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Mastering the Art of Finding Vacant Properties: A Newbie’s Guide to Real Estate Investing

Good morning, everyone! Daniel here from Propelio. Today, we’re diving into the intricacies of real estate investing with Frankie Martinez, a flooring contractor looking to break into the world of properties. Our focus? Targeting motivated sellers and uncovering vacant properties.

Meet Your Hosts: Daniel and Frankie

Daniel’s Background

I’ve been a full-time real estate investor for about a year. Although I’m still learning, I’ve been fortunate to pick up some incredible strategies along the way.

Frankie’s Background

Frankie is as new to real estate as one can be. He owns a flooring company called Fans Renovations. His hands-on experience in home renovations makes him a valuable asset in our discussion today.

Unlocking the Secrets to Finding Vacant Properties

An Unexpected Revelation

It all started with a serendipitous dinner where I overheard a conversation about using the Public Information Act (PIA) to source vacant properties. Intrigued, I did some digging and discovered this could be a game-changer.

What is the Public Information Act?

The Texas PIA grants the public the right to request information from government bodies. Here are the essentials:

  • Existing Records Only: Requests must target already-existing records.
  • Exceptions: Some info can be denied, but it’s specific.
  • 10 Business Day Rule: Government bodies have to respond within ten business days.

Tackling Denials and Finding Loopholes

Initial Obstacles

Some cities initially denied my requests, citing various reasons. But persistence led me to a valuable loophole: I could get street addresses, but private info would be redacted.

Focusing on Residential Water Shut-Offs

By targeting recently disconnected residential water services, I could identify potential vacant properties. I requested data for the last 30 days to keep the leads fresh.

Cross-Referencing Owner Data

Using Central Appraisal Districts

Once I had the addresses, the next step was to find the owner’s name and address using Central Appraisal District (CAD) records. For efficiency, I hired virtual assistants to handle this time-consuming task.

Building a Comprehensive City Spreadsheet

Creating a Target List

I listed all the cities I was willing to invest in—a total of 170+. Each city had its own method for data requests, tracked meticulously in a spreadsheet.

Systematizing the Process

Documenting and Outsourcing

I documented every step, trained my staff, and scaled the operation with virtual assistants. This allowed me to mail postcards consistently and affordably.

Affordable Postcards for Targeting Sellers

Cost-Effective Marketing

Unlike other forms of marketing that can be expensive, postcards were cost-effective. The lack of competition made this approach even more advantageous.

Dominating Your Chosen Marketing Strategy

Real estate investing is all about consistent marketing. Pick one strategy, dominate it, and then outsource it for continual success.

Revealing an Opportunity in Lack of Competition

The low competition in certain smaller cities highlighted a golden opportunity. Many city officials had no clue about the Public Information Act requests, making it a relatively untapped resource.

Mentors vs Self-Education

While mentors are invaluable, so is the grind. The successful investors I’ve seen often learn by doing, not just by absorbing information.

How to Submit Public Information Requests

Contact the Right Officials

To file a Public Information Act request, reach out to the city secretary or the city attorney, not the water department.

Attorney General’s Role

If a city denies your request, the Attorney General can step in to enforce disclosure. They are serious about transparency.

Free vs Paid Lists

Though most lists are free, a few cities charge. These fees are typically minimal, making the data well worth the cost.

Example Spreadsheet Details

The spreadsheet includes:

  • City Names: Cities where you’d consider investing.
  • Request Methods: Filing methods for each city.
  • Cost: Whether the list is free or paid.

Innovations Like Back Window Advertising

Creative Marketing

In my next session, I’ll cover how to use back window advertising on cars, inspired by strategies pioneered by top investors.

Sample Motivated Seller Situations

  • Just Sold: Recent sales aren’t useful.
  • Moved Out: Vacant properties are potential leads.
  • Couldn’t Make Payments: Signs of financial stress.
  • Emergency Shutoff: Indications of urgent issues like burst pipes.

Q&A from the Audience

Throughout the session, we answered real-time questions, providing tailored advice and clarity.

Consistent Marketing is Key

No matter your chosen method, consistency elevates your chances of success.

Evaluating Different Marketing Methods

From direct mail to SEO, find what works best for you and stick to it.

Direct Mail vs Other Approaches

Postcards worked for me due to the low competition. However, if you have more time than money, door-knocking or cold calling might be your best bet.

Making Your Marketing Stand Out

High competition areas demand creative touches—consider unique, memorable mail pieces.

Niche Strategies and Scaling

Find your niche, master it, then scale by outsourcing tasks to free up your time for higher-value activities.

Key Takeaways

Mastering the art of finding vacant properties requires a mix of strategic thinking, persistence, and leveraging available resources like the Public Information Act. By targeting recently disconnected residential water services and cross-referencing owner data, new investors like Frankie Martinez can uncover valuable leads. 

Consistent marketing, such as affordable postcards, and creative strategies like back window advertising, can give you an edge in a competitive market. Whether you learn from mentors or through hands-on experience, the key to success in real estate investing is dedication and continuous improvement. Start small, systematize your process, and scale your operations to dominate your chosen niche. Happy investing!

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