What to do if a county treasurer says they can't separate vacant parcels from improved properties?

Does anyone have a workaround for when a county treasurer pushes back on a list request saying they cannot separate a list by vacant parcels only?

I run into this with about 30% of the counties that I contact. At $0.50 / parcel, it is too expensive to purchase the entire tax delinquent list when only a fraction of that list is vacant parcels that I want to target. I have considered buying the entire list and trying to split the cost with a real estate investor who wants to target delinquent homeowners, but I don't love that idea. I know I can play around with AgentPro247 etc, but I prefer to go directly to the source.

Has anyone else had this problem and come up with a solution?

@DanielC, as long as they're providing the list in a format you can manipulate in Excel (.xls, or more likely .csv, etc.), and as long as you have at least one column in that table that clearly identifies improved properties (e.g. might be a field/column for Improved or Vacant, or maybe the assessed values are broken out into multiple columns for Land, Improvements, Other, and Total Assessed Value), then what I've done is use the Filter feature in Excel. I got an error message when trying to post this response with a link included to a webpage that explains the Filter feature in Excel, but if you're not familiar, just Google the term Excel filter and you'll find websites and videos showing what I mean.

Filter the table in Excel so only non-Vacant (Improved) properties that you want to delete are shown, and all Vacant properties you want to keep are hidden. Then just do a mass selection of all those rows that are showing, and delete them. The Filter feature can be handy for doing a batch deletion of properties that meet (or fail to meet) other criteria, too. If there's a column for it in Excel, then you can Sort or Filter by the value in that column. For example, I don't know how often we'll get this lucky, but if a county provided a list with owners' addresses broken out into multiple fields/columns, and one of those columns is "State", then you could Filter the table to only show in-state owners and delete them, if you want to.

@dl7573 Thank you for that! I will make sure to use that next time and every Excel trick helps. Unfortunately, I'm trying to figure out the process before I even purchase the list. Some counties are telling me I cannot purchase a list of vacant land only. They tell me I have to pay 50 cents per parcel for ALL delinquent parcels. However, I do not want to spend hundreds of dollars on a list when I only want the 20% or so that is vacant. Sorry I wasn't more clear!

@DanielC Oh, gotcha. That stinks if they're charging per parcel. The couple of counties where I've pulled data from the Treasurer's office did so on a fixed price basis, regardless of list size so I hadn't thought about that.

I agree that if you're paying per lead, they should really filter it how you need it, within reason, and eliminating based on Improved/Vacant is certainly reasonable. Of course, they're government employees and you're not really going to be able to make them do something they don't want to do.

In your shoes, I might try politely pointing out that based on their policy of charging per parcel, this list would end up costing you a lot more, while giving you a ton of parcel listings that you're not interested in. If that doesn't motivate them to address it on their end, then as a last ditch effort, I'd probably offer to filter it for them on my end after receiving the list (per my previous post) and ask if they would agree to only charge me for the Vacant parcels on that filtered list. Worst they can do is say no (to both).

@DanielC One more thought...Just spit-balling here, and this might be a bit awkward to work out, but maybe under the right circumstances you could find another real estate investor who is exclusively interested in Improved lots in the same area (fix-and-flipper, residential landlord, etc.), and would be willing to split the prorated cost of the list with you, where you cover the cost of the vacant parcels and they cover that of the improved ones. Again, I recognize this approach might be iffy, because unless you had a strong existing relationship, I don't imagine most large and well-established wholesale/investor operations would probably want to team on pulling a list with some random person to save a few hundred bucks on leads, that they're likely already sourcing from somewhere anyway. Also, you definitely don't want to share the list with someone that might be just as happy to flip vacant parcels as houses (like maybe some wholesalers would). But if you could find someone who is at a comparable stage, or earlier, than you or I are at in their RE investing career, and is not at all interested in vacant land, maybe there'd be a good fit. Might try finding someone like that through the local REIA/Meetup or BiggerPockets.

Try a third party data provider like Data Tree or Agentpro.

Just wondering, why not just move away from the county to a next one? In the master class Seth says that if a list costs him more then 500 dollars he usually moves one.