Abandoned Houses are one of, if not the most overlooked, yet profitable niches in residential real estate investing. These days, people are abandoning their houses at record pace. Some have no equity, some have ton’s of equity. Regardless, the first step (and most challenging step) to making a great deal out of an abandoned house is to locate the seller. Once you find the seller, they are typically ready and willing to just GIVE you the house…but the trick is finding them!
Here's a common question I hear…
I'm targeting owners who have abandoned their houses. How can I find them? I'm getting tired of taking trips to the courthouse.
There's several ways you can find them, none of which are the courthouse. The problem with the courthouse, as it sounds like you're realizing, is it's time consuming and time is your most important asset. Probably the biggest challenge new investors have is learning how to use their time wisely. Here's a tip that's been worth it's weight in gold to me over the years: As your business progresses, learn how to do things once, then put them into a system so you can have someone else do it for you. This allows you to focus on the big things, i.e. making sure deals close.
Every little thing you do should be put into a system. For example, researching to find owners of abandoned houses. Here's a simple system for finding owners of abandoned houses:
1) Find owners name by looking on tax rolls (on website)
2) If owner has different mailing address, thats a good place to start
3) If not, search public records to see if a foreclosure has been filed. Sometimes you can find clues in these documents to let you know where to find the owner.
4) Search zabasearch.com for the owner
5) Use a skiptracer, if deemed to be worth the small investment
There's other tricks you can use, too, but this should at least get you started. If all else fails, put a FOR SALE sign in the yard of the abandoned house. This will do 2 things:
1) If the owner is nearby or keeps in contact with neighbors, you can expect a call from them. This is a perfect way to find the seller and begin negotiations.
2) If the owner doesn't call, use the calls to build your buyers list.
There's lots of other tricks like this one, but the “takeaway” here should be systemize your efforts and then have someone else do these steps for you, while you focus on closing more deals.
NOTE: All states and counties are a bit different. Most give you all the access you need to find owners online. If not, it's even more important to systemize and have someone else do your research.