Track Down the Owners of Empty Plots for Interested Buyers

There are many open plots of land in South Africa and many people looking to purchase a plot to build a house on. Start your own business tracking down the owners of plots for interested buyers.

Title deeds are a matter of public record, but not many people have the time or the knowhow to track down the owners of plots of land. The title deed contains the name of the current owner, a description of the property, size as well as the amount of money paid for it.

The first thing to do is to find the address of the property or the ERF number (both can be used to get the information you need). Then run a deed search, this can be done at the deeds office or using a platform such as Windeed. The title deed contains the name and ID number of the owner, which can be used to run further searches to find their contact details. This can be bundled as a package and offered as a service.

How it works and costs involved

A Windeed search generates a report as seen below. I have edited out identifiable information as this is a search I did on an actual property that I was interested in purchasing. This search costs R18.23 (R15.99 ex vat).

Windeed search result
Windeed search result

1. The first option is to do a basic “Contact information” search, you can see the link circled on the image above to do so. This will cost R5.68 (R4.98 ex vat) extra (on top of the R18.23)

If the above method fails to generate up to date contact details take the ID number from above and do one of the following approaches:

2. Director search. This will search the CIPC database and generate a report on whether the person is a director of one or more companies. This search costs R12.18  (R10.68 ex vat).  If no contact details are provided. You can then Google the company name to see if they have a website and get a contact number there or you can do a Company search for the company name and get the registered address of the business. This search costs R12.18  (R10.68 ex vat) as well. This is a viable option as property owners are often directors of companies (but an unnecessary step if you have managed to get details at point 1).

3. The third option to get a persons contact details from a ID number is to run a search via the credit bureaus. You can either do a consumer profile search or a trace. The problem with this option is that credit bureaus require the consent of the person being searched in certain instances and in this case you don’t have that as you don’t know who the person is. This is often done by companies when someone is applying for credit and that person will sign a form to say they give permission to search the credit bureaus to check whether they are credit worthy.

Please note that you will need to register to do searches on Windeed and provide payment details and monitor your spend as search after search can add up.

How to price your services
The searches above should not take more than an hour to conclude. Take the cost of the searches into consideration and put your price on top. Your income will depend on how many clients you can get.  Let’s say you are charging R500 to track down the owner of a plot and you just need a basic contact information search to get hold of them. Then your costs will be R23.91 (R18.23 + R5.68) and your profit will be R476.09. Get enough clients and it can be a lucrative business that can be run from home.

6 comments on Track Down the Owners of Empty Plots for Interested Buyers

  1. I guess the next logical question would be how to source such clients. Is there an existing data base or registry where people who are in search of such erf regularly leave their details?

    1. No, it is not that easy. You have to go out and find clients, advertise that you offer such a service, or build a platform like you explain. Even then its as easy as shooting fish in a barrel, people will come to you and say “I pass this open plot of land on my way to work, find me the owner” and send you a Google Street View link (which is not very accurate), then you have to work from the property numbers next to it or opposite it.

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