Expanding Your Deed-Grabbing Horizons
Deed-grabbing is usually only practiced on homes whose owners have been delinquent on their county tax dues for long enough to be at risk of losing their properties to a tax sale any day. In some cases, though, you can make a profitable deal on a property that's many months or years from such a tax sale.
The benefit to getting to such properties early in the game is easy to see. If you only went after properties in a tax sale, you would only get to work once a year, right before the county actually attached such properties. When you go after them early, though, you get to work year-round to set up profitable deed-grab deals. You also get to neatly side-step the competition.
Here's how you know what properties are delinquent on their taxes
Every county maintains detailed information on the property tax arrears it is owed. Long before properties become delinquent enough to merit a tax sale, then, the county knows about it. Here, the well-organized deed grabber has an opportunity. You get to approach the county and file a request to see a list of all such properties.
Deed grabbers have other usable opportunities, as well. Once counties send tax sale notices out to homeowners, they are required to prepare a delinquent tax roll -- a list of homes in each specific state of delinquency. Each time such a list is prepared, you get to file a request for a copy. Even small counties tend to have thousands of homes listed. These lists are a great place for a deed-grabber to start.
Talking to homeowners who aren't looking at an imminent tax sale
The whole point to finding homeowners who aren't about to lose their property right away is to approach them while you have plenty of time. You can't use the same strategy with them that you would apply to homeowners looking at tax sale notices, though. It isn't even usually a good idea to mention tax delinquencies when bringing your offer to such a homeowner.
Rather, it's a good idea to simply send out mailers informing these homeowners of your interest in buying a property in the area. If they do contact you, only then do you tell them about how during a search of the public records, you found out that their property was delinquent on applicable county taxes, and how the county could take over the property if no payments are made.
A few homeowners will certainly be interested in the information you're giving them. You can use the opportunity to get your message across, and gather as much information as possible about the property (the condition it is in, about any liens or property mortgages and so on). In return for the kind of information that you help these homeowners with, they are likely to consider giving you the first shot at their properties when a tax sale turns up.
You have the luxury of time
Since tax delinquent property lists usually have thousands of records, you have a large number of potential homeowners to try your luck with. Approaching these properties months or years before they come up for a tax sale gives you a few advantages that may not be immediately obvious:
. You get to buy these properties for a few thousand, pay back taxes on them, cheaply fix them up and sell them. When you get a house early, the taxes owed are likely to be not very high.
. You get to shop the property around until you find a good price.
. You get to sell properties on owner financing to your buyers.
Going after tax delinquent properties long before the tax sale can be an extremely profitable business. It only requires more groundwork.