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What is Skip Tracing in Real Estate? – Everything You Should Know

Last updated on February 23, 2022

What is Skip Tracing in Real Estate - Everything You Should Know

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Ever wondered who owns the broken old property down the block from your house? 

Has the idea of buying it for the cheapest price possible ever crossed your mind? 

Real estate investors are always looking out for the best properties on the market. 

But wait…

What if you want to buy property, but can’t find it anywhere on the market or even just the owner of the house?

Well, that’s where skip tracing comes into play. 

In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about skip tracing in real estate, as well as how you can use it to your benefit.

Let’s get straight into it. 

What is Real Estate Skip Tracing?

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of skip tracing, what exactly does skip tracing mean?

Skip tracing is the process of tracking down and finding property owners, typically those who have an abandoned, distressed, or vacant property. 

Let’s breakdown the two words first: 

Skip – The word comes from the phrase ‘skipped-town’, which essentially means someone who has left quickly without trying to be noticed. In this context, it refers to the person being searched. 

Tracing – It refers to the act of finding the ‘skip’.

Hence the name ‘Skip Tracing’

So, when investors find a potential property to buy, they first need to find the contact information of the property’s owner. Without contact information, it is impossible to approach that person and make him an offer. 

As a result, skip tracing serves as a process to find the following information about a property owner:

  • Current Address
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Social Security Numbers or other pertinent information

What is the Purpose of Real Estate Skip Tracing?

We’ve explored the definition of skip tracing, but what exactly is its purpose for a real estate investor? 

For any real estate investor to become successful, it is crucial they find the best, most lucrative, most affordable deals.

Easier said than done. 

Due to fierce competition, lengthy paperwork processes, and saturation in the marketplace, amazing properties and deals are difficult to find.

That brings me to the most important point of skip tracing: off-market deals

Skip tracing may offer you fantastic investment opportunities you may not find otherwise on the normal market. Cities littered with untouched, unregistered, and unlisted properties are goldmines waiting to be dug.

The lack of listing on market and any competition means these off-market properties are one of the best properties to be invested in. 

All that is required is the contact information of the owner of any such property which is possible through only one method: skip tracing. 

How to Do Real Estate Skip Tracing?

So let’s get to the main focus of this article. 

How exactly do you skip trace? 

Today, we’ll talk about 3 methods:

  • DIY Approach
  • Hiring a Professional 
  • Skip Tracing Services

The DIY Approach

This method entails doing the research on your own, hence the name, do it yourself.

As mentioned before, there are 4 major pieces of information that are needed: current address, phone number, email address, and social security number.

One of the most effective ways of collecting data is at the local county tax assessor’s office. This office has huge amounts of data and information, which can be useful in tracking a property owner.

Another DIY approach is simply to take your investigation on Google or social media. You’ll be surprised to know a simple search on the internet can be extremely beneficial. 

The DIY approach is by far the most cost-effective method. That being said, this method often yields mixed results as it is time-consuming and tedious. 

Hiring a Professional

Hiring a professional skip tracer is a great option, especially if you are busy with other things. 

Professional skip tracers are efficient and reliable. 

These professionals specialize in quickly tracking down and finding homeowners through the help of comprehensive data spreadsheets and years of experience.

Unfortunately, professional skip tracers usually only provide their services to real estate companies and take orders in bulk. Business with novices and independent real estate investors is generally avoided. 

Skip Tracing Services

There are numerous online skip tracing services that assist in your search for a property owner. 

Online skip tracing services avoid the hassle of doing everything yourself and spending huge amounts of money on professionals.

Depending on whose service you avail of, they only charge you a certain fee and provide you with extensive data.

Of course, different skip trace services provide different levels of data. 

Some services provide basic information like home addresses, phone numbers, and names, while other services provide information on the property, like the last sale date, price, and mortgage details. Even other services go the extra mile and provide detailed information like criminal records and vehicles owned.

Here is a list of online services you can check out:

You may be asking, “tracking and locating people sounds like an invasion of privacy, shouldn’t this be illegal??

Not at all! 

Skip tracing is perfectly acceptable and completely legal in the United States. 

That said, it does come with certain strict legal requirements which need to be met.

In many states, there are laws that dictate how you should use the information you have to find out where someone is. It is prohibited to mislead or lie to a person about the intent of finding them.

Essentially, that means that it is legal to skip trace and find the people you are looking for. But it is also mandatory to truthfully outline the reasons why you need to find them. In this context, it would be related to real estate. 

Wrapping Up

So that is what skip tracing in real estate is all about. 

If you’re a real estate investor, then you might want to try your hand in this area of the industry. 

Of course, you should check out the laws regarding this in your state to make sure that you don’t cross the line. 

We hope that this article has answered all your questions about real estate skip tracing. 

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