Finding a Property's Current Owner

8 Replies

I have a property that is off-market just down the road from where I live. I live in a New Hampshire lake town, so small camp-like houses are very popular around here. This place is about 700sqft in a corner lot, but clearly isn't lived in. I've been here for almost 3 years, and not once have I seen somebody there. It is about a 3 minute walk to the lake, so it would be perfect for a seasonal home or rental/AirBnB. I have looked high and low, but the tax collectors office doesn't seem to have an online public registry of owners, and the town tax collector acted like I was a psychopath when I asked if she had contact info for the current owner.

My best assumption is that it was an elderly couple, and the house got left to a family member or something because somebody pays the taxes every year, but the house isn't used and needs work. The driveway was dirt and has become part of the yard, as it is on a dirt road and years of grading has eliminated any evidence of a driveway entrance. The house itself doesn't appear to be in horrible condition, but would certainly need work. Looking at comps in the area, I'm sure it could fetch about 180k once everything is repaired, but in the current condition, I think an offer of 60-75k would be fair. So, there is a fair bit of potential profit to be made on this property. 

Is there a different way to go about finding the owner of the property that I am missing? Is there a way to get in contact with somebody who may want to do the legwork themselves and give me a bit of a cut for finding the property, sort of like bird dogging without the possible legal ramifications that vary state by state? I am trying to get started down my path of real estate investing, so I don't have the capital to mess around with the property right now, but I certainly feel like there is potential here and I don't want it to go to waste.

@Joia B. that's the problem I'm having. I said tax collector, I meant tax assessor. When I search for the tax assessor for my town, it turns into a long rabbit hole, ending up with me on the county tax assessor site, which then requires me to pay for information and only lets me search property deeds, but doesn't provide any contact information. When I go to the town offices, they don't want any part of helping me out. I'd send a letter, but with the house being vacant for years, I have no idea if that would lead to any success with mail forwarding or something.

I'm surprised that no one at the town will give you a copy of the property record from the Assessor's database. Most towns I've dealt with that don't offer them online will respond quickly to a phone call or email asking for that info. I also have access to CRS Property Records, as suggested by William above, so I can check there for you. That county tax assessor web site is BS--it's a paid web site that shows up whenever you do a Google search for "[Town] NH assessor." Most towns use either Vision Appraisal Services or Avatar. Occasionally the link through Avatar requires a subscription to get a full property record, but sometimes you can find a backdoor route to the info. If you want to message me and let me know which town it is and the property address, I'll see what I can do (I'll keep it all confidential).

A quick check shows that your town is one of those that uses Avatar, requires a subscription, and has no back door.  Use the "Contact Us" link on the town site (in the "About" drop-down menu, and say, "Would you be able to email me a copy of the Avatar property record for XXX Main Street?  If there is any fee I'd be happy to pay it."  Might cost you a couple of bucks, or they might just send it.  If they refuse, get in touch with your Selectman and tell them you're getting pushback on your request.

Okay, me again.  I'm a dolt.  You need a subscription to see all the property information, but you can log into Avatar as a guest and see who the owner is.  That's free and easy.  :)

@Greg Powers thank you very much for doing the legwork on that, I appreciate the information. I'll give Avatar a look and see what I can find! My town offices are...strange...so I'm not overly surprised that she was unwilling to help. Just renewing my dogs license is a nightmare haha