What is my next step?

12 Replies

I've been driving past this house that I believe is vacant. I've looked up the address on Google maps and compared the photo to the house's present condition. There's nobody ever at the house, the grass isnt cut regularly, ect. How do I properly confirm my suspicions? And after confirmation what is my next step?

Easiest thing to do is go to the county tax records.  If the billing address matches the house address it is owner occupied, otherwise take down the owners information (not sure how much you get from your county) and send them a letter, or if you are very lucky and get a phone number, give them a call.

What you need to do now is look up the address on the property appraisers website to see if the physical address and the owners mailing address are different.  I also like to look up the property on Zillow to see if the house in in foreclosure or not.  Then if the addresses are different, send them a yellow letter.  If you get that yellow letter returned to sender then take it a step further and skip trace that lead and call them if you don't mind cold calling them, also you can track them down on FB as well sometimes.  Go get em tiger!

Here is the tax records for Maryland.  Choose Harford (or whatever) county, and search by street address.  Then put in the house number and first part of the street name.  

http://sdat.resiusa.org/RealProperty/Pages/default.aspx

It also doesn't hurt to ask the neighbors if they know any information (assuming it's a decent neighborhood). They would be willing to give it to you because a vacant property, especially an unkempt one, is nothing but a drain on curb appeal and market value for them. 

@David White  

Once you find out the owner's name through the link Sam & Heather Jonesprovided, you can search the county land records to see how much of a mortgage is on the property at: https://mdlandrec.net/main/index.cfm

You will need to create an account, but it's free.

You can also search through the Maryland Court records to see if a foreclosure has been filed against the owner at: http://www.courts.state.md.us/courts/courtrecords.html

And of course, you can check the address through the county's tax records to see if taxes have been paid this year.  Maryland taxes need to be paid by Jan. 1 or they will be considered delinquent.  If they haven't paid that's another sign that something's going on with the owner. 

Thanks for all the responses. A lot of information in here that i didn't know. I'll be taking notes and applying what I've learned in the future. The day I posted this topic I drove by the house on my way home and saw somebody at the house. The garage door was open with a car inside. I'll still check to see if its occupied. But its not looking good. I guess I have to continure to drive for dollars. I'm strapped for cash right now to pay for anything. Does anyone have any tips as far as driving for dollars? 

Sam & Heather Jones 

Here's another way to use the court files:  I found the owner of a vacant lot through the court records when she received a traffic ticket to a different address.  I wrote her at that address and was able to negotiate to buy her property.  Her question: How did you find me?  "The Internet".

@Dylan Jennings thank you for the links. 

If an LLC is listed under the owner on the sdat website should I not send them a yellow letter?

Originally posted by @David White:

If an LLC is listed under the owner on the sdat website should I not send them a yellow letter?

Let me further explain on my earlier post. I started looking up addresses on sdat of vacant houses that was given to me by my friend who's a mailman. I was told if the owner and primary address are different than send a yellow letter to the owner. I started to see an LLC under the owner for a couple of the addresses. My guess is an investor already purchased the house and is rehabbing it. Should I continue ignoring addresses listing an LLC under the owner address?