Using Real Estate Listings

Feel free to make use of the Real Estate Map as you see fit.

Here are some theoretical suggestions to aid your real estate search!

Forming a Group

Consider solidifying a group before finding a building. Buildings and land can be lost due to  lack of  support system and no defense strategy. Once you have acquired land, you need to determine how you plan to keep it. It is a good idea to organize support from friends, others in your community, activist groups, ect.

Your Real Estate search

Asses your needs to determine what type of property to look for. If you’re desperate for shelter and your first priority is to avoid getting kicked out, you’ll probably want a secluded place with low visibility access, consider industrial/residential areas, that are low traffic.

There are several different ways you can research and locate properties. It is highly recommended that you have researched a property before moving in. The easiest methods are by scouting properties and using online databases. Any vacant properties are fair game, but consider how long you plan on staying when selecting a building. It is best to find a property that has been vacant for a while and there do not appear to be any current plans for the structure. Look for properties that look like no one has been there for a while. Look for things like Tall grass, overflowing mailbox, newspapers piling up are signs of abandonment. It is recommended that potential tenants look for bank owned properties. It will be easier when you are making your arguments for defense, and with the overflowing amount of foreclosures the banks have many vacant homes throughout Portland.

You can search online databases or contact the assessor’s office to verify ownership status. If you have access to the internet online databases such as  http://www.usa-foreclosure.com are very useful. Once you sign up for an account, you are able to search most states for homes that are foreclosed, and in the pre-foreclosure process. Enter the zip-code of the neighborhood you wish to search in. It will list when the house was foreclosed on, or the date it is scheduled to go to auction. It also has a useful googlemaps feature so you can see where homes are located.Once you have found a property that appears vacant, look it up on portlandmaps.com and look at the ownership and permit data under the assessor tab. Look under the complaints tab for nuisance reports. You will be able to find out who owns the property, where they live, as well as other information on the house, such as how many bedrooms the house has and recent complaints about the property which can indicate abandonment. Once properties are foreclosed on, they are auctioned off at the county courthouse. If the house is not purchased by a third party, it is then reverted to the bank, and they take control of the property.  Houses that are in pre-foreclosure are a good option for reclaiming. Once a homeowner knows their house is going to be foreclosed on, they may choose to stay until they are evicted by the bank. Other times they may chose to leave before then earlier . If the property is left vacant by the current owner, sometimes it can be several months before the house goes to auction. Also, if you inhabit a pre-foreclosure that has not been taken by the bank yet, when a representative from the bank shows up they may assume you do actually have permission to be there and are legal tenants.

Scope out the building before moving in, or even entering it, preferably over a period of at least a few weeks. Find out if anyone is coming and going, see if owners or neighbors are checking up on the place. Check to see if the power meter is running, or any other signs of recent visitors. Leave a twig or toothpick wedged between the door and the frame, and check on it periodically.

It’s a good idea to go inside and inspect a building before you choose it, to know what you’re getting into.  Make sure the copper piping has not been stolen for scrap, and all wiring in it is still intact.  Look out for holes in the masonry too big to fix, significant water damage, or wood rot.
Getting Access

Many vacant buildings are left open. Do your homework first, determine how your building is secured, and what is required for entry. Entering a building is probably the riskiest part of this, because at this point you are legally considered a trespasser at the least, but could face charges of burglary for damage or alteration of the property. Check your local laws and defend yourself by learning your rights.

If your building is not wide open, you will need to break into before changing the locks. If all of the windows and doors are locked, try to pick the lock. If you have access to lock picking tools, it is a good idea to learn how to use them. You can view videos on youtube to find out how to pick locks without a lockpicking set or how to make a bump key. Using a small glass cutter to remove a small section of glass of a door might also be possible. If that doesn’t work, you may try to break a window, or another quiet approach. You may want to bring hammers, screw drivers, crow bars, bolt cutters with you. BEWARE: If you are caught with tools that might be used to enter the house, you may be charged with more serious crimes!

Once you have entered the building change the locks as soon as you can. Having your own keyed entry will keep your new home secure from unwanted guests, and looks less suspicious to passers by. If you need to, install your own door or door frame. You can check out salvage construction places like the rebuilding center for used doors as as low as $30.00.

Once you’ve changed the locks on the doors, you should consider letting the house sit for a few days and see if anything changes.

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