!
Find out where the property tax bill is going. It may be going to a different address. You might get lucky and find the owner there. If the tax bill is going to the vacant property, then Google the owner. Look on Facebook or LinkedIn for them. Google their name plus obituary to see if they might be deceased.
Then just Google their name and the city where the house is. There are many paid search sites that will pop up. These will often for free gives you information like family member names or partial address or partial phone numbers. Sometimes you can piece together enough information to locate them.
Also search on the same county real estate site to see if they are owner of another property in that county. This may be where they live now.
Thanks guys that is some great starting points!!
I do this all the time in my practice. Always start with the Recorder of Deeds in the county where the property is located. There may be deed, an affidavit if heirship, a judgement or lien where the creditor already did the legwork of locating the owner. You may also need to check for a will or probate case if the record owner is deceased. Once you determine the owner, you can search for them online or better yet have a PI run a skip trace on them. Good luck!
Does this situation have merit?
Before you go too far, you need to decide what would make this an attractive investment and how you'd monetize. Most people are either trying to buy equity or cash flow at a discount. I use this format: PETIO
Property - type, description and rough as-is and ARV
Equity - value less recorded mortgages and liens
Title - Record owner, entity or living or deceased person(s)
Interest(s) - if owner is a deceased individual, need to know who legal heirs are
Opportunity - specific ways to benefit, such as buy, fix and sell, or fix and rent, etc.
You'll need a working knowledge or someone who can research title for you. The tax assessors site is not an indication of legal title, only who is being taxed.
Finding owners is called ship tracing. That is an art in itself and requires a separate set of research skills.
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