How To Find Absentee Owners in Any Market (Quick & Easy)

Absentee owners can make for profitable opportunities for real estate investors. Here’s how to find them!

10 min read
August 21, 2023

Generating lists of seller leads can be a walk in the park -- or a complete nightmare.

While it’s relatively simple to get someone to raise their hand and say “sure, I might sell”, it doesn’t mean they’re actually MOTIVATED to sell.

So what typically happens is long, drawn-out, back-and-forth conversations trying to get to the root of why they considered selling, only to realize you’ve probably wasted your time.

And if you’ve ever experienced that, you know how frustrating it can be.

But when it comes to generating lists of motivated sellers who aren’t just kicking tires and wasting time, there’s one type of prospect that sells more often than most: absentee owners.

In this guide, we’re going to break down exactly how to find them, why their motivation levels are so much higher, and how you can build lists full of them so you spend less time chasing down leads and more time closing deals.

To get started…

What is an Absentee Owner

When it comes to real estate, an “absentee owner” is someone who owns a property but doesn’t actually live there full-time.

This could be someone who purchased the home as an investment property or potentially a second home.

Sometimes, the owner will live out-of-state or even outside of the country but many will live in the same state even though they don’t occupy the property as their primary residence.

These could also include rentals that are being occupied by tenants but, for the sake of this guide, we’ll focus on vacant homes since they’re typically easier to buy than homes that are occupied by tenants.

The Different Types of Absentee Owners

Since there are quite a few different reasons people become absentee owners, you’ll need to plan accordingly before you start marketing to them.

To make your marketing campaigns as effective as possible, you want to understand the main types of owners and why they might want to sell.

This is going to help you target each of the owners, specifically, which (when it comes to marketing) can help your messaging resonate with them on a deeper level.

That means you have a better chance of converting those leads into prospects -- and prospects into deals.

For this guide, we’ll cover 4 main types:

  • Short Term Rentals — short-term rental owners, especially new owners during COVID, might have overstretched their budget to get into the properties. That factor, coupled with local laws and ordinances cracking down on short-term rentals means these can be prime opportunities.

  • Long Term Rentals — long-term rental owners may be ready to change their business model and how they manage their properties. Being able to cash out their equity while escaping landlord fatigue can make long-term rental owners highly motivated to sell.

  • Inherited Homes — many times, when a family member passes, it’s hard to determine who their home will be inherited by. This can create significant stress and take years to work through the legal process which means families are often motivated to sell in an effort to ease the stress.

  • Vacation Homes — vacation homes and secondary homes are typically the first properties to experience the crunch during a recession. Owners who are rethinking budgets and expenses may be motivated to sell to help alleviate some financial pressure.

Why Absentee Owners Are Great Prospects

When it comes to doing more real estate deals every year, you don’t want just any prospect -- you want prospects that are already motivated to sell.

It makes your life SO much easier when it comes time to ask them to close on the deal.

Absentee owners are one of THE best types of prospects because the property isn’t their primary residence, which means they aren’t as emotionally tied to the property as they are their primary home.

That presents multiple scenarios where these owners will consider selling, due to circumstances surrounding the property, making them excellent prospects for investors.

For instance, those scenarios can look like:

  • Landlord Fatigue — Being a landlord can be difficult, especially if the owner has put problem tenants into the property. Landlord fatigue will make owners highly motivated to sell.

  • Poor Rental ROI — If the rents in the area are providing a poor ROI, owners will look to liquidate their properties to cash out their equity.

  • Legislation / Ordinances — Local laws and ordinances can create frustrations with owners, especially around areas like short-term rentals, motivating them to sell their properties.

  • Little (Or No) Emotional Attachment — If the property is only used for investment income, there will be less emotional attachment to it than their primary residence, making it easier to sell.

  • No Longer Affordable — When the owners have purchased a 2nd or 3rd property as a vacation home and times get tough, the vacation home is typically the first asset to get sold.

  • No Desire To Own The Property — When heirs inherit a property, they may not know what to do with it -- or may not actually want it -- giving you an opportunity to purchase it from them.

Now, not every absentee owner will consider selling to you. But when you’re looking for the right types of absentee owners, you increase the chances they’re open to hearing your offer.

How To Find Absentee Owners in Any Market

Once you understand the main types of absentee owners and what would motivate them to sell a property to you, the next steps are finding them and building your business.

The process is similar to finding other types of motivated sellers, like owners of distressed properties, foreclosed homes, and abandoned properties.

Long-Term Rental Lists

One of the first places to look is at long-term rentals on popular websites like Craigslist, rental networks in your area, or even in your local newspaper and on social media.

You’ll want to keep an eye out for listings that appear to be submitted by an individual landlord instead of a property management company. 

Since property management companies help reduce landlord fatigue, the chances of getting in touch with an owner through them is pretty slim.

The only downside to this approach is that it’s typically harder to find the addresses of the properties since they’re rarely listed. That means you’ll need to contact the owner before you’re able to run comps.

Driving For Dollars

If you’re looking to work in a specific market or area, driving for dollars can be one of the most effective ways to build a list of motivated seller leads.

To find these properties, there’s a few things you want to look out for:

  • For long-term rentals, you’ll want to look for “For Rent” signs posted in the front yard, basic decor, simple landscaping, and properties with minimal-to-no curb appeal. 

  • For short-term rentals, digital door locks is one of the biggest giveaways that the property is being used as an STR. Vacancy during the offseason is another great sign.

  • For vacation homes, you’ll want to look for signs that point to the property being vacant during the offseason while having more customization and personalization that shows it’s owned & cared for.

Here’s a great video that breaks down the strategy in more detail:

Purchase a List

One of the easiest ways to generate absentee owner leads is to buy a pre-built list from a broker.

Now, if you’re going this route you’ll want to be careful because, many times, these lists are only updated once a year which can make the data outdated and have you competing with dozens of other investors.

Working with a vendor that allows you to build custom lists can help you sidestep this frustration and let you target criteria such as length of ownership, the home’s value, owner’s age, equity in the property, etc.

This lets you dial into the targeting you use for your marketing -- which increases conversion rates -- but also helps you avoid competing with dozens of other investors for the properties.

Research Tax Records

Your local public tax records are another great source of absentee owner leads.

By visiting your local tax assessor’s office, you can pull lists of leads for properties in the market or area that you’re wanting to invest in.

Then, when you receive the database, you can match the owner’s name and address up to the property address to determine if they may be an absentee owner.

Once verified, you can begin marketing to the owner’s home or business address to begin a conversation around potentially purchasing the property from them.

Cold Calling

When you have a list of leads, cold calling can be one of the most effective ways to start conversations with potential sellers.

The key here, though, is making sure you’re using cold calling software to handle as much of the process as possible since it’s a manual, time-consuming strategy.

The right software can help you manage and track the leads you’re calling so you know exactly who you’ve contacted, conversations you’ve had, and where you left off on those conversations so it’s easy to pick back up when they’re ready to move forward.

When it comes to properly building your cold calling campaign, check out this video:

And, remember, you’ll want to make sure that you’re tracking each lead in a CRM or database so you aren’t letting potential deals fall through the cracks.

REISift is one of the best CRMs available, built by investors for investors, and helps you get more deals done every year while being intuitive and easy to use.

How To Build & Manage Your Absentee Owners List

Turning leads into prospects and prospects into close deals requires you to be as organized as humanly possible, letting you follow up more effectively.

The CRM you use will become the backbone of everything from your operations to your marketing and choosing the right one can either help you grow your business -- or cost you a ton of time & frustration.

REISift has been built, from the ground up, to make you efficient, help you contact more leads, and (ultimately) get more deals to the closing table.

Here’s how it works:

Owner Records

The in-built owner records search helps ensure you’re not wasting money marketing by marketing to properties instead of property owners.

These records help you make sure you’re marketing to the absentee owners you’re looking for -- instead of their tenants.

Vacancy Check

The vacancy check feature in REISift helps you quickly identify which properties are vacant so you increase the chances you find a property owner that’s motivated to sell.

Phone Status

When you’re working with thousands of phone numbers, especially if you’re cold calling, the phone status feature helps you save time by ensuring you’re not double-calling people or wasting time calling the wrong numbers.


With Siftline, you’re able to manage your leads with an easy-to-use, intuitive dashboard so you can tell, at a quick glance, exactly who is where & which deals are closest to the goal line.

Data Filters

REISift has one of the most robust data filtering systems available in a CRM, letting you filter, stack, and sort the lead lists you plug in so your data is more manageable.

Offer Tracker

Letting deals fall through the cracks because of poor management systems is one of the biggest problems that plagues investors. The built-in offer tracking feature lets you document every interaction you have with your seller and know exactly where each lead is in the acquisition process.

Skip Tracing

When you have an address, being able to quickly find the owner’s name, phone number, and their personal address is critical.

The skip tracing feature in REISift makes this process as simple as possible.

Which, if you aren’t doing it right now and want to learn how, check out the video below:

Listen on other platforms


Join our Ninja Newsletter

Ready for more?

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Subscription implies consent to our privacy policy.