mailing vacant properties

8 Replies

Here's my question to anyone who may have gone through this process - I got a list of all the properties with tax liens on them in Baltimore city, that will be going up for tax sale soon in 2017. I also got a list of all active code violation properties from the housing department. Both lists designate if the addresses are vacant or not. So, should I just mail all the NON vacant ones, since the vacant properties often may not have address forwarding set up? Has anyone had experience with this as far as how much return mail you get when mailing vacant addresses? I want to pull 200 addresses in zip codes relevant to where I'm looking from each list, I just want to decide whether to target vacant properties or not. I know there is a service called which can really help find the right addresses to mail for the vacant properties but they charge like $200 to analyze 30 addresses...and that's obviously way too much considering I'm trying to amass 400 addresses. Any and all input appreciated!

My advice to new investors is to start wholesaling properties. This is the quickest and best way to get started with the least cost.

First pick a neighborhood that you are either in or close to. Driver around all the streets and look for vacant houses. There should be some. Then look in the county assessors website to find the owners. it should give their name and mailing address. Send them a letter telling them you found their house to be apparently vacant. But if it is obviously abandoned, say so in the letter. Tell them you will pay them cash for a quick close.

Many times the owners don’t update their mailing address with the county so you may get the letters returned. I use to get the most updated info. It costs me $24.95 a month but it is well worth it because it also gives me email addresses and phone numbers.

If you are going to buy the property, fix it up and then either sell it or rent it then you are through.

But if you want to wholesale the property to another investor, then contact a local RE Agent to give you a list of all the houses in that neighborhood that have sold in the last 5 years with all cash. This typically is investors. Then again go to the assessors website and find their name and mailing address. And again use to get the best and latest contact info.

Once you get a response from the seller of the vacant house, negotiate a deal to buy it for all cash. Then immediately contact all the cash buyers you just found that buy properties in that neighborhood and tell them about the house and would they be interested in buying it.

Once you have done all that with that neighborhood, go to the next one and 'rinse and repeat.'

I hope this helps.

Steve Anderson

Yep wholesaling is precisely what I intend to do. I like your concise summary of action, it's definitely helpful, and I think I'll apply the tax assessor mailing address idea to all the vacant properties on my list. is certainly something I will be checking out. I tried using (also somewhere around 25/month) but they were crap. My partner called every # I pulled off of there that was supposedly associated with the current owners and not a single one was a hit. He left messages for a few and no one called back, but everyone else either said wrong # or the # didn't even work. Thanks a bunch for your input!

I mail to vacant/code enforcement property owners. I don't get an indication if the address is vacant or not. But if the mailing address is different from the property address, I can guess that it's vacant and the owner lives somewhere else. 

What I recommend is that you mail to the non-vacant properties. Then make a list of all the vacant ones and track down the owner's name. You could do this at your county's tax assessor's office. Once you have their names, you could use a skip tracing site to cold call them. I use intelius, which can be hit or miss. But I call about 10 numbers at least per lead, including their relatives.  

Hope that helps. Message me if you want to discuss this more!

@Mike Goikhberg first I am curious where you get the list of 2017 tax properties this early. I can tell you that the vast majority will be paid by the time the tax sale comes in May. 

I specialize in tax sales. I have done  mail to tax sale properties with very modest success. However much of that is because of my lack of direct mail skills and follow up.

Yes you will get a significant number of return mail that is undeliverable. As @Pratik P. mentioned these can sometimes be the best to follow up on. If you are in good areas, yes I would mail to the vacants. In poorer neighborhoods I wouldn't bother. The houses  marked vacant, have a "Vacant House Notice".  However many of the other properties will be vacant, and just not coded as such by the city.

@Ned Carey maybe I misunderstood what they told me at the housing office. I paid some worker there $10 and got a list of all the properties in the city with tax liens, and it says how large the lien is as well. And if the property is vacant or not. I THINK the lady said these are properties that will be going up for sale in the coming year. And thanks to everyone for the tips, lots of help.

@Mike Goikhberg I don't know what list you have. Generally Housing is not the place to get information about the tax sale.  Normally the list they sell that is $10 is the list of leftover liens from the last tax sale. Which would means you can purchase them at face value.

But who know what your list is. I would expect the list of properties that are behind and going into next years tax sale would be 50,000+ right now. If your list is about 3000 properties it could be the leftover list from last years sale. That list may not be worth mailing to at all. 

Is the list you have digital or paper? Does it include zip codes? The leftover lien list is paper and has no zip codes on it.

Hmm yep it has no zip codes and it's a paper print out. I guess the way I was thinking of it was to target the properties that have relatively small liens on them, in expectation that the owners of these properties would be motivated to sell at a discounted enough rate that I could pay them for the property AND pay off the lien and still have a decent deal. But I sure am glad that you intervened here because it sounds like I would've wasted a Bunch of direct mail $ lol

^^^ that is the beauty of this site!  @Mike Goikhberg so glad you're here. Not only did you save yourself a ton of money, but you've likely saved others too!

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