Have you ever wandered through your neighborhood and wondered who owns that empty lot on the corner or that, derelict or abandoned house down the street? If you are looking for good Real Estate deals, your answer might very well lie in those so called abandoned properties.
In this article I will point out how to search your neighbourhood for good real estate deals. The word neighbourhood is used here to mean properties not only in the immediate vicinity of your home but those in other towns, districts or sub divisions, and what are sometimes called housing schemes.
Why Neighbourhood Properties?
Idle properties with registered titles usually fall into three categories. There are those that are abandoned, those neglected and those that are for speculative purposes. By abandoned we mean that, the owner died. The beneficiary of the estate has no interest in occupying or developing the property and so the property is left unattended. Good neglected properties are those owned by Jamaicans who reside abroad and for various reasons have no interest in returning here. If it’s a house, usually the property is supervised by a relative who does not do a good job at maintaining it. If it is a vacant lot, it is unkempt. Speculative interest properties are usually vacant lots whose owners are waiting for the right time to occupy, or build on the property. In some cases the owners have no interest in developing or occupying the property, rather, they are waiting to sell if an offer comes along at the current market value.
For our purposes we are interested only in the abandoned and neglected properties. The owners’ interests in the properties are low and thus the chance of making a below-market price deal is high. We are not interested in the speculative properties.
Over the years I have found abandoned and neglected properties in sub-divisions such as Greenwood in St. James, Wiltshire and the Silver Sands to Braco areas in Trelawny, Zadie Gardens in Kingston, and Mammee Bay development in St Ann. There are many other areas all over the island that are prime. Your aim is to find a property that is at least 30% below the market value in the case of empty land and at least 20 -25% below market value after renovation in the case of a house.
You have identified one or two properties that match the criteria we are interested in. Now what? The first step is to determine the address of the property. In the urban areas you would seek a street address. In the rural area it would be a lot address that you would be looking for. With that information, your next step is to obtain a copy Certificate of Title (COT) for the property. The COT has the name and last address of the owner. By visiting the Registrar of Titles (National Land Agency) or going online you are able to purchase a copy of the copy COT.
For this step you may have to devise creative ways to make contact with the owner or the beneficiaries because the address on the title is not necessarily the current address of the owner. Ask the neighbours, or search telephone directories or do whatever you can to make contact. While you are enquiring of the owner, take some time to determine what the property is worth on the open market. Contact a realtor for his/her opinion of the market value.
Make an Offer
If and when you make contact with the owner or beneficiary your purpose is to enquire of their interest in selling the property. At this stage it is advisable to commission the service of a Realtor to act on your behalf. The arrangement is that the Realtor would charge you a commission if you are successful in purchasing the property. Realtors are experienced negotiators. A good Realtor would likely make a better deal with the owner/beneficiary than if you negotiated directly. Bear in mind that your purpose is to purchase this property below market value. Nothing less will do. Let the price be low enough to compensate you for all the work you put in to secure the purchase.
If you were able to follow these steps and successfully negotiated a deal, you would be the proud owner of a property that would be called a deal. Congratulations!!!