- What is skip tracing in real estate?
- 2 free ways to skip trace for free
- Reminder: use only publicly available online information
- How to skip trace at scale
Skip tracing is the secret weapon of so many successful real estate investors.
It helps them find and contact off-market property owners who are completely off the radar of other investors, which means there’s little (if any) competition. It allows investors to customize their offer to directly address the property owner’s pain points - and moves them directly to the front of the offer line.
What Is Skip Tracing In Real Estate?
Skip tracing in real estate involves looking through publicly available documents and information to identify motivated sellers and locate their contact info.
While professional real estate investors employ automated skip tracing solutions to find this info, there are two ways new real estate investors can start skip tracing for free.
What Does Skip Tracing Uncover?
At it’s core, skip tracing helps real estate investors uncover;
1. Motivated Sellers
The materials you search through in skip tracing will help you determine whether or not property owners are potentially motivated sellers.
Here are some of the most prevalent types of motivated sellers you'll identify through real estate skip tracing:
Property Tax Truant Properties
Property owners that are behind on their property taxes are known as tax delinquent properties.
If you're skip tracing to find tax delinquent residences, it's likely, but not guaranteed, that these owners are unable to pay their property taxes.
It could simply be that they forgot to pay! And this gives you the ideal "in" when approaching tax delinquent leads. Even if the property owners don’t want to sell, by reaching out to them, you’ve either established they’re a viable motivated seller, or you’ve helped to notify them that they forgot to pay this time around.
When a house is in pre-foreclosure, the owners have not paid their mortgage, but the lender has not yet repossessed the property. The homeowner must either repay the mortgage or initiate the foreclosure process during this "in between" time.
This brief window of opportunity provides real estate investors with an excellent opportunity to contact the property owner and make an offer on the property. An offer would allow the owner to repay the lender before their credit score suffers a significant impact, and because they need the money quickly, they may be ready to accept a lower offer on the property.
Zombie Properties are properties that have started the pre-foreclosure process but, for one reason or another, the process was terminated before the property was foreclosed on.
Many times, property owners will leave during the pre-foreclosure process, but are not informed that the process didn’t go through. So, after developing a list of pre-foreclosure properties from the county recorder’s office, you’ll be able to drive around to these different properties and identify which ones lay vacant, showing they haven’t been foreclosed on.
These Zombie Properties represent outstanding investment opportunities for investors.
Skip tracing can help you uncover property owners who have inherited their properties, or who will soon inherit homes through the probate process.
Many of these current or future property owners haven't thought about what their inheritance means yet. Most of the associated inheritance costs come from property taxes, legal expenses, and other fees that come with owning a home.
You might be the first person to tell them about these less-than-rosy charges, and they might decide that selling to you is far better than having to deal with the headaches and costs that come with inheriting a house.
2. Property Owner Contact Information
Skip tracing for real estate gives investors the names and contact info for property owners. This can be phone numbers, but there’s almost always an email included.
And even if that email is now out of date - you have their name, and you can use publicly available online information to find their new or even work email.
2 Free Ways To Skip Trace For Real Estate
Skip tracing doesn't need to break the bank; there are a couple ways to skip trace for free in real estate;
1. Use Publicly Available Online Information
The internet has made it easier than ever for real estate investors to access information about property owners. Here are some of the most common publicly available sources of online info investors can use to get property owner contact info;
- Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all publicly available info, and they can provide contact info on property owners, including where they spend their time (think potential for vacant properties) and their potential contact information.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn can help you find property owners' employment details, their network, and potentially even their email.
- Webpages: Personal or company websites, blogs, or sometimes even forums may give you contact info for property owners or their businesses.
- Employer Websites: In some cases, an employer's website may give you an employer’s email address. While this isn’t as ideal as a personal email, it’s nevertheless a jumping off point.
2. Use Publicly Available Government Documents
Publicly available information is one of the most powerful sources of information that investors can use to uncover motivated sellers.
And the best part? You can find all this information by just making an appointment with your local tax office, county recorder’s office and/or local county clerk of court’s office (note: the names of these offices may differ based on your local county).
- Property tax records: These records can give investors property owners' names, addresses, the assessed value of their property and whether they’re truant on tax records.
- Property records: You can get these at the county recorder's office; these documents provide information about property ownership, liens, and other encumbrances.
- Court probate proceedings: Probate records can offer invaluable insight into properties that are in the probate process, which are often incredibly motivated sellers.
- Preforeclosure records: You can find these records at your local county recorder’s office, and they’ll detail which properties are currently in the pre-foreclosure process.
Reminder: Use Only Publicly Available Records And Information
Young investors take note; there are ethical and legal considerations when you’re skip tracing in real estate. Publicly available information is fair game, however investors are strongly discouraged from using private information obtained through hacks, security breaches, or other unlawful means.
Aside from being unethical, the risk of using private information is simply not worth the reward. It can not only harm your reputation as an investor, but it may also result in legal consequences. Accessing and utilizing such information may be considered a violation of privacy regulations in some situations, and may result in fines, litigation, or in extreme cases, even criminal prosecution.
Remember that your reputation and honesty are everything as a real estate investor. Building trust with property owners, fellow investors, and other industry professionals is critical for long-term success.
How To Skip Trace At Scale
Scaling your ability to skip trace is like scaling any other business in today’s hyper-competitive world; you cannot be competitive without technology.
And while there are skip tracing services available, many real estate investors like to keep their data - and their ability to scale their skip tracing operations - in house. That’s why Realeflow is build for real estate investors who want to scale.
Realeflow gives you the ability to skip trace hundreds of properties simultaneously - all with the click of the button. And then, Realeflow gives you the ability to automate your marketing efforts to those leads, and tailor your outreach to specifically address each individual property owner’s pain points.
Ready to see what Realeflow can do for you? Grab your 7-day free trial of the entire tool suite here, and unlock your investing superpower.