One of the best sources of problem property leads that is often overlooked by most investors is local, county, and state government agencies. For example, one of the types of properties that I buy options on is vacant commercial properties that have been repeatedly cited for non-structural code violations. I have chosen this particular type of property because these properties are in steady supply and are relatively easy to find in Hillsborough County, Florida. The code enforcement departments for both the city of Tampa and Hillsborough County maintain files on all of the properties that have been cited for code violations. Plus, these properties have bright fluorescent orange condemnation notices conspicuously posted on them. The following local, county, and state government agencies are all sources of problem property leads:
1. Local police and sheriffs' departments have reports available on arrests that involved real property used in crimes that has been damaged. Many times, these are residential rental properties that have been used to manufacture illegal drugs and are owned by landlords who do not have the money or desire to make them fit for human habitation.
2. Local and county fire departments have reports available on properties that have been cited for fire code violations and properties that have been totally destroyed by fire and water damage. In some cases, these burnt-out properties are uninsured, and the owners do not have the money to rebuild. Or, the owners are insured, but they lack the desire to rebuild.
3. Local and county code enforcement departments maintain records on properties that have been cited for building and safety code violations or ordered condemned for demolition. In many instances, these properties belong to owners who do not have the time, money, or desire to make the repairs needed to bring their property into compliance with the code.
4. Local and county public health departments keep records on commercial and residential properties that have been cited for health code violations. In some instances, the health violations are severe enough for the health department to declare the property unfit for human habitation and order it vacated.
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