Getting in touch with property owners can be difficult when you don’t know how to reach them.
There are a few things you can do to make things easier and provide assistance—especially if they want to sell, or never thought about it and are giving it some consideration.
Here are a few suggestions.
What are the signs of a vacant property?
There are a few indicators, including tons of mail sitting in the box or on the ground, the yard being unkempt, there are never any lights on in the home, or if it’s just vacant land, everything looks dry.
When this occurs, tax records are one of the best ways to find out who owns the property and what’s going on with it. The city or county website usually has this information online, but depending on the county, you may have to go into the office to get it.
Some counties make locating the information difficult, or it may not be available to the public, so having a contact or two in the appraiser’s office could work to your benefit.
Once you get the name of the owner of the vacant or abandoned property, it’s time to do a little internet research of your own to see what you come up with. That could lay the foundation for your search.
Out of State
Let’s say the owner of the property is out of state. There are a few ways you can handle this.
If the property is being cared for by a property management company, you can use it to get in contact with the owner. If that doesn’t work, you can pay for a service to find the information you’re looking for.
This is called a skip tracing.
These reports can give you the most recent address, phone number, email addresses, and relatives. Making an address request from the county recorder’s office should provide the information you need.
It may take some time to get the information, but they should have the most current and up-to-date data.
Sending as simple as sending a postcard to the owner living out of state will alert them to your interest in their property. With so many people relocating, they may have moved and haven’t had a chance to put the property on the market yet.
In several cases, the postcard is sent to the current property. If someone is living in the home, they aren’t going to pass the information on to the owner.
Out of Town
If you’ve been leaving notes in the mailbox and haven’t gotten a response, you may want to start connecting with the neighbors.
Most neighbors who have been around for a while know something about the person living next to them or in the neighborhood. The home may be vacant for a few months of the year—chances are the neighbors and tell you when the family is due back in town. They may even have contact information so you can contact them, or the neighbor can get your information and have the owner contact you.
If the owner has family in town, leaving a note on the door may get you a response, because the family member designated to watch the house will see it and let the owner know.
If you happen to stop by and see the note gone but you haven’t heard anything, they may not be interested after all.
Local investors are always looking for properties they can get at good rates. Doing a little homework can help you find the owner’s cell phone number.
Using this number to send text messages, then mailers to the property is a good way to contact the owner. Many investors have connections in the local city government office, so they know what the property is worth already and can craft an attractive offer.
There are local investment groups that may have additional information on the property that you can tap into.
A strong network of colleagues can help get you closer to the goal.They may know someone in the neighborhood who can connect you, or have relationships with realtors who know who to contact or order a title report.
If the property is occupied, you can leave a note on the door, or even knock on the door to speak to the owner. Even if a homeowner hasn’t thought about selling, if they are on the fence, an offer that’s attractive enough can sway them to the other side.
A little persistence goes a long way, especially if you are really interested in acquiring the property.
There are some instances where the property is still being occupied because it’s going through probate or a divorce settlement, or they are waiting for the market to improve. You may also find that the owner hasn’t sold yet because they know the property needs improvement and they don’t have the resources to pour into the home prior to selling.
In these instances, direct mail or cold calling may be good options.
Is it easy to get an owner to sell their property? It depends.
Striking A Deal
Once you get in touch with the owner of the property, what’s next? This is where the negotiations begin.
Explaining what they could gain from selling, the process, and what’s going on in their neighborhood in terms of the property being sold is a good start.
Even if there is no “for sale” sign anywhere in sight, there may be some incentive for them to sell.
You should know what the land is worth before getting in touch with the owner. This will give you a starting point in structuring your conversation and offering.
There are quite a few tools available that can help in locating the owner of a property beyond the options listed. Property management companies, attorneys, contractors, realtors, and even postal carriers are good resources that can assist.
Once you get the information, you can create a strategy and put your plan in motion. Your strategy should be based on the tell-tale signs of what’s going on with the home.
Whether vacant, out-of-state, out-of-town, or owner-occupied, each one should be handled with care.