Property Management Blog

How to Find Vacant Homes in Westminster Maryland

How to Find Vacant Homes in Westminster Maryland

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Finding vacant homes in Westminster, Maryland is a great way to take over properties for pennies on the dollar.

As a real estate investor maximize net profits on every single deal and minimize your risk of loss. The easiest way to do this is to buy right – which means buying at a deep discount.

That’s why vacant homes are one great option for real estate investing.

In the movie, 99 Homes, Rick Carver infamously cruised the streets of middle class neighborhoods in his brand-new Range Rover, scavenging for signs of death – distressed home owners and vacant homes – like a vulture with a taste for real estate success.

Indeed, the character ‘Rick Carver’ had built up a thriving business flipping homes this way – but as is the case with many good dramas featuring the entrepreneurial pursuit, he got greedy.

Still, driving for dollars is one of the best ways real estate investors find good deals.

Ideal Vacant House

Big profit deals consistently come from vacant homes in middle income neighborhoods.

The movie, 99 Homes, featured a real estate investor who got rich driving neighborhoods for vacant homes and searching for highly motivated sellers.

Yes, it is a movie, and it would not have been made if there weren’t a very interesting story being told – in this case – the real estate tycoon’s greed went too far – won’t ruin it for you, still vacant homes are a proven goldmine for investors.

Again, you want to focus your attention on middle income neighborhoods because usually these homes sell the fastest – and as an investor, especially if you’re trying to rehab and flip the property or wholesale it, you want the property to sell fast.

Neighborhood in war zones and low-income areas don’t typically sell as fast, as is the case for ultra-exclusive neighborhoods.

After you choose the best real estate agent who can help you want to ask them to run a search for the most recent cash sales for your area. You see, most of the time real estate investors make cash sales. So this is a very good way of identifying the hot areas in any city to buy and flip properties.

If your real estate agent puts these results in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, you can sort them out by zip code to find the areas that have the most sales. Of course, you will focus on those areas with the highest sales volume.

The following list should help you as you drive your ideal neighborhoods for great deals.

Signs a Home is Vacant:

  • Tall grass and/or weeds, dead grass, landscaping in bad condition
  • Vacancy slip in the mailbox
  • Notices on the door
  • Notices of utilities being shut off
  • House is boarded up
  • House is in disrepair
  • No cars
  • If snow, no tracks
  • Nothing Inside the House
  • Broken windows
  • Power meter and/or gas meter gone

Searching for vacant homes is not some unscrupulous way of doing business. The reality is that all sorts of situations come up in the lives of individual homeowners and put them in distressed situations.

If you find yourself at a place in life where you don’t have the money to pay your mortgage any longer and face foreclosure then a person knocking on your door attempting to pay you cash for your home may not be the solution that you may have wanted, but it’s a solution.

Plus, banks greatly appreciate real estate investors taking delinquent and troubled properties off their hands. Banks have to carry properties that have been abandoned and left vacant.

These properties just sit there and suck up potential profits from these institutions. When an investor comes along and offers cash, even if it’s 50% off, this is often times welcome by bankers.

In no particular order here is a partial list of some of the reasons why homes become vacant.

Various Reasons a Home May be Vacant:

  • Job Loss
  • Foreclosure
  • Death
    • Probate
    • Out of state heirs
  • Divorce
  • Owner falls ill
  • Land lord property
  • Bank owned
  • Expired realtor listings
  • Job transfer
  • House is condemned
  • Don’t have the $$ to fix up the property
  • And many more

In the last article we looked some of the best ways to get started with finding properties.

The first, most important thing you should do is find a realtor who specializes in finding investment properties. This is not easy to do, which is why finding one with this specialty is such a big deal.

We also discussed using direct mail – a proven strategy of real estate investors as well as driving for dollars.

More Strategies for Finding Great Deals

There are a ton of ways to find great deals, which is great for you as an investor because if you want to grow faster you want tons of great deals coming across your desk every day so that you can cherry pick the best ones.

Let’s take a look at some more strategies for finding great deals.

Property Scouts 

You can hire someone on your team on a contract basis to go out and find deals for you. You can work with wholesalers, but sometimes they like to take too charge too much to the investor and don’t necessarily find great deals. This is why some real estate investors who are really building a money machine hire someone to go out and look for properties themselves.

These people are called Property Scouts. Of course, when you first start off, you will likely do the searching for yourself. This is good because it keeps your costs low and it also teaches you how to do the job. Once you’re well versed then you can hire this role out.

You can pay property Scouts 5 to 10 bucks per lead or some other arrangement you choose. You can ask be sure to include the address and four pictures of the property – including, address, street sign a picture of the house and picture proving it is vacant. You can also ask them to place a time and date stamp on the photos.

You can pay an additional fee to have the property scout go to the local tax assessor’s website to find out who owns the home. They will need to write down information including the owner’s name, address the number of bathrooms, then it’s square footage and tax assessed value of the property.

It’s really important that your property Scouts passes over the information they find immediately before other investors catch wind of the deal.

When you close a deal, you can give your property scout a bonus for their work – perhaps in the $200 – $300 range.

With property scouts, there are several things you should teach them to do.

There are several ways you can find property scouts.

Rules for Property Scouts:

  • Train your property scouts
  • Set limits
  • No duplicate leads
  • Send leads same-day as found
  • For-sale-by-owner
  • Provide clear photos that show the house as vacant
  • Only search for homes in your specified neighborhoods


  • Dependable vehicle
  • Good camera or phone camera
  • Notebook to take notes

When you make your property sheet it should include the following information.

Property Sheet:

  • Owner Name
  • Property Address
  • City
  • State
  • Zip
  • Owner Address
  • Owner City
  • Owner State
  • Owner Zip
  • Owner Phone


  • Facebook
  • Craigslist
  • Local Grocery
  • Newspaper

Foreclosure Inspectors

These people are hired by banks to go around the city and post notices on doors. Most of these people are independent contractors and don’t work as employees of banks.

Usually, foreclosure inspectors post hundreds of notices each month – which makes them more important to you, arguably, more important than the president of the United States.

Estate Sales

Garage sales are good to check out because people often want to get rid of the junk before selling a home. So if you see a garage sale you might stop and ask if they are looking to sell.

Estate sales are often times run by third parties so they may not be the best thing to try to attend but you might look up the owner or heir and mail them a letter.


Bankruptcy, divorce and other kinds of attorneys come across people falling on hard times day in and day out. That’s why you should drop by their offices leave some business cards and connect with these professionals.


These are just a few more ways you can find great deals on vacant houses.

As I mentioned earlier, the more great deals you have come across your desk the faster you will grow your business. That’s why you want to add one new marketing strategy after the next.

If each strategy brings in five potential good deals a month and you have six strategies, that means you’re looking at a potentially good deal every day. Which this number of leads you can start to cherry pick your deals.

Get started with the best real estate agent in Westminster Maryland today.

Part 1     I     Part 2     I     Part 3