Skip Tracing for Real Estate Investors
August 18, 2022
Skip Tracing for Real Estate Investors is akin to the idea of tracking down (or tracing the whereabouts of) a person who has “skipped town.” In real estate, this process is used to trace contact information for property owners who could be interested in selling their homes.
Building up a list of motivated sellers to target takes a lot of work. Investors don’t just snap their fingers and receive a list of 1,000 motivated sellers to go after. As helpful as that would be, it’s not realistic. Prospecting takes time.
If you’ve found this article, however, you’ve already done the work. You’ve spent hours driving neighborhoods, taking notes, pulling lists online, and cultivating a long list of potential wholesale properties.
Now, you’re ready to put that list to use, but there’s a problem. You don’t have contact information for any of the property owners…
Having a long list of potential motivated sellers is great, but if you can’t contact the homeowner, what’s the point?
In this post, we show you how a simple skip trace can help investors overcome prospecting hurdles and contact sellers faster.
Skip Tracing for Real Estate Investors
Skip tracing is an effective and highly disciplined method of finding contact information for motivated sellers. The process is used to find missing phone numbers, mailing addresses, email addresses, and other contact information for the owner of a particular property.
Skip trace to locate motivated sellers.
Skip tracing is akin to the idea of tracking down (or tracing the whereabouts of) a person who has “skipped town.” In real estate, this process is used to trace contact information for property owners who could be interested in selling their homes.
Potentially motivated sellers include:
- Absentee owners
- Owners of multiple properties
- High-equity owners (30% or more)
- Long-term property owners (5+ years)
- Homeowners facing foreclosure
Investors know how difficult it can be to locate accurate and up-to-date contact information for a homeowner, but seasoned experts know that the harder the owner information is to find, the higher the likelihood that a potential deal exists down the line.
Skip tracing in real estate
Stop wasting time performing fruitless online searches for people you don’t know.
Skip tracing makes it easier to build up a qualified list of homeowners that you can actually contact, providing valuable data for potential wholesale properties.
Find property owners.
Agents, wholesalers, and investors use skip tracing to track down the information they need fast.
Perform a skip trace of a property’s address, or a list of multiple properties, to find missing phone numbers, updated mailing addresses, email addresses, and other valuable contact information for the homeowner. Quickly fill in missing lead details, optimizing the process of identifying property owners and locating up-to-date contact information.
How successful is skip tracing?
There is no full-proof method for hunting down seller contact information, but skip tracing is pretty close.
On average, investors experience a return rate, or hit rate, of 90-95% on skip traces. Skip tracing a list of 1,000 properties, for example, could provide results for 900-950 people, in just a few minutes!
What are the benefits of real estate skip tracing?
Real estate investors use skip tracing services to:
- Find property owners contact information.
- Flag leads and owners on the DNC list.
- Contact more qualified leads.
- Save time and optimize the prospecting process.
- Close more deals.
If you’re a motivated real estate investor, performing skip traces can help you unlock unlimited opportunities.
How does skip tracing work?
If skip tracing is the process of locating property owners contact information, how does it all work?
Public records search
Skip tracing is completed by searching online and public databases for missing property owner information. The NCOA is one of the most useful resources that investors and skip trace services use to locate helpful seller data.
What is the NCOA?
The NCOA is the National Change of Address registry. When individuals move and register a change of address form to have their mail forwarded, that information is tracked and stored in a public database. When a property is skip traced, the NCOA is searched for an updated mailing address.
Skip tracing companies with access to a search engine that searches both private and public records have access to information stored in a wide variety of databases.
Databases that skip trace services may access include:
- Ownership records
- Public property records
- Utility listings
- Credit Bureau
- Consumer databases
- DMV records
Property record completion
After a skip trace is completed, investors receive updated contact information for traced properties. Most services provide three telephone numbers and three email addresses for each property owner.
Typically, the first phone number and email address listed for the owner are the most reliable and most likely to lead to the owner; the farther down the list the phone number is, the less reliable.
If you use an integrated CRM with built-in skip tracing, like REsimpli, missing information that was found during the trace is filled into the property record. Then, you can identify duplicate properties, sort mobile numbers from landlines, and ensure all of your leads stay organized.
What if a skip trace provides contact information for an LLC?
On occasion, a skip trace will provide ownership records for an LLC instead of an individual. If a property is owned by an LLC, additional work is often required to identify the primary contact.
What is a batch skip trace?
Batch (or bulk) skip tracing is the process of performing a skip trace for multiple records at once, eliminating the need to manually search each one.
Investors can upload property lists from their CRM or a list aggregator service into skip tracing software. The software quickly searches public records for information that helps identify and locate potentially motivated sellers from the uploaded list.
How do you perform a skip trace?
Before performing a skip trace, investors will need a few basic property details.
Skip trace preparation
At a minimum, the property address is required, but the more information you have before the trace, the more accurate the results will be.
Adding the owner’s name and mailing address can increase the accuracy of skip trace results significantly. If you need to locate the owner’s name and updated address, check the tax assessor or tax recorder’s website, as this information can typically be found there.
And with that, you’re ready to skip trace!
Choosing the best skip tracing services
Not all skip tracing software is created equal. Investors should look for services that match their style, budget, and business goals.
There are skip trace services with access to databases that provide comprehensive property data, such as lien or mortgage records for the home. Others may only provide basic homeowner data, such as a telephone number or mailing address.
Pricing for skip trace services also varies, so investors must choose a skip tracing service that fits their budget and their business goals. Services that access vast databases to provide detailed records tend to charge more than basic tools.
Free real estate skip tracing tools:
There are a variety of free skip tracing tools that investors can utilize to locate property owner information, such as:
- Search Engines: Free and easy, to use, investors can search for owner information using popular engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! Attempt to locate homeowners by searching their full name and address, and by utilizing advanced search filters to target specific keywords when applicable.
- Email checkers: Emailsherlock.com, Email-checker.com, and other sites offer free email verification tools investors can use to confirm the validity of email addresses.
- Blogs: Some people like to share their thoughts and experiences online. The owner you’re searching for could be a blogger or online content creator. Search “about me” pages on blog and WordPress sites, just in case.
- Social media: Look for the homeowner on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other social media platforms. Many profiles act as online resumes, listing the individual’s location, job title, and more.
Investors also use Spokeo, SkipEase, and FastPeopleSearch.com. These sites utilize information from telecommunication services to provide additional details when a lead’s full name or telephone number is searched.
Paid skip tracing services:
There are a variety of paid tools and services investors can use to skip trace. Plans, services, and tools vary from platform to platform, as does the cost.
Some of the most popular paid skip trace tools include:
- IDI Data
- Mojo Skip Tracer
- Skip Genie
Explore different services and choose the skip tracing company that best meets your needs.
Many investors choose to invest in high-quality paid services, tools, and integrated software systems like REsimpli, in addition to using free online tools. Some also choose to hire private investigators to hunt down homeowners.
What are skip trace investigators?
In the real estate industry, some investors may choose to hire a freelance skip tracer or private investigator to locate property owners.
Skip tracers may be former investors or real estate agents, but many are freelance virtual assistants who connect with remote clients on apps like Fiverr or Upwork.
Investigators may charge $100-200 to find phone numbers for a preset number of properties, and individual tracers may charge anywhere between $0.50 -$5.00 per lead (or more), depending on their experience.
How do investors use skip trace results?
After skip tracing 1,000 properties, with a resulting hit rate of 90%, you now have contact information for 900 property owners. What’s the next step?
Contacting motivated home sellers
After gathering owner contact data, real estate investors may choose to reach out to sellers via phone, SMS, direct mail, or other methods. Each lead follow-up method has its own pros, cons, and costs.
Calling homeowners directly is the least expensive contact method, so many investors choose to start there. Without an automated dialing service, however, calling contacts can be time-consuming. Direct mail and SMS campaigns may be more beneficial for investors who do not have access to speed dialing.
It may take several attempts to make contact with a homeowner, so real estate investors reach out in a variety of ways. Direct contact campaigns may begin with a phone call that is followed by a ringless voicemail message or an SMS message before a postcard or letter.
Skip tracing and direct mail
The homeowner response on direct mail campaigns can be roughly 1-2%, and the return mail rate is 3.5%. Because of these numbers, real estate investors often overlook the power that combining skip tracing and direct mail can have.
If you were to send direct mailers to 1,000 properties, you could expect about 10-20 individual telephone calls back as a result. Additionally, of those 1,000 pieces of direct mail sent, approximately 30-40 would come back marked “Return to Sender.” This leaves you with 980 owners that still need to be contacted, and a list of 30-40 property owners that you know no longer reside at the property’s address.
Skip trace the remaining properties to locate updated phone numbers for the 980 properties that you didn’t make contact with, and pay specific attention to returned mail.
Many investors overlook returned direct mail; they view it as a loss and move on. Skip tracing these properties, however, can reveal absentee owner information, and updated contact data, and help you connect with the people that other investors are not getting in touch with.
Skip tracing with REsimpli
REsimpli was designed by real-world active real estate investors who knew what they wanted, and what they were missing, from other CRM tools. They designed a comprehensive system that investors can use to track contacts, investments, records, and manage every single piece of their business.
With a variety of tools, services, and membership packages available, REsimpli users set and manage their budgets
In addition to built-in skip tracing, REsimpli provides investors with easy-to-use list stacking tools, direct mail services, a mobile-friendly Driving for Dollars app, and much more. Users can track communications, purchases, lead statuses, action items, and team activity–all in one place.
Speedy service and searches
Through a fast, user-friendly process, investors can perform skip traces quickly, even during file uploads.
Set tools to flag properties on the DNC list, owners on litigator lists, and other undesirable properties. Avoid calling litigious homeowners, especially those who have requested not to be contacted by solicitors and marketers, as this could cause future headaches.
Save property lists, review previous skip trace records, and continue working on incomplete lead lists as your budget allows.
Organized property and lead lists
Users can quickly search their database of organized, well-maintained lead records based on applied filters including, but not limited to:
- Property Type
- Ownership Status
- Foreclosure Status
- Equity Percentage
Keep your lead lists clean, current, and organized. Identify duplicate properties, owners with more than one property, wholesalers, and other commonalities.
REsimpli tracks each outgoing phone call, logs the outcome, stores user notes, and displays valuable lead information that assigned users can access quickly.
Built-in lead follow-up tools
Some motivated sellers are tech-savvy and others are not. REsimpli gives investors the ability to contact all sellers, whether by mobile, landline, email, or direct mail.
Through REsimpli’s built-in direct mail services, investors can quickly mail leads postcards, newsletters, and a variety of other customizable marketing materials.
Cutting-edge speed dialing services allow real estate investors to make more phone calls to property owners. Investors spend more time speaking with motivated sellers and less time dialing the phone.
With a single software, investors can keep lead lists up-to-date, reduce double-dialing, and make contact with more motivated sellers than ever before.
This article was originally featured on REsimpli.
Learn more about REsimpli at https://resimpli.com/reiradio/