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I was hoping someone could help shed light on the best way to obtain code enforcement violation records. I have been in touch with my local city and county, but I have run into several road blocks. Multiple government employees have stated that I can not request all code enforcement violation records, but instead I will need to provide a specific address. It also appears there will be a fee involved for them to gather records, redact information, etc.
Am I doing something wrong? How do I get the records I need? Should I request specific violations (tall grass vs vacant lot.. etc) or ask for everything in the past year?
I would greatly appreciate any help on this subject.
Are you making a phone call or walking in to their office?
If you make a phone call, they will usually blow you off.
But if you walk in, you will usually walk away with what you need because
You can fill out a “freedom of information act” form to get the code violation list.
Many cities publish the list on their website too
Some post the list in the local newspaper
And there is always a monthly hearing where people with code violations are summoned to come in to explain what they are going to do about the problem. There will be a room full of code violators in one place. You can get a list of all properties going to the hearing.
any house that has a fire will be on the code violation list. You can get a list of houses with fire damage
The best code violation list are the properties which have been condemned.
Many other other houses on the list will just be tall grass or a branch hanging in to an easement — not your target.
In Dallas you could buy a Cd for $50 which has 8000 code violations on it in excel format.
In the suburbs of Dallas, if you WALK IN to the code violation office, they usually had the list already printed up. I did have to pay 10 cents a page for maybe 10-20 pages of code violations.
Thank you for all of your information it has been very helpful. I submitted a request to the open records department of my local county. The request was as follows: “Code enforcement violation records for all condemned properties in 2018”
They have since replied asking me to “Please give more information as to the code violation information you are seeking. Is this for fire or building code violations?”
I was unsure how to respond and would really appreciate any information you can provide me.
tell them you want both
surely they have things divided in to more categories than fire or code violations. Ask is there are levels of code violations. You want the most severe violations — not tall grass stuff.
In Texas, there was something called a “red tag” which meant the house had been CONDEMNED to live in until it was fixed up. These were always the best deals. You could get then at 90% below market. Once you have a contract on one of the houses ( or super interest) , you can go back to code enforcement to get a copy of the file on that specific property. It will tell you the owners contact info, and a complete list of things that had to be done to get a certificate of occupancy again. I would always attach that to the contract when i sold the house so the buyer knew exactly what they were getting themselves in to.
Any help with the following questions would be greatly appreciated.
How much do you pay for a condemned property? (obviously it will vary depending on a host of factors, but is there any way to narrow down how much my offer should be? Do I use the same model as Jackie’s book or are condemned properties a different ball game)
How much would an empty lot of land go for? (I’m sure the area plays a huge role, but is there a way to get a close estimate? I found that the Board of Assessors gives a valuation, is this a close estimate?)
I was able to obtain a small property list, in it I found some properties were already owned by the bank. Should I contact the bank and try to make a deal or is it a waste of time?
What about a property owned by an LLC or Real Estate group, is that most likely a waste of time or should I still market to these as well?
In the list I obtained, some of the properties listed the owners address as the property address. What are the steps to find the owner’s actual address? (I know skip tracing is one way, but should I try another method first?)
Lastly, I’ve been getting A LOT of push back from local city governments on obtaining a list of condemned properties. Most of them write back saying no such list exists. Is code enforcement always going to be the department that has the condemned properties list or could it be multiple departments such as, the fire department, police department, planning & community(etc)? If I’m forced to send out a FOIAR I want to know exactly who to send it to. I’ve been getting the run around with each city I contact, even showing up in person has not provided better results.
The amount you pay for the property depends on the condition of it. never make an offer. Always ask the seller “what’s the least you’ll take” then negotiate more.
you can see lot values in your county tax records. you need to get for less.
in my opinion, a waste of time to contact national banks about their REO’s
But if it is a local bank, you need to go in to talk to them. NOT a phone call.
If owned by an LLC, could be good, could not be good. a lot of different factors.
Check the DEED DATE. If they have owned for a long time, there is equity.
If they have owned for a short time, not much equity possible. But potential master lease or subject to.
to find owners actual address, you need to go to the property to talk to neighbors. They know where the owner is usually.
while you are there, if it is vacant, stick a sign in the yard for the vacant house that says “We Buy Houses” or something similar.
Maybe the owner will call you to say what is your sign doing in my yard. You can say, I’m so glad you called. I wanted to talk to you about your house
I was never EVER successful at getting condemned property list if I made a phone call. It required that I went in to the office and asked for a list of properties that have been condemned (or red tagged as they called it in my area).
it always helped to tell Code Enforcement that I was there to help them get as many properties off that list as I could. (what’s in it for THEM). Versus a what’s in it for me attitude. I even offered to help track down owners that they could not find.
Find out when the hearing is for code violations and ask where the list is published. Will require a visit to code violations.
you can send a letter to everyone who has been summoned to the hearing or, better yet, just show up.
your local newspaper may publish a list of houses that had fired each week. each of them will have a code violation.
Not all run down houses will be on a Code Violation list. Driving for dollars is a good way to find deals too. go to the least expensive neighborhoods ( not war zones). While you are there, talk to UPS drivers, postal workers, FEdEX drivers, etc asking if they know if any vacant run down properties – offer a referral fee for info.
Run an ad on craigslist offering a $100 reward for information about the worst looking houses in their neighborhood. Reward is only paid if you buy the house. You will get a nice list of run down houses..
Allot of good stuff there from Jackie. From my experience chasing vacant lots in low costs neighborhoods is a waste of time. Spend that time more wisely on other opportunities. Of course if one fell in your lap and you contacted all neighbors and one wanted to buy sure. The thing is look around if there are vacant lots and no one is building there is a reason.
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