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Pittsburgh, PA
414 Grant Street, 4th Floor, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15219

Step-by-Step Guide to Buying Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Neglected, Vacant and Abandoned Real Estate

Vacant and abandoned buildings in Pittsburgh, PA fall under the jurisdiction of the Real Estate Division of the Department of Finance.  The Pittsburgh Land Bank is also active in purchasing property prior to foreclosure.

About the Properties

All vacant land parcels in Pittsburgh listed on Derelict.com are city-owned. 

Note: We highly recommend finding a good real estate lawyer to help you through the acquisition process.

Step 1 - Check Pittsburgh Web Sites

Start with the following sites and cross-check the property you found on Derelict.com.  If you find the property there then it makes things much easier as it means the property is city or ccounty-owned. 

Pittsburgh Department of Finance Real Estate Division - Includes vacant land, court auctions,  and sealed bid sales of real estate.  Simply follow the instructions on the site and complete a Request to Purchase form

Pittsburgh Land Bank - The purpose of the Land Bank is to amass, inventory, manage and market blighted, abandoned, and tax foreclosed properties.

Allegheny County Economic Development - The lead economic development agency for the county.  Check this site for valuable incentives to rehab and redevelop properties.

Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh - This is the lead economic development agency for Pittsburgh.  In addition to offering property for sale, they also assist home buyers and developers through financing programs and support.

Step 2 - Identify the Property Owner

If the property is not city or county-owned, check the sites below to find the owner of the property.

Allegheny County Real Estate Portal - This site will provide you with the owner's name, assessed value and tax information.  If property taxes are past due, they would need to be paid if you acquire the property.

Allegheny County Recorder of Deeds - Use the name you found at the Real Estate Portal above to view the deed for the property.  Sometimes the deed includes additional owners not listed in the tax records.  Click on "Free Search" in the top menu.  You can also find mortgages here to see if a financial institution is involved as well.  There is a nominal fee to download mortgage documents ($1.00 per page, maximum $10).

If that didn't work, try PublicData.com or PeopleFinders. These are both paid services, so they have access to a lot more databases.

Step 3 - Research Property Background

This step is very important to help you get a better understanding of the property's history and potential issues before you approach the owner to see if they are willing to sell. 

Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections, Code Enforcement Division - Check here for any code violations on the property.  You will need to make any repairs to bring the property up to code.  You can also find about other permits issued.  There is no online searching at this time.

Step 4 - Contact the Owner

At this point you should have enough information to be able to contact the owner to see if they are willing to sell.  If the contact information for the owner is old, you may need to do a little more digging to find them. Again, you might need a paid service like PublicData.com or PeopleFinders. There is also a possibility that the owner is deceased and their estate is probated.  To find the will of the deceased and learn the name of the new owners you can use the following site:

Allegheny County Civil Court Probate Search - Search for wills and probate cases tied to the deceased owner.  Click on Wills/Orphans' Court Division and then Search.

If you've determined the owner is deceased and there was no will recorded, the process for acquiring the property becomes much more involved and can take years to complete.  To acquire the property you would need to have the property escheated.


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