Making real estate investments sometimes requires tracking down a property owner that doesn’t want to be found. One of the ways real estate investors find absentee owners is by using a tool called skip tracing.
You’ve found the perfect investment opportunity. It’s a vacant and distressed home sitting on a good chunk of land in a desirable neighborhood. The owner doesn’t live there and there are few indications that they ever visit. They don’t pay much attention to this property or they have completely disregarded it so they would probably be open to getting rid of it. So how do you start a conversation with someone you can’t find? In this instance you would want to use skip tracing to get their contact information and extend an offer.
What Is Skip Tracing
The term skip tracing is used in several different industries but serves the same function. Skip tracing is the process of locating someone who is hiding, hard to find or purposefully off the grid. It’s kind of like a private investigation without boots on the ground. The method is primarily used by bounty hunters, debt collectors or by process servers looking to serve subpoenas. In these industries the person they are trying to find is usually purposefully hiding and in constant motion to evade detection.
Luckily you aren’t using skip tracing to find a fugitive in hiding. Skip tracing is a popular tool in real estate investing to determine who owns a property and find out how to get in contact with them. In real estate investing, property owners are not usually running away from something but are removed from the property they own. Finding someone to ask them to sell a property is a lot different than finding someone to bring them to jail or repossess their car, but the method is the same.
For real estate inventors skip tracing is used only to find an accurate contact method for the owner. This can be a current mailing address, phone number or email address. You just want a verified and correct way to get in touch with them. Skip tracing doesn’t guarantee that they will pick up or respond to you, it just gives you the correct contact information to make your case.
How Does Skip Tracing Work?
Skip tracers or skip tracing services use a variety of different tools to locate someone who is hard to find. Some property owners may be uncovered in a thorough Google search while others will take a deep dive into local tax records or beyond. Skip tracers and tracing services often utilize a variety of tools to get the information they need.
So say you were to do your own skip tracing right now, what tools would you use and how would you use them? You aren’t looking for social security number or bank information, you just need a phone number, address or email address to get your message across!
Here are some of the tools someone like you would use to skip trace right now…
- Tax Records - One of the best ways to find reliable information is by making a trip to your Tax Assessors office and looking through public records. You can be confident that any information they have provided to the government will most likely be accurate. Your property owner may not live in the same municipality as the property you want to buy but it is still a good place to go if you are looking for information you haven’t been able to find by more passive means.
- Property Records - If you are looking for information on a property a reasonable place to start is with the property records. This may give you some information about the owner, but if they purchased or inherited the property a long time ago the contact information within may be very much out of date. Still, this will at least give you a name to use for the rest of your search.
- Search Engines - Search engines like Google are powerful tools when you are looking for records or more information on someone. This is generally a supplemental tool because results can be mixed, incorrect, incomplete, or just simply overwhelming. In our digital age even if someone is completely off the grid you are still likely to find something about them online. How long does it take you to find your own contact information through a Google search? The more information you can uncover elsewhere the more specific and successful your search will be.
- Social Media - The property owner you are looking for may be difficult to find in the real world but they might be active on social media. This is another free and important place to look when you are searching for someone. You may not find the person you are looking for (they may not be using their real name) but you might be able to find friends and family that will guide your search in a particular area if they no longer live where their tax records say.
- Obituaries - If you have no idea if the owner lives in town or out of state you might have some luck searching their name in obituaries. They may not be deceased but someone in their family may have recently died and they are listed in their obituary along with their location. This is a good tool if you know a little bit about the property owner but don’t know what municipality to look in to find their tax records.
Don’t Do It Yourself!
Trying to save money by skip tracing yourself can be a really bad idea, especially if you also value your time. Skip tracing can be time consuming if you are a novice and you are not likely to find the results you want. So what do you do? You hire a skip tracer or use a skip tracing service specifically for real estate
Skip tracing services generally have a mountain of information that they sift through to find the property owner you are looking for. A lot of these resources you don’t have immediate access to without a lot of footwork. Skip tracing services get their information from digitized credit bureaus, tax records, property records and consumer databases. If you are working with a professional these records are most likely updated monthly, weekly or even daily to ensure that you are getting the most current information available.
If you are skip tracing to find contact information for a real estate deal you don’t need a mountain of biographical information, so working with a qualified service will likely give you the results you are looking for that are appropriately verified and cross referenced.
Skip Trace Right In Invelo
You don’t need to sign up for a million different services to build your real estate investment business or find new leads. You can do everything right in Invelo – including skip trace! Skip trace within the platform for a small fee per contact and only pay if a 100% match is found.
Invelo offers users a robust skip tracing service to locate contact information for both individuals and corporations.
There are two ways you can skip trace in Invelo: one-off skip tracing and bulk skip tracing. The main difference between the two are the number of contacts traced and the speed at which you get results. Individual skip traces are done immediately while bulk skip tracing takes a little more time.
Invelo’s skip tracing is identifying mailing addresses, phone numbers, and emails for property owners and corporations. When a mailing address result is given, Invelo will tell you whether or not the addresses are deliverable as well as which contacts are included in the Do Not Call Registry.
All of Invelo’s skip tracing is run through a litigator scrub to flag anyone with a history or probability of suing an investor for solicitation or TCPA violations. The system automatically screens for people who have previously sued over such issues and attorneys. When the skip trace results are provided and a contact is a litigator that will be noted in their contact information.
Even if you have limited information about a property or its owner you can still utilize Invelo’s skip tracing to fill in blanks and find contact information that can help you close deals.
What Is Invelo?
Invelo is a powerful real estate investment platform that allows you to do everything you need in one place with a simple interface. Invelo’s List Builder tool allows you to build smart lists to find new deals or import lists you already have. Whether imported or created on the platform, all lists are updated with the most current information regularly. Create highly filtered lists to zero-in on the properties you are most interested in.
Have a few prospects turned into leads? No need to go someplace else to manage your sales pipeline. You can manage your sales flow, skip trace, segment prospects, manage follow up sequences and maintain contacts right in the same place. Once you have made a successful deal you can manage the entire deal process from start to finish in the same platform.
In addition to managing and maintaining your list of prospects and sales pipeline Invelo is also a fully functioning marketing tool that allows you to seamlessly market to your leads to make conversions. Create and manage email drip campaigns, direct mail campaigns, ringless voicemail, and automations right on the platform. Information collected during the marketing stages is automatically added to your list of prospects so you can always track who you have reached out to and who is responsive.
Why use another tool when you don’t have to?
Skip tracing may seem like an added worry but it's actually an asset in real estate investing. If you are looking to purchase a property that has been abandoned or forgotten by its owner you will likely find a highly motivated seller once you get them on the phone. Owners who have left their properties abandoned or distressed often have other things going on that have taken precedence in their life. There is a good chance that they would be more than willing to part with their forgotten property but just haven’t wanted to exert the energy to put it on the market. Skip tracing may just be another step in securing your next great investment!