Most neighborhoods that are older than say 10 years, probably have one of those houses that look like an abandoned house. Heck, we lived in a 3-year-old subdivision for a while and we had 2 on the same street that while not abandoned, sure looked like it. No one lived there, the grass got quite high, and the outside of the house, while fairly new, looked like it was falling apart.
What does an Abandoned House Look Like
Generally, but not always you are not going to see a lot of activity around the house. Not many people coming or going. The yard will probably have overgrown bushes. The grass will be rather weedy and quite tall. And it will have an overall feel of an empty house when you look at it. Som
Other times, they are not quite abandoned. For example, there are several houses in our area where the owners have moved on and no longer live in the home, but they still do the bare minimum to keep the codes violation people off their backs. They mow the yard, they pick up the trash, they have someone stop in a couple of times a month to check on the house. But still, the yard is weedy, the bushes and trees are neglected, and the house has a lot of little issues that need to be fixed on the outside. And since we have been inside all three in our area, we understand the inside is much worse.
Why Do Homes Get Abandon?
Generally, what we see the most often is that the person who owns the home passed away with no immediate heirs in the area. They may have a long-lost cousin or something, but no one really knows them or that they passed away, so no one steps up to clean out the house and sell it and settle the estate. Or they do have an immediate heir, but this person either does not have the time or ability or just does not want to deal with cleaning out the house and getting it ready to be sold.
Other times the owner is in financial distress and can no longer afford the mortgage. Rather than waiting out the time for their lender to foreclose, they just move out and move on. Then the house sits vacant until such time that the lender forecloses and then sells the house. This can sometimes take years.
How Can You be Sure it’s Abandoned?
When you first look at a house it is really hard to tell the difference between something that is abandoned and something that is vacant. If you are a neighbor you will probably notice that someone stops by from time to time, that the yard does get mowed by someone. You can always check public records to see if where they are sending the tax bill. You might also compare notes with other neighbors to see if anyone knows.
Can the City Help?
If you are fairly sure it is abandoned, and you can’t find anyone who wants to take responsibility. You can turn to the city codes department. If no one is maintaining the yard they will mow it a few times a summer. And if the home is open, with open or broken doors and or windows, they will also board it up, to make it more secure and to keep the neighborhood kids out of the home.
If you have interest in buying the property
- Start with the tax records to see where the tax bill is going and try to send them a note or go knock on their door if it is local to see if they might have an interest in selling.
- If the tax records point to the house in question, then you might check the tax records to see if the same person owns other property and where those tax bills are being sent.
- Our next step is to do a google search of each individual owner’s name, the city where the house is located, and the word obituary. This will tell us if the owner is deceased and who their heirs are.
- Then we get busy trying to locate the owner if they are still alive or their heirs if they are not. There are many great services online that for a fee will look people up and give you all names, phone numbers, emails, social media accounts for a person plus all their known relatives.
- We then call if we have a working number or text. We send emails, although they mostly don’t work and we also try to connect with people on Facebook and LinkedIn and send them a message asking about the house.
Before Making an Offer
Always, always, inspect the home before making an offer. If it has been vacant any length of time, especially over the winter months, there could be all kinds of issues lurking in the walls that you can’t see from the outside. And many of the major components may need expensive repair. If you don’t know what you are looking at, be sure to put an inspection clause in your contract that will give you so many days to hire an inspector to take a look and give you a report.
Getting Someone Else To Buy It
We get it, You have your house and don’t really want another one. But you do get tired of looking at that vacant house or the abandoned house next door. And what about the less desirable criminal element who might just move in? And what about property values? A vacant or abandon home next door and reduce the value of your home.
So, what can you do? Well, if it is in the greater Kansas City Metro area, you could tell us about it. We look for vacant and abandon homes and then we get busy tracking down the owners or their heirs to see if we might be able to purchase a home.
We have bought a lot of this type of home over the years. We currently live in a home that had been vacant (not abandoned) for 4 years and we are working on the vacant home next door. We hope we can buy it in the next year.
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It was great not having to go in and clean up that unholy mess and worry about disposing of everything. I hope you guys make a good sale on the property, I’ll be only too happy to refer you to others.
Thank you, Scott, that house has been a stone around my neck for the past ten months. I’m so glad that your mom friended me on FB and got things rolling, I’ve had a lot of deaths in my family in the past seventeen months,(my father, my estranged husband, and my only sibling–my brother. I have been swamped trying to deal with it all simultaneously. You guys took me by the hand and drug me through what needed to be done, and I appreciate that.