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What Is Skip Tracing In Real Estate And How to Do it Right

We’ve all skip traced at some point in our lives. Whether you were searching for a long-lost friend on social media platforms or using other means to track a person of interest, all these are unsophisticated forms of skip tracing. 

As a real estate investor, you can leverage skip tracing to identify the owners of distressed properties or houses before making a purchase offer. This gives you a leg up on the negotiating table and significantly boosts your chances of getting a good deal.

Sit back and grab a cup of coffee as we discuss skip tracing and how you can get the best out of it in real estate.

What is Skip Tracing?

Put simply, skip tracing means finding a skip or anyone you can’t locate in their supposed residence, workplace, or locality. However, keep in mind that skip tracing is not stalking; instead, it’s the legal use of research and special techniques to find a person of interest (POI).

Here’s a breakdown of professionals that use skip tracing:

  • Debt collectors
  • Repo companies
  • Collection agencies
  • Real estate investors and agencies
  • Bail bondsmen
  • Process Servers
  • Attorneys and lawyers who need witnesses for a case
  • Firms
  • Plaintiffs
  • Licensed private investigators
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Insurance fraud investigators
  • Journalists who need more info or a news topic
  • Family members who need to find a missing person
  • Missing children organizations
  • Employment & tenant verification services

Although skip tracing is as simple as locating someone with an unknown address, it’s pretty complex. 

Skip tracing uncovers an individual’s:

  • Location.
  • Contact details like a phone number, email address, or even social media accounts
  • Property owner’s name and information.
  • Legal history and criminal records.

Professional skip tracers use various tactics including social engineering, which involves contacting relatives, friends, colleagues, partners, or acquaintances via texts, phone calls or in-person visits. 

What is Skip Tracing in Real Estate?

What is skip tracing in real estate

The definition of skip tracing is relative to each industry. While skip tracing means finding elusive individuals in debt collection agencies and finding witnesses in legal cases, its definition is different in real estate.

Real estate skip tracing means looking for property owners, prospects, or property leads. The process involves using the known address of a building to find property owners other investors haven’t found yet.

You can do this unique follow-up strategy by yourself or hire licensed private investigators to find property owners.

Hiring a skip tracing service is ideal, especially if the property owner in question is busy taking care of other multiple properties, or simply doesn’t want to work with real estate professionals. The latter can be true if the property owner knows other motivated sellers besides a real estate agent who can help them dispose of the property at better rates, usually above the foregoing market value. Skip tracing is also a go-to option if you want to find out-of-state owners who are hardly in their homes.

Let’s take a look at why real estate agencies and investors should care about skip tracing.

5 Reasons Why You Need Skip Tracing In Real Estate

Skip tracing is increasingly becoming the ideal strategy for many real estate investors who want to make the most out of their marketing campaigns, as far as selling and buying of properties is concerned. Here are some of the reasons why skip tracing is ideal in the real estate industry:

  1. Get New, Qualified Leads

Skip tracing in real estate can help you acquire new motivated sellers who often won’t think twice about making a sale. Using skip tracing, you can easily identify distressed properties and often get good deals since the property owners would have abandoned the properties. 

  1. Clean Old Leads

Old leads can be redundant and might hurt your overall real estate marketing strategy, Imagine constantly calling the phone number of a dead property owner, or sending endless texts which will likely never get a response. With skip tracing, you can discern whether your lead is available and strategize your options accordingly.

  1. Clean Bad Data

Bad data is unacceptable in any industry, not real estate alone. Although you’ll also come across bad data when skip tracing, the process will help you expunge it from your database, creating more space for true, actionable data.

  1. Follow-Up on Leads

Real estate leads require constant follow-ups, especially if you are going to close deals faster. Skip tracing helps you locate a lead that had gone cold after engaging you for a while. You can then carry on with business after finding them.

  1. Save time

Skip tracing reduces the time to drive around looking for telltale signs of a distressed property. The chances are that a nearby real estate agent saw it first.

Why spend hours on Zillow or Trulia sifting through information leading almost nowhere? Why waste time on endless calls? Why not spend money on skip tracing to garner current data on your leads. Skip tracing allows you to focus on a customer and reach out to more prospects.

Remember, time is money!

The Process Of Skip Tracing

Real estate skip tracing process

Real estate investors can skip trace a property owner in various ways. However, there is one procedure that will likely give you actionable results in the real estate industry. The entire process involves six steps:

  •  The Plan

In matters of skip tracing, your intended outcome should be a success, depending on your investment goal. For instance, are you a motivated seller with a ready buyer or someone who wants to list the property for sale? Alternatively, your end strategy could be reaching out to other potential sellers to help you dispose of the distressed property. Either way, understand the needs of your target property owner and plan how you’ll fulfill that as a professional in the real estate industry.

  •  Lead Generation

Getting leads starts by finding property owners who are motivated to sell, which can include absentee landlords or individuals facing imminent foreclosures or delinquency in their taxes. At this stage, you can find distressed properties in your local area and list down their physical addresses.

  •  Research

Before hiring professional skip tracing services, you would want to do your own research and attempt to find the property owner’s name on the internet. You can start your research by searching on a popular search engine, such as Google. You can get surprised at how quickly you’ll find ready information about the property in question. Even better, you can find phone numbers on online directories, such as 411. com.

  •  Organization

The next step involves organizing the data you found in step three. At the very least, you should have the correct physical address of the property in question if you’re going to find the landlord or owner of the real estate. You can share this data with a professional skip tracer or save it for use in an online software tool, which often gives the best results.

  •  Uploading Data

After compiling the data, upload it to your go-to skip tracing tool for real estate. Most tools will require you to enter the target property address, owner’s name, and phone number if you manage to get one. The tool will then automatically generate a full profile of your property lead.

  •  Making Contact

Finally, now you have what skipping tracing companies are paid to get. You can go ahead and target individual owners with customized marketing campaigns and convince them to let you sell their properties.

Three Ways To Do Skip Tracing In Real Estate

ways to do skip tracing in real estate

There are various approaches to skip tracing in real estate, depending on how fast or efficient you want to find absentee property owners. Besides doing it the professional way, such as hiring private investigators or skip tracing companies, you can do it yourself or leverage online skip tracing tools. Here are your skip tracing options in detail.

  1. Do It By Yourself (DIY)

Real estate agents sometimes decide to do skip tracing on their own, without involving a skip tracing company. This is probably the most hands-on follow-up system because you might have to dig through hundreds of public records to find property owners. That said, you’ll need to visit your local county office that keeps investment property tax records. At the country office, you’ll find relevant property owner information, such as a mailing address where receipts of updated mortgage payments are sent, and contacts of immediate own families to help you skip trace the supposed owner.

Alternatively, you can explore other skip tracing DIY approaches, such as searching the property’s owner details on social media platforms, or a popular search engine like Google. Although you are not going to spend money on this approach as opposed to other skip tracing solutions, this option often yields mixed results, given that there is little information about the property owner, to begin with.

  1. Hire An Expert

Although you’ll spend money, hiring a professional or expert skip tracer can be a deal-breaker if you’re going to find an off-market property owner in time. Given that time is of the essence in the real estate business, this approach is always a go-to option for many motivated sellers.

Typically, a professional skip tracer can access and avail a detailed property database that you can sift through to find the absentee homeowner’s new address and contact them. The information might include phone numbers, area of current residences, or even workplaces.  Depending on how experienced your skip tracer is, this can take less than 24 hours and you might even be closing deals within the same timeframe if you are able to locate property owners almost instantly.

  1. Take Advantage Of Skip Tracing Software (Smarter Contact)

Instead of spending a lot of time and money on hiring a skip tracing company to find a property owner, most real estate investors often leverage specialized online tools that can get the job done without much hassle. An excellent example of innovative skip tracing software in the industry is Smarter Contact. The platform uses the most advanced geolocation data in the real estate industry to give you the highest hit rates and ensure that you’re contacting your leads through their real phone numbers. Even better, smarter contact gives discounts on bulk skip tracing services. 

The best thing about mobile data skip tracing is that real estate professionals can access and leverage a more extensive database as opposed to the information you can get on online phone directories. With this approach, you can get the true property owner’s information and increase the probability of closing the deal.

How Smarter Contact Skip Tracing Tool Works

Like prevalent innovative skip tracing tools, Smarter Contact offers a user-friendly interface that guarantees real-time skip tracing services to save you time, effort, and money. Here is how the paid service works.

How skip tracing works
  1. Upload Data

The first step includes uploading data from your contact list, which can include the property owners name, email address, or even phone number. You export a database from your external source and upload it to the system or customize your own contact list from scratch. Either way, you know what works best for you as a real estate investor.

  1. Get the Best-In-Class Data

After uploading the data, the system will automatically analyze it and give you the latest phone data of the property owners in your contact list. This includes a separate mobile and landline phone number, unlike standard professional tracing services.

  1. Upload Leads

The next step is generating leads after building a custom SMS campaign from the data you found in the previous step. Unlike making phone calls, SMS messages will give you the highest delivery rate, given that most property owners will likely open and read them within three minutes of receipt.

Start a free trial today and work with a free customer relationship manager to enhance your experience with Smarter Contact.

Types Of Skip Tracing

There are various types of skip tracing, depending on who wants to find who. Besides lenders and real estate investors who want to find a property lead, other professionals who leverage skip tracing services include landlords, private individuals, lawyers and paralegals, process servers, insurance agencies, and debt collection service providers.

With that in mind, here are the various types of skip tracing.

Batch Skip Tracing

This is the most common type of skip tracing, especially when real estate investors want to find multiple individuals who don’t want to be found. This method makes the whole process of tracing in real estate easier as it gives qualified information only, based on public and private records. Typically, agents can compile skip trace data from various sources, such as credit headers and mortgage service providers to get multiple contact details, such as:

  • Mobile phone numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Mailing addresses

Batch skip tracing is pretty straightforward and often yields the best results. In case, the data that you use is insufficient to contact the lead, you want to change your skip tracing in the real estate service provider as this signals bad skip trace results.

Bulk Tracing

As the name suggests, this type of skip tracing involves finding multiple skips at once, without having to do so manually. Most real estate investors often employ online software tools for bulk tracing as the software helps them build contact lists on the go. Bulk tracing is a go-to option for real estate investors who want a high volume lead generation and outreach without spending significantly on a professional skip tracer. 

Private Investigation Skip Tracing

Private individuals may hire a professional investigator to help them trace a missing person or someone who owe money. These skip tracing services are often sought by concerned family members who want to find a parent who abandons their children, an individual named in a life insurance policy or will, or even a trial witness.

Can You Legally Skip Trace Your Real Estate Leads?

Is skip tracing legal? Well, yes, it is legal, provided you meet all the requirements that a typical skip genie should. For instance, a skip tracer should have a valid license before you contact them to find property owners on your behalf. Every state in the US has various prerequisites for issuing a license to skip tracers in the real estate industry. Read more about the process and requirements of becoming a professional skip tracer in real estate or any other industry.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Where Did The Term Skip Trace Come From?

Skip tracing comes from the noun “skip”, which basically refers to an individual who doesn’t want to be found within their known legal addresses or places of work. You’ve probably heard someone saying they are going to “skip town” when hiding from someone. The finder then needs to “trace” them in order to find their current location, hence the name skip trace.

I Got The Information, Now What?

What you do with the information you get after skip tracing in real estate is entirely up to you. While any real estate agent would build an email campaign based on this data, investors who want to close deals more quickly often turn to MS marketing. Typically SMS marketing requires basic information, such as mobile phone contact details, which you can get if your prospect is skip traced.

Should DIY Skip Tracing or use a tool?

DIY skip tracing is a go-to option if you want to skip trace a fugitive without spending significantly. As mentioned earlier, you take the initiative to comb various databases, and might even involve forwarding address to close associates in an attempt to find additional information about the skip in question. On the other hand, a skip tracing tool gives you access to all this data without much hassle. In other words, the latter option saves you time, effort, and money.

How Much Does Skip Tracing Cost

The amount of money that you’ll spend for skip racing largely depends on the type of service that you opt for. For instance, hiring private investigators or professional tracing services will cost you more than using an online tool, some of which come with a free trial. Nonetheless, skip tracing services will cost you an average of $20 to $350, depending on the complexity of finding the skip.

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