Skip tracing is the process of finding the contact information of someone who is difficult to track down or intentionally avoiding calls. It’s a strategy used by many different professionals, including debt collectors, bail bondsmen, repo agents, journalists, insurance companies, and more. But in real estate, skip tracing is primarily used to track down motivated sellers and other warm leads.
Skip tracing in real estate is typically used for marketing purposes. It’s a way for real estate investors and other professionals to find motivated sellers who may be looking to unload their homes quickly at a discounted price.
Motivated sellers that are in foreclosure or dealing with other financial problems are likely getting all kinds of threatening phone calls from creditors and debt collectors, so they may be avoiding their phone or email. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in selling their property.
Even if your prospect isn’t in foreclosure, you may want to contact an old client or business partner to see if they may be interested in working together again but don’t have their up-to-date contact information. Skip tracing allows you to find these people and give them your pitch so you can either do business or cross them off your list.
Yes, skip tracing is legal, but you must be careful not to break any privacy or consumer protection laws. For example, you should not threaten anyone or lie to any financial or government institution to obtain someone’s contact information. Most of the information you’ll need to skip trace will be available in public records, so you shouldn’t resort to illegal tactics. But if you are uncertain about the legality of a method you’re considering, you should consult an attorney or look into the local laws.
- Create a Strategy
- Find Leads
- Organize Your Data
- Start Making Contact
- Test and Repeat
1. Create a Strategy
If you want to skip trace, the first thing you’ll need to do is to craft a strategy. With a plan in place, your skip-tracing efforts are much more likely to succeed.
First, identify what type of leads you’re looking for and how you plan to contact them. You might consider several different methods for finding skip-tracing leads, but not all of them are viable for every prospect. So, you’ll want to identify who you’re looking to target, then create a strategy for obtaining their contact information and what you plan to say once you find it.
2. Find Leads
Once you’ve developed your strategy, you can go out and begin looking for viable leads. For real estate leads, the public records database is the best place to start. For instance, if you’re looking for the contact info of the owner of a distressed property you came across, you may be able to find it by simply inputting the address into the public records database.
Keep in mind that the data may or may not be accurate and up to date. But it’s a good place to start if you’re looking for information on a property or want to track down the owner. From there, you can also do a quick Google search for the person’s name or try to find their social media. That may be a good way to find their email or reach out to them directly without cold calling. You can also use skip tracing software to expedite the process, but it will cost extra.
3. Organize Your Data
If you’re only looking for one specific homeowner, you may want to skip this step. But if you plan on skip tracing in bulk, you should take some time to organize your data to make the information easy to categorize and access. A basic spreadsheet will do, or you can use professional software. But you’ll want to keep track of basic information like the prospect’s name, address, phone number, email, and any other important information you come across. This will also make it easier to circle back later on and determine which leads were solid and which ones were duds.
4. Start Making Contact
Once you have your data properly organized, the next step is to reach out to the leads you found. The method you use depends on the strategy you developed in the first step. For instance, you may cold call your prospects, or you may try sending them a direct mailer. You can also send a quick email letting them know what you do, or you could reach out to them on social media. How you contact your leads will depend on what you’re looking to accomplish. However, you’ll want to draft up a basic script or text beforehand so you’re prepared when someone responds.
5. Test and Repeat
The final step is to test your methods and repeat the process until you’ve achieved your goals. Just because someone doesn’t pick up on the first call doesn’t mean it isn’t a valid lead, so you may need to call back a few times to make contact. Also, take notes about which methods are working and what aren’t, and adjust your strategy accordingly. Chances are that not all of your methods will produce results, but as long as you’re consistent and organized, you will eventually get through to someone.
Skip tracing is a useful strategy for anyone in the real estate business, whether you’re an investor looking for motivated sellers or an agent searching for new clients. While it takes effort and diligence to find a reliable method that produces quality leads, those willing to invest the time will reap the benefits.