Real Estate Investing | How To & Education
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 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 popularly believed to have originated in the early 20th century, when bail bondsmen and private investigators commonly used it to describe locating a person who had "skipped" out on bail or failed to pay a debt. In this context, the term "skip" refers to the person being searched for, often referred to as a "skip."
There are several theories about the origin of the term "skip." One theory is that it comes from "to skip town," meaning to leave town quickly and secretly. Another theory is that it comes from the phrase "to skip out," meaning to leave without paying a debt or fulfilling an obligation.
Regardless of its exact origin, the term "skip tracing" is now used more broadly to describe locating a person who is evading detection or has gone missing. Real estate investors commonly use it to track down information on property owners, while law enforcement agencies, bounty hunters, and debt collectors use skip tracing services to locate people for various reasons.
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2. Skip tracing often requires a variety of different resources
Skip tracing typically involves using a variety of different sources to find information on property owners and gives you a more complete picture of someone's current location and contact information. It's worth noting that no single source of information is likely to provide all of the information needed for successful skip tracing. Let's look at a few of the most common skip tracing tools:
Public records data can include voter registration lists, property records, and court records. These records can provide information about a person's name, address, phone number, and other personal details.
Many people use social media to connect with friends and family, which can be a valuable source of information for skip tracers. By searching for the person on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, skip tracers may be able to find current contact information and clues about the person's whereabouts.
Skip Tracing Databases
Several databases specialize in skip tracing. These databases may contain information about a person's employment history, credit history, and other personal details. Some databases may require a subscription, while others may be available for a fee.
Many online directories can be helpful in skip tracing, such as White Pages, Yellow Pages, and other people search websites. These directories may contain contact information for individuals and businesses.
Skip tracers may also use other sources of information, such as utility, phone, and postal records, to gather information about a person's whereabouts.
3. Skip tracing is regulated by privacy laws
Real estate investors must understand and follow these laws when conducting skip trace searches. In general, it's illegal to use specific methods or sources of information for skip tracing purposes. A few examples of prohibited activities include:
Hacking into someone's computer or accessing their personal information without their permission.
Using someone's personal information for commercial gain without their consent.
Misrepresenting your identity or purpose when contacting someone or requesting information.
Using information from credit reports or other financial records without a legitimate purpose.
Using false or misleading statements to obtain personal information.
4. Using multiple sources can lead to better success while skip tracing
Using multiple sources when skip tracing can help real estate investors more accurately and efficiently locate the owners of properties they are interested in. Here are a few reasons why it is beneficial to use multiple sources when skip tracing:
Using multiple sources, investors can verify and cross-reference information about the person they are trying to locate. Verifying information in multiple places can help ensure that the data they have on a person is accurate and up-to-date.
Better chances of success
Skip tracing can be time-consuming, and it's only sometimes successful when done correctly. However, by using multiple sources, investors can increase their chances of finding the information they need and successfully locating the person they are searching for.
Using multiple sources can also help investors save time by allowing them to quickly and easily access a wide range of information. In addition, this can help locate the person they are searching for more efficiently.
Enhanced privacy protection
Using multiple sources can also help protect the privacy of the person being searched for. By using a variety of resources, investors can minimize the amount of personal information they need to request from any one source.
5. If you're using available phone numbers and email addresses, it's not really "advanced" skip tracing
Today, several services will advertise "append" features as true "skip tracing". These append features enable you to unlock readily available phone numbers and emails on records for which you have incomplete data.
While finding emails and phone numbers technically qualifies as "skip tracing", it's important to remember that this isn't considered "advanced skip tracing". Advanced skip tracing comes into play when you cannot connect to a lead using easily accessible personal information.
Using tactics such as contacting a known relative, running a background check, looking for other known addresses associated with the lead, browsing local arrest records, and even hiring a private investigator are all considered "advanced skip tracing". While they may be much more time-consuming or expensive, often the best deals come from advanced skip tracing methods.
6. Batch skip tracing can save time and money - but it comes with some drawbacks
Batch skip tracing is a process in which a large group of individuals is simultaneously searched for, rather than searching for each person one-by-one. Batch skip tracing can be helpful for real estate investors looking to locate a large list of property owners or potential tenants with incomplete data at once.
However, while this method has several pros, there are also some potential drawbacks to investors who use batch skip tracing.
One of the main pros of batch skip tracing for real estate investors is that it allows them to save time and resources. Skip tracing can be expensive depending on the service, so rather than searching for each individual separately, batch skip tracing allows investors to locate multiple people at once, which can be a more efficient and cost-effective approach.
While batch skip tracing can save time and money, it's also important for investors to consider the cons. One potential drawback is that the search results may not be as accurate as those obtained through individual skip tracing.
The inaccuracy often stems because the search results are based on automated algorithms and may not consider all the important nuances and details when searching for a specific person.
Additionally, batch skip tracing may be less effective at finding people who are particularly difficult to locate. Individual skip tracing techniques, such as contacting known relatives, may be more effective in these cases, as they allow for more customization and flexibility in the search process.
7. When skip tracing, it's about quality, not quantity
When evaluating skip tracing services, it is important to prioritize quality over quantity. While some providers may have high match rates, their results may be inaccurate. When skip tracing, it's better to have a lower match rate with accurate results than a high match rate with incorrect or outdated information.
It is worth noting that it's common for skip tracing services to have a certain percentage of inaccurate phone numbers. However, a match rate of above 70% in the cold-calling industry is considered very high quality. PropertyRadar customers have reported that our data has an accuracy rate of 80% or better (remember, no skip tracing service can have a 100% accurate match rate).