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Abandoned vacant properties are located in all kinds of neighborhoods, from the richest to the poorest. They exist for many reasons. Maybe the owner died or could not afford his or her mortgage. The question is how do you research them so you can make informed decisions about buying these abandonedhouses?

Locate the address of the abandoned real estate

First search Derelict.com to see if the property has been reported as vacant or is designated as abandoned.  If you are unable to locate the property, that doesn’t mean it’s not vacant – it just means that it hasn’t been reported to the local municipality yet.  If you don’t know the address and since you can’t talk with the owner at this point, try and find the address on the mailbox. If this is impossible, look on the outside wall next to the front door. Still no luck, check the neighbors’ house numbers and see if you can infer the address from them.  Typically streets are numbered with odd numbers on one side and even on the other.  If the property sits between 113 and 117 for instance, in all likelihood the address is 115.

Find the name of the owner

Once the address is known, you can look it up on the internet at the site for the local municipality. Sometimes it will have the owners’ names. If not, contact the commissioner of revenue or the assessor’s office. They can usually supply it to you.

Research at the city or county building department

The office of the clerk of circuit court contains all types of information about the real estate that is located in their jurisdiction. Look in the probate section to see if there is a will. This is important because if the owner is deceased and there is a will, it will list the heirs. You will need to research their names.

Just because there is not a will does not mean the owner is not deceased. On the computer there will be a land records section. Put in his or her name to see if the death was intestate. This means there was no will filed. The administrator will have filed a list of heirs if they existed. Not finding anything means the owner could still be dead or alive.

Loans, tax liens and judgments

Place the owner’s name in the land records section. Loans, tax liens and judgments will show up if there are any. Substitute Trustee Deeds are normally filed because foreclosure is near. Tax liens can be from the county, city, state or federal government and means the owner has not paid the debts owed. There is now a cloud on the abandoned property. This means that payment must be made before or at the time of purchasing the vacant urban real estate before banks and mortgage companies will give you a loan.

Real estate property taxes

Property taxes are based on the assessment of the abandoned real estate. As time passes, the value will fall more. When dwellings are not maintained they deteriorate. The treasurer will give you the annual amount, along with the amounts of any delinquencies.

Urban renewal

Rehabbing, flipping or a redeveloping abandoned real estate is welcomed by most municipalities. Urban blight costs them a lot of money and empty neighborhoods lead to higher crime rates.