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How to Find Abandoned Homes to Purchase

By Bill Gassett | October 26, 2022

There are thousands of homes that are abandoned across the United States. Unfortunately, these abandoned homes can also be a magnet for crime.

These types of homes can be the perfect properties for both real estate investors and contractors to locate and purchase. That's why it's important to know how to find abandoned houses.

In some cases, these properties are in deplorable condition, and in other circumstances, they are not. In either situation, they offer an excellent opportunity for "fix and flips."

Sometimes it can be very challenging to find abandoned properties.

We are going to take a look at how to find abandoned houses to purchase and how to verify if it is in fact a property with a disinterested owner.

What is an Abandoned House?

An abandoned home is a property that is no longer lived in by the original owners. Abandonment can happen for a variety of reasons, including divorce, death, or foreclosure.

Many homes are abandoned due to financial reasons, making them run down and in need of renovation. This makes them attractive properties for investors, flippers, and wholesalers because they sell at a lower-than-market price.

How to Find Abandoned Houses to Buy 1

How to Find Abandoned Homes?

There are several ways to find an abandoned home to buy. Here are some options to get you started:

Pick a Lower Income Town or City

Pick a lower-income city or town and start driving around the area. Although time-consuming you can potentially land some excellent properties. Some of the most common signs of abandonment include total neglect of the yard, damage to the home, boarding of windows and doors, significant damage, or lack of maintenance.

An excellent pro tip is to speak to the local mailman. Mail carriers will typically know if the owners have skipped town and the proper is no longer occupied.

Contact The Local Police Department

Unfortunately, the crime rates associated with abandoned properties go up. Many police departments will be keenly aware of properties in their city or town that are no longer occupied. They are often called to areas around abandoned housing.

Check With The Local Housing Authority

Check with your local government or housing authority. They may have a list of abandoned properties that are available for purchase. The county clerk's office should be your first stop in city hall.

Go Online For a Search of Abandoned Properties Near Me

Search online databases that specialize in listing abandoned properties. You can also try a straight-up Google search for abandoned homes near me or abandoned houses for sale near me.

Contact a Real Estate Agent

Contact a real estate agent who specializes in foreclosure properties. They may have access to listings of abandoned homes that are not yet publicly listed.

Real Estate agents are often dialed into local abandoned houses because they can impact the market of other surrounding properties they may be involved with.

Realtors have access to the multiple listing service and can do a search for these specific kinds of homes.

Find Local Property Auctions

Quite often the government or lending institutions will take over property throughout the United States due to violation of Federal laws. Many of these homes are sold at auction. Find and check with some of the local auction companies.

Look At Sites That Specialize in Pre-foreclosures

There are some real estate sites that specialize in properties where the owners have missed mortgage payments. One such company is realtytrac.com.

You can look at their site to find homes that can potentially become foreclosures. Many of these foreclosed properties were abandoned by their owners.

Keep in mind the foreclosure process can take a while, so they will not be immediately available.

Ensure The Properties Are in Fact Abandoned

Some houses are going to look abandoned when they are not. Sometimes it is challenging to tell the difference, especially when a home is rundown.

Legally, it is vital to understand the difference. A vacant home is much different that one where the owner has abandoned it. When homes are abandoned the owner can lose their legal rights.

How to Find The Owner of an Abandoned Home?

To find out who owns an abandoned piece of property, check your county's tax assessor website. There may be a small fee required, but this will provide you with the necessary information.

If the mailing address for an abandoned property is the same as the owner's current address, it may be more challenging to purchase the property.

There is a small chance that the owner still checks their mail at that address, or that their mail is forwarded to their new address. Therefore, interested buyers should still attempt to contact the owner to express interest in purchasing the property.

How to Buy an Abandoned House

Once you have located an abandoned house you would like to buy, it is time to move on to the purchase phase.

Here are the steps to take to buy an abandoned property:

  • Locate the abandoned property you would like to purchase
  • Ensure the property is in fact abandoned and not temporarily vacant
  • Find the owner of the property
  • Ask the property owner if they are willing to sell
  • If they would like to sell make a reasonable offer
  • Make sure you have the home inspected to make sure there are no significant problems.

Final Thoughts on Abandoned Houses

When you know you would like to buy an abandoned house it's essential to find a good value. Making sure the property doesn't have any unseen damage is critical.

Having a professional home inspection could be money well worth spending. It is a type of property that requires more due diligence than others.

Also, make sure that the property is located in a safe area and that there are no outstanding liens. Speak to a real estate attorney and ask them to do a title search.

By doing so you'll ensure there are no hidden issues with purchasing the property. There could be a hornet's nest of problems you're not aware of. A qualified real estate attorney will be able to protect your interests.

Bill Gassett is a thirty-six year veteran to the real estate industry. He enjoys writing helpful articles for buyers, sellers and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Maximum Real Estate Exposure, Newsbreak, Credit Sesame and here at Realty Biz News. He has been on of the top RE/MAX agents in New England over the last two decades.
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