What is an absentee property owner?

An absentee owner is an individual or corporation that has legal ownership over a property but does not occupy or actively manage it. This type of ownership is common in real estate investments where the owner’s main interest lies in capital appreciation or rental income rather than direct involvement in the day-to-day operations of the property. Absentee owners range from investors owning a single rental unit in another state to large companies that possess a diverse portfolio of commercial properties across the country, managed through property management firms.

Importance of finding absentee property owners

Identifying absentee property owners is important for several key people in the real estate market, including investors, realtors, and property managers. Absentee owners may be considered potential motivated sellers, especially if they are facing challenges in managing their property due to distance, lack of time, or other commitment constraints. 

Absentee owners may not be as emotionally attached to a property as local, hands-on landlords, which can present unique investment opportunities or partnerships:

  • By targeting absentee owners, investors can tap into a market segment that is generally more open to negotiations, leading to acquisitions that might not be available on the open market. 
  • Such properties might be undermanaged or in distress, offering a high potential for value-added investments and attractive returns upon turnaround and with the addition of effective management.

Understanding the demographics and profiles of absentee owners is instrumental for crafting tailored acquisition strategies and finding investment opportunities outside one’s immediate geographical area to efficiently scale property portfolios.

Methods for finding absentee property owners

The search to locate absentee property owners is critical for real estate professionals, investors, and service providers interested in finding potential opportunities or clients. Below are several effective methods to identify these owners:

Search for property data on NeighborWho

1. Utilizing the county tax assessor’s office

The tax assessor’s office is an essential starting point when searching for absentee property owners. By examining property tax records, usually accessible online, one can compare the property address with the owner’s mailing address. Differences in these addresses can signify absentee ownership. 

However, most county tax assessors’ databases permit only individual property searches and may not showcase the owner’s name or complete mailing address. If large amounts of data are required, professional researchers may face fees that can accumulate, potentially costing thousands of dollars for sizable lists.

2. Browsing long-term rental listings

Rental listings pages such as Zillow or Realtor.com provide insight into properties that may be owned by absentee landlords. Extended vacancy periods can signal that the property owner might be motivated to sell, potentially making them a prime target for real estate professionals.

3. Browsing Airbnb and VRBO listings

Short-term rental platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo are treasure troves for finding absentee property owners. Although these sites generally do not disclose exact addresses, motivated individuals can narrow down the search region and use other methods, like Google Maps, to pinpoint their precise locations.

4. Driving for dollars

This hands-on approach involves physically scouting neighborhoods for signs of neglect or disrepair, which may indicate an absentee owner. Notes and photographs of potential properties can then be used to conduct further research or direct outreach. While time-consuming, this method provides first-hand information about the property’s condition and potential for investment or services.

Search for property data on NeighborWho

Property Search

Owner Search

5. Cold calling

With the requisite research, cold calling continues to be a proactive strategy for contacting potential absentee owners directly. This technique can yield immediate engagement and opportunities if approached with diligence and adherence to best practices.

6. Buying a list of absentee owners

Real estate data providers offer pre-compiled lists of absentee owners for purchase. While these lists can save time, they vary in quality. Some providers update their lists only annually, which may affect the success rate of outreach efforts.

7. Building a list of absentee owners

Real estate professionals may opt to build their absentee owner lists, leveraging various sources to more effectively tailor their outreach. Custom lists are more targeted and, depending on the data, can be more valuable than third-party lists. Tools like PropertyRadar’s dynamic lists, which update in real time, provide a platform to create and maintain such lists.

These distinct approaches serve as a roadmap for professionals attuned to the potential of the real estate market, offering multiple ways to connect with absentee property owners.

Types of absentee property owners

Four primary categories outline the varied reasons behind property absenteeism:

1. Vacation home owners

Vacation home owners possess properties primarily used for leisure and relaxation during specific periods. Their homes are often in tourist destinations or picturesque locales and may sit vacant for a significant portion of the year. These owners might occasionally rent out their homes when not in use to generate additional income.

2. Short- and long-term rental property owners

This category of owners leverage their properties as income-generating assets through rentals. Short-term rental property owners often list their homes on platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO for guests looking for a temporary stay. 

In contrast, long-term rental property owners lease their properties for more extended periods—frequently on a six-month to one-year lease basis—providing a steady stream of rental income over time.

3. Probate property owners

Probate property owners are typically heirs or executors of an estate who have inherited a property after the owner passes away. With over 55% of Americans lacking wills or estate planning documents, a significant number of properties enter the probate process. These properties can be sold below market value, offering substantial investment opportunities for real estate investors. 

4. Extended time out of town property owners

Individuals in this category own homes but are often out of town for extended periods due to reasons like work assignments, educational pursuits, or personal matters. Their properties may remain unoccupied or be managed as rental units to maintain the investment’s viability during their absence. 

Each type of absentee property owner faces unique circumstances that impact how they manage and benefit from their real estate investment. Understanding their profiles is vital for industry professionals aiming to tailor their services and marketing strategies effectively.

Benefits of targeting absentee property owners

Targeting absentee property owners can be a great strategy for a variety of real estate professionals. 

  • Absentee owners are more likely to be motivated sellers. They may be dealing with the challenges of managing a property from afar, which could lead to a willingness to sell, especially if they have experienced difficulties with tenants, maintenance, or property management. Oftentimes, these owners incur additional expenses for upkeep and might not be as emotionally attached to the property, making them more receptive to offers.
  • There also might be less competition in seeking out these sellers. Because absentee ownership is not always visible or easily discovered, professionals who invest the time to locate these owners may face less competition than they would when targeting typical residential sellers that occupy their homes. This can be especially true in markets where local competition for deals is fierce.
  • Furthermore, properties of absentee owners may offer potential for value increases through improvements or better management. If a property has not received the attention it needs, a new owner or manager could considerably increase the property’s value with proper upgrades and care.
  • For investors seeking to diversify their portfolios with rental properties, reaching out to absentee landlords might uncover opportunities to acquire properties that already have a track record of generating rental income.
  • Targeting absentee property owners can also be advantageous for real estate agents and property managers looking to expand their client base. Offering services to out-of-town property owners who lack local support can fill a substantial need, thus developing new business relationships and generating recurring revenue from property management contracts or listing agreements.

Customizing lists for different professionals

Professionals in the real estate sector often require tailored strategies to pursue their objectives effectively. Customizing lists of absentee property owners can be a valuable technique for investors, agents, and property managers.


Real estate investors are constantly searching for promising opportunities that align with their investment strategies. A list of absentee property owners for investors should prioritize properties with potential for high returns, such as distressed homes ripe for renovation or undervalued properties in emerging markets. 

Investors can use filters such as location, property condition, duration of ownership, and equity level to determine the best prospects that meet their investment criteria. By identifying owners who may not be aware of the market value of their properties or who may be motivated sellers due to personal circumstances, investors can negotiate advantageous acquisition terms.


Real estate agents benefit from lists that highlight absentee property owners likely to sell or who may need assistance managing their assets. Agents can tailor their lists to include properties in high-demand neighborhoods or those that have been owned for many years, signaling potential readiness for a market transition. 

Agents can also use these lists to establish relationships with owners who may be considering selling or renting their properties in the near future. By offering expertise in market trends, pricing, and marketing techniques, agents can position themselves as valuable resources to absentee owners looking to capitalize on their investments.

Property managers

Property managers require a customized approach to absentee owner lists, focusing on those who manage their properties remotely and may need assistance with daily management tasks. This list of property managers should target absentee owners who own properties in regions prone to requiring hands-on management services, such as areas with high tenant turnover or properties subject to strict local regulations and ordinances. Property managers can offer a suite of services to these absentee owners, including tenant screening, maintenance coordination, and compliance with rental laws, making their proposition highly attractive to owners who cannot manage these duties onsite.

Each professional in the real estate space can greatly benefit from a well-crafted list, which allows for targeted communication and marketing efforts—an integral component of successful real estate transactions. Customizing these lists requires a deep understanding of various market segments and professional roles, paving the way for more efficient outreach and better conversion rates.

Marketing strategies for absentee property owners

Direct mail campaigns:

Direct mail remains a prominent approach in reaching absentee property owners. With stats showing that 41% of Americans look forward to daily mail checks, and recognizing that millennials—accounting for a third of home buyers—are responsive to direct mail ads, a well-crafted campaign can likely prove effective. Tailoring mailers with updates on the local housing market or offering useful content, such as easy recipes, can help create brand recognition and trust. Crafting a magnetic postcard series could turn your direct mail into a frequently viewed household item, subtly reinforcing your brand with each new recipe added to a recipient’s collection.

Cold calling:

Cold calling is a personal approach that allows one to determine an owner’s intent. Callers can quickly pivot based on responses, either qualifying or disqualifying leads accordingly. With every interaction, whether it ends in disinterest or a scheduled call-back, the realtor gains insights. Effective cold calling scripts might highlight strong market returns or pressing reasons why now is a prime time to consider selling.

Cold email:

Leveraging the scalability of cold email, realtors can efficiently reach a broader audience. A cold email should open with a clear introduction and offer a direct call-to-action. Relevant content and accuracy are key to establishing credibility and sparking recipient interest. To keep undesired spam filters at bay, start by warming up the email address through gradual sending, and avoid spam-trigger words to ensure higher deliverability.

Direct social media messages:

Connecting via direct social media messages is a more casual, direct form of engagement. By leveraging platforms like Instagram or Facebook, messages can be tailored to owners who might respond better to informal communication. This strategy benefits from rich media content such as property photos and videos, further incentivizing absentee owners’ interest in active discussions about their properties.

Online advertising using custom audiences and retargeting:

Online advertising offers unparalleled advantages with targeting specific owner profiles. Using custom audience features, realtors can define their audience based on property ownership status, geographic location, and other relevant demographics. 

Retargeting strategies make ads reappear to those who’ve shown interest, thus capturing and re-engaging potential sellers who may have lingered on the decision to sell or clients lost in the crowded digital space.

In sum, each marketing strategy offers unique strengths in reaching and engaging absentee property owners. Whether through direct mail, adding a personal touch through calls and emails, informally reaching out via social media, or employing retargeted ads, using a mix of these strategic approaches can lead to promising results.

How to overcome competition

In the competitive landscape of real estate, staying proactive and responsive can make the difference between closing a deal and losing a potential client to competitors. Here’s how agents can stand out:

Follow-up with prospects

Following up with prospects is a critical component that significantly impacts an agent’s success. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 64% of buyers and sellers choose agents recommended by friends or family or whom they have previously worked with. This emphasizes the importance of consistently nurturing relationships to ensure you are the agent that clients remember and refer. 

Persistent, smart, and tenacious follow-up helps agents build trust and rapport and demonstrates a commitment to serving clients’ needs, potentially leading to repeat business and referrals. The art of follow-up should be balanced and not appear pushy. It should always aim to provide value, establishing a positive and lasting impression.

Utilize automation to reach out before competitors

Advancements in technology have allowed for the strategic use of automation in prospecting. Real estate marketing automation platforms can streamline repetitive tasks, ensuring that every lead is promptly and appropriately followed up with. By using tools like Keap, agents can automate email sequences, text message reminders, and social media engagement. These automated systems enable more than scheduling; they can track client behavior and send timely, relevant content, nudging leads closer to a decision point. 

Moreover, utilizing automation helps ensure agents can make contact instantly when leads express interest online, which is critical since responsiveness is highly rated by clients according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018. When an agent combines their personal touch with the efficiency of automation, they position themselves to be able to connect with prospects before their competitors, effectively increasing their chances of securing more listings and sales. 

By diligently following up with clients and leveraging the power of automation, real estate agents can create a winning strategy that helps set them ahead in the competitive market. These tools foster strong client relationships, maximize efficiency, and allow agents to spend more time on what matters most: building connections and closing deals.


In conclusion, the identification and targeting of absentee property owners can help uncover unique investment opportunities, less competition, and multiple streams of potential income for those in the real estate industry. With the right approach and understanding of these benefits, real estate professionals can successfully capitalize on the nuanced market of absentee-owned properties.

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.