What Type of Properties Qualify?
The most important part of identifying vacant properties is being able to locate them by their common traits and characteristics. While we use the term “vacant properties” to identify this category of lead, it is possible, even probable, that many non-vacant homes will fit this qualification. It is important to train your eyes to look for homes that fit the criteria. Once your eyes are opened, you will be amazed at the number of properties waiting for someone to buy them.
What if your house sat empty for the next six months? What would happen? The pipes might freeze. The grass would grow long. The snow would sit on the sidewalk. There would probably be mountains of news papers and mail lodged in the door or strewn on the front lawn. In some cases, people might break a window or kick down a door to see what you left behind.
Most vacant properties are not so distressed that a passer-by would notice them as empty. Unless you are on the lookout! Look over and memorize the following traits. You’ll begin to see them everywhere!
These properties are jewels in the rough. You should be excited when you see them. They equal money in your pocket.
Finding Vacant Properties
There are a number of strategies you can use to actively find these properties. They range from trolling you area of concentration to having others do the work for you. It’s a good idea to use a number of strategies in order to optimize the time you spend working.
You will first want to begin your search by making a conscious effort to look for properties as you run your daily errands. Look for long grass in the summer and snow covered sidewalks in the winter. Search for broken and boarded up windows and doors. Keep an eye out for a build up of mail and newspapers. And when you’ve found all the properties that are vacant along your daily route, take another path. By changing the streets you commonly take, you’ll be exposed to more houses and more prospects.
Another way to generate these vacant property leads is by having someone else work for you. The back of your business cards should proudly report that you pay a $500 referral fee for properties that you buy. Do you know anyone that would like to make an extra $500 just by telling you about a vacant property? You should also talk to mailmen, take-out delivery people and utility meter readers that work in your focus area. These people are invaluable resources. I’ll bet you didn’t know that the Postal Service keeps an “unofficial” list of vacant properties for their mail carriers. What a great source. So go out and meet the people that live and work in your focus neighborhood. Put them to work for you.
You’ve Found Addresses, What’s Next?
So now you have a long list of vacant properties. It’s time to cultivate those leads to get as much preliminary information as possible. The more information you can compile, the faster and easier it will be for your outsourced research team to find the owner.
Start by approaching the house. Make notes on any improvements that obviously must be made. If you know the neighborhood (or the type of house), record the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Be sure that you accurately record the house address and include the zip code.
Now talk to the neighbors. Let them know who you are, who you work for, what you are trying to do, and that any help that they give you could help them put money in their pocket if we buy the house. You should use the enclosed script until you are comfortable approaching people. Remember to relax. You are there to help get rid of the ugly, broken-down house that is dragging down the value of their neighborhood. Write down any information they give you. Ask for the name and phone number of the owner. Ask if they know the owner’s relatives or friends. What are their phone numbers? And after you are finished talking to them about the vacant property, ask them if they know anyone else that wants or needs to sell their home. Tell them about your referral fee. Get them on your team and give them a business card.
Once you’ve collected all the information you can find, there’s one more step. Make sure you bring a pad of yellow sticky notes. Go up to the door of that vacant property. On a sticky note write the following: “I am trying to contact you. Please call me. YOUR PHONE NUMBER. It works!
If you have made any headway in finding the owner (a phone number, a relative, etc.), pursue those avenues. You can find the owner’s name by using the tax records for your town. Then try looking up a phone number for anyone with the owner’s name. If you are still having trouble locating the property owner, you can outsource your search. Skip tracing is a search used by private investigators, attorneys, landlords and real estate investors (surprise!). Check the affiliates page on the website for a list of competent and cost effective ways to track down those owner.
Vacant Property Script
BD: Hi Ma’am/Sir, How are you today?
Neighbor: I’m okay. What can I do for you?
BD: My name is YOUR NAME. You have probably seen our signs all over the area. I am a real estate investor and I specialize in purchasing vacant and distressed properties. The reason I stopped by was that I noticed the property next door, and I am trying to get in touch with the owner. We want to make an offer to purchase the property. I knocked on your door because I need your help to track down the owners. Do you know how I can get in touch with them?
Neighbor: Yes I do. They moved to Kentucky.
BD: Really! Wow! Well do you know how I can get in touch with them?
BD: Do you know if they have any family or friends that still live in the area?
Neighbor: Yes. She had an aunt that lived over on Rowland Avenue. She stops by every now and then to check on the house.
BD: Did she ever give you a phone number or any way to contact her in case of emergency?
Neighbor: As a matter of fact she did. Let me see if I can find that number. (Neighbor finds a phone number to the aunt).
BD: I really appreciate the help. You really made my life a little easier today. If they accept my offer on the house, I will get this place cleaned up so that your neighborhood is a little nicer and your property value will go up. By the way, if you know of any other people that want or need to sell their home, I give a $500 referral fee for each property that I buy. So keep me in mind (hand neighbor a card). I look forward to hearing from you soon.
I don’t feel comfortable giving you this information. I don’t know you. Give me your card and I will pass it on to the owner.
BD: It sounds like you are a good neighbor. Maybe a little bit better than they are, leaving you with a view like that beat up thing. I am in the business of helping both them and you. I want to buy that ugly vacant house from them and put money in their pocket for something they have already given up on. In addition, I offer a $500 referral fee for people like you that help us find homeowners with vacant properties. All you need to do to qualify is put me into contact with the owner so I can make them a cash offer. Then, when they accept the offer, I will buy the house and write you a check for $500.00. How’s that sound? So what is the owner’s name and number again?
Sorry I can’t help you/I don’t know where they are.
BD: Okay. I appreciate your time. You may not be able to help me on this project, but you should know that I offer a $500 referral fee for any properties I buy. Do you know anyone that wants or needs to sell their property? (Leave 2 business cards – 1 for them and 1 for someone they refer)