Absentee owners are so much more than individuals who have chosen not to live in a particular home; they also represent excellent opportunities for savvy investors. After all, absentee owners are one of the single most telling signs of a potentially motivated seller. And what are motivated sellers, if not for an investor’s best friend?
Investors who can successfully market to absentee homeowners will have an easier time closing deals. With that in mind, investors need to learn how to create absentee owner lists that will help them bring in viable leads and close profitable deals.
What Is An Absentee Owner?
Aptly named, absentee homeowners are exactly what you’d expect: the owners of properties that neither live in their assets or actively manage them. Absentee owners stay true to their name; they exercise more of a laissez-faire approach to the concept of owning a home.
Absentee owners may be away from their properties for countless reasons. It is entirely possible absentee homeowners don’t see the property as anything other than an opportunity to capitalize on appreciation and therefore see no reason to live on site. Others may reside somewhere else and are unable to live in the house for the simple fact that it’s too far away to actively manage. If we are getting technical, you could even consider landlords to be absentee owners, as they are not living in the house, but I digress. The phrase “absentee owners” is reserved for those that covet a more hands-off ownership strategy. Here are several situations that can qualify someone as an absentee owner:
The owner of the property inherited it through probate.
The property owner has relocated but has not sold the property yet.
The property owner initially purchased to property to rent but has not been able to find tenants.
The owner strictly bought the property for capital appreciation and does not want to live in it.
The property was bought for a relative but they no longer live in the property.
The property owner serves in the military and is now on active duty in a different location.
However, it is worth noting that not every homeowner has the luxury of removing themselves from a house without it representing some burden. Many of the vacant homes remain empty because the homeowners either can’t occupy them or don’t want to, and that’s where investors come in.
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Why Are Absentee Owners Valuable To Real Estate Investors?
Absentee homeowners represent not only a specific demographic that is willing to allow their asset to sit vacant but also something much more appealing to investors: an opportunity to acquire a deal. While not every vacant home is up for sale, many absentee homeowners are what we in the business refer to as motivated sellers. Due, in large part, to the vacant state of the homes, it’s safe to assume absentee homeowners have “less of an attachment” to the property in question. More specifically, you could argue absentee homeowners have more of a reason to sell than those owners that physically live in the property. Therein lies the real reason investors should pay special consideration to absentee homeowners: they are more motivated to sell than their non-absentee counterparts.
If for nothing else, motivated sellers are an investor’s favorite demographic. After all, motivated sellers are more inclined to sell their home and sell it at a price that will facilitate a deal in a timely fashion. At the very least, many homeowners’ absentee position places leverage in the hands of today’s investors. The next question is, how can you find absentee owners easily?
How To Find Absentee Owners
Absentee owners are a lot more commonplace than most investors realize. Absentee homeowners can be hiding in your neighborhood in plain sight. That said, if you hope to capture absentee owner leads, you need to know how to find them and, better yet, what to look for. Familiarize yourself with the following strategies if you want to learn how to find absentee owners in your area:
Drive For Dollars: As its name suggests, driving for dollars will have savvy investors get in their car and drive, all the while keeping an eye out for properties with a single telltale sign: neglect. If, for nothing else, poorly maintained properties may suggest the property has an absentee owner. That, or they don’t believe in maintenance. One thing is for certain: you’ll never know until you ask them. That said, there’s a direct correlation between the absence of an owner and poor curb appeal. Homes with tall grass, chipping paint, overgrown shrubs, or even smaller signs of neglect could hint at an absentee homeowner. As such, take notes of the homes in your area that could use some TLC and dig a little deeper.
Check Rental Listings: As I already alluded to, an absentee owner is simply someone that doesn’t live in a home they own. However, that’s not to say that nobody is living in the home, but rather that the owner has chosen not to make it their primary residence. Rental properties, for example, may fit a broader description of an absentee owner property and are therefore assets investors should target. In doing so, browse local rental listings and pay special considerations to how long each posting has been up. Prolonged vacancies in rental properties could be weighing on certain homeowners, making it more likely that they will want to sell. Again, you never know until you ask, but it’s safe to assume prolonged vacancies could motivate some absentee owners to sell, and sell fast.
Cross Reference Tax Records: Visit your local town hall and ask to look at tax records. Proceed to match the tax records with the property addresses of respective properties. Every address that is not the same as the property has an absentee owner. The fact that the owner’s primary residence doesn’t match a subject property’s may suggest they have at least two homes, one of which they are not living in. These homeowners may be prime candidates for a direct mail campaign.
Buy Absentee Owner Lists: If your budget allows it, try buying a list. Some companies will compile absentee owner information for you, but it’ll cost you. It is worth noting, however, that you’ll get what you pay for. Cheap lists may have outdated information not worth your while, whereas an expensive list could be a great source of absentee leads. Just be sure to do your homework before you buy an absentee owner list.
What is an absentee owner, if not for a potentially motivated seller? And while not all absentee owners are guaranteed to be motivated sellers, more absentee owners are likely willing to part ways with their properties than those living in a primary residence. That makes them valuable leads, no matter how you look at them. Therefore, it could pay to know how to find absentee homeowners.
Creating & Acquiring Absentee Owner Lists
The two most common ways to gain absentee owner leads are through marketing and networking to create lists or acquiring existing absentee owner lists through purchasing. While both are viable options for investors, if you do not have the experience to create your own list, you may want to consider purchasing an existing one. Building your absentee owner list requires both time and a significant amount of marketing.
Building your absentee homeowner list has several benefits that differ from acquiring an existing list. You can attract inbound leads who need your services. Creating your own absentee homeowner list means you are not reliant on third-party data or services. You can build your list organically, and lower competition for yourself as the list you build is unique. Personal relationships with your prospects are also strengthened.
If you choose to acquire an absentee list, you are working from data that already exists, reducing work significantly. You then gain the ability to instantly scale prospect databases and have the capability to force growth when you need to. Highly targeted leads can be found more precisely, helping you find the best deals easily. Try and assess which strategy works best for you.
How To Follow-Up On Your Leads
The key to landing deals, particularly with absentee owners, is to follow up on your leads. As much as every investor wants, no homeowner will hand over their keys the first time they speak to an interested buyer. Instead, investors need to focus on consistency and timing to build relationships with potential clients. By following up more than once, investors can break away from the competition and increase their chances of securing the property when the owner is ready to sell.
The first step in this process is to develop a system for tracking your leads. Write down when you contact someone new and make a note each time you follow up with them. This will help you stay on top of each lead and signal when it’s time to follow-up. Depending on your preferred communication method, follow-ups can even be automated to ensure no one is left out. Automation will also save you time as you reach out to more and more potential clients. Always remember that following up is key when maintaining leads. It will often take multiple points of contact to land a deal with an absentee owner — so don’t let anyone fall through the cracks.
Real estate is a numbers game; it always has been and always will be. The more leads an investor has at their disposal, the more likely they will land a deal. And while understanding how to find absentee owners can tip the scales in your favor, it’s not the only method for uncovering deals, but rather a compliment to a larger marketing strategy. If you want to give yourself the best odds of finding a deal, I recommend exercising every lead generation strategy at your disposal and building up an absentee owners list
Have you had any luck trying to find or market to absentee owners? Better yet, have you had the privilege of buying a deal from an absentee owner? Let us know how the process unfolded for your particular situation in the comments below. Or, perhaps, feel free to share any learning experiences you came across.
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