10 Ways to find the owner of a vacant house.

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner BRE# 01800462

10 Ways to find the owner of a vacant house.

 
 

1. Leave a note.
 
The tried-and-true method for getting in touch with the owner is just to leave a nice note.  Tape it to their front door, out of site but where it won’t get rained on. Make sure you mention who you are and why you want to get in touch, but the owner or a property manager will see it eventually.
 
2. Check with the neighbors.
For all of our technology, it’s still sometimes most effective to knock on a neighbor’s door and inquire about the nearby vacant home.  Usually they will know something about the owner and where they are located – or at least what happened to make the home vacant.  You’ll have to earn their trust, so make sure to mention your good intentions.
 
3. Check the tax records.
A simple check of public tax records should bring up the legal owner of the property and their last registered address, and the addresses of other properties where they might live now. 
 
4. Mail a post card with specific instructions.
Of course mail might just pile up on their front door, but many absentee owners get their mail transferred to a new address or post office box.  Here’s the trick – write “DO NOT FORWARD – ADDRESS CORRECTION REQUESTED” on the front of the card.  The post office should mail the postcard back to you with the owner’s new address.  
 
5. Go through the White Pages.
Remember those big bulky phone book things that used to get dropped on our front stoop every year?  Believe it or not, they’re still might prove accurate for locating the owner of a property.  Of course you’ll need the owner or past resident’s name, which you can easily get off the mailbox, unopened mail, or by asking neighbors. 
 
6. Call information.
Calling 411 (in most cities) can also yield you the owner’s name, and you might be able to do a reverse search by just giving them the address.
 
7. Hire a skip tracer.
A skip tracer is basically a private investigator who specializes in finding people.  This may cost you $40 or so, but you’ll get much more thorough and accurate information back.
 
8. Do a records search at the courthouse.
A simple public records search can yield a ton of information, like marriage and death certificates, divorce decrees, criminal actions, probate, lawsuits and judgments, and therefore maybe even employer information. 
 
9. Google.
While you’re online, you might want to try a simple Google search – both for the house and for the owner’s name.  You may be able to access information on the last real estate transaction, media coverage, crime reports, employment info, and possibly even personal social media for the owner or related parties
 
10.  Check with the Assessor's and Recorder's office. 

The assessor’s office sends the tax records in most states, and the Recorder’s office will have a copy of every document they’ve signed for the property, which may lead you to the owner’s current whereabouts. 

Comments (2)

Stephen L. Skakandy, CRS
RE/MAX Elite Realty Group - Camp Lejeune, NC
Expert Communicator, Skilled Facilitator

Thank you Anthony

Jul 11, 2014 11:39 PM
Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West & Lend Smart Mortgage, Llc. - Carlsbad, CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

Anthony: Great blog and fortunately, it is much eadier to day to find an owner on line than the other methods you mentioned. Definitely makes our jobs easier.

Jul 11, 2014 11:39 PM