How to Find Who Owns a Vacant Property in Philadelphia
For our second entry in our series, we wanted to focus on an often overlooked question: “How do I find the owner of a vacant property?” If you haven’t yet, check out part 1: How to Find Houses to Flip & Rent in Philadelphia.
So, you’ve hit the streets and found some vacant properties that have potential. It could be a lot, an empty home, or any other property. So, what do you do next? Remember, we aren’t talking about properties that are currently on the market, so these properties won’t have a sign with contact info or be listed online anywhere. We are focusing on properties that aren’t listed as being for sale currently for a few reasons. First, this strategy is usually the best way to get great (undiscovered) deals. Furthermore, this eliminates getting into bidding wars with other interested parties.
With these great deals however, usually comes a bit more legwork. The next step is to find out who owns the property so you can determine if they are interested in selling it. You would think that in today’s digital age, this would be quite simple. This can be true sometimes, but is not always the case. Many people are now very sensitive about their privacy and in other cases, available information may not be up to date. So, how DO you get in contact with the owners of vacant properties?
Finding Out Who Owns a Vacant Property in Philadelphia
Finding property owners can be frustrating. For every time you find an owner on your first try, there will be a time that you exhaust every feasible option and still hit a dead end. It’s all part of the gig and in the end, you will only get better at it with more experience.
Here are a few ways we’ve found to be effective in finding the owners of a vacant property in Philadelphia:
- Neighbors – Talking to neighbors as you are looking for vacant properties can be a huge help! Many communities in Philadelphia have been home to the same families for generations. The best approach is to simply explain that you are looking to buy vacant properties in the area. You can often get you the contact information you are looking for, as well as maybe even a few more owners that may be interested in selling!
- Skip tracing – Searching online will bring up many results for skip tracing services. These services charge a small fee, but are often worth it if you plan on searching for multiple property owners. If you are interested in these services, feel free to contact us for our preferred vendors.
- White Pages Online – The White Pages can offer some valuable information and is a great spot to start due to its ease of use.
- Property.Phila.Gov – This website is specific to Philadelphia and can sometimes be slow to update, but is another easy option to look up the owner of a vacant property.
- Public Tax Records – Many counties and towns have websites that will allow you to search public utility or tax records for owner information.
- Postcards – Check out Every Door Direct Mail from the US Post Office for a very inexpensive way to blanket a whole area with post cards. This may not be ideal for beginners or if you are just looking at one specific property. However, if you would like to get your message to a larger area, this is one of the best ways.
Don’t be afraid to get creative and think outside the box. Always remember to make connections with as many people as you can. You never know who will come through in a pinch. The neighbors you talk to may know others in the area looking to sell their property. You may even talk to someone looking to sell their own property!
Not Enough Time to Look for Owners?
We understand that it can be a daunting task to track down a property owner. We work with both buyers and sellers and can help you get a great property at a great price!
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