An absentee owner is simply an owner of a property that’s not living at a property location and it can be a huge opportunity for real estate investors.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a primer on how to work an absentee owner list that is still relevant, but something that I missed in that article is how to build a quality absentee owner list. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

Who should you consider for your absentee owner list?

A number of home and rental owners qualify for your list:

  • Other investors and landlords
  • Anyone with a vacation home or getaway
  • People who receive a property as part of an estate settlement
  • Properties that aren’t rentable or sellable – lots of these on the market!
  • Owners who live out of state or out of the country

Where do you find these absentee owners?

I recommend that you start with public records. Then you’ll want to move to a subscription service or list broker. Let’s look at the least costly first.

Public records search (cheap, but cumbersome)

We’re going to start at public records portal that charges by the record (it’s cheap): http://publicrecords.netronline.com/

Once you’re here, you’ll look for your state and the county where you’ll start your search. You can search by street, name or parcel number. This is a good place to search if you already have some “drive-by” properties targeted. You can find a number of reports and records with different price points.

And remember, you are just looking for an owner whose address is different than the property address.

List brokers absentee owners list search (simple and self-service, can be pricey if you don’t know what you’re looking for)

List brokers including MelissaData.com and ListSource.com will help you build a list based on criteria you enter in the search. They have the ability to cross-reference other data and give you a list that even includes the absentee owner category. You will be given pricing options once you’ve entered your criteria. I like this approach because the sorting and work is done for you on the front end. You also don’t have to pay a subscription fee.

Subscription service (for the investor who needs help navigating data, not cheap)

Some companies offer subscriptions for accessing their data such as RealQuest.com and Realist.com. These services require that you work with a sales rep to set up your subscription. If you’ll be doing this a lot and need help navigating the sea of property data, this option might be for you.

My recommendation for building your absentee owner list

Personally, I like the mailing list brokers. You buy only what you need and don’t have to get a middleman involved.