1.) What is Code Enforcement?
It is a city/county department like the police. They enforce property maintenance code which is a minimum set of standards a property owner is required to adhere to so as to not have their property be a nuisance to the community. They locate problem properties via fielding and vetting complaints from concerned citizens and conducting patrols.
Code Enforcement officers drive around seeking many of the same indicators of distress that investors driving for dollars do.
2.) Can’t I get this for free from the City/County?
Not data like ours. Our reports are an amalgamation of City and County data that is standardized to a higher level than either of those sources keep it in with proprietary automation. These organizations are notorious for denying valid requests you are entitled to under the law and they will give you the run around if they don’t feel like it. Additionally, Code Enforcement records almost never contain information on what type of properties they are (so you wouldn’t know if you are calling the owner of a duplex or a Wendy’s from the data) or the owners name mailing address which seriously devalues your skip tracing expenses as you will be calling old tenants, residents, and people who have received mail at that address for any reason in recent history. We get this information on each property one by one from the County Assessor/Clerk/Treasurer. Obtaining the information takes time and effort, appending this vital information is very tedious and time consuming, it is only free if you value you time at $0/hr. Our deliverable, with no modification necessary, is designed to plug into real estate investing platforms and skip tracing tools.
3.) How fresh is the data?
We update quarterly. Most customers arrive with the assumption that you want the freshest data and nothing less, this is very much the case for most other common list data sources (pre-foreclosure, tax delinquency, probate, divorce, etc.) that investors prospect off of. That said we have conducted and posted the only data science online comparing property sales records with code enforcement records. These studies are time consuming and not a revenue generating product but in all the cities we’ve done this in we’ve never observed a spike in sales in the initial months following a new case being opened. The properties actually sell at a very constant rate until 2-3 years after the case is opened at which point the rate begins to drop off.
This is not to say that the freshest records are inferior to older data, just that we haven't ever found statistical proof that they are vastly superior like nearly all new customers come to us believing is the case.
Unlike the bread and butter investor lists like foreclosure, many owners on these lists do not sell their properties chiefly because of the Code Enforcement issue. Its more a “life happens” think like “my aunt died” and is very case by case and tough to generalize. Investors get deals off driving for dollars lists all the time, their motivation is not that you happened to observe disrepair, life happened.
While again many are surprised to learn about this. Think about it, is it that surprising that there isn't a monumental advantage to calling someone the day they receive a $50 fix it ticket? It is a commonly known marketing principle that it takes 7 touches/impressions for the average consumer to make a buying/transactional decision. We also believe that many investors who DIY Code Enforcement data acquisition focus solely on the freshest and thus do not talk to these people when they are ready to move forward.