The harder it is to find an owner, the more likely you’re gonna be the only one to find them.
Don’t forget to introduce yourself to the neighbors, and ask if they know the owner, and/or where he is. However, the neighbor will want to know that you’re someone who’s gonna fix the house up, not someone who’s just chasing his neighbor for other ‘reasons.’ Few people want to be a snitch.
Back in the day, I tried to find neighbors that would let me pick their brains on the situations going on at the house. They often have ‘stories’ of why the house is vacant, etc. This is the time to spend some time talking. Once the neighbor likes you, and is comfortable sharing information with you, he’s more likely to tell the owner about you, when he sees him again. Neighbors then become referrals, if not testimonials of what a great guy you are.
Never mind that they’re anxious for you to clean up their neighbor’s fugly house.
BTW, just for giggles, I have reported derelict situations to the codes administrator. Somehow ‘they’ know how to reach the owners, and ‘somehow’ the owners come by the property and find my notes on their doors in a short time. (After I’ve removed all the other investor’s cards and letters from the property…). I’m no dummy.
Meantime, now the owner is finding my card at the same time he’s being threatened by the city, and suddenly he has the motivation to do ‘something’ with the house, besides letting it rot.
BTW again, this can also work on vacant, rotting REO property… Of course, this assumes you’re in contact with the bank’s REO gatekeeper/agent, and they actually become motivated to unload that particular deteriorating asset.