Rookie Podcast 90: Rookie Reply: How to Find the Owner of a Property (Without Being Creepy)

Rookie Podcast 90: Rookie Reply: How to Find the Owner of a Property (Without Being Creepy)

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This week’s question comes from Joey on the Real Estate Rookie Facebook Group. Joey is asking: Was driving in a new part of town and came across a house that had a yard that hasn’t been maintained in months and the house looks unkept.  Any suggestions on how I should go about finding the owner and asking if they would be interested in selling? 

We had a ton of great responses in the Facebook group, but Ashley and Tony will do their best to answer based on their own experience and their preferred style of skip tracing. You can do this both for free or for a fee, it all depends on which information you need!

Here are some suggestions:

  • Look up your city’s GIS mapping website and find the owners on the title
  • You can also use Propstream to skip trace the owners for a small fee
  • Reach out to neighbors and ask them if they know anything about the owner
  • If the owner is an LLC, go to your Secretary of State’s website to look up the LLC owner 
  • And more in the episode

If you want Ashley and Tony to answer a real estate question, you can post in the Real Estate Rookie Facebook Group! Or, call us at the Rookie Request Line (1-888-5-ROOKIE).

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Ashley Kehr:
This is Real Estate Rookie episode number 90.
Niner E. I don’t even know how I would say that to try to throw a niner in there. I am your host, Ashley and I am here with your other host, Tony. And today we are back with another Rookie Reply. Tony, what is new with you today?

Tony J. Robinson:
Ashley Kehr, what’s going on? Today’s a good day for us. We just listed our property. It’s officially live on the MLS and we’re selling one of our Joshua Tree properties. We’re super excited to see how this thing is going to turn out for us.

Ashley Kehr:
And by the time you guys listen to this, we are hopeful that it will be sold, right Tony?

Tony J. Robinson:
We are so, so hopeful, but we’re putting in the listing that whoever buys this house also has to buy my house in Shreveport that nobody wants to buy. So they are a package deal for whatever investor wants both of them together.

Ashley Kehr:
And you guys have heard about that property 10 times already, and that is why I am so, so hopeful that this property sells right away. So we’re not getting pitched two properties.

Tony J. Robinson:
Two properties.

Ashley Kehr:
But I was just telling Tony that I listed a property about three weeks ago too that hasn’t sold at all either. So maybe I’ll start pitching that one for people to buy.

Tony J. Robinson:
They have to pick and choose between the bad investment in Buffalo and Shreveport. [inaudible 00:01:23]. But yours is cashflow positive, at least, right? I’m actually actively losing money right now. So if anyone has pity, take pity on me first.

Ashley Kehr:
Well, ours is vacant. We rehabbed it, and we were actually just going to rent it out. And then we had a realtor convince us to sell it and we got all excited about what she thought she could sell it for and it is not selling. So we’ll probably take it off the market and rent it out, or I was actually thinking of turning it into an Airbnb because there is a brand new beautiful event center that just opened right next to it. And I think the closest actual hotel is maybe 20 minutes away from it. So I can’t wait to have Tony help me do this. [inaudible 00:02:09].

Tony J. Robinson:
That’s a big opportunity, right? If you find a property in a market that’s underserved, you can go in there and be the big player, if you’re the only one in there. So I would be more than happy to help you. I’ll just charge you an implementation fee instead of [inaudible 00:02:22].

Ashley Kehr:
Here’s my credit card.

Tony J. Robinson:
All right, well, let’s get into today’s question. We’ve got a good one today from the rookie group. For those of you that are listening, if you have not joined the Real Estate Rookie Facebook group, you are absolutely 100% missing out. This is one of the most active Facebook groups I’ve ever been in. Like I said, every time I try and go in there and answer a question, there’s already 10, 20, 30 answers on there that are all really great answers. So look at the Real Estate Rookie Facebook group, and get active if you haven’t already. But today’s question comes from Joey Tate. And Joey’s question is, “I was driving in a new part of town and came across a house that had a yard that hasn’t been maintained in months and the house looks unkept. Any suggestions on how I should go about finding the owner and asking if they would be interested in selling. Thanks in advance.” So, Ash, what do you got for our guy Joey here?

Ashley Kehr:
This is a really good question for us because I feel like we both go and look at properties and immediately try to figure out, okay, how do we buy this? So the first thing I would do is if you see this property, obviously write down the address for it. Then there is GIS mapping software. So just Google your county GIS mapping and it should come right up. So this is a parcel mapping software where you can type in the address and it will give you information, such as what the county taxes are, who the property owner is and a mailing address for them and also kind of give you an estimate of the lot lines of how big the property actually is, how many acres. So I would start there looking at that. And then you can also see an owner’s history. Maybe they’ve owned it for a really long time, or maybe they just bought it within the past year.
You can view that too. And I know Tony will want to talk about this too, but there’s also PropStream, that software that we both love and I use it daily now. I love it. So you can try PropStream. What is it, Tony, a seven day free trial for it?

Tony J. Robinson:
Yeah, I think it was seven day free trial. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ashley Kehr:
We need to get them to sponsor us.

Tony J. Robinson:
Sponsor. We’re sending a lot of business their way. I think you hit on all the big things too. First, Joey love that you’re I guess mature enough as an investor to identify when a property does look like a potential opportunity to buy. So many people, they drive around all day passed so many opportunities and they don’t even recognize it. So the fact that you’re a rookie, but you have the awareness to identify a potential deal when you see it, kudos you on that one. Ashley’s advice is spot on. I think using PropStream is a great way to get in contact with the potential owners of this property. Super simple. You plug in the address and once you have the property pulled up, you can skip trace that person for, I think it’s like 12 cents per skip trace. So literally for a few pennies, you can figure out who the owner is, get a phone number or potentially an email, and you can either send them a text message like, “Hey, I’m actually by your property. Curious if you’d interested in selling.” Send them a postcard.
I’ve heard other real estate investors that as they’re driving around, they’ll take a picture of themselves in front of the property and they’ll mail that as a postcard to the owner. So I was actually just in Joshua Tree last Friday, and as my partner and I were leaving one of the houses we just got under contract, very similar situation to Joey, I saw a house that was super overgrown, like yard that looked like they had started construction, they didn’t finish it. So I hopped out, took a picture in front of it and I’m going to send them a postcard saying, “Hey, I was at your house. I’d love to buy it.” So, I think Joey, just being courageous enough to reach out is the biggest part.

Ashley Kehr:
One thing that I’ve seen people that are doing too now when they’re driving for dollars and they’re seeing properties is leaving the door hangers that you’d see on your hotel room. I know Ballpoint Marketing, they have these where you just hang them on the door and it has your information and it says, “Hey, I want to buy your house. So here’s my phone number or whatever you want to put on it.” I’ve seen that as a way too, so maybe you’re not actually door knocking and disturbing the person, but you can just hang it on there so that they see it.

Tony J. Robinson:
I have a funny story about door hangers. When I was in college, I started a small math tutoring business. I was a tutor in math and then I had some other tutors working with me and I printed out I think 600 door hangers. And I spent three or four days in the middle of summer going around my neighborhood, putting up door hangers and I got exactly zero phone calls from any of those door hangers. Not saying they don’t work, you probably need to put up more than that. And I had no reason to believe that any of these people needed math tutoring services. I literally just dropped my finger somewhere on the map and said, I guess I’ll start here and it didn’t quite work out for me. But if you have a list that you think might have some value, then door hangers could be a good way to go.

Ashley Kehr:
I had no idea you were a math nerd.

Tony J. Robinson:
I actually took all the way up to calculus in three dimensions multi-variable calculus in three dimensions when I was in college. Don’t ask me about it now because I can’t remember any of it, but that was that.

Ashley Kehr:
Well, I’m going to tell you what your first mistake was. The first was that you didn’t go around your college dorms and hang those to other students in college. You just went around your neighborhood. You should have went to the college kids.

Tony J. Robinson:
Most of the college kids I knew were probably not interested in paying some other college kids there to tutor them.

Ashley Kehr:
So you were looking for high school kids or younger kids.

Tony J. Robinson:
I usually get high schools, junior high kids, things like that. Entrepreneur through and through.

Ashley Kehr:
To go completely off topic, I was in mathletes for one year. There was 10 of us selected and me and my best friend were in it and we went to the competition and we got first place, our team. It was so awesome. But they also gave you your individual rankings. And so out of the 10 of us, I was ninth and my friend was 10. So we definitely held the team down but we still got first.

Tony J. Robinson:
Well, Joey, there you go. Now you found out about mine and Ashley’s history as mathematicians before we became real estate investors.

Ashley Kehr:
So hopefully this was helpful as to different ways that you can actually find who the owner is. And if you are looking at a property, maybe it’s a vacant property too that you’re trying to find the owner, is don’t be afraid to find out who the neighbors are too and reach out to them. There was once this property listed, I think it was on auction.com where my partner and I actually, we stopped and door knocked at the neighbors house and asked them, what do you know about this property? And they were so nice and so helpful and gave us a very, very accurate description of what the interior actually looked like of that property since it was an auction property, and there was occupants in the property. There was no pictures or anything of the inside so it was really awesome that they were able to tell us what they knew about it and everything like that.

Tony J. Robinson:
One other thing to add, sometimes when you look at these properties on PropStream, it’s not an individual owner, it’s like an LLC and all they have listed is a PO box. If you want to figure out who the owners of the LLC is, go to whatever state you’re in, go to their, what is it? Like secretary of state’s online website. And usually you can punch in the name of that LLC and it’ll list who the members are. Sometimes it might have a phone number, sometimes it’ll at least have a mailing address so you can send them a postcard that way. So if you see a PO box, don’t get discouraged, or if there’s no information there, you can go that way to get the LLC information.

Ashley Kehr:
And even if it is a PO box, you can still send a letter there, but a lot of times, just whatever the initial information you find, whether an LLC or a PO box or someone’s name, just doing a Google search on that too will come up with some kind of crumbs that can lead you to more information on that person too.

Tony J. Robinson:
Cool.

Ashley Kehr:
Yeah, I think we’re good on that one. Well, thank you guys so much for joining us today. I am Ashley, @wealthfromrentals and he’s Tony, @TonyJRobinson on Instagram. And he now has two properties for sale if you guys are interested. And we will be back on Wednesday with a new episode. Make sure you guys are subscribed to our YouTube channel. It has all of our podcasts episodes that are released, and we are also putting out new content weekly, different videos that we’re doing. And also, Kyle and Lauren from Rentals To Wealth too. So make sure you guys check that out. Well, thank you guys for joining us and we will see you next time.

 

 

 

 

 

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