skip tracing real estate

What Is Skip Tracing In Real Estate? 10-Step Guide & The Best Free Tools

real estate investing strategies real estate software real estate terms Oct 13, 2023

If you've ever searched for your friends on social media or tried to track down a celebrity, you've already dipped your toes into the world of skip tracing. But did you know that as a real estate investor or wholesaler, skip tracing can be a game-changer in your business?

By leveraging skip tracing techniques, you gain a competitive edge by uncovering the elusive phone numbers of your target contacts, opening doors to better negotiations and increased deal opportunities.

At Real Estate Skills, we will explore the definition of skip tracing, analyze its significance, discuss effective strategies, and unveil the best skip tracing tools to help you master this effective real estate investing strategy!

Thinking about investing in real estate? Join Alex Martinez at his FREE training to learn how to get started with house flipping and wholesaling!


Skip Tracing Meaning

Skip tracing means locating and uncovering information about individuals who seem to have vanished or "skipped" their usual contact points. In the realm of real estate, skip tracing becomes a potent tool that enables you to find essential details about property owners, potential leads, or even elusive sellers.

Imagine having the ability to access valuable data such as the owner’s name, contact information, alternative addresses, or even financial backgrounds that can significantly impact your negotiations and decision-making process. Skip tracing empowers you to bridge the information gap, providing insights that can lead to lucrative deals and a competitive edge in the market.

By employing various techniques, such as advanced databases, public records searches, and even social media analysis, skip tracing unveils a treasure trove of information that traditional methods often fail to reveal. It allows you to go beyond the surface and discover hidden opportunities that others might overlook.

However, it's important to note that skip tracing should always be conducted ethically and in compliance with legal regulations. As you embark on your skip-tracing journey, make sure to familiarize yourself with the applicable laws and guidelines within your jurisdiction to maintain the utmost professionalism and integrity in your real estate endeavors.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the strategies, tools, and best practices of skip tracing, equipping you with the knowledge and insights to harness its power effectively. Get ready to uncover the secrets that lie within the realm of skip tracing and elevate your real estate ventures to new heights.


What Is Skip Tracing In Real Estate?

Skip tracing in real estate is a strategy for finding property owners who have elusive contacts and uncovering hidden investment property opportunities.

If you come across a potential off-market property or lead, but there's limited information available to establish direct communication, skip tracing enables you to track down crucial phone numbers and contact details for those individuals you're seeking to connect with.

Traditionally, skip tracing in real estate involved manual efforts, requiring you to piece together fragments of information using the contact's name and address. Advancements in technology have introduced skip tracing services and platforms that streamline the process, saving you time and effort.

what is skip tracing in real estate

Real estate skip tracing becomes especially useful in scenarios where traditional methods fall short. It proves invaluable when dealing with out-of-state property owners, who may be difficult to reach. Moreover, skip tracing helps you find motivated sellers beyond conventional real estate channels, presenting opportunities for high-quality deals and increased profitability.

As a real estate investor or wholesaler, incorporating skip tracing into your marketing campaigns can be vastly beneficial. Skip tracing in real estate enables you to navigate the intricate landscape of property acquisition and negotiation with precision. By harnessing skip tracing, you gain a competitive edge by establishing direct lines of communication, uncovering hidden gems, expanding your network of potential leads, and above all — close deals.

In the upcoming sections, we will explore the reasons why skip tracing holds immense significance for real estate agencies and investors. Prepare to delve deeper into the world of skip tracing and unlock the untapped potential that lies within the realm of real estate.

Read Also: 10 Best Skip Tracing Tools & Services For Real Estate Professionals


Types Of Skip Tracing

In addition to lenders and real estate investors, skip tracing is employed by landlords, lawyers, insurance agencies, and more. Here are the key types of skip tracing:

  1. Batch Skip Tracing: Batch skip tracing is the common approach when searching for multiple individuals who may be evasive. By gathering information from public and private records, skip tracers compile qualified data. This method extracts contact details like mobile phone numbers, email addresses, and mailing addresses. Opting for a reputable skip tracing service ensures accurate results and maximizes your chances of successful outreach.

  2. Bulk Tracing: Ideal for high-volume lead generation, bulk tracing involves finding multiple skips simultaneously without manual efforts. Real estate investors often utilize online software tools that enable them to build contact lists efficiently. This cost-effective option allows for extensive outreach without relying heavily on professional skip tracers.

  3. Private Investigation Skip Tracing: Private individuals may engage professional investigators to trace missing persons or locate individuals with outstanding debts. Concerned family members, seeking parents who have abandoned their children or individuals named in insurance policies or wills, often seek these skip tracing services. Private investigation skip tracing offers specialized expertise in locating specific individuals for personal or legal purposes.

Each type of skip tracing serves distinct needs and circumstances. Consider the scope of your search and the level of expertise required to achieve optimal results. It's crucial to choose the appropriate skip-tracing method based on your specific objectives.  

*For in-depth training on skip tracing, Real Estate Skills offers extensive courses to get you ready to make your first investment! Attend our FREE training and gain insider knowledge, expert strategies, and essential skills to make the most of every real estate opportunity that comes your way!

skip tracing real estate training

Yes, skip tracing is legal in the United States.

In some cases, however, this process might be deemed illegal. For instance, you might find yourself on the wrong side of the law if you use illegal methods to access private information, or if you use violence to get information.

If you are an aspiring skip tracer, the good news is that no law prohibits you from using the contact information or any other intel you have to find the whereabouts of a person.  However, you need to meet several legal requirements so that you can engage yourself in the trade.

There are laws in some states that dictate how you should use the information you have to find out where someone is. Some prohibit you from misleading or lying to a person about the intent of finding them.

This means that it is legal for you as a skip tracer to find the people you are looking for, but it is also your obligation to truthfully outline the reasons why you need to find them.

Today, there has been an increase in skip-tracing harassment across the country due to the rising number of online skip-tracing services. This makes the process appear illegal, while it’s not.

When looking for a professional skip tracer, therefore, do your due diligence properly, and ensure you select one that will not force you to step on the line and find yourself in trouble.

Make sure you don't contact sellers that are on the National Do Not Call Registry. Cross-check your list through a phone validator service such as RealPhoneValidation.com to ensure you're not in violation of Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) laws.

Modern skip-tracing services exist that allow individuals to find information on difficult-to-reach people.

Real Also: What Is Driving For Dollars? The 5 Best Real Estate Apps In 2023


Benefits Of Skip Tracing In Real Estate

Again, integrating skip tracing into your marketing campaign can be a game-changer for your real estate business, offering a multitude of advantages over your competitors. Here are five reasons why you should incorporate skip tracing in your real estate investing strategy.

  • Discover Gems In The Real Estate Market: Skip tracing property opens doors to a vast pool of motivated sellers and distressed homes, unveiling opportunities that may have remained hidden otherwise. By identifying distressed properties and connecting with owners eager to sell, you gain a competitive edge in acquiring valuable assets at favorable terms.

  • Streamline Real Estate Lead Management: By verifying contact information quickly and easily and eliminating inactive or unresponsive leads, you can focus your efforts on qualified prospects, optimizing your resources, and driving better conversion rates.

  • Enhance Data Integrity: Accurate data is the lifeblood of successful real estate ventures. Through skip tracing, you can ensure the integrity of your data by purging outdated or erroneous information. This empowers you to make informed decisions, tailor your marketing strategies, and build stronger relationships with prospects.

  • Revitalize Leads & Opportunities: Success in the real estate industry can often lie in persistent follow-ups on potential leads. Skip tracing allows you to re-engage with leads that may have gone dormant. By reigniting conversations and nurturing relationships, you increase the likelihood of closing deals and maximizing your return on investment.

  • Speed: Skip tracing saves you precious time by eliminating the need for manual searches or aimless driving in pursuit of distressed properties. By leveraging accurate and up-to-date information, you can focus your efforts on the most promising leads, maximize your productivity, and seize opportunities in a competitive market.


Drawbacks Of Skip Tracing In Real Estate

While skip tracing can be a valuable tool in your real estate arsenal, it's essential to be aware of its several limitations. Here are some drawbacks to keep in mind:

  • High Cost: Engaging a skip tracing service or professional can add to your expenses, whether or not they find the desired information. While some services offer a no find, no pay policy, these are rare. Expenses can quickly add up, impacting your overall budget.

  • Data Inaccuracy: Skip tracing is not foolproof, and there is always a chance of encountering inaccurate or outdated data. Disconnected phone numbers or incorrect contact information may lead to dead ends and wasted resources. Additionally, certain individuals may deliberately change their identities or use alternative identifiers, making it challenging to trace them effectively.

  • No Guarantee of Sale: Contacting property owners through skip tracing does not guarantee that they will be willing to sell or that the deal will align with your investment goals. While skip tracing helps you initiate conversations, other factors like property condition, pricing, or owner motivations play a crucial role in securing a successful transaction.


How To Skip Trace Real Estate In 10 Steps

Skip tracing in real estate is a powerful tool for investors looking to uncover hidden opportunities. It's an investigative technique used to find property owners or potential leads that might not be easily accessible. If you're looking to master the art of skip tracing in real estate, here's a step-by-step guide that combines the best techniques from various sources:

how to skip trace real estate

  1. Determine Your Objective: Before you dive in, understand your goal. Are you aiming to purchase the property, wholesale it, or list it for sale? Establishing your end goal will help you tailor your skip tracing approach.
  2. Gather Initial Information: Start with basic information about the property or the homeowner. If you spot a distressed property while driving or walking around, jot down the address. Consider using websites like ListSource.com to procure lists of potential sellers.
  3. Start With Basic Outreach: Initially, try to contact the property owner through the phone number or email addresses you have on hand. You might get lucky with a direct hit, saving time and resources.
  4. Research Online: Leverage the power of the internet. Explore social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. These can offer valuable insights, not just about the homeowner, but also their friends, relatives, or neighbors who might have additional information. Also, don't neglect online directories like YellowPages.com, 411.com, and AnyWho.com.
  5. Deep Dive Into Public Records: Check public records such as county assessor websites. They can often provide insights about the property owner. Also, consider checking for forwarding addresses with USPS or working with delivery services like FedEx or UPS, which may elicit a response when regular mail doesn't.
  6. Engage the Community: Neighbors can be an excellent resource. Consider approaching them with politeness and discretion. They might have insights about the homeowner or provide information about any changes in the property's status.
  7. Consult Relatives & Genealogy Sites: If you can identify relatives like parents, siblings, or adult children, they might provide clues. Platforms like Ancestry.com can be useful in mapping out connections.
  8. Utilize Professional Services: Consider hiring a private investigator or using specialized skip tracing platforms like PeopleFinders. These experts often have access to specialized databases and can unearth information that might be hidden from conventional search methods.
  9. Organize Your Findings: Once you've gathered a plethora of information, compile it. Whether you plan to hand it off to a professional skip tracer or proceed yourself, having organized data can streamline the process.
  10. Initiate Contact: With the information at hand, approach the property owner. Tailor your communication based on your objective and the insights you've garnered from skip tracing.

Remember, skip tracing is as much about intuition and human connection as it is about research. When done correctly, skip tracing real estate can be the key to unlocking numerous lucrative deals.


Skip Tracing Alternatives For Real Estate Investors

For consistent real estate deals, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is your best alternative to skip tracing. At Real Estate Skills, we understand the challenges and costs associated with skip tracing. The MLS provides access to a vast array of properties, comprehensive data, and valuable insights to aid your real estate investment business.

Discover the potential of utilizing the MLS to uncover profitable wholesale deals and house-flipping opportunities. Attend our FREE training, where our experts will guide you through the ins and outs of leveraging the MLS effectively. Learn how to identify properties with the most profit potential, analyze market trends, and negotiate successful deals.

*Want to get a head start, now? Watch our video on How To Get MLS Access WITHOUT A License and gain the skills and knowledge to harness the full potential of the MLS for consistent real estate success.

What Types Of Property Leads Are Best For Skip Tracing?

There are various property leads that real estate investors should use and take advantage with skip tracing. Certain circumstances signal potential motivation for sale. They include:

  • Tax Delinquent Properties: Homeowners that are behind on taxes and owe money

  • High-Equity Property: Owners that have more than 50% home equity in their property

  • Absentee Homeowners: Also known as out-of-state owners, absentee homeowners are those who own a 2nd home or have multiple investment properties. They are doubtlessly make up the biggest portion of motivated home sellers

  • Vacant Homes: these are homes that have been reported vacant for the past 90 days, and mails delivered to such homes are never returned

  • Empty Nesters: this comprises of a unique group of homeowners whose children have left the house for college or to start their own families. Such people may be willing to downsize their homes

  • Growing Families: if a couple had a new baby within the last 24 months, they might be willing to get a bigger home so that the toddler can get some space to crawl and run. In such a case, they might need to sell their current house

  • Senior Owned Homes: Most people who are 72 or older may want to downsize their property so that they can get peace of mind

  • Old Listings: Properties that have been on the market for a long time, but haven’t sold

  • Deceased Owners: Properties owned by recently deceased people, an estate, or a trust

  • Corporate Owned: Properties in an LLC or other entity typically own more than one property and may have an interest in selling

  • Recently Divorced: Properties owned by recently divorced partners

  • Pre-foreclosures: Properties owned by people given Notice of Default, or those who are behind in mortgage payments.

*To further enhance your knowledge and gain valuable insights into the world of real estate investing, we invite you to watch our video on Wholesale Real Estate For Beginners: 8 DO'S & DON'TS! This video is packed with essential tips and advice for anyone starting out in wholesale real estate. Don't miss out on this valuable resource – click below to watch the video now and jumpstart your real estate career!

What To Do After Skip Tracing Real Estate Leads

After you have found the property owner you are looking for, the next thing you need to do is contact him or her. Have a follow-up system in place, along with a script and database for all of your conversations. Consider using a free customer relationship manager (CRM) such as Google Streak.

Before buying the property, gather as much information as you need about it from the owner, so that you can be sure you are going for the best deal.

One critical thing you shouldn't forget to do after skip-tracing your real estate leads is to understand the owner's situation and find out why your lead is interested in selling the property. Uncover the seller’s motivation and help them understand their options, before drafting the contract and making your offer.

Keep in mind that the more solutions you offer to your prospects’ problems, the higher the results your skip-tracing expeditions will yield.

After understanding the situation, the seller offers the most viable solutions, hiring a good real estate lawyer to draft a contract to purchase or list the property. When all parties are content with the agreement and append their signatures on it, it's up to you close on the property, take the listing, or flip the contract.

Read Also: Wholesale Contracts In Real Estate (2023): FREE PDF & Template


How To Skip Trace For Free: 8 Tools For Real Estate Investors

As a real estate investor, you want to spend most of your time managing your business. You need to know how to skip trace for free so you can scour the web for digital footprints and acquire the specific details about the property owner you are looking for.

Listed below are some of the best free skip-tracing tools that will make lead generation easy and cost-effective:

  1. Search Engines

  2. Social Media Websites

  3. County Assessors

  4. Online Directories

  5. Email Checkers

  6. People Finder Sites

  7. Obituaries

  8. Genealogy Websites

how to skip trace for free

Read Also: Top 15 Best Real Estate Wholesaling Software (2023 Edition)


Search Engines

Before looking for a paid skip tracing service, we recommend skip tracing for free with search engines. You can use common platforms such as:

You can attempt to locate your subject by keying in their full name, address, phone number, and any other information you have gathered.

With search engines, you can use the advanced search option, and choose whether you want to get results as you have entered them, or you want to be redirected to pages that contain the keywords you have entered.


Social Media Websites

Skip tracing for free can be as easy as logging into your Facebook account! With the help of social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, finding information about anyone is now easier than ever.

Social media users often add crucial information to their profiles, including their full names, their occupations, contact information, and check-ins. As soon as you find your subject on social media, go through the posts, and you may confirm their current location with ease.


County Assessors

County assessors are government agencies throughout the United States that are responsible for valuing each parcel of real estate in their dedicated geography. They typically have websites that have searchable public information regarding a subject property or owner, for instance, Harris County Appraisal District in Houston, TX.


Online Directories

There are a host of online directories that pull up information from telecom service providers. This helps you find the full name, phone number, or verify any details about your subject without hustle. Check out online directories, such as:

  1. Spokeo.com

  2. SkipEase.com


Email Checkers

Email checkers help you verify the validity of the email addresses you have gathered. Some of the best email checkers include:

  1. EmailSherlock.com

  2. Email-Checker.com


People Finder Sites

There are lots of people finder websites online. However, they are not made equal. There are some which are genuine, but there are those that will give you limited information about your subject, but prompt you to pay a subscription fee to get comprehensive details.

Some of the best sites you can try for free include:

  1. Pipl.com

  2. TruePeopleSearch.com



This suggestion may sound crazy, but it’s one of the most viable tools when it comes to finding hard-to-locate homeowners.

All you need to do is search for the person's name, previous city of residence, followed by the word 'obituary.' In some cases, you will find what you are looking for. This will help you find the places of residence of the immediate relatives who might help you in your quest.


Genealogy Websites

In case finding your subject using most of the tools mentioned above fails to work, you can try using genealogy sites. One of the best genealogy sites is Family Tree Now.

With it, you can search your subject by name, email, or phone. Then, you will get the information you need about your subject, including full names, age, year of birth, names of possible relatives, phone numbers, and past and present place of residence.

Often, this site provides valid email addresses you can reach out to.


Skip Tracing In Real Estate FAQs

As skip tracing becomes an increasingly popular tool in the real estate industry, it's important to address some common questions that arise regarding its practice and applications. In this section, we will explore frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to skip tracing in real estate.

Whether you're a seasoned investor or a newcomer to the field, understanding the ins and outs of skip tracing can greatly benefit your real estate career.


What Is The Origin Of The Term "Skip Trace"?

The term "skip tracing" derives from the term "skip," which pertains to an individual intentionally evading location at known legal addresses or workplaces. It reflects the act of tracing or tracking down such individuals to determine their current whereabouts, hence the term skip trace.


How Should I Utilize The Information Obtained Through Skip Tracing In Real Estate?

Once you have acquired information through skip tracing, the next steps depend on your specific objectives. While real estate agents often leverage the data for email campaigns, investors seeking faster deal closures frequently turn to SMS marketing. SMS marketing typically requires essential contact details like mobile phone numbers, which can be obtained through skip tracing.


Is It Preferable To DIY Skip Trace Or Use A Skip Tracing Tool?

DIY skip tracing can be a viable option if you aim to locate an individual without significant financial investment. It involves manually scouring various databases and potentially reaching out to close associates to gather additional information.

Conversely, utilizing a skip tracing tool offers convenient access to comprehensive data, saving you time, effort, and financial resources.


How Much Does Skip Tracing Cost?

The cost of skip tracing varies depending on the chosen service. Hiring private investigators or professional tracing services generally incurs higher expenses compared to using online tools.

Online tools may offer a range of pricing options, including free trials or subscription plans. It is advisable to research and compare different skip-tracing services to find the most suitable and cost-effective solution for your needs.


Should I Consider Batch Skip Tracing?

Batch skip tracing is the most common and most beneficial type of skip tracing used by real estate businesses and wholesalers to find contact information on a large list of prospects. Also known as bulk skip tracing, batch skip tracing is simply finding the contact information for an extended list of property owners at the same time.

Due to the simplicity of skip tracing for real estate, batch skip tracing is a feasible and effective strategy for investors. Remember, we are just looking for property owners’ name and number. As a real estate agent, you can use a name and address to generate reliable mailing lists and a contactable phone list. This is another way to utilize bulk or batch skip tracing.

Also, batch skip tracing comes with low costs of generating leads, allowing you to focus on a list of motivated sellers and contact them fast. It can also go a long way in increasing ROI versus other marketing methods.

Despite being beneficial to real estate investors, it doesn’t mean that batch skip tracing is a bed of roses. Quite often, you might get false positives from this technique, and you might not get the right information you need.In such situations, it is prudent as a result-oriented real estate investor to seek the services of a professional skip tracer. Regardless, be prepared for trial and error over many phone calls. 

After batch skip tracing is performed, you'll ideally have a large list of phone numbers to call. Consider using an automated dialing system such as Mojo Dialer.


Final Thoughts On Skip Tracing In Real Estate

While skip tracing can offer advantages in reaching untapped prospects, it requires significant investments of time, money, and effort. At Real Estate Skills, we offer an alternative approach that delivers consistent and fruitful results.

Join our FREE training for wholesalers and house flippers and unlock the power of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Learn the strategies and techniques to effectively source real estate deals, access accurate owner records, and leverage historical sales data. Our comprehensive training equips you with the skills to stand out from the competition and achieve lasting success.

Don't settle for the challenges of skip tracing. Embrace the MLS advantage and take your real estate investment journey to new heights!

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