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One of the most useful tools in my real estate investing toolbox is DataTree.
This web-based data service provides easy access to property ownership information that can be used for all kinds of things, for all kinds of industry professionals (lenders, appraisers, attorneys, surveyors, insurance underwriters, real estate agents, and more).
In this blog post, I will show you some of the different uses of DataTree in a series of videos. I hope you find them helpful!
1. Title Searches and Abstractor Services
Most people close the deal through a title company or real estate attorney when they buy real estate. These closing agents are hired to handle all the necessary title research to verify that the property has no clouds on the title.
As a land investor, sometimes the purchase price is so low that it makes sense to close the deal myself. In these cases, I have to do my own title search and prepare all the documentation on my own. This can be a slow process because I have to find a title abstractor who can pull all the documentation for me.
But did you know that DataTree can be used to handle this process in many areas around the country? I'll show you how it works in this video.
As I mentioned above, a title search requires a bit of understanding about what to look for. It's not something everybody is well-suited to do, so if you have no idea how to do your title search, then you're probably better off leaving this up to a professional to pull all the documents and review them for you.
2. Finding Owners With Multiple Properties
As a real estate investor, one of the best sources of deals is “portfolio owners.” These are people who own multiple properties. In some cases, these portfolio property owners want to sell off large portions of their real estate holdings and are willing to accept a below-market price.
This typically happens because the owner has inherited several properties from a family member, but sometimes the owner simply had a change of plans. Perhaps they bought all the properties at a tax sale auction decades ago, and they have no use for them anymore, or they invested heavily in one market and then decided to divest and pull their money out to invest elsewhere.
Whatever the case, DataTree makes it surprisingly easy to find these people and ALL the real estate they own nationwide. Here's how it works.
This functionality can also be useful for loan underwriters, attorneys, and even private investigators trying to see all the real estate owned by a particular person or entity. Whatever your reason may be, DataTree makes it pretty easy to do!
Note: If you're using DataTree for this one function and nothing else, I think PropStream is a better tool because it's much less expensive to download these lists (without the additional charge). You can see how it works on the PropStream platform in this video.
3. Search Nationwide for a Property Owner
Suppose you know of a particular person or business entity and want to find all the real estate they own nationwide.
Knowing the state and county where those properties are located will help you find them much faster. But even if you don't, DataTree still allows you to search through the entire U.S. with the click of a button.
This is something that very few other data services will allow you to do, and it's another feature I love about DataTree.
4. Checking the Tax Status of a Property
Whenever you buy a property, one of the many things you should be researching before buying is the annual property tax cost. Because once you own the property, this expense will be yours to pay.
Likewise, one of the many things you (or your closing agent) will want to do before closing on a real estate transaction is to verify that the property taxes are paid current and not past due.
You can do both of these things with DataTree. I'll show you how it works here.
Of course, you can also get this information by calling your city, township, or county tax collector to verify these numbers. Still, DataTree makes it much easier and gives you a consistent process throughout the whole country.
5. Finding Sales Comparables for Property Valuation
One tool that many appraisers, real estate agents, and real estate investors will find useful is DataTree's Sales Comparables report.
Once you have a property selected, all you need to do is click “Sales Comparables.” You'll find an automatically-generated list of comparable sales in the near vicinity from the past six months.
If you're working with a property that doesn't have many comps (like vacant land, for instance), it's easy to edit the filtering criteria and expand the search radius and/or time from when the comps are being pulled, among other things.
Of course, this still requires some attention to ensure the sales comps are appropriate, but it's a very fast and easy way to get a quick look at a property's value using actual sold comps in the area.
6. Legal Descriptions and Title Vesting Information
If you're ever in the practice of closing real estate transactions or reviewing legal descriptions for any reason, it can be extremely convenient to have an easy, fast way to find those legal descriptions. DataTree can do that too!
The Rapid Legal & Vesting Report is a convenient way to get these answers quickly. You can even order these reports in bulk if you have more than one property that you need this information on.
7. Generating a Direct Mail Marketing List
This was one of the big reasons I first signed up for DataTree. I needed an easy way to generate specific lists of properties and property owners so I could send out my direct mail campaigns to find deals.
There are many different ways to get these lists; some are much more complicated and expensive than others. But DataTree offers a very convenient way to get the job done without costing a fortune.
If you want to see other data services that can be used to generate lists like this, check out this blog post, where we compare real estate data services.
If you want another way to obtain a list directly from the county, here's everything you need to know about getting your county's delinquent tax list.
8. Drawing and Mapping Tools
DataTree's drawing tools are great when you want to hand-pick a geographic area, like a subdivision, lake, mountain, a rural area around a specific city, or anything else you can imagine. If you haven't tried this, give it a shot! You could find it surprisingly helpful the more specific you want to get with which property owners you want to target.
Whether you draw a polygon, a radius around specific coordinates, or even use the freehand drawing tool, you can get hyper-specific about which geographic area you want to target in your next marketing campaign.
9. “Parcel Tagging” With the Freehand Tool
You can also use the Freehand Tool to tag very specific parcels based on their location and other visible attributes.
I use this approach when scoping out an area to find location-specific properties that are difficult to hand-pick with the conventional ‘Advanced Search' functionality. It's also useful when the other drawing tools aren't precise enough to find those needle-in-a-haystack properties I'm looking for.
10. Property Research and Due Diligence
When conducting due diligence on a property, several things need to be investigated, and many of those checklist items can be checked off with the information from DataTree. Here's one example of how it can be done.
Of course, some due diligence items can't be done through DataTree alone, but most of the basic details can be quickly taken care of right here on this platform.
11. (BONUS) Find Out Who Owns a Specific Property
Have you ever wanted to figure out who owns a particular property? Maybe you want to contact your neighbors or reach out to a property owner to see if they'd be interested in selling to you (or even buying from you, for that matter).
DataTree makes it very easy to get this information on any property in the U.S. I'll show you how it works here.
If this is your primary reason for using a service like DataTree, another service worth checking out is PropStream. PropStream allows you to do the same thing described in the video above, and it can also skip trace property owners, allowing you to find their phone numbers and email addresses quickly. Learn more about how that works in this video.
12. (BONUS) Finding Recent Cash Buyers In A Given Area
If you're trying to find recent cash buyers in a particular geographic area (which can be useful for building a buyers list or making a quick sale to a nearby investor), there's an easy way to do that in DataTree. This video explains how it works.
For more details about building a buyers list, check out my ultimate guide to building a real estate buyers list.
Use Your Creativity!
The crazy thing is that there are a lot more things you can do with DataTree beyond what I've explained above. Every year, I keep learning about new ways other people use the service to find specific kinds of motivated sellers and perform certain types of research.
Have you figured out any creative ways to use this data service?
Are there any data services you've found useful?
Let us know your findings in the forum!