House prices have been increasing recently, so in order to become a property owner, you need to have a lot of money available. Thus, many people (especially young ones) cannot make their dreams come true. Numerous working Americans perceive owning real estate as something they will never be able to achieve.
However, some of them become more and more interested in claiming an abandoned house. It is possible for a finder of abandoned property to claim it, as the Cornell law school says. However, it refers mostly to clothing, furniture, or other personal effects abandoned in a dwelling. When it comes to lands and buildings, they usually belong to someone because even if an owner dies, a relative inherits the real estate. For this reason, even if you find a property that looks abandoned, there may be a person claiming ownership. Nevertheless, in rare cases, it happens that a person can find an unowned house and successfully claim for it. We will tell you how!
How to Find an Abandoned House
If you want to get an abandoned property, you can try to search for it in various ways, such as the following:
Look around. Maybe there are some buildings in a nearby area that seem to have no owner. Pay attention to signs that suggest that a house may be abandoned. Usually, in such cases, the paint is faded or chipped, there is a lot of overgrown grass and weeds, structural damage (like broken glass or rotten wood), and no vehicle in the driveway.
Visit the county’s clerk’s office. The best source of information on whether there are abandoned buildings in a particular area is the county’s clerk office since the government stores property ownership records.
Check the property auctions nearby. Federal law violations in the US sometimes result in the government seizing real estate. Such buildings are often offered at local property auctions, so check them out and if you find something interesting for you, take part in it to try to sell an abandoned house at an affordable price.
Talk to a courier or mailman. As they are continuously traveling around your area, they may have noticed some abandoned buildings on their routes. If they have never seen anyone there and never noticed any car parked nearby, such real estate can probably be claimed.
Contact banks about a list of homes under foreclosure. If it happens that a property owner must deal with foreclosure or bankruptcy, they sometimes decide to abandon their house. In this case, it may take a while to conduct all the legal procedures. For this reason, it is an excellent idea to ask a bank about real estate that is under the repossession process or have been foreclosed.
Ask local realtors about an abandoned property. It is significant for local realtors to know about vacant and abandoned buildings nearby because it impacts their business. Namely, if a house stands next to a damaged, abandoned property, fewer clients are usually interested in it as it can be considered a creepy neighborhood.
How to Make Sure That a Property is Abandoned
Even if you see that a building seems unattended and neglected, it is not enough to be sure that it has been abandoned. It happens that people find their homes in negative equity or fall into mortgage arrears, and they prefer to leave them. However, despite being empty, such property still has an owner. What is more, it often happens that a bank repossesses a building, and your claim is not valid.
One of the most significant steps you need to take when you want to purchase an abandoned house is to do some research trying to identify the present owner. If you have enough information to make sure that they have really abandoned this real estate, or if it is unlikely for any legal actions to be launched, it is time to try to acquire the building legally.
To have a valid confirmation of your assumptions, it is advised to look up your local county tax records. They will show whether the current owner regularly covers the property taxes or is in arrears. Moreover, the deed of the house can also be checked to get the owner’s contact information.
There are more and more abandoned buildings nowadays due to the recession and subsequent foreclosures, so there can be some opportunities for you to find abandoned buildings if you take your time looking for them. If it turns out that it is impossible to locate the owner, there is an alternate solution to try to get the house – adverse possession.
How Does Adverse Possession Work
Not everyone is aware of the fact that you can actually get an abandoned property for free due to the right of adverse possession. In order to let it happen, you must make sure you meet all the essential criteria:
- actual and continuous possession of the building,
- living in the house openly (no secret hiding),
- not have specific permission from the previous owner,
- lack of shared control of the property (it has to be yours only).
Bear in mind that your adverse possession claim can be challenged or declined for various reasons. For example, if you leave the house for some time and then try to come back, your rights to it may seem invalid. You can also be declined if it is revealed that you actually live in another place or allow someone else to share the adverse possession claim.
The common misconception is that official permission from the owner helps them to get an abandoned property. In fact, you should remember about all the conditions mentioned above, including the one associated with the lack of permission. Apart from that, find out the minimum residence period required for adverse possession in your state – in some of them, it can even be up to 30 years.
If you want to increase your chances of winning the case in court. In that case, you can prove that you intend to legally possess the abandoned house by making the necessary repairs and covering the property taxes, especially within the period set in your state (5 to 30 years). The repairs do not have to be very serious – you can simply fix a hole in the fence or a leaky toilet, for example. It will undoubtedly contribute to maintaining the abandoned house to a livable standard.
Is It Risky?
You should be aware of the fact that attempting to get a property through adverse possession has a certain risk. It is always possible that the owner returns before the end of the waiting period, and they will claim their rights by demanding you to leave the building or even charging you for trespassing. If you have invested your funds in renovating the house, you will likely lose them at this point. For this reason, it is crucial to do your best to find the owner before attempting to get the building.
One of the ways to try to find the property owner is to send a letter because thanks to a forwarding address, it may reach them in due time. If you manage to locate them one way or another, you can make an offer to buy the property at a reasonable price. It may happen that this building is an inconvenience anyway, so they may be happy to hear such a suggestion and accept your conditions willingly. Moreover, they likely owe some back taxes, so they may offer you the abandoned building for free if you agree to pay the dues.
Before you sign any agreement and pay the money, read it carefully and take your time to familiarize yourself with all the conditions so that you do not regret it afterwards, when it may be too late. What is more, it would be excellent to contact a property inspector who will judge the property’s value and inform you about any possible structural issues that can result in costly repairs sooner or later.
Is It Recommended to Get Professional Help?
Understandably, you may have no knowledge or experience with property selling, so professional help would definitely be a great idea. A competent expert will inform you about all your rights and obligations associated with claiming an abandoned property in your state so that you can make the right decision. Keep in mind that even if you think it is easy to find abandoned buildings and sell them, there are many legal aspects that you may not be aware of. Going through this process with a person who knows what to focus on when purchasing property is much easier and less stressful and can provide you with more benefits than if you were doing it on your own.
Whenever you need help with real estate selling for cash, claiming, etc. our team will be happy to assist you. With our expertise, you will be sure if a property is worth your attention, and what legal steps should be taken to achieve it on the most advantageous terms possible. We are here for you – just give us a phone call or send us a message!
To receive a FREE, NO OBLIGATION cash offer on your home, call (888) 387-5750 or click the button below!