Absentee owners are one of the most sought after types of leads in the real estate investor community. Keep reading to find out what is an absentee owner in real estate and how you can find one.
What Is an Absentee Owner in Real Estate?
An absentee owner is someone who owns a real estate property without actually occupying it or actively managing it. Although this can refer to landlords and owners of rental properties, the term ‘absentee owner’ is particularly used to refer to those that decide to let their property sit vacant.
There are many scenarios that can classify a person as an absentee owner. Let’s have a look at a few of these scenarios:
- The owner of the property has relocated to another city or state and has not been able to sell the property yet.
- The owner inherited the property through a Will or Probate.
- The owner bought the property as a rental but has not been able to rent it out to tenants.
- The owner bought the property for capital appreciation and sees no reason to live in it.
- The owner is in the military and has been called to active duty in a different location than the property.
- The property was bought for a child, parent, or another relative to live in, but that person no longer lives in the property.
Why Are Absentee Owners Important to Real Estate Investors?
Absentee owners are not simply individuals who have decided to let their properties go unoccupied, they are much more than that. They represent an opportunity for investors to acquire new real estate deals and expand their investment portfolio. Because of the competition in today’s housing market, many real estate investors look for off market real estate opportunities. And the best off market real estate investing niche to target is absentee owners.
Real estate investors view most absentee owners as motivated sellers, i.e. as homeowners willing to part ways with their assets if presented with an attractive offer. Since absentee owners allow their homes to sit vacant, there’s good reason to believe that they have very little emotional attachment to them. And as a result, they are more likely to be willing to sell compared to homeowners that physically live in the property.
With that in mind, successful investors go about searching for vacant homes in their target housing market and create a list of all the absentee homeowners they find. Once they find out who the owner of a property is, they contact them to let them know they are investors interested in buying off market properties. If the owner is a motivated seller, the investors will make an offer and close the deal.
But, you might be wondering: How to find absentee owners? How to find out who owns a house? This brings us to our next topic.
How to Find Absentee Owners
Finding absentee owners isn’t as difficult as many beginner investors make it out to be. You just need to know where to look and what to look for. Here are some ways you can find absentee owners:
Drive for Dollars
If you are looking for a low-cost way, you can try ‘driving for dollars’. Get in your car, drive around your target neighborhood, and look for houses that look vacant or run down. There are several signs that you should pay attention to when driving for dollars, such as neglected lawn care, deferred maintenance, boarded up or broken windows, piled up newspapers at the porch, peeling paint, broken fences, etc. These all suggest that nobody lives in the house. As you drive, write down the addresses of all the neglected properties you locate. You can then search for the owners of the properties in county records using the addresses you wrote down.
Check Tax Records
Another way to find absentee homeowners is via property tax records. Go to your local tax assessor’s office and request to look at tax records. Then, go on and match the tax records with the addresses of the properties. You want to identify the properties with tax records that do not match their physical location. So, whenever you see an owner address that is different from the property address, take note: it’s a sign that the property has an absentee owner. The owner must be living in a different location and so the IRS is sending tax bills to that address instead.
Browse Rental Listings
Browsing rental listings is another way you can go about finding absentee owners. Remember, an absentee owner may be someone who bought their property as a rental and is struggling to rent it out. Go to a rental listing website such as Craigslist.com, and as you browse rental listings in your target area, pay close attention to how long each listing has been up on the market. You’ll want to target listings that have been up for a particularly long time (several weeks, and even months). In fact, prolonged vacancies in rental properties may pose a burden to many absentee owners, which, in turn, makes it more likely that they will want to sell. The longer a property sits on the market, the bigger the chance of stumbling upon a motivated seller.
Buy Absentee Owner Lists
If you have a larger budget to work with, you can find absentee homeowners by simply buying a pre-established absentee owner list. There are a number of list providers that compile information regarding absentee owners for you, and most of them can be found on the internet. But, of course, the lists will come at a price, and the quality of those lists will depend on the price you pay. For instance, if you buy a cheap list, expect to find outdated property owner information. On the contrary, if you buy an expensive list, you can be sure to get the most up-to-date property owner data you can find.
Last but not least, you can find absentee homeowners using Mashboard. Mashboard is an innovative online tool that allows you to easily search for property owners in any location in the US, even if you do not have any information on the property or the owner. All you have to do is set a few filters, and the tool will immediately provide you with a list of property owners according to your filter selections, along with their contact data. To find absentee owners, you can either enter an address that you suspect has an absentee owner and get the information or work backwards from the list of addresses and property owners you get from Mashboard to find vacant properties. You can also create your own absentee owner list so you can have a good source of leads to turn to anytime you are considering buying an investment property.
As you can see, there are many ways to find absentee homeowners. The most important thing is to gather as much absentee owner data as possible so you can turn your data into leads for property deals. If you are new to the real estate investing industry, we recommend that you start with Mashboard. It will save you so much time, effort, and money when it comes to finding absentee owners and buying off market properties.
Absentee owners are a good group to hit if you are considering investing in real estate, as they are some of today’s most motivated sellers. Since these people don’t live in the houses they own, their homes have become synonymous with great real estate opportunities for investors. Knowing how to find absentee owners will, therefore, increase your chances of landing the best real estate deals and help you grow your investment portfolio quickly.