7 Things to Know About Real Estate Skip Tracing

When it comes to lead generation, there are two groups of people.

The first group makes up the majority of real estate professionals – the ones looking for ready-made, “easy button” lead gen.

You know, things like buying pre-built static lists and paying huge fees for Zillow and Redfin or platforms like Thumbtack or Angi for home service leads.

We’re all familiar with “easy button” leads, and it’s often tempting to rely on these sources to make up most of your pipeline.

But, when it comes to real estate lead generation, the best leads and opportunities often come from putting in the work others aren’t willing to do.

Enter our second group – those who take lead gen into their own hands.

Real estate investors, agents, and service providers willing to go above and beyond to utilize more involved lead generation methods can find and connect with leads their competition simply can’t.

Today, we’ll be looking at one of these methods: skip tracing.

While batch skip tracing can be a powerful tool, you should know a few key things to ensure that you leverage skip tracing in real estate effectively and efficiently.

This blog will cover seven key points about skip tracing that every real estate professional should know. Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned pro, these skip tracing tips can help you ditch the “easy button” and generate incredible opportunities.

So, let’s dive in.

1. The term “skip trace” has its origins in an unsuspecting place

The term “skip tracing” is believed to have its roots in the early 20th century, notably among bail bondsmen and private investigators. They coined it to describe the pursuit of individuals who had absconded from bail obligations or avoided settling debts. In this context, the term “skip” denotes the person being actively pursued.

Several theories surround the origin of the term “skip.” One suggests it stems from the notion of “skipping town,” indicating a swift and secretive departure. Another theory links it to “skipping out,” signifying leaving without settling debts or fulfilling obligations.

Irrespective of its precise origin, “skip tracing” now encompasses a broader meaning, referring to the pursuit of individuals evading detection or missing. While real estate investors frequently use it to locate property owners, law enforcement agencies, bounty hunters, and debt collectors rely on skip tracing services for various investigative purposes.

2. Skip tracing often requires a variety of different resources

Skip tracing commonly entails leveraging diverse sources to gather information on property owners, offering a comprehensive view of their current whereabouts and contact details. It’s important to recognize that no single source can typically provide all the necessary information for effective skip tracing. Now, let’s explore some of the most prevalent skip tracing tools:

Public Records

Information from public records encompasses voter registration lists, property records, and court records, providing valuable details like names, addresses, phone numbers, and other personal information.

Social Media

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter serve as rich sources for skip tracers. By scouring these platforms, skip tracers can potentially uncover current contact details and glean insights into a person’s location.

Skip Tracing Databases

Dedicated skip tracing databases compile a wealth of information, including employment history, credit records, and personal data. Some databases require subscriptions, while others offer access for a fee.

Online Directories

Online directories like White Pages, Yellow Pages, and various people search websites offer contact information for individuals and businesses, aiding skip tracers in their search efforts.

Other Sources

Utility, phone, and postal records, along with additional sources, may also be utilized by skip tracers to gather information about an individual’s whereabouts.

3. Skip tracing is regulated by privacy laws

Real estate investors must adhere to legal regulations when conducting skip trace searches. Engaging in certain methods or accessing particular sources of information for skip tracing purposes is unlawful. Some examples of prohibited activities include:

Unauthorized access to someone’s personal information or computer system through hacking.

Exploiting an individual’s personal data for commercial purposes without their explicit consent.

Deceiving individuals about your identity or intentions when reaching out to them or seeking information.

Utilizing information from credit reports or financial records without a valid reason.

Employing false or deceptive statements to acquire personal information.

4. Using multiple sources can lead to better success while skip tracing

Employing multiple sources in skip tracing can significantly aid real estate investors in accurately and efficiently locating property owners of interest. Here are several reasons why leveraging multiple sources is advantageous in skip tracing:

Increased Accuracy

Employing multiple sources enables real estate investors to validate and cross-reference information pertaining to the individuals they are tracking down. This approach ensures that the data collected is precise and current.

Improved Success Rates

Skip tracing can be a challenging and time-consuming endeavor, with success not always guaranteed. However, by leveraging multiple sources, investors can enhance their likelihood of obtaining the necessary information and successfully locating their target.

Enhanced Efficiency

Utilizing multiple sources streamlines the process for investors, granting them swift access to a diverse array of information. This not only facilitates quicker searches but also aids in more efficient location of the target individual.

Heightened Privacy Protection

By diversifying their sources, investors can safeguard the privacy of the individuals they are seeking. Utilizing a range of resources minimizes the need to request extensive personal information from any single source, thus preserving privacy.

5. If you’re using available phone numbers and email addresses, it’s not really “advanced” skip tracing

Today, numerous services promote “append” features as genuine “skip tracing.” These features allow you to uncover readily available phone numbers and emails for records with incomplete data.

While obtaining emails and phone numbers technically falls under “skip tracing,” it’s vital to note that this doesn’t constitute “advanced skip tracing.” Advanced skip tracing becomes necessary when standard personal information fails to establish a connection to a lead.

Advanced skip tracing involves tactics like reaching out to known relatives, conducting background checks, searching for additional addresses linked to the lead, scanning local arrest records, and potentially hiring a private investigator. Although more time-consuming or costly, advanced skip tracing methods often yield the best deals.

6. Batch skip tracing can save time and money – but it comes with some drawbacks

Batch skip tracing involves simultaneously searching for a large group of individuals, rather than pursuing each person individually. This method can benefit real estate investors seeking to locate numerous property owners or potential tenants with incomplete data in one go.

While batch skip tracing offers several advantages, it also presents potential drawbacks for investors.

One of the main advantages is that it enables investors to conserve time and resources. Skip tracing can incur expenses, so instead of conducting separate searches for each individual, batch skip tracing allows investors to locate multiple people concurrently, resulting in a more efficient and cost-effective approach.

Despite its time and cost-saving benefits, investors should be mindful of the drawbacks. One concern is that the search results from batch skip tracing may not be as accurate as those obtained through individual skip tracing.

This discrepancy often arises because the search results rely on automated algorithms that may overlook important nuances and details when seeking a specific person.

Moreover, batch skip tracing may prove less effective in locating individuals who are particularly challenging to find. In such cases, individual skip tracing techniques, such as reaching out to known relatives, may offer greater customization and flexibility in the search process, leading to more successful outcomes.

7. When skip tracing, it’s about quality, not quantity

When assessing skip tracing services, prioritizing quality over quantity is paramount. While some providers may boast high match rates, the accuracy of their results may be compromised. In skip tracing, it’s preferable to achieve a lower match rate with precise results than to have a high match rate containing incorrect or outdated information.

It’s important to acknowledge that a certain percentage of inaccurate phone numbers is common among skip tracing services. However, within the cold-calling industry, a match rate exceeding 70% is considered indicative of very high quality. PropertyRadar customers have reported that our data maintains an accuracy rate of 80% or better. It’s essential to remember that no skip tracing service can achieve a 100% accurate match rate.