Let’s talk about some resources that may become useful during due diligence.
The very first resource that we like to use when considering new counties to invest in is the National Association of Counties (NACO.org). NACO is headquartered in Washington, DC and provides information about and links to all of America’s counties, which numbers over 3,000.
Once on NACO’s homepage, click on County Explorer, which will take you to a map of the United States. The map provides a visualization of many available statistics by county, which is very interesting. But let’s click on a specific county to see what is displayed for each county.
We can use NACO to find the first signs of a viable county for tax lien or deed investing. Areas within a county may not follow the same trends as the county as a whole, but it is a good place to start. We can see population growth and demographics, which may be useful.
NACO is a great resource. Click around and see what you can find. It’s free and is always updated.
This is a given, but needs to be mentioned, Google. You can also link directly to counties, find property values, investment formulas, and everything in between.
For example, go to Google.com and search “miami dade county tax collector” and your first search response is exactly what you need.
Google Maps is a must-use tool. One reason is that they update images regularly so investors can take a look at a property while they are researching and take a look at the area around the property. The second reason that we use Google Maps is Street View. This has been developed over the past few years and provides a view of the property from the street. After you search a property grab the little guy above the zoom scale and drag him in front of the property. You will see a blue highlight where you can drop him. Once dropped you can see the property from the street.
Zillow provides similar services as Google Maps. In fact, it’s a mash up of Google Maps and estimated property values. After searching the property, you will be shown a satellite image of the area and the property. You can see the Zestimate, or Zillow’s estimation of property worth. It also shows basic information about the property. You can also get information for real estate agents in the area. You could contact them to get opinions on a specific property in the area.
You can find similar information on Trulia.com or Realtor.com. All of those tools are excellent resources to view images and to get estimates on comparable properties.
Take advantage of these websites and let us know if you have any questions about using them.