Real estate investors can use skip tracing to find the phone numbers of owners of properties that they’re interested in purchasing.
In this guide, we’ll explain the ins and outs of skip tracing for real estate investors.
And we’ll even share our top software picks for skip-tracing owner data.
What is skip tracing?
In real estate investing, skip tracing is the process of tracking down the owners of properties that you’re interested in purchasing.
Essentially, it’s a way to get the contact information — specifically, phone numbers — for homeowners so that you can contact them and see if they’re interested in selling their property.
Skip tracing can be useful for finding people who have moved without leaving a forwarding address, or for finding people who own vacant properties.
There are a number of ways to do skip tracing, but the most common method is to use special databases that contain public records.
These databases can be accessed online, and they often include information like phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.
Some skip tracing services will even provide you with information about where a person works, their relatives, and their social media profiles.
How is skip tracing used in real estate investing?
When trying to find off-market properties to purchase, real estate investors need to find the contact information of the owner.
That way, they can cold call them and see if they’re interested in selling.
Skip tracing is used most successfully on big batches of data pulled by real estate investors from sources such as public records and driving for dollars.
Because it’s far too time-consuming to try and manually track down the contact information for each and every potential lead.
With skip tracing, real estate investors can quickly and easily find the phone numbers they need, so they can focus their time on actually making calls and doing deals.
Is skip tracing legal?
Yes, skip tracing is a legal process in the United States.
That said, it’s important to check local laws and business regulations in your area to make sure you’re following all the necessary rules.
Why Use Skip Tracing?
Skip tracing provides real estate professionals with a competitive advantage. It helps them locate hard-to-find property owners, making the acquisition, sale, or management process smoother.
Most RE pros are using skip tracing as a part of their business…
Either for marketing…
Locating non-paying individuals…
Or for networking.
Here’s a list of ways different RE professionals can use skip tracing.
Skip tracing for Property Managers:
Property managers can use skip tracing to locate former tenants who left without notice, left debts, or violated lease terms. It can also help find potential tenants’ histories, ensuring only credible tenants occupy a property.
Skip tracing for Investors:
For investors, especially those targeting distressed properties, skip tracing can be instrumental. It provides them the means to find contact details for absentee homeowners or those in pre-foreclosure, enabling direct negotiation.
Skip tracing for Real Estate Agents:
Agents can harness skip tracing to find homeowners who might be considering selling but haven’t listed their properties yet. This proactive approach can result in exclusive listings and faster deals.
Skip tracing for Lenders:
Lenders can use skip tracing to locate borrowers who have defaulted on their loans, especially if they’ve changed their addresses and contact details without notification.
How accurate is skip tracing?
You might think that to find the phone number of a property owner, all you need to do is plug their address into a skip tracing tool… and voila! You’ve got it.
That’s sort of how it works. But it’s also not that simple.
Skip tracing services work based on public record data. And while that data is usually pretty accurate, it’s not always up-to-date.
That means there’s a chance you might get an outdated phone number — or no phone number at all.
To increase your chances of success, you’ll want to use high-quality skip tracing software (we’ll give you 9 in this article!).
In terms of accuracy, expect to get the correct phone number for the property owner about 60-70% of the time.
What to do Before Skip Tracing Your Data
Before you skip trace your data — by “data”, we’re talking about your list of addresses, owner names, and other information you have on the properties you’re interested in purchasing — there are some housekeeping things you should do.
First, make sure all of your data is in one place.
If you’re using a paper list, type it out into a Google Sheet or Excel document.
If you’re using multiple software programs to track your leads, consolidate everything into one place.
Not only will this make skip tracing easier, but it will also make it easier to keep track of your leads in general.
Second, check and double-check your data for accuracy.
Typos happen, and they can really screw up your skip tracing results.
So take a few minutes to go through your list and make sure everything is spelled correctly.
Third, remove duplicate records so that you’re not paying to skip trace the same records multiple times.
With that, you’re ready to use one of the 9 following tools!
How to Skip Trace?
Skip tracing might sound intricate, but with the right strategy and tools, it’s manageable. Start by gathering as much preliminary information as you can about the individual. This can include full names, previous addresses, and known associates. Then, use online databases, public records, and even social media platforms. Many professionals also employ skip tracing software to streamline this process, some of which offer free trials.
That’s the run down of skip tracing.
And it CAN be a lot of work if you don’t use simple tools like we highlight below.
So here’s a video on how to skip trace for free:
9 Top Skip Tracing Tools For Real Estate Investors
Ready to skip trace your data?
Here are the top 9 tools for skip tracing as a real estate investor!
REsimpli is the ultimate skip-tracing solution for real estate investors seeking an all-in-one CRM software. Its built-in skip-tracing facility seamlessly gathers any missing information and links it with the user’s database and marketing campaigns.
Thanks to its accuracy, ease of use, and simplicity, REsimpli is ranked as the number one software on the list of best skip-tracing solutions. Users can search for a specific person or property to obtain contact information and addresses.
REsimpli’s pricing is calculated based on the number of matches found, with a cost of only 15 cents per match. This makes it an affordable solution for real estate investors of all sizes. Pricing plans start at $99 per month that include advanced features such as list stacking, dialer, seller website, drip campaign, and even old-school postcards.
2. Skip Genie
Skip Genie is an all-in-one solution that offers a wide range of features for real estate investors.
In terms of simplicity, accuracy, and ease-of-use, you won’t find any better tool — which is why we put it as #1.
You can search for a specific person to get addresses, phone numbers, and even related individuals. You can search by the property to find people associated with the property (as well as their contact information and other properties that they own). Or you can research relatives in the case that the owner has no contact information available.
Pricing is on a subscription basis and starts at $58 per month. That includes 100 searches and it’s $0.17 per each additional search after that.
In addition to serving as the single best place (in our opinion) to pull real estate data, Propstream also allows you to skip trace that data at $0.12 per record.
One of the more interesting features they offer is “Do Not Call List Scrubbing”. When you skip trace your records, Propstream will give you contact information for the owners but include flags for any phone numbers that are on the Do Not Call Registry.
Calling people on the DNC list is a bit of a gray area, to be sure, for real estate investors. But it’s valuable information to have and it can protect you from being reported.
Watch this video below where Ryan Dossey shows you the top lists he pulled from Propstream:
Alongside data management, automated workflows, tasks, direct mailers, list stacking, and lots of other features, REISift offer skip tracing. To use their skip tracing feature, however, you’ll have to be a member (membership starts at $49 per month). On top of that, skip tracing costs $0.17 per record on their lowest-tier plan and $0.12 per record on their highest tier plan.
The main benefit to using REISift to skip trace your data is that, since REISift is a data management platform for real estate investors, you’re also getting to keep everything consolidated and organized in one tool.
BatchSkipTracing is one of the biggest tools in the skip tracing industry. They have 325 million records available (including 99% of the U.S. population), and they’ve serviced over 45,000 businesses.
While they tool isn’t built specifically for real estate investors, it works just fine for finding property owners.
One benefit of using BatchSkipTracing is that they don’t require a subscription commitment. You only pay $0.20 per result, which is a bit higher than some of the other services we discussed. So it’s a trade-off. You don’t have to pay monthly, but you do have to pay a bit more per record.
6. Mojo Skip Tracer
Mojo is a large suite of sales tools tha tcan help marketers, salespeople, and business owners in many different industries.
They have a lead manager, a data organizer, marketing software, and a mobile app.
Among their suite of tools is a skip tracer.
For a subscription of $59 per month, you can get unlimited people and property searches. Here’s how their website explains the process: “Simply import your file into our lead manager and initiate Skip Tracer. We validate your addresses, extract the tax and deed data, append it will consumer contact information and you’re done.”
7. Deal Machine
In terms of software for real estate investors, Deal Machine wins the race when it comes to user-friendliness.
All of their tools — which include driving for dollars tracking, direct mail sending, list building, and even skip tracing — are hosted on their super simple mobile app.
You can either upload a spreadsheet or skip trace one property owner at a time.
But you’ll need a Deal Machine subscription, which starts at $98 per month. And then you’ll pay $0.12 to $0.14 per hit (depending on the plan you choose) — “hit” refers to the data that actually returns possible owner phone numbers. This means you don’t pay for the data you skip trace… only for the data that returns results.
REISkip is exactly what it sounds like — skip tracing software designed specifically for real estate agents and investors.
It’s not as popular or well-known (despite it’s relevant brand name) as many of the other tools in this article, but it’s certainly worth mentioning.
REISkip scours all of the great data companies and cross-references their information to get you the best, most recent phone numbers possible — they call this “skip trace triangulation”.
Just like Propstream, they also include DNC scrubbing.
REISkip costs $0.15 per skip.
9. Lead Sherpa
Last but not least, Lead Sherpa is SMS, skip tracing, and list stacking software built specifically for real estate pros.
Their most noteworthy feature is their SMS marketing — this allows you to filter property owners so you can send engaging messages to your most motivated leads.
But they also offer skip tracing at $0.15 per record. You can do that apart from or in addition to a monthly subscription plan (but the cost of skip tracing remains the same).
What to do After Skip Tracing Your Data
You might be thinking to yourself… Okay. I’ve skip traced my data… but what happens next?
Next, you need to cold call the numbers you’ve got to try and contact the property owners. Here’s an example of what this looks like in action.
As you can see, sometimes you’re going to get ahold of the property owner… and sometimes you’re not.
It’s a good idea to ask whoever you do get in touch with not only if they are the property owner, but also if they know the property owner. You might get lucky.
Whatever the case, make sure to take notes for every phone number you call and tag it as one of the following…
- Did Not Answer
- Do Not Contact
- Wrong Number
Because after you call several hundred phone numbers, you’re not going to remember who’s who.
Skip trace, keep track of your results, and keep cold calling to find the owner. This is all going to help you generate leads and close more deals.
Marketing for Deals Using Skip Tracing:
Skip tracing isn’t just for finding people; it’s a potent marketing tool.
Finding their phone number and contact information is 1 step…
Now’ll you have to market to them.
So below, we give you a marketing strategy for those using Skip Tracing as a part of their business.
Skip Trace Niche Lists to Cold Call:
Niche lists are very specific lists in real estate that will target things like:
– Tax liens
– Code Violations, etc
These list are more than likely to contain a home that is more likely to sell with motivation — which is key for finding good deals as an investor.
You can download niche lists from a number of providers, our favorite is Propstream.
Then when you have that list, you skip trace that list (because typically data providers only provide the address unless it’s a special order) and then COLD CALL that list.
By obtaining lists of potential leads, you can skip trace to find the most up-to-date contact information and engage in cold calling.
In the real estate arena, cold calling stands as one of the most traditional yet effective methods of reaching out to potential sellers, buyers, or even tenants.
Essentially, it involves making unsolicited phone calls to individuals, often derived from your skip tracing.
While many dread the thought of making or receiving these calls due to potential rejections or unsolicited nature, when combined with strategies like skip tracing, cold calling can become significantly more targeted.
By using skip tracing, real estate professionals can gather comprehensive information about property owners, ensuring that their cold calls are directed at individuals more likely to be interested in their proposal, hence increasing the chances of a successful transaction.
Skip Trace Your Mailing Lists:
If you’re sending direct mail a really neat way to leverage that list (and that no one in your market is doing), is to also skip trace THEN call that contact once the mailers lands.
The script would go something along the lines of:
“Hi Mr seller, I’m calling to see if our letter landed in your mailer… the letter asking if you’re interested in selling your property…?
The personal touch can enhance your conversion rates and there’s a good chance no one is doing it.
Skip Trace Return to Sender Mailings:
If your direct mail comes back due to wrong addresses, don’t discard them.
Instead, get one leg up above your competition and skip trace to find updated contact details and reach out again.
Many people just throw these “RTS” away.
And there’s a very good chance that if you’re competition is sendign mail, they too are receiveing these same RTS from the same address.
So, skip trace the contact, then call them.
Using Call Porter for Your Marketing:
If you’re leveraging skip tracing for marketing, consider enhancing your strategy with Call Porter.
As a US-based answering service specializing in real estate, Call Porter handles lead intake calls efficiently. Their trained personnel will manage, screen, and qualify leads, even scheduling appointments. It’s a seamless way to ensure no opportunity slips through.
Skip tracing is an important part of finding deals.
And while it’s not 100% accurate, using high-quality skip tracing software can help you increase your chances of success.
You can’t go wrong with any of the tools above.
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