How to find the owner of a vacant lot?

10 Replies | Houston, Texas

@Carl Whitfield Look to see if your local county assessor's office has an online portal.  You can usually find the property in there and the taxes will be sent to someone.  It might be the owner, a lawyer, etc. but there will be a name and address.  The tricky part is the many of them are a pain to search.  You never know if it's under East Main Street, E Main St, Main St East, etc.  It might take a few iterative searches but you'll find it.

@Carl Whitfield after you look up the owner information on HCAD you should go to harris county tax assessor site to see if there are any delinquent taxes owed on the property.  Depending on what part of town the lot is located, delinquent taxes may be high enough to kill the deal.  If there's still plenty of equity, you may be able to use the tax delinquency as a pain point when talking to the owner.  Especially if there's an active tax suit or if they county has a tax judgment.

If there was a house on the lot at one time and it's been torn down, I would search the county clerk website for liens against the property.  A demo lien will probably be at least $8k which could also kill the deal.  Spending a few minutes on the front end may save you a lot of headache and frustration or help you negotiate a better deal.