If you’re a drive around-type deal prospector and have enough sense to drive deep into tracts of established homes, then you know that this is where most abandoned houses are found. Occasionally, I’ve found them on busy streets where they’re obvious to heavy traffic, too.

In the past, I had to make a note and research the owner later when I returned to the office.

Now, there are more and more phone apps that allow you to point your smart phone and capture info just by recognizing your location. Presuming there is cellphone coverage.

To me, that’s impressive.

This means that you can now […] capture a digital image (picture) as well as the property of record and basic information found in a property profile from a title company such as open trust deeds (mortgages) and tax status along with basic property info.

I believe my friend Sean O’Toole’s PropertyRadar.com has such a feature.

Accessing satellite imagery is easy and free. It’s now possible to see parcel boundary lines approximated and superimposed on satellite images. These are incredibly helpful in seeing other properties that are adjacent to your subject property, behind, nearby or upwind.

I heard on the news the other day about a guy who drove his truck onto a walking trail the other day. Surface it to say, It did not fit. In his report to local law enforcement he blamed his smart (?) phone’s GPS for the error.

In the words of my friend John Schaub, “You can’t fix stupid”.

So why even leave your house in the first place, especially if you can see so much online?

Satellite imagery is dated and not in real time

It doesn’t indicate current telltale signs of vacancy.

It doesn’t tell you the story.

It doesn’t provide neighbors’ versions of what’s going on with the former owner or occupants (nor neighbors’ anger at the situation).

Satellite images don’t show if code enforcement has cited or red tagged the house.

Or, do they show details like the blue tarp that fell off and is sitting in the side yard

They don’t show the electric meter which has been removed by the utility company.

Or newspapers stacked by the front door.

Maybe someone will come up with a “Crap App” someday.

In the meantime, you can’t beat “driving for dollars” as a great way to spot vacant house opportunities.

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