Vacant Houses: Perhaps The Most Lucrative, Yet Overlooked, Property Type For Investors

It’s pretty amazing how many good deals I’ve done over the years on houses that were vacant and had no “For Sale” signs on them. The reason there have been so many is that I began focusing on them early in my investing career, and they have remained a primary and integral part of my business ever since.

What I love about them is that when there is no “For Sale” sign, it’s reasonable to presume they are not in the MLS and are not being marketed, at least with any degree of effort as F.S.B.O (For Sale By Owner) properties are.

…Which means no one knows about them!

If they’re not in the MLS, the investors who are focused on the MLS, which is the vast majority, don’t know about them. Similarly if they’re not being marketed as F.S.B.O., investors who are focused on that part for the business are not seeing them either. Then if you consider that we all suffer from the “we don’t know what we don’t know” syndrome, it becomes easy to see why this is an almost stealth segment of the investing market.

And Here’s Where Things Get Interesting…

What I have also come to learn over the years is that most owners of vacant houses are motivated in any of a number of ways, even if only mildly – but they are motivated none the less. Property taxes, insurance, weather, liability and the “3 V’s”, vermin, vagrants and vandals, are certainly chief among a huge list of potential motivating factors. Another big motivating factor may only come when you contact the owner and suggest they ask their insurance agent if the property is actually covered while it is sitting vacant. It almost for sure isn’t, and many folks are unaware of that. I have also found that private owners are particularly motivated around the time(s) the property tax bills hit them. Property taxes in most communities are ugly if not unfathomable.

I find that vacant houses tend to come in 2 primary “flavors”: Bank owned and privately owned.

Now, there are some exceptions to this but in general, it’s one or the other. Both certainly offer significant opportunity but are very different in terms of how you approach them. In particular, with bank owned properties, you will almost always deal with a Real Estate Agent, will need verifiable proof of funds and cash to close – the days of “floating the funds” are long over. Then with private owned properties, there won’t be an agent, you probably won’t need Proof of Funds and with an assignable contract, you won’t need the funds to close, because in fact, you won’t close at all. Instead you will effectively sell the contract and be paid to go away. The trick with private owned vacant houses is finding the missing seller. In fact, when it comes to locating the seller, what I have learned is that the harder they are to find… the better the deal. I actually prefer properties where the site address and the owners address on file with the tax assessor match. When the site and mailing address match, it sure looks like a dead end to most, and that’s just fine with me because I know I can find them.

Now combine that matching address scenario with free and clear or high equity and, oh my gosh, you’ve got a big fish on the line. Click here to get access to the 100% automated tool I use to search for these BIG FISH nationwide! 

So how did I originally become interested in
houses with no “For Sale” signs?

It was actually a Real Estate Agent that clued me in. She was focused on Vacant houses as a stealth way of acquiring listings and had gotten very good at tracking down the owners. She was whooping her competition and they had no idea how. She was very careful when it came to sharing the details of her strategy but saw no threat in me because I wasn’t an agent. In fact, she encouraged me to focus on them as an investor, for the same primary reason she was focused on them herself. No one knows about them! Then, what we began doing was sharing leads back and forth and supporting each other’s businesses. So when I would come across a private seller who wasn’t willing to sell at a price or in a way that worked for me, I would encourage them to list their property and referred them to her. When she found a seller that didn’t want to list, for any number of reasons, she would refer them to me. We made beautiful music together and from it came a couple of important career lessons for me.

  1. Focus on Vacant Houses and…

  1. Always look for ways to refer stuff back and forth with your favorite agent. It’ll take the relationship to a deeper, more profitable level.

So, I encourage you to focus on vacant houses for all the reasons I’ve stated above and when you do, watch what happens to your business, and your income.


Cameron Dunlap

PS. If you would like more info on:

Finding Vacant Houses
Finding Missing Sellers
Verifiable Proof of Funds
No Fee Transactional Funding
Finding Motivated Buyers
Automating your business
Building your brand
Support from me and my team

…Then give us a call at (607) 936-2200 x1.

Cameron Dunlap's Real Estate Profit Letter!

It will help you make more money and is packed with tips, techniques, success stories and inspiration. Sign up now! There's no obligation, and you can quit anytime.

We respect your privacy so please rest assured that Real Estate Wealth Network does not sell, rent, or give away customer information for ANY reason (including e-mail addresses) ever!

27 thoughts on “Vacant Houses: Perhaps The Most Lucrative, Yet Overlooked, Property Type For Investors

Hi I’m Kimberly and I know a house that’s vacant but the owner can’t be located on a house that is vacant and according to the neighbors hasn’t been around in a long time. I contacted the county accessor and she knows the owners name but that’s all .. she has no other info on him except the taxes are paid up and current on the house. I’m really interested in this being a first time house for me. It’s. Fixer upper so what device do you have for me? I would greatly appreciate it thank you!

I know of several local vacant houses, have been unable to get local help to contact owners.
What can you do to help?
Robert Severin

I really enjoyed the article. I have many empty houses in our area and its because the military move in and out so much , when they get orders real quick and don’t have time to sell… the house just sits there. Thanks Cam

Great info. I just used your Unlimited Skip Trace to track down the son of a vacant house owner who told me his Dad was in a nursing home and the house had been vacant for a year. He is meeting me next Thursday to look at the house which also has 2 buildable lots attached.

Great Information !!!!!!

But, how do you deal with Vacant Houses whose Tax Liens are greater than the After Repair Value of the House???

Go to the tax auction and bid on them! They’ll sell for much less than owed.


Do you have investors for the vacant homes?


Sherril, If your plan is to wholesale them, there are zillions of rehabbers and landlords out there that will snap them up, when you price them right!


what’s nice about these types of homes is lack of competition especially if there is no mortgage on the property, I’ve heard that there is about 40% of all home in the US have no mortgage, older owner(s), so I try to follow the age of occupant and wait for the big day and try to beat the estate sale. I know sounds terrible, but someone has to do it.

Absolutely great information. I have thinking of becoming an Investor and this article has good promise of finding deals & owners. Thanks Cam.


Thank You for all this great information, Cam you are the best, we love and appreciate you.

Thank you I am looking for people who want to work on finding owners for vacant houses

Thanks so much Cameron, I know this tip is Gold..I began with Carlton Sheets also, awhile back, and am with you with your “I Flip” software etc. and am fully Dedicated… thanks again ..your earning the gold tips on your wings..Dan in Seattle


So excited to attend your Vacant House Training in San Diego this month. I use the i-flip and Vacant House Data Feed and will learn to fully utilize these systems. So excited for your West Coast appearance. woo hoo

Hey Cam,
My father recently passed away and left a house in Sacramento that’s about to go into probate. Unfortunately, he left no “will and testament”. He had a reverse mortgage on it, established in ’07, and I was told I could purchase the property if I submit a “proof of funds” letter, along with an “intent to purchase”. The house needs a lot of work, but I believe the purchase would be below market value for the area. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I would like to be able to purchase, and perhaps flip to an investor. Can you advise me on what I should do?

Thank you Cam…
I’m a member of your IFlip system, vacant house data feed and cash buyer data… extremely insightful…. I’m full time in the business… haven’t closed my first deal yet… but am moving forward.

I’m interested in a vacant house. It’s been vacant about 2 yrs. it’s gone back to the bank. I traced down the owner so I know quite a bit about it. My problem is that I originally found it on an auction site. After 5 months of it not meeting the reserve it was removed from the site. I now can’t find it. I know Mr. Cooper is involved & I know the mortgage company that took it back but basically it’s just sitting there & nothing is being done with it. Do you have any suggestions?

A suggestion would be to each out to the bank directly.

I bet it ends up back on the auction site, if not another one.

Can I go to City Hall in my city to find vacant houses?

Highly doubtful, but it’s worth the ask. There are a couple municipalities that track them and punish their owners for it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *