Have you been driving by a home that appears to be abandoned over and over again? Maybe you've been struck with the idea that you should buy the home, fix it up, and live in it. There are people who do this, so it is a possibility. Here are a few tips to help make it happen without accidentally ending up in financial ruin.
1. Ask the county clerk who owns the home.
Your first step will have to be figuring out who owns the home. This can be tough since online records are not always updated accurately. Your best bet is to take the home's address down and head to the county clerk's office. They can give you the name of the owner, but not always the contact information. You may need to use White Pages or a similar service to look that up yourself. Contact the owner and say you're interested in buying the house; they may be excited at the idea, or they may tell you "no" outright.
2. Have the home professionally assessed.
If the owners are willing to sell, your next step is to have a property condition assessment consultant look it over. Do not make any offers, verbal or written, until you complete this step! The home could have some major issues, like fire or water damage, that are not immediately apparent but are the reason it has been abandoned. The assessor will let you know exactly how much the home is worth. Often, they can give you a list of the major problems with the home that bring down its value.
3. Make an offer.
If you are still comfortable buying the home once it has been assessed, you can make an offer. Often, you should start at less than the assessor told you the home was worth. This gives you some room to negotiate if the buyer wants more. Note that buying an abandoned home with a bank mortgage is rarely an option since banks want homes to be livable and in good shape before they will issue a loan. So buying the home in cash is really your only choice.
If the buyer wants substantially more than the home was assessed for, feel free to show them the assessor's report as proof that the home is not worth more than you're offering. If they won't take the assessed value, walk away because it's not worth overpaying for a house that needs major work.