This is an excellent question.
FYI, my answer would be the same whether the lot were empty (as it is) or not.
I know a lot of investors (myself included) who buy/sell real estate in their local and non-local markets. The key to making this work effectively and efficiently is to put together what I'd like to call a 'power team'. A power team is exactly what it sounds like: a team. That team will become an extension of you, and each member will play a specific role.
First, the cornerstone of any great power-team is the realtor. You can find all of the other members through him/her. You need to work with someone whom you like and trust, you need to work with someone who's comfortable working with non-local clients (FYI many aren't--so screen well), and you need to work with someone who communicates well with you. You need someone who knows the neighborhood (where that property is) well. You need someone who's willing to take several pictures both inside and outside any and all improvements on a plot. You also want someone who's willing to snap a few panoramic shots to give you more of an idea of what's going on with other plots near yours.
Second, ideally that realtor will be able to give you several other referrals for: inspectors, GCs, appraisers, attorneys, project managers, property managers, etc--especially if that realtor has lots of experience working with investors (or also invests him-/herself--which is even better). The other team members will operate pretty much the same way they would if you were a local client. Yet, you need to make sure that you order an investor's inspection and appraisal. Both reports contain more details than a typical buyer's inspection and appraisal. Both reports should come with lots of pictures (hundreds in some cases for large properties with lots of improvements) with labels, so that you should have a really good idea of what's going on with that property. Obviously, you'll want the attorney to look over all of your contracts to ensure that everything is kosher. And the rest of the referrals will help you with any improvements and the maintenance thereof.... more
WOW! Rose, that is a good question. There isn't one in my area that fits that criteria. Is your home in Indiana worth only 50,000? Maybe you could check a website like craigslist.org for that. Or perhaps someone else will know just the spot. Good Luck!... more