What is Skip Tracing in Real Estate?

Skip tracing is a means of determining a person’s whereabouts for various reasons. The term skip trace is derived from the phrase “to skip town,” which implies that the person being sought (the “skip”) has decided to leave their customary area to avoid being identified or contacted.

Whether you’re a seasoned real estate investor or a skip tracer exploring the real estate world, this article will provide insights into what is skip tracing in real estate and how it can be a game-changer in your real estate efforts.

Skip Tracing Explained

In real estate, a professional skip tracer is often hired to do skip-tracing services, such as finding homeowners who are difficult to reach. These may include owners of distressed properties and absentee property owners who have yet to respond to conventional communication methods such as mail, phone calls, or emails.

Real estate investors and agents use skip tracing to find property owners because it allows them to contact individuals directly about potentially purchasing their property. Often, these properties aren’t listed for sale but might be sold if the right offer comes along.

Origin of Skip Tracing

Skip tracing originated from the bounty hunting industry, where individuals would “skip” town to avoid being caught, and bounty hunters would “trace” their location. Over time, this concept was adopted by various industries, including debt and collection agencies, and, sometimes, hiring private investigators doing so.

Although the exact origin of skip tracing in real estate is still being determined, its use has significantly grown with the advancement of technology and data availability. Previously, skip tracing was a labor-intensive process, demanding extensive manual searches through public records. However, with technological progress, it’s now possible to perform comprehensive skip tracing rapidly and often with significantly higher accuracy.

Industries Where Skip Tracing Tools are Commonly Used

While the real estate investor notably uses skip tracing, it’s also prevalent in several other sectors:

-Debt collectors often use skip tracing to locate a property owner who owes debts and has become elusive.

-Private investigators and law enforcement use skip trace, particularly when locating missing persons or fugitives.

-The bail bonds industry also uses skip tracing tools to track down individuals who have skipped bail.

-Repossession companies use skip tracing to find individuals who have defaulted on their loans and have property to be repossessed.

-In journalism, skip trace may be used to locate individuals for stories or interviews.

-Attorneys often use a skip tracing tool to find witnesses, defendants, or others involved in a legal case.

Other Industries Who Use Skip Tracing Services

A Skip tracer can be utilized for various industries and professions, including: 

-Banks and financial organizations

-Collection agencies 

-Credit card corporations

-Employment and tenant verification services 


-Insurance fraud operatives

-Newspeople or Journalists

-Lawyers and other legal personnel

-Medical finance specialists

-Private detectives

-Police investigators

-Process servers 

-Real estate agents

-Repossession agents

Skip Tracing and Real Estate

Skip tracing is a method realtor estate investors or agents use to locate individuals who cannot be found through conventional methods.

How To Skip Trace in the Real Estate Industry

In real estate investing, the skip tracing service method often involves locating homeowners who may be interested in marketing their property but need help finding it. These individuals may be absentee owners, those who have inherited property, owners who are late on their mortgage payments, or even owners of vacant properties.

Today, skip tracing services in real estate investing usually concern gathering information from various databases, both private and public. This data could include phone numbers, email addresses, social media profiles, online phone numbers, directories, and more. Real estate investors employ this information to link with these hard-to-reach homeowners, introduce them to potential selling options, and unclose new real estate deals that were previously unavailable.

Real Estate Professionals May Need These When Skip Tracing

The information real estate investors might seek through skip-tracing varies based on the context.

If you still can’t reach the person after this initial phase, the skip tracer will examine public records, correspondence, files, and proprietary investigation databases for more information about the skipper.

Among these records are:

-Address record

-Court documents

-Credit header data pulled from credit applications

-Criminal histories (background checks)

-Civil forms

-Driver’s license history

-Employment history

-Phone number records

-Property documents

-Tax records

-Utility information

-Social Media Platforms

-Deep web data

Why is Skip Tracing Significant in Real Estate?

What is skip tracing in real estate

For real estate investors, having a worthwhile deal often comes down to finding motivated sellers. There are some property owners who, for various reasons, are eager or may need to sell their property. They could be going through a divorce, negotiating with a distressed property, or struggling with mortgage payments.

Skip tracing service enables real estate investors like you to locate these motivated sellers who aren’t reachable through conventional transaction methods. This strategy can open up a wider pool of potential deals using skip tracing tools, usually with less competition from other buyers.

Moreover, properties associated with hard-to-find owners are frequently less pricey, more negotiable, or could be in areas perfect for development or restoration. Hence, effectively using skip tracing techniques can give your real estate agent or investors a significant edge, making it an essential tool in your arsenal.

What Is Skip Tracing in Real Estate

Real estate investors can skip tracing a property owner in various ways. However, there is a skip trace procedure that will likely give you actionable results in the real estate industry.

The entire skip of tracing property and the real estate process usually involves six steps:

1. Identification

The first step in skip-tracing is identifying the person you’re trying to find. This could be a homeowner or a tenant in the real estate. Your approach could be contacting other potential sellers to help dispose of the distressed property. It’s important to comprehend the needs of your target property owner and plan how you’ll fulfill that as a professional in the real estate industry.

2. Lead Generation

It starts with locating suitable property owners looking forward to selling, which can include individuals facing imminent foreclosures or delinquency in their taxes. As a real estate investor, you can analyze the collected information at this stage to find potential leads. The data might show connections or patterns that can assist in skip tracing and public and private records, such as common locations concerned family members or associated individuals.

3. Investigate

Consider researching and attempting to skip-trace the property owner’s name online. You can start your research by searching on a popular search engine like Google or Microsoft Edge or try skip tracing software.

4. Organize

The next step involves organizing the data you found in the previous steps. By this time, you should have verified the exact physical address of the property. You can share this data with a professional skip tracer or save it for skip tracing with online software tools, often providing the best results.

5. Uploading Data

After collecting all the data, upload it to your go-to skip tracing tool for your real estate leads and investing. Most tools will need you to enter the target property address, owner’s name, and phone number if you manage to get one. The tool will then automatically generate a complete profile of your property lead.

6. Make a Move

Finally, now you have what skipping tracing companies are paid to get. You must verify the located individual to ensure they are the right person. This may involve additional skip tracing work, such as asking specific questions only the individual would know or verifying their identity through trusted third parties.

4 Reasons Why You Need Skip Tracing In Real Estate

As far as selling and buying properties is involved, skip tracing is becoming the ideal strategy for many realtors and real estate agencies who want to make the most out of their marketing campaigns.

Here are some of the reasons why skip tracing is suitable in the real estate industry:

1. More New Leads

Skip tracing not only lets you quickly identify distressed properties. You can also get good deals since the owners would have abandoned the properties. Ultimately, it can also help you get additional new motivated sellers who often will only think once about making a sale.

2. Clean Old Leads

Picture yourself constantly calling a deceased landowner’s phone number or sending countless text messages to people that will likely never get a response. Pretty useless, right? Skip tracing lets you discern whether your lead is available and adapt your choices accordingly.

3. Follow-Up on Leads

In the Real estate world, leads demand regular follow-ups, mainly if you aim to close deals quickly. Skip tracing helps you find a lead that had gone cold after engaging you for a while. You can then carry on with business after locating them.

4. Save time

Skip tracing allows you to focus on a customer and reach out to more opportunities. This method can reduce the time to drive around looking for telltale signs of a distressed property.

Importance and Benefits of Skip Tracing for Real Estate

Skip tracing software can be invaluable for real estate investors, agents, or potential buyers. It can help you discover the landlords of vacant or deserted properties, trace successors of inherited properties, or even locate a tenant who has left without a trace.

There are many benefits when you incorporate skip tracing:

Finding Potential Deals

Skip tracing can help you in finding property owners to uncover probable off-market deals. By finding the owners of vacant or abandoned properties, real estate agents like you can negotiate a purchase before the property ever hits the market.

Risk Mitigation

Property owners sometimes leave without paying their final rent or addressing property damages.. Skip tracing software can help landlords track these people down to retrieve lost income or fees.

Market Research

Understanding who owns properties in a particular area and their contact details can help you understand market movements, leading to better decision-making than ever.

Better chances of success

Skip tracing can be time-consuming and is only sometimes successful when done correctly. However, using multiple references through Google Search, you can increase your chances of finding the information they need and successfully locating the person you are searching for.

Enhanced Privacy Protection

Using multiple references can also help protect the privacy of the individual you’re searching for. By using skip trace for different resources, you can minimize the amount of personal information they need to request from any one source.

Increased Accuracy and Efficiency

You can use tracing services to contact a property owner directly rather than spending time and resources on direct mail campaigns with low response rates. You can also verify and confirm information whether the person you are trying to find is correct, accurate, and up-to-date. This direct approach often leads to higher response rates. Using numerous references can help save real estate investors time by allowing them to quickly and efficiently access a wide range of information.

Potential Challenges and Difficulties in Skip Tracing

While skip tracing can be a practical way to find property owners, it can be challenging, too. Often, the information available needs to be updated or updated to get accurate information for the skip tracing cost and services.

Limited Information

Finding individuals who purposely disappear often leaves little to no information trails when tracing in real estate. You must work with the available information you have and employ your skills to fill in the missing gaps.

Evolving Techniques of Hiding

As technology evolves, individuals wishing to remain hidden usually try incorporating increasingly sophisticated methods to evade detection tracing in real estate.

Skip tracing must be conducted within the bounds of the law and concerning the privacy rights of individuals. Ethically, using the information obtained through skip tracing responsibly is essential. In particular, this information should not be used to harass or intimidate people.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between an Independent Skip Tracer and a Skip Tracing Service

Here are some factors to consider when choosing the ideal service you need in skip tracing:

Experience and Track Record

Independent skip tracers and services should have a track record of effectively locating people. Look for endorsements, reviews, or case studies that indicate their expertise.

Tools and Resources

Skip tracing services may have access to more comprehensive databases and software, which could improve the effectiveness of their searches. However, independent tracers may have comparable resources depending on their degree of competence and the technologies they employ.


The price difference between an independent tracer and a skip tracing service can be significant. Although an independent tracer may price less, the service may be more extensive. Ensure you understand what you’re paying for and that the price is within your budget.

Availability and Communication

Depending on your requirements, you may prefer the flexibility and personal touch of working directly with a tracer. A service, on the other hand, may provide more consistent availability or speedier turnaround times.


Some skip tracers or services may specialize in specific cases, such as missing people investigations, debt collection, or investigative journalism. One of them may be better suited to your demands than the other.

Independent skip tracers and services should work within the law and uphold ethical standards. They must abide by privacy regulations and gather information through lawful means.

Skip tracing is a complex task that often requires a multifaceted approach. The professional services in this area are skilled in using technology, databases, human intelligence, and old-fashioned detective work to locate individuals. It’ll be beneficial if you incorporate these into your skip-tracing work.

Public and Private Databases

Subscribing to skip tracing companies, online directories, or skip tracing software like LexisNexis or TLO can help you provide a wealth of information for skip and professional tracing services. Some might require confirmation that you have a legitimate purpose for accessing the information.

Social Media

Social media platforms like Google Search, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn can offer skip tracers like you helpful information about a person’s whereabouts and connections by searching.

Property Records

County tax assessor websites or local courthouse records can provide data about property ownership, taxes, and liens for skip tracers.

Professional Skip Tracing Services

Companies like BellesLink and Batch Skip Tracing provide comprehensive batch skip tracing services, making the process of bulk skip tracing easier for beginners.

Skip Tracing: What to Expect

Batch skip tracing will likely become even more integral to the real estate investing industry as technology advances. Developing more sophisticated data analysis tools will make the process faster and more accurate. However, with these advances comes the increased need for strict regulations to balance efficacy with privacy concerns regarding skip tracing in the real estate investment business.


In the ever-evolving real estate demand, taking advantage of AI tools, and skip tracing in real estate has become a powerful tool for industry professionals to uncover previously inaccessible deals and opportunities.

It is becoming more important as the industry grows and becomes more competitive. Therefore, mastering online skip-tracing tools or subscribing to any skip-tracing solutions and services is invaluable for professional skip-tracers looking to stay competitive in this dynamic market.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Is Skip Tracing Legal?

Skip tracing is allowed as long as no laws are broken to obtain information. It is, for example, illegal to use violence to obtain information from someone or to lie to financial organizations to obtain information.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Is Skip Tracing Legal?

Skip tracing is allowed if no laws are broken to obtain desired information. Keep in mind that it is illegal to use violence to obtain information from someone or to lie to financial organizations to obtain information.

Where Do Skip Tracing Companies Get Their Data?

These companies gather data on people by digging through public documents such as arrest records, property tax data, business licenses, marriage licenses, social media, and other sources. 

Additionally, they also examine specific databases having private information. Like employment information, credit header data, and social security numbers are all stored in these databases. This information is only available to professional investigators.

How Much Does Skip Tracing Cost?

It depends. Skip tracing costs depend on the caliber of service, the investigation parameters, and the provider’s background. You can expect the cost to vary widely depending on the service, as low as $200.

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