What websites are helpful for researching information about vacant buildings?
Below is a document we use to research vacant buildings on the internet in San Francisco. While some of these websites are particular to San Francisco, if you live in another city or town one may use this list as a reference to find similar websites in your own city - such as the Department of Building Inspection for where you live.
WEBSITES FOR HOUSING RESEARCH IN SAN FRANCISCO (7/10)
(by Tim Maschok)
San Francisco City Parcel Information:
This website will give the address that the city uses to mail the yearly property tax bill if you have the street address or lot number. If one only knows an intersection the property is close to, one can use that information on the site to find the lot number and address. Unfortunately this website is only updated on an annual basis.
San Francisco Department of Building Inspection:
By entering a street address. this website will tell you what work permits the property has gotten from the city as well as complaints from neighbors and building inspectors. This information can help paint a picture of why the building is vacant.
San Francisco City Recorded Document Search:
By entering a block and lot number, this website will tell you what officially recorded documents are on record in San Francisco. This website appears to be updated often and provides some useful information such as current and previous owners, liens from government agencies, etc. Unfortunately, in order to see more specific details from most of these documents, one has to order them by mail or go in person to look at them on microfilm at their office. If one goes in person with the street address and/or block and lot number, one can look at their microfilm records to see actual copies of the recorded documents.
Sometimes this website is helpful. By putting in the name of the owner one may find out how close to the property the owner lives, and by doing “reverse look-up” one see if anyone currently receives phone service at the address.
Google (or other basic search engines)
Obvious, but I had to mention it. Google information you already have from the above websites. You may learn additional information about the property which helps paint a picture of why it is vacant. Google Maps as well - if one hasn't seen the property a picture from Google Maps may help indicate why it is vacant.
Real Estate Company Websites:
This is a collection of websites that list properties in San Francisco that are for sale or have recently been for sale. There are others, but these are the ones that I commonly use. These sites usually include information about the sales history of the property, how long it has been on sale, and perhaps some details about the property which may indicate if and why it is vacant.
State of California Limited Liability Corporation Search:
If the owner of a property is an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) this website will tell you who where the LLC is based, who the agent for the LLC is and where this person lives, and information about other people who are part of the LLC. Knowing who the owner is helps paint a picture of why the building is vacant and helps determine how close they live and work to the property.
There are more websites than this, but these websites are good places to start. If you have any suggestions to improve this list, please e-mail Homes Not Jails- firstname.lastname@example.org.
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