Finding Owners for vacant houses

6 Replies

So i been driving for dollars lately and i've been sending out letters to the absentee owners for those vacant properties but theres a couple of houses i been trying to figure out where the owners are. I searched in Property Appraisers, property shark, and any source of information where i can find the owners current address or any type of contact info but all i get is that address where the house is vacant but obviously no one lives there, kinda strange but i would like to hear from experts on how you find property owners because im new to this and been trying to get my first deal under agreement to wholesale. Any advice would be great and much appreciated. Thank you for your time. 

@Account Closed , I ran into a similar problem with a property I want to buy. I could find the guy's name, but it says he lives at the property, which he clearly does not.

I asked our mailman if he knew about it, and he told me they moved to the next town up, and gave me a name that is not connected in any way to the house - said it was the guy's wife. This happened just the other day, and I will search public records in that town to get a current address and try again.

My mailman is very chatty, and has had the same route for about 100 years. He knows everyone on the street, how long they have been there, and where they move when they leave. He is an excellent person to be friendly with. Maybe your mailman is too?

Have you looked at the tax record? Where does the tax bill get sent, and is it paid current?

Google (Name of County) Recorders office, or (Name of County) Tax Assessors office.

There should be a place to find out if records are online, if they are you should be able to input the address and get records or at least the type of records filed. Most only show partial information and you have to go physically to the court house (or hire someone) to get the rest of the info and print out pages if necessary,  If you cannot find it on the website call the offices.

Also just Googling the address might bring up names of residents, one might be the owner.

It really does vary by state and county. Amazing what info you can get!

Good luck and don't give up!!

You can talk to the neighbors to see if they know where the owners are. It is very possible that they still keep in touch or they know what happened. 

Another thing you can do is put "forwarding service requested" on your mailing. The post office will forward to the new address, if available, and update you on the current address. There is a fee for this but you only have to pay if there is a forwarding address. 

In ALL my cases where the owners had the same address as the property and property was vacant, I found that taxes hadn't been paid either. Dead men don't pay taxes! 

The owners were deceased and the house left vacant. Time for an Adverse Possession Deal!

@Arcinio Arauz Have you ever completed an AP (adverse possession) deal to the point of getting Order for Quiet Title?

I have a pretty well tested system for reverse engineering vacant property owners. 

Step #1 - determine if there's sufficient equity to pursue the opportunity!

Step #2 - determine if record owner is alive or deceased. 

Lots of trails start with anecdotal info from neighbors, utility workers and code enforcement. Other info can be free online info, subscription info (skip trace data) and offline public records. 

Most opportunities that people bring us don't become deals because they haven't done their homework, or visited the property or reversed engineered title. You can only do so much from a desk. 

@Rick Harmon

Your method of determination for pursing a lead is right on! I do a lot personal talking to neighbors and others that may have information relative to the property.

I've went as far as calling the sheriff's department/coroner's office to confirm death, visited the funeral home and even went to a grave site to personality verify owners' death. I was directed to a 5"x5" grave marker with no names just numbers tracing to decedents. This was good news.... no public burial, no family, no known friends.  I had a slam dunk deal.  A house worth 300k, assets in the house including two nice cars and a bunch of other stuff. Plus, there was 600k in a bank account. I waited 1 year while keeping up in my home office doing my diligence, attempting to find next of kin via web searches. I made myself trustee of the estate and had a lawyer ready to work. Yet in the end I was served! 

What happened? The sorry Pubic Administrators! They asked me what right I had to enter the house and claim it as my own. I quoted the CA civil codes of AP. They called the 50 and the cops couldn't do a single thing to me. No crime being committed. It was a civil issue. I stayed in the house and asked to cops to tell PA to get off my property ( I called it mine). Those three gals were fumming mad as they left! A week later the PA and county counsel went to a judge and then I was served and made to stay away until they made their attempts to find next of kin. Guess what............. they found some long lost second cousin in England! He was the only blood relation and thus the judge ordered all assets to go to him. I sent a UPS NEXT day letter to the cousin with a money order in it asking him to sign over his rights. I tried to persuade him that dealing with this was going to difficult for him since he was thousands of miles away and not a US citizen. The PA convinced him otherwise and the PA was able to become temporary trustee as they sold the house, liquidated assets and then I suppose they sent him all the proceeds.  After that I had a few deals involving AP but really wasn't motivated to pursue them. 

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