Sale of abandoned property (sale of run-down property) - Guide (2023)

Finding the Best Buyer When Selling a Run-Down Home

An abandoned property refers to an abandoned or unoccupied building “vacant housing” that is in a poor state of repair because no one has permanently inhabited it for at least 6 months.

  • Common characteristics of abandoned properties include:
  • The gardens are dense and unkempt
  • The complex is full of garbage.
  • Property is infested with pests and rodents
  • Nobody enters or leaves the building (if there are no trespassers)
  • Windows and doors are boarded up or covered with wire mesh.
  • Trespassers carry out illegal activities on the property, such as drug trafficking
  • The building has broken doors, broken windows and holes in the roof/walls.

Sale of abandoned property (sale of run-down property) - Guide (1)

Por George Nicola (Expert Stager)


What is an abandoned?

A derelict is a derelict or derelict property, often one that has been neglected for a long period of time and has become derelict in appearance.

Abandoned properties are in almost every neighborhood. They have a worn looking facade and show no signs of life. Broken fences, overgrown weeds, overgrown lawns, broken windows and crumbling walls.

The Abandoned Property Guide – Study aims to raise awareness and importance of the growing problem of abandoned homes with no residents around the world by educating and providing an insight into the possibilities of selling, buying and finding abandoned homes.

Examples used:

  • In-depth search – United Kingdom
  • Brief information – Canada (Vancouver), USA (New York); Australia (Sydney/Melbourne); New Zealand (Auckland), Hong Kong

Reviving abandoned properties is a way to reduce the “waste of empty houses”.

To warm up, see how an Austin couple bought a run-down home for $5,000 and completed the space renovation.

Why do people abandon abandoned properties?

Many abandoned properties remain abandoned for longer periods of time due to a number of valid reasons. It all starts with homeowners abandoning properties when costly repairs are in need and they realize it is unsafe and expensive to live there.

Renovating your home may not be cost-effective when you need to do a variety of repairs, such as concrete replacement, plumbing, electrical wiring, foundation repair, landscaping, painting, roofing, and many others.

Once the occupants leave, empty homes will not only be accessible to criminal activity, but also pose a risk to the lives of squatters. For example, in 2006, 25% of abandoned houses in England were completely or partially destroyed by fire, as reported by the London Fire Brigade.

This negatively affected the value of adjacent properties. The period 2017-2018 saw an increase of 5.3% in the number of long-term empty houses, which represents over 11,000 long-term empty houses in just one year.

On average, one in every 60 homes is abandoned or remains empty for a long time.

During the global covid pandemic, according to some sources, the amount of vacant and abandoned buildings increased due to people being restricted to work on their projects.

Other related reasons why people abandon abandoned properties include foreclosures, bankruptcies, unforeseen deaths, and hostile divorce proceedings.

Buying an Abandoned Home: What You Need to Know

To buy an abandoned house, you should start by doing some research to determine who owns the property and if they are willing to sell it.

Once you've identified the owner, contact them to find out more about the sale. It may be necessary to negotiate a reasonable price and arrange financing or other payment arrangements.

Depending on applicable laws and regulations, it may be necessary to deal with tax liens, municipal claims against the property, repair obligations and other legal issues before finalizing the sale.

If required by your state or local county, obtaining any necessary occupancy permits before anyone moves into the home is another consideration.

Buying a future abandoned house: steps

See how an Austin couple spent $1,000,000 and bought a rundown house and they loved it! In the video they explain why they took the step, what their plans were and how they managed to do everything.

If you are looking to buy a ramshackle house, farmhouse, terraced house, pub building or any other type of wooden house that has been abandoned, it is important to understand the process and what you could be getting yourself into.

  1. Search the property's history.
  2. Assess structural integrity and compliance with local building codes.
  3. Submit any required bids or respond to auction notices.
  4. Ask a professional home inspector to visit the property.
  5. Secure licenses and relevant documentation from appropriate government entities.
  6. Determine if the abandoned home is free of mortgages and other liens.
  7. Consider taking out risk insurance when buying an abandoned home.
  8. Check city laws before starting repairs or renovation projects on your abandoned home purchase.

As a “ruin home buyer,” the more you understand the seller's and buyer's rights and responsibilities, the better off you'll be.

The condition of a house is always the most important factor when thinking about buying an abandoned house. It is critical to determine if the property will require a cosmetic repair or if a more extensive structural repair is needed.

If it's the latter, you may need to hire a repair service company or home inspector to make sure the property is safe and sound.

Once the home's condition has been determined, it's important to consider the property's value, especially when considering a home improvement loan.

FHA 203(k) for US Readers and Renewal Mortgage (UK). It's best to consult a financial advisor or lender to explore your options.

The loan amount is based on the “after repair” value of the property and will typically finance the cost of renovations.

If you decide to buy an abandoned house, it is also essential to have a good understanding of the “homes in foreclosure” process.

This includes how the property was acquired and how long the foreclosure process took. Additionally, you'll want to research area laws regarding abandoned property.

Buying a rundown property can be a great way to invest in real estate, but it's important to understand the process and all the potential risks that go with it, especially if you've never done it before.

Doing your due diligence and research can help you make a more informed decision and secure a great deal.

Now let's see what the process of managing your abandoned construction project would look like.

Who is responsible for managing abandoned properties?

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It is the duty of owners of abandoned buildings to protect the property and make it safe.

Privately owned derelict buildings that are openly accessible and dangerous to the public are generally managed by local authorities who direct the owner to make the building safe.

In case of claims or injuries resulting from events in abandoned properties

  • like fire
  • explosions
  • storms
  • unstable chimneys
  • broken glasses
  • weak walls and fences
  • loose tiles

among others, local authorities are obliged to oblige landlords to pay for any resulting costs.

Therefore, owners of derelict properties should make practical efforts to secure buildings before abandoning them by fencing them and posting clear “no trespassing” signs.

This increases the chances that trespassers will be compensated if they suffer any injuries while on site.

This article provides buyers, sellers or even agents with tips and tricks for using digital services like virtual staging, virtual renovation, etc. to sell and buy abandoned properties at better prices.

We can help you determine if you need a full service design or just advice. Free interior design consultant >


Introduction to the market and its problems

Although on the verge of a housing crisis, the UK has 840,000 properties deemed derelict, derelict, empty or unoccupied, with England leading the way with around 290,000 homes.

Furthermore, a large number of these houses are exactly the most sought-after type: family homes rather than city center apartments.

Crumbling bricks, broken windows and overgrown gardens of empty houses could be a visual legacy of the economic downturn caused by the Covid pandemic, if steps are not taken to bring more properties back into use.

In the US, one out of every 63 residential properties in cities is abandoned, which means that approximately 1.6% of all residential properties in the US are abandoned/empty.

With an ever-increasing immigrant population, the government needs to build at least 4.6 million residential properties and renovate an estimated 11.7 million vacant homes by 2030 to address the looming housing shortage.

The White House reports that by 2022, about 35% of the American population would not own a home. More than half a million (580,466 people) Americans do not have a home to sleep in each night, while nearly 17 million potential homes were empty. If the global number of homeless citizens wasn't shocking enough, between 2017 and 2019, there was an increase of more than 34,000 homeless people nationally homeless – even before a global pandemic and expected recession.

The UK government has fallen short of its target of building one million new homes by 2020 or 250,000 homes a year, while the US has failed to build more than 325,000 new homes a year to meet projected demand by 2030.

It is still advisable to renovate empty properties to compensate for this acute shortage. The good news is that it takes about six months for two-thirds of abandoned homes to be occupied after being temporarily vacated.

When is a house not a home?

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Many homes are not purchased as a primary residence, but rather as a store of wealth, a means of capital appreciation and a source of rental income – a combination of all three. Capital appreciation is a prominent attraction in markets that saw property prices triple between 1996 and 2006-2007.

Despite some fluctuation since the financial crisis, there has been significant further price growth in most major countries.

Some equity investments are of national origin, others are of international origin.

This calls into question the definition of such property as a household and the degree to which local planning targets the annual contribution of new construction to the housing stock, houses for permanent residents to live in, and is realistic or accurate.

What is the government doing about abandoned houses? *UK

Abandoned properties are considered detrimental to the market value of adjacent properties, which can drop by up to 12%. This means that homeowners and real estate agents can lose a lot of money after selling a home situated next to a run-down property.

According to a study conducted by Hometrack in 2003, homeowners with properties located near an abandoned home sold for less than 18% of its value compared to an occupied home.

In 2008, the UK Government started to implement some important measures aimed at renovating vacant houses and getting them back on the property market for residential use. By granting derelict property owners an Empty Property Lease of up to £20,000, along with a 5% discounted renovation VAT rate, the government has subsidized the cost of renovating empty properties across the UK.

The government encouraged local authorities to reduce the 50% council tax rebate for abandoned properties. Furthermore, once a property has been renovated to meet the Decent Housing Standard, it is usually listed on the Housing Delivery and Planning Grant scheme, which allows owners to access financial incentives to meet construction targets.

However, the above-mentioned measures were not effective enough to solve problems related to dilapidated houses with land for sale, since they are largely located in uninviting neighborhoods.

According to the Halifax report, the 80% of local authorities that have the highest number of abandoned properties are among the most run-down areas in England.

Often, the most difficult task is finding the right buyer who is willing to take up residence in the abandoned property after renovation.

Things to consider before investing in abandoned properties

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Buying, renovating and selling an abandoned property is a challenging but rewarding investment; therefore, you should consider a number of reasons before taking the plunge.

For example, under the Empty Housing Management Order (EDMO) in England and Wales, local councils can exercise the authority to repossess, renovate, rent and manage run-down houses, but cannot sell them. This means that only a few existing empty properties are usually listed for sale.

Be sure to check all deeds to confirm that the individual selling the property is the rightful owner. You may remember that deep-seated conflicts over ownership are also the reason for many abandoned houses.

Visit the property to check for trespassers. If the homeless and other members of the public can quickly access the property, it will not only attract criminal activity, but also accelerate the building's disintegration. Therefore, after buying the property, quickly secure it to avoid fights with squatters during an eviction.

It is important to note that it is demanding but profitable to renovate abandoned properties in a booming market. Abandoned properties with land for sale are located in the most horrible areas, prone to price drops, as many potential buyers prefer to live in convenient areas.

Claiming an abandoned property

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The increased interest in abandoned homes and run-down properties that go unclaimed is fueled by potential real estate investors looking for a property to renovate.

In the UK, you can claim ownership of abandoned property or abandoned houses. While vacant properties can be abandoned, they still have their rightful owners out there. This particularly applies to large rural properties that are likely to have many idle structures.

Most of these owners abandon them on purpose, and over time, abandoned buildings gradually fall into disrepair. For example, during Victorian times, landlords abandoned many old buildings on their large estates used as a handyman's residence or as a main farmhouse.

Therefore, claiming an abandoned property must, by definition, begin with the rightful owners taking possession of the land surrounding the property through a legal principle known as adverse possession.

This is done by landowners who erect fences and live there for a decade if the land is registered and for 12 years if the land is not registered.

As an investor, please make sure you consult the UK Land Registry for accurate information on whether the abandoned land/property is registered or not.

Transforming an abandoned property into a dream family home

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Many homeowners dream of turning an abandoned property into a stunning family home. Imagine taking an old, run-down farmhouse or an empty house and turning it into a home equipped with exquisite furniture without breaking the bank! Maybe only in the movies!

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A dilapidated house can be a great opportunity for renewal and a fresh start, as a Scottish couple recently demonstrated when they bought an abandoned stone house with the intention of turning it into a beautiful family home.

However, the process was anything but smooth and the renovation was delayed for over a year due to delays in planning approval and other unforeseen issues with contractors and builders. The same can be said for wooden houses and other abandoned houses, as the renovation process can often be more complicated than anticipated.

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Although the owners estimated the refurbishment budget at £150,000, they ended up spending more than double that amount, with the final bill at £330,000.

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Even if this example seems extreme, be prepared to face similar situations, as they are common in the real estate market when it comes to renovating abandoned properties for sale.

Always plan carefully and set clear expectations to avoid many obstacles associated with abandoned homes/farms for sale.

If you're looking to buy a run-down home for sale, don't be too surprised by the risks involved, but simply take the right approach.

As turning an abandoned or derelict property into a dream family home takes special skills and hard work, you should hire professionals like Tallbox to assist you as desired.

solution sales

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Most homeowners are discouraged from listing their home on the market when they realize it needs an expensive renovation.

But let's face it!

Very few homeowners allocate the time and resources to redesign, rebuild, and redecorate their fixer-upper. So you should start looking for the most effective ways to sell empty and run down properties instead of occupied properties.

Options for selling cheap abandoned houses

“Cheap Abandoned Houses For Sale” is not a sign you'll find erected in neighborhoods with abandoned properties or on the side of the road. The sale of unclaimed abandoned property with land naturally attracts potential buyers due to its affordable price.

The rule of thumb is to opt for abandoned properties that are not only in good condition, but also in the right location. This gives you the opportunity to sell them to the right buyers who can quickly renew them and get a good return on their investment once they launch.

Below are some of the existing options for selling reclaimed abandoned homes that require a lot of work:

Sell ​​abandoned property “as is” with virtual renovation

Selling your abandoned property as-is means what the buyer sees is what they get, without spending precious time and extra money on expensive renovations.

However, before you sell it, you can use virtual staging to digitally “furnish” your home to show prospective buyers the potential of your run-down home.

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virtual renewalit is one of the cost effective ways to sell your abandoned property as is. These small renovation works can be done quickly by virtual staging specialists like Tallbox.

All that's left is the right buyer with a small renovation budget to bring the run-down property to life and even sell it for a nice profit later on.

Use:If you intend to sell “As Is”, we have a great answering post:What not to fix when selling a home

Hire a realtor

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It is important to hire a realtor or seek the advice of a qualified real estate agent to oversee the sale of an abandoned property.

However, instead of putting all the power in their hands, make sure you control the asking price so you can effortlessly change it when you're ready to sell.

Rather than selling an abandoned property yourself, consider the benefits of hiring a realtor.

Their know-how and experience not only give them in-depth knowledge of the market, but they can also give you insightful advice on renovating dilapidated homes for sale.

sell at auction

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Selling your run-down property at auction is one of the most effective ways to get the best selling price.

Even though an auction house charges fees, the biggest advantage is that the initial asking price can only go up, not down.

However, before auction day, it is necessary to set a reserve price, which is the lowest selling price that the auctioneer can achieve.

Therefore, sellers need to set realistic reserve prices to increase the chances of matching the winning bid.

Sell ​​abandoned property yourself

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A realtor will typically charge a service fee of up to 7% of the selling price. Although direct selling is not a very complex process, you need to understand the prerequisites to be successful.selling your abandoned property for profit on your own and get the mostvalue for it.

You'll save a lot of money that you would pay as a realtor's commission, usually a percentage of the property's sales price.

Due to the rapid development of full digital real estate technology, sale by owner (FSBO) is popular among owners of abandoned homes.

While you may not get a reasonable sale price for your property if you sell it yourself, you can use virtual staging to sell your property quickly without major renovations.

Your vacant home will be catapulted to another level without an upgrade and still sell at a reasonable price.

pro tip: If your house is run down but is on the best street, we have a guide:Tips for selling the worst house on the best street

Look for the Right Abandoned Property Buyer

If you're eager to sell your abandoned property quickly without making major repairs, a serious cash buyer is the most viable option.

We advise you to hire a real estate agent who specializes in buying/selling run-down properties to help you find the right buyer and closely monitor the sales process.

The right buyer will buy the property in its current state and pay the legal fees in cash.

Several realtors have connections with quick sale companies that often buy real estate for cash, even if it needs major renovations. Just make sure you read all offers carefully.

Tips for quickly selling an abandoned property

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If you are interested in renovating and selling a dilapidated property, or if you already have an unoccupied/abandoned house that needs some work, you can sell it by following the tips below that attract buyers quickly.

Scan the buyer pool for abandoned properties

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Potential buyers of abandoned properties often see potential above perfection, which leads them to buy empty homes and allocate vital resources to renovate them as desired.

Following are the three types of buyers you should be on the lookout for due to their willingness to renovate abandoned properties.

flippers– Investors or investors prefer to buy cheap abandoned houses at auctions, renovate them and then sell them at supernormal profits. Once a flipper sees the potential in your abandoned home, contact your realtor to determine its value by running a comparative market analysis of similar properties recently sold nearby. Just accept a decent price without letting the flipper fool you.

business hunters– These are buyers who prefer to live in a certain area, but can only afford to renovate a dilapidated house and live there for a while before moving to the upscale neighbourhoods. Bargain hunters are usually ready to buy an abandoned property with land for sale because they will have enough time to progressively upgrade it and accumulate capital in the process.

remodelers– These buyers have the financial capacity to buy a house in a certain location, but existing residential properties lack the most sought-after features. Therefore, they are potential buyers of abandoned houses because it gives them the opportunity to design the run-down houses to their unique standards.

TIP:If you're trying to sell your run-down home online, we have a great article on:How to describe an old house for salewhich provides step-by-step information on how to create the listing with strong call-to-action words.

Complete all minor repairs

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A well-maintained vacant house will not only be visited by many potential buyers, but will also deter intruders and criminals.

Minor repairs don't cost much, and even if you want to sell the house "as is," it's wise to inspect the house with your realtor to make sure they're all fixed. Minor repairs include, but are not limited to:

  • grout cleaning
  • Fixing leaky pipes
  • Replacing cabinet buttons
  • Installation of new light fixtures
  • Shrub cleaning and landscaping
  • Deep cleaning of bathrooms and toilets
  • Replacement of broken windowpanes and hinges
  • Covering holes in walls and painting the exterior

However, neglecting these crucial repairs can instantly repel a potential buyer, so make sure your abandoned home for sale lawns are mowed, flowers watered, compost organized, and driveway snow shoveled.

TIP:For those DIY enthusiasts, we have a great post on:What not to fix when selling a home

Secure all abandoned property entrances

If you want to sell your run-down house, make sure you protect it from trespassers and criminal activity. Securely lock all windows and use a safe key to avoid confrontations with intruders in the presence of potential buyers.

If the public can easily access the property, it will not only accelerate the building's disintegration, but also attract criminal and illegal activities. So, when your vacant home is ready for sale, secure every possible entrance to prevent trespassers from trying to gain access.

Prepare your abandoned house for sale

Preparation can easily attract potential buyers to your property. When you use virtual staging, which incorporates 3D furniture and related virtual furniture, buyers will see the potential to transform theempty house in stunning family home.

Tallbox's digital staging experts are skilled at taking photos of abandoned houses and fitting them with appropriate furniture such as sofas, chairs and tables to show potential buyers the potential of your space's interior and exterior.

TIP:In case your budget is not big, but you still want to improve and increase your chances in the market, we write5 tips for a virtual home makeover

Highlight the unique features of your abandoned property

The surprising features of your abandoned home make it unique, but if you don't highlight them, you're missing out on many potential buyers looking for details. You need to advertise your home's best features because they can make all the difference in closing a sale.

Be sure to mention to potential buyers things like great views, fireplace, closet size, master suite, home office, patio, large storage, open floor plan, garage, large windows for natural light, etc. neighborhood characteristics, such as proximity to parks and shopping centers.

Leave the lights on

All abandoned homeowners should make sure the vacant house is well lit, especially at night. A dismal home can leave potential buyers with the impression that it needs more repairs, and eventually the seller gets a lower offer price for it.

Turning on interior lights when the sun goes down can be achieved by setting timers for the electricity to trigger the switches at a specified time.

Exterior lights can be controlled by setting motion activated lights to keep the abandoned property well lit and portray some human presence in the house.

Reasons Your Abandoned Property Isn't Selling

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You bought an abandoned property, renovated it and put it up for sale. But the house remained on the market for several months, with very little traffic from potential buyers. Following are some of the top reasons your run-down property isn't attracting the right buyers.

You overvalued the property

It's common sense that if you overstate your home's value, you simply won't sell. Because overvaluing your abandoned property can instantly turn buyers off, it's important to find ways to determine its true value.

The biggest mistake most homeowners and realtors make is adding the cost of repairs to the asking price.

To avoid overpricing your abandoned property, do a comparative market analysis of similar recently sold properties nearby to find out their asking prices before setting yours.

If you have already advertised at a higher price and similar properties in the areas are selling for less, you will need to lower your asking price.

TIP:In this article we explainHow to deal with overpricing and underpricing

Missing brake appeal

Homes that lack attractiveness exude a homely feel!

Before listing your abandoned home for sale, you should ask yourself: does my property's exterior attract or repel potential buyers passing through the streets?

If more potential buyers are eager to see the inside of your home, then your attractiveness is making a great first impression.

Low-cost DIY improvements can increase the attractiveness of your abandoned property with land for sale.

It would help if you considered adding stylish elements to your home's exterior to make it a home.

When prospective homebuyers visit, they can't help but notice the manicured lawn, colorful mailbox, warm porch lights, window boxes, cozy front door mats, and so on.

TIP:If your listing is the only one that lacks Curb appeal because it's a little outdated or run down, never fear! We have an entire blog post on how to:Maximize curb appeal on a budget: Prep tips for maximum value

You have not staged the property

Statistics show that homeowners who set aside 1-3% of the asking price to cover the cost of professionally preparing their property often find buyers willing to pay 5-10% higher than the set price.

If you want to help potential buyers imagine living in the renovated version of your abandoned house, consider hiring a virtual staging specialist to highlight the features of each room.

Selling your run-down home without getting it ready will leave potential buyers turned off if they can't figure out how to use the existing space.

Preparing your abandoned property digitally incorporates furniture and stunning decor to inspire buyers with interior design ideas. As buyers take a virtual tour of the property, they should feel right at home.

TIP:If your friend or neighbor told you that staging is expensive and works in new homes, they were wrong. We explain how to make the right choice when selecting a staging:Virtual Staging Versus Real Staging: Making the Right Choice for Your Home

His abandoned house is in a bad state of repair

Even if your home was once considered sturdy and luxurious, the older it gets, the more likely it is to fall into disrepair.

The more repairs your abandoned property needs, the less likely it is to sell, because many homebuyers are not prepared to incur renovation costs for even minor repairs.

Most abandoned properties are often centuries old, which makes them prone to damaging factors such as bad weather and squatter encroachments.

When your abandoned property fails to withstand years of neglect and falls into disrepair, be ready to receive your county's mandatory purchase order.

You Hired the Wrong Realtor

One of the wisest decisions you can make when selling a run-down home is to hire the right realtor. A qualified, reliable and affordable Realtor can help you sell your home quickly.

However, it's worth firing those real estate agents who claim to market your abandoned property with dedication but take months or even years to close a sale.

To work closely with realtors, actively seek their feedback as soon as potential buyers view your abandoned property to see if you can pull some strings to increase the likelihood of closing a sale.

An effective old trick for evaluating realtor performance is to use a mystery shopper to impersonate a potential buyer. Their feedback will help you decide whether to keep your realtor or hire a new one.

TIP:Real estate agents with no experience or even worse – if they have bad intentions they can fail in their efforts. We explain which are the most common:16 Good Versus Bad Tactics for Realtors

buying solutions

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Buying abandoned homes is a profitable real estate investment strategy that we recommend because it is ideal for reselling homes and executing an investment strategy for renting real estate.

If you are an ambitious buyer or an enthusiastic real estate investor, you can start small by buying cheap abandoned houses as income property. It would be better to create a strategy to find and buy them quickly, before other veteran investors notice them.

3 Key Steps to Buying Abandoned Property

How Real Estate Agents Don't List Abandoned HomesHouses for sale, you need to arm yourself with important approaches that can be used effectively to identify and recover abandoned homes without encroaching on private property, even after it has fallen into disrepair.

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Step 1: Identify the Abandoned Property

Did you know that the first step taken by 44% of all homebuyers is an online home search?

The same applies to those who are willing to invest in abandoned properties and farms for sale.

So, if you want to buy, renovate, and resell cheap abandoned homes in specific locations, browse real estate websites to get more information about them. Most derelict properties have been abandoned recently or are on the brink of foreclosure.

To increase your success rate, start by browsing real estate websites and property databases using specific keywords including 'under appraised', 'should sell', 'below market value', 'immediate possession', etc.

You will be presented with an exhaustive list of available abandoned properties, unclaimed land and other properties for sale in the selected area for you to choose from.

Also, use bank listings to explore abandoned homes in prioritized areas of your choosing, as banks regularly maintain online listings of properties for sale after foreclosure. This is a good way out of your city that can be used as a vacation rental.

Drive through selected locations

Physically visiting an area you are interested in in regards to buying a derelict property can give you a competitive edge over other realtors.

You could book every Sunday afternoon, for example, to wander around several potential areas to find cheap abandoned houses.

Take a friend with you not only to be safe, but also to get a second opinion.

As you look around, look for characteristics of abandoned properties to help you identify the right property. Visible signs of neglect include boarded up windows or unkempt lawns.

You can also look for “For Sale by Owner” signs, which are often common in run-down homes. However, be careful when trespassing on private property, even if it looks deserted in the middle of nowhere.

Ask adjacent neighbors about the property

Adjacent neighbors play a significant role in providing important information to those interested in purchasing an abandoned property.

To avoid confrontations with abandoned property owners, knock on the door of immediate neighbors to find out more about them. Introduce yourself, be polite, and if they're willing to talk, ask their opinion with specific questions like:

  • “Who lived there before?
  • “How long do you think the property has been empty?”
  • “When did you realize you were really abandoned?”

Whether the occupants of the abandoned property were good or bad people, the neighbors could take this opportunity to provide you with important information about the house.

Before leaving, ask if they have the owner's contact information.

Examine the Abandoned Property Carefully

Never enter any property that looks abandoned without taking care not only for your safety, but also to avoid being sued for trespassing.

Even without entering an abandoned property, you can discover important information to solve its mystery.

For example, if the mailbox has uncollected letters, try reading the date indicated on the bottom envelope to estimate the time the occupants were last in the house.

Cluttered yards and tall grass can also help you determine how long the property has been abandoned.

Also, if the entrance has cracks, it could mean that the property has been abandoned for a long time.

Finally, you can take the risk of finding out if the utilities are working from the power meter box, which is usually located on the property.

Visit the County Clerk's Office

If the rundown home has an address, visit the county clerk's office to look for records on various abandoned homes in the city and county, along with property tax histories, current appraised value, etc.

This will provide you with details of the last owner of the derelict property as specified in government property records.

Even if the deed does not name the owner, most city governments normally assume that the individual who paid the last property tax is the rightful owner of the property.

It is important to note that you may find properties abandoned in the name of a mortgage company or a bank.

Step 2: Explore the Abandoned Property

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  • Gather important information

As soon as any abandoned house catches your eye, be eager to find out why it was abandoned or has been vacant for so long. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • How old is the property?

  • Is there anyone left to manage the property?

  • How many immediate properties are occupied?

  • Has the property been damaged by a natural disaster, eg fire, tornado, flood, etc.?

  • Did the family die due to a tragic event?

Seeking answers to this information will help you get in touch with “current” or “former” owners and give you a competitive advantage when listing multiple abandoned properties in the area.

Seek permission from abandoned owners

Technically, all abandoned houses have owners.

Therefore, attempting to access them without the owner's consent even when they are empty is considered trespassing.

If the property can generate good profits after renovation, it is important to ask the owners for the asking price and buy it “as is”.

To avoid hefty fines or jail time, find ways to track down degraded landlords to allow you to exploit their properties.

Unless the deed has your name on it, locating owners can be challenging, especially if registrants are deceased or have a long history of ownership.

To check in with the owners, write a letter detailing your request, for example taking pictures of the property.

Report to local authorities

If your efforts to track down run-down owners prove futile, notify local authorities of the abandoned house, starting with the police.

The local police unit can give you the necessary permit to explore the property, which also protects your safety and any legal ramifications.

Local police often act as bodyguards for explorers who are eager to see various exotic buildings.

Likewise, local authorities have the ability to escort you to a property that looks uninhibited for a long time, provided you convincingly explain your intentions to them. If it's your next visit, please share some photos of the properties to ensure authenticity.

protect yourself

You never know what you'll find in an abandoned house, which makes exploring it very risky even in the best of situations.

Therefore, it is advisable to avoid entering the property at night and always have a companion by your side when exploring the abandoned property.

Make sure you fully charge your phone and once you enter the property, regularly check your phone for active network signal.

Wear protective clothing such as high boots to protect your feet, long-sleeved shirts to cover your arms, pants to protect your legs, masks to facilitate breathing in dusty environments.

No more damage to property

One of the famous mantras of urban explorers is that when exploring a territory, “take nothing but photographs” and “leave nothing but footprints”.

This mantra is crucial to protecting run-down properties from collapse or degradation.

Even though you might accidentally drop some elements when maneuvering around the property, avoid changing any settings on purpose.

If you've successfully located the owner who gave you permission to check out the abandoned property, it's wise to provide feedback.

Start by emailing a digital version of the photos you took while exploring the property or a thank you card to express your appreciation.

Step 3: Take back ownership of the abandoned property

Sale of abandoned property (sale of run-down property) - Guide (24)

No more damage to property

  • Contact the registered property owner

The rightful owner of the abandoned property can be determined by visiting the county clerk's office to look for records of various abandoned homes in the area, along with the properties' tax histories, current appraised value, etc.

According to recent research, those who own properties damaged by tax problems or liens are always quick to sell when an interested buyer appears.

You can send a postcard to the owners if you find their mailing address.

However, if the degraded property belongs to a mortgage company or a financial institution, look for contact and make a call.

Start by introducing yourself and expressing that you are interested in purchasing a property and need further guidance.

  • Consult a real estate agent

Once you have exhausted all avenues and strategies for contacting the abandoned homeowner, you may want to engage the services of an experienced realtor to guide you through the process of repossessing the abandoned property.

A real estate agent can provide landlords with important information about properties in different regions, as well as implement effective ways to buy abandoned properties.

You can quickly buy an abandoned house with the help of a local agent with admirable experience in buying / selling abandoned properties.

Real estate agents can help you analyze your local market comprehensively, interpret comparisons or the most recent comparable sales, as well as the most recent sales patterns.

In addition to the ability to access unique property information, they can also connect professionals such as attorneys to provide more purchasing solutions.

  • Conduct a title search

It is important to note that several bond companies charge around $75 to $200 to conduct the search.The report will reveal the owner's details, along with details of any unpaid property taxes or liens.

If you would like to receive the title report free of charge, please visit the country offices. However, you may only receive the property owner's name. Your attorney can help you through the process of obtaining an abandoned property title report by requesting a copy from a title company.

  • Consult your lawyer about buying abandoned property

Once you've decided to buy a derelict property, you'll need the informed advice of an experienced attorney.

For example, if your home inspector identifies that an abandoned home is in disrepair, your attorney can help you negotiate with the seller about necessary renovations before closing the sale.

As counties and cities have passed different laws governing the purchase/sale of abandoned properties, an attorney is the best suited professional with the ability to navigate these laws.

Additionally, attorneys can help you purchase an unclaimed abandoned property or an abandoned house with an untraceable owner.

  • Make an offer to buy the property

Once you're convinced to buy the property, do a thorough appraisal to help you calculate the costs involved in making major and minor repairs.

You should also include appraisal fee estimates, title insurance, inspection fees, attorney fees, and closing costs before submitting a proposal to the owner.

If the owner was willing to sell the property from the start, you could buy it for less than its market value.

If the owner has accrued property taxes, you will have to deduct the amount from the asking price as it will roll over to you once you buy the home.

Your realtor should actively help you come up with a competitive, negotiable offer on the abandoned property.


Buying and selling repossessed homes meets the demand for residential housing in different regions.

Refurbished abandoned properties provide people with reasonably priced housing to rent or buy, improve the neighborhood environment, and discourage antisocial behavior such as vandalism, squatters, etc.

The fastest way to sell dilapidated properties is to use digital services like virtual staging, virtual renovation, etc provided by Tallbox.

We offer free, no-obligation quotes for buyers, sellers, agents and investors looking to sell their homes quickly.

Have a house to sell? We can help with your marketing!


What are townhouses?


What happens to a house when no one lives in it? ›

Usually when a house is sitting vacant with no sign it can be one of several things: It may be under foreclosure but not foreclosed yet and the people have already left. It may be going to the tax sale auction for delinquent property taxes and the people are gone.

Why are homes abandoned with everything left behind? ›

Owners may find it simpler to leave the house in its current condition and go on because it might be challenging to sell the property. Even personal items are left behind because the urge to distance oneself from the house outweighs making reasonable decisions like cleaning it out.

Can you claim abandoned property in Florida? ›

Florida Unclaimed Property

There is, however, no statute of limitations, and citizens have the right to claim their property any time at no cost.

What are the dangers of an empty house? ›

Vacant properties are far more vulnerable to vandalism, arson, or simply to the impact of extreme weather, such as storm damage, or to utility leaks, which if unnoticed can severely damage the fabric of a building.

Can a house be called a home if no one lives in it? ›

Legally, a home is a person's permanent primary residence—even if they aren't currently living there. A physical location is still legally considered a home if there is an intention to return and the resident has not claimed someplace else as their legal place of permanent or principal residence.

What is it called when you live in an abandoned house? ›

Squatting, the practice of living in abandoned or unoccupied spaces that a squatter does not legally own, is a great way to avoid paying rent, annex parts of your neighbors' yards, or even take a whole house from someone if you're willing to take the risk.

Do people take things from abandoned homes? ›

Can you take stuff from abandoned houses? Taking stuff from abandoned houses without permission is illegal. Even though the house may be abandoned, it still belongs to somebody, including any contents inside. So taking anything would be considered theft.

Where are the most abandoned houses? ›

The Most Vacant Cities in America: 2022 Data. The three most vacant cities in the U.S. are all in Florida: Orlando, Miami, and Tampa. These cities are known for tourism and vacation homes, which means houses sit vacant for much of the year.

Is there an app to find abandoned places? ›

Abandoned World *officially* allows you to discover the exact location of Urbex spots.

What does Urbex stand for? ›

urban exploration in British English

noun. a recreational activity in which people explore derelict urban structures such as abandoned sewers or underground railways or attempt to access areas which are closed to the public such as the roofs of skyscrapers. Often shortened to: urbex.

Can you get your house picture removed from Google Maps? ›

Request to blur or remove a photo

Find and open the 360 photo that violates the Google Maps Image Acceptance and Privacy Policies. In the bottom right, click Report a problem. Complete the form. Click Submit.

What are the Florida laws on abandoned property? ›

If no one acts to take possession of the property, and the value of the property is believed to exceed $500.00, the landlord may sell it at public sale. Before the sale may occur, notice should be published once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation where the sale is to be held.

Can I take ownership of an abandoned house in Florida? ›

Once a Florida home is abandoned, it becomes a much easier candidate for someone to claim their own possession of it via adverse possession, but they'd have to meet all the requirements first—a process that could take nearly a decade.

What is the property abandonment law in Florida? ›

According to Florida Statute § 83.595 that under the circumstances of rent payments not being current and also if there is an absence of written notice indicating that the tenant will be away, the landlord can presume abandonment if the tenant is not present on the premises for 15 consecutive days.

What happens if you buy a house and don't live in it? ›

The bank can call in the loan. Also, the insurance company will reject any claims you make as you fraudulently specified the homeowners insurance as owner occupied. So if the house burns down, you owe the entire mortgage amount and insurance isn't paying a dime.

What can you do with an empty house? ›

Transform it into a home office or co-working space. Utilize it for storage purposes. Turn it into your own private office space. Renovate and turn it into a multi-occupancy household.

What would happen if you never left the house? ›

You probably wouldn't notice a huge difference at first, other than a bit of cabin fever. But after a week and a half, things may start to change. Ironically, after spending all that time indoors, you may start to feel tired, no matter how much sleep you get.

Is a house worth less if someone dies in it? ›

The Bottom Line. You may lose some value on a home with a recent death, but there are other ways to recoup costs. One way is to monitor your credit before applying for your next mortgage with a free credit report and score—and improve your score to get a better rate on your next mortgage.


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