What Is Skip Tracing And Why Are Investors Using It Right Now?

If you’ve ever sent out a postcard mailing, you’ve probably got a few back marked “Return to Sender.”

Or maybe more than a few!

Every real estate investor who has sent out thousands of postcards using addresses from absentee owner lists knows that more than a few of those postcards will come back marked “Return to Sender.” And that’s just the cards you get back! Your low response rates indicate a far costlier problem: in many markets, homeowners are just not responding to postcards like they once did.

Do you throw those postcards into a garbage pail like most people do?

Sending postcards to a list used to work… but there’s a better way, and many investors are jumping onto this cutting edge strategy in a big way. Don’t be left behind.

Imagine this: what if you could get the phone numbers and more accurate information about the owners of those houses?

That’s what skip tracing can do for you.

What Is Skip Tracing?

Skip tracing is the process of tracking down a person to get their current contact information. A “skip” is the person being searched for, as in someone who decided “to skip town,” perhaps hurriedly, and without leaving too many clues about their new location. “Tracing” is the action of tracking, finding, or locating the skip. A skip tracer is someone who tracks down current information on people whose last known address is wrong.

As the definition suggests, skip tracing was first used by debt collectors, process servers, bail bond agents—professionals needing to find people who had skipped town. Now skip tracing is also used by lawyers, journalists, and real estate investors—professionals who need to locate subjects whose current contact information is not known, not current… or when people need additional contact information besides just the home address.

How To Skip Trace

If you’ve ever googled someone or used Facebook or to try to find them, you were skip tracing (at a VERY basic level). These methods work best if you already know quite a bit of accurate contact information. If you have just the name and address of the absentee owner of a distressed house, and it turns out the address is wrong, you don’t have much to go on.

Professional skip tracing services can take those names and wrong addresses, and find current contact information for the owners of those houses. Skip tracers have access to databases and records that you cannot access using just Google search. You know what’s even better? A skip tracing service that specializes in working with real estate investors has access to the specific data needed to find potential sellers.

Why Skip Trace Absentee Homeowners?

All the real estate investors using direct mail to find sellers are largely purchasing the same lists of absentee homeowners, tax delinquents and probate houses. They’re all getting the same incorrect information on some of those houses. They all have garbage pails overflowing with returned postcards.

Instead of doing what all those other investors are doing, you could use skip tracing to find good contact information on those hard-to-find owners. That return bin you’ve been sitting on could be a gold mine!

Locate the homeowners that other investors haven’t reached and you can start closing deals with motivated sellers who have not been inundated with postcards and yellow letters. You might be the first person offering them a solution to their problem of being stuck with a distressed house.


Real estate investors already using skip tracing are closing deals with owners of distressed homes that their competitors gave up on. What deals are you leaving on the table because you’re NOT skip tracing? Getting started takes minutes… why not run a test today and see whether you can’t close more deals tomorrow because of it!

Written by Pranav Prasannan 

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