Tracking vacant home owners down

Hi all,

I have finally made up mind to do Real Estate Investing full time. I have been placing adverts in newspapers, driving for dollar, telling people and so on. Now here is my question; how do I contact vacant home owners? Where can I buy bandit signs?

I live in Austin TX.


There are a few places to find bandit signs. and are a couple.

As far as finding owners, you can start with the tax records. If that doesn’t list the address, you can try sending a letter that may be forwarded or if you want you can pay a skip tracer to track the owner down.

I know this isn’t that relevant, but I recently found 25 vacant homes and just to get an idea for how to find the owners I sent each a post card with no information (other than my mailing address and the vacant house address) that said on it:

-do not forward-
-return service requested-

It seemed that the post office would send all of these letters back to me with the forwarding address on them. I think my local postman decided it would be easier to just throw them all away then to actually do what the post office is required to do.

That should work in your area though. You probably have a legitimite post office.


Many people say to do this, but I have found this to be a worthless activity for several reasons:

  1. This assumes the people who were last living there were the owners. If they were tenants, you have nothing.

  2. Forwarding orders expire - so if the property has been vacant for more than 12 months - and in some cases for more than 3 months - you get nothing.

  3. Many people facing financial or personal problems leave without leaving a forwarding order - again, you have nothing.

  4. The courier delivers them - even if the house is vacant. if there is no one to refuse service, they just pile up inside the door.

  5. If they can’t be delivered - sometimes they get misdirected to the dead letter file. You’ll eventually get it back, when they go through the file twice a year (maybe).

The best way to find property owners:

  1. Assessor records

  2. Go door-to-door in the neighborhood. Ask if anyone knows the owner, where they might live now (city, state, etc) and do they know any clubs, churches, etc they belonged to or where they worked.

  3. Check out the clubs, churches, etc they belonged to to see if there are forwarding information there or if someone is there who knows what happened to them. Check with their old employers. They aren’t supposed to pass on info to you but if you are nice sometimes they’ll give you the forwarding information they sent thier W2 or 1099 to.

  4. Then check other government places (Post Office, DMV) for new addresses.

  5. If that doesn’t work - use a skip tracing service.

Good luck.

Good luck.

Hi all,

Thanks for all the input, I really appreciate them all.

IHMO, this is not real a true investment strategy as I yet to talk with or hear from someone who has done this on a consistant and reproducible basis as a sole focus. One of the biggest problem besides finding the people is getting them motivated to do anything (like even consider your offer, return a phone call, etc).

That not to say its a complete waste of time, but I view it more as a complimentary strategy to say traditional rehabbing, flips, etc. as the odds are pretty long to get a deal actual to come together. I’ve few of these as I happen to notice a particular property down the street or around the corner from something else I’ve owned and it had some charateristic (usually location) that made me think it might be worth try to purchase it.

As for bandit signs, I suspect you will mainly get a flood of calls from people who are overleveraged/underwater in shabby houses they overpaid for.

Agreed. My investors and I work certain areas, so have homes we’re building there. Many of the owners aren’t ready to sell, so you have to send to them every month or so consistently. When they’re ready or know someone who is, they’ll contact you. In the meantime, it can’ t be your #1 strategy because it’s not as proactive as talking directly to a motivated seller.

To track the owners, contact the neighbors since you already do farming around certain areas. Put a ‘for sale’ sign in their yard and that’ll get them to call (along with other buyers so you can build a buyer’s list too)–slick huh?