Shop and Compare. - Posted by Ronald * Starr (in No CA)
Posted by Ronald * Starr (in No CA) on July 13, 2002 at 17:58:34:
I have responded to others inquiring about such services in the past. Here are some excerpts from those replies. It will be a little disjointed, but will save me repeating myself. I hope this will be helpful to you.
Yeah, they cost quite a bit. But they are like a mircle for the serious real estate investor. Isn’t it amazing that you can drive down a street, see a rundown, vacant house, and immediately find out who the owner is, the tax-bill mailing address, when they bought it, the assessed value, the property characteristics, etc.?
You may find some company similar to CD Data here in CA which is considerably cheaper.
By the say, if you press FARES, you may be able to get fewer updates, say one every three or four months. If you can work with it, you might even be able to just get a disk once a year.
I know a group of four investors that have a FARES monthly data disk subscrition and share the service. Each one gets the new disk every four months. If you organized it, maybe you could get the new disk every month then pass on the prior month’s disk to one of the other co-subscribers. It pays to think of ways to cut these big expenses.
Maybe First American Real Estate Solutions (FARES) or DataQuick–they have 800 phone numbers. Their services are very similar. Perhaps some local company that is similar to the latter two companies, but is only local.
Try the title companies first. If they can’t help you, you might want to ask some real estate investors in your area. FARES has bought out TransAmerica, they used to have separate microfiche for out of area owners. FARES might still offer that.
Here in CA, and in other western states, one can often get a lot of information from customer service at the title insurance companies. For instance, if I wanted to solict single family property owners in one town who had owned the properties over 6 years, I could probably get that downloaded onto a 3 1/2" floppy disc in ASCII comma delimited format. This could be read by any database program and by mailing programs.
If you are a very serious investor, there are on-line and CD-ROM services available to get access to property tax records anytime. The two biggest are First American Real Estate Solutions in Southern CA (ask 800 info for phone number) and DataQuik, also known as Acxiom. Check the internet for these services. You might find some local service also avaiable. I have a CR-ROM with all the assessed properties in Sacramento County, CA, right here in my computer now. I can do as many down-loads as I want. And check out comparables. However, it is getting a little out of date now. If I want up-to-date comparables, I can tap into FARES computer and download them. Not only for all counties in CA, but for many different counties in different states across the union. CD-DATA now has an on-line service for almost every county in CA, with various subscription programs. It is not as good as the discs, but handy since it can be used in many counties and for most is very up to date.
You can get information by subscribing to DataQuick or FARES (First American Real Estate Soluntions). Both have 800-type phone numbers. My FARES account is about $70/mo for minimal use. There is the choice of the on-line or dialup system which gives you up to date information about all the counties in the state. Or you can subsribe to the disks, which gives you all of the assessment roll for a particular county. For CA there is a cheaper alternative for a lot of counties: CD Data in San Diego 619+265-2586. Somewhat less data, but much cheaper.
How could you find some local company? Read advertisements in local and state magazines aimed at real estate investors and r.e. agents. Call the local assessment office and ask who buys this material from them. Talk to local investors and ask them if they are aware of a different service. Call title insurance companies and ask them if they know of these services. I discovered CD-DATA when I got some parcel maps from a title company in a low-population county in the Sierra foothills. I got from them the reference to the company.
You might also find some small advertisement in the real estate section of a major metropolitan newspaper near where you live. Also, check the yellowpages for advertisements under real estate supplies or services or something like that. You might call up appraisers and ask if they know of such a local service. You might go to apartment owner groups meetings or “trade shows.” Or those for real estate agents. Or just ask agents if they know about that for which you seek.
In other words, don’t commit to a year with DataQuick until you have explored your options. Shop and Compare.
Good Investing**********Ron Starr**************