In the movies and on television, there are great crime fighters who always seem to save the day and catch the bad guy just in the nick of time. The one that seems to stand out over the rest of the crime fighters is Batman. When it comes to his crime-fighting skills, it seems as though he always has two advantages over the police force. Those two advantages are:
- He has tools that empower him beyond what others can do, and
- He seems to know things that others do not that allow him to unlock the clue
What does this have to do with real estate investing? Actually, there is a direct correlation. This article is going to show you how to utilize the power of some county resources and teach you what they contain. When you know what they are and how to use them to your advantage, you will be able to uncover those clues that will lead you to more deals than other investors.
Your abilities as an investor will increase as you add new tools to your toolkit and increase your knowledge of those tools. Here’s how to use them.
Utilizing County Records
Many people are familiar with county records for finding information about a specific property; however, very few go beyond this particular purpose. County records are an underutilized tool for real estate investors. In fact, most real estate investors do not even use this tool for basic things such as tracking down the owner of a vacant property.
If you are driving around finding vacant properties, an easy way to identify the owner to inquire about purchasing the property is through county records. Once you know the address, county records can reveal who the homeowner is. On the county records, see if the mailing address for the owner is different than the property address. If it is, now you know where to contact the owner about purchasing the property.
If the mailing address is the same and you still want to track down the homeowner, most county records will allow you to do a search based on the owner’s name. This will show other properties that they own in the county and you can use that information to get in touch with the homeowner. You would be surprised at how many investors do not take this extra step to research a vacant property because it requires more effort and using this tool in a different way.
County records are also useful for finding buyers for wholesale transactions. Let’s say you have a contract accepted on a property and now you are looking for a buyer to assign your contract to. Many property investors own more than one property in a specific area. You can do a reverse lookup in various areas of the county. The reverse lookup means that you enter an address and it gives you the names of owners in the area. If you see the same name coming up over and over in an area, that lets you know who the investors are in the area. These are prime contacts because if they have other properties in the area, chances are high they would like to pick up another property nearby, especially if you have a great deal on it.
Other Resources Provided By the County
One way that you can speed up your search for vacant properties is to obtain a list from the county of properties that have code violations. Some counties call this list of properties “unfit for occupancy.” (Some counties may charge you a small fee for the list.) These are properties that have been condemned because there is something wrong that makes them unfit for someone to live there.
These properties can be great resources for real estate investors to find potential deals at huge discounts because of the condition of the property. Unless you really want a huge rehab project, these are great wholesale deals if acquired at the right price.
The county can also give you a list of properties where foreclosure is pending. The list is called “notice of defaults.” The notice of default is the document that is filed to begin the legal process for the foreclosure. If you are an investor that likes the foreclosure niche, this can be a great list to use. Some counties even post this list on their websites so it is usually readily available.
Another great resource for investors is the planner’s office, or in some counties, the Economic Development department. This is a valuable resource for real estate investors because they can provide you with all kinds of information. Here are some examples of things that they can provide that will be of value:
Employment: The Economic Development department can tell you about new companies that are coming into an area, what kinds of jobs will be coming, and the average salary of those positions. This is valuable information that can help you determine whether there is going to be enough housing supply for the jobs that are coming. The income information will give you a good range as to the types of housing that people moving into this area will be able to afford.
Development Plan: The planner’s office will have projections of what they would like to see developed over the next few years in various parts of the county. If you know what they want to build, you can get a new project approved very quickly because it fits within what they want to see happen. This process completely avoids the potential hang up of not having the county approve a new project.
The development plan may also help you find a new opportunity to make a profit as an investor that you may have not previously considered. By spending some time with the city planner, you can acquire information that can make you a handsome profit. It is all about being able to gather knowledge; that is what will put you ahead of other investors.
Again, the whole point is that there are so many tools and resources available to you as an investor. When you learn to utilize them, you put yourself ahead of the competition and make yourself like that elite crime fighter.