You spot a vacant house that would make a great addition to your portfolio. The problem is, you can't figure out who owns it. You check local property records only to come up empty-handed. This is when skip tracing for real estate may be useful.
What is skip tracing in real estate?
Skip tracing in real estate is the process of locating the owner of a property. Real estate investors use skip tracing to find good investment opportunities.
You may have heard of skip tracing for tracking down a fugitive who skipped town or serving a subpoena. The resources available for these purposes are also quite beneficial for getting real estate leads.
Distressed properties are sometimes abandoned by their owners or just being set aside to deal with later. These owners may be motivated sellers who are willing to offer investors a great deal.
Real estate agents also use skip tracing as a method of finding sellers. They may also have investors contact them to track down the owner of a property they're interested in.
The goal of skip tracing for real estate is to find the owner's name, current address, phone number, and email address. If the property is owned by an LLC, you'll have to look for the information for its owner.
How real estate investors can use skip tracing
Skip tracing can be useful for a number of things when it comes to real estate. You can search for owners of specific property types as well as distressed properties. There are plenty of options for finding property owners with skip tracing today. Before deciding which method to use, you'll have to decide what you want to accomplish.
If you're only looking for the owners of a few properties, you may be able to find the information yourself. Sometimes a simple search on Whitepages or social media can get you the data you need.
Different skip trace services provide different levels of data. Simple people search sites will give you basic information like names, home addresses, and phone numbers. Other services will also provide information on the property, like the last sale date, price, and mortgage details. Some services, like the ones private investigators use, can provide extremely detailed information, like their criminal records and vehicles owned.
If you simply want to run a direct mail campaign, you can get away with the services that offer basic information. If you want to call each owner, you can benefit from having the additional property details. These details will help you estimate how much equity they have in the property and what kind of offer to make.
If you're researching multifamily properties or commercial real estate, you may need to run a more in-depth search. Since these properties are usually owned by a business entity, you'll also have to find the business owner.
Some skip-tracing tools are easier to use than others. Some involve entering the addresses one at a time to get the information. Others offer batch skip tracing to make it easier to find data on several properties at once.
Depending on the data you gather, you can choose how you want to market to the property owners. You can write personalized letters to each one, call them, or add them to your direct mail campaign.
Types of services for skip tracing real estate owners
You have a lot of options for skip-tracing software. Most online services search through public databases and provide a report with the data available.
Some private investigators offer skip-tracing services for real estate, too. They can provide access to data that you can't find in a public database. This information tends to be the most accurate and in-depth, and it may be overkill for investors.
The cost of skip tracing for real estate
How much you should expect to pay for skip-tracing tools depends on the data you want and how often you plan on using the service.
Skip-trace tools also have different price models, depending on which one you go with:
These services will charge a certain amount for each property owner searched. The price per record may vary depending on the amount of data you're getting.
If you plan on doing a lot of searches, you may want to go with a service that charges a monthly fee. Some companies offer unlimited searches while others have packages with different limits.
If you have to hire somebody to do the skip tracing, you may have to pay them per hour. In this case, the amount you pay will depend on how difficult the information is to find on each person.
Skip-tracing services for real estate investors
There are several skip-tracing providers to choose from. You'll want to go with a reputable company, since some are simply reselling outdated information.
Here are some of the best skip-tracing options currently available. Some are full-service while others require you to go through a few steps yourself to find the data.
Melissa Data isn't actually a skip-tracing service. However, they provide so much data that you can easily do a lot of research yourself.
This company provides a lot of useful data for free. You can easily find out who owns a property, what other properties they own, and mortgage information. You can even get this information by clicking on a map if you don't have the address.
You can purchase credits to get more in-depth information. This information includes phone numbers, email addresses, and forwarding addresses. You can even get lists of people who have recently moved.
This site charges per record, and the cost depends on how many details you need. You can even get a sample of the data before purchasing it.
Skip Genie was created specifically for real estate investors, so the data they provide is relevant for real estate investment purposes.
They have options for bulk property address uploads as well as individual searches. They provide the owner's name, mailing address, phone numbers, email address, and even information on relatives in some cases.
They charge monthly fees based on how many searches you need per month. They also charge per record for the bulk record search.
Data Zapp provides standard contact information for property owners. They also have their own database of vacant properties, out-of-state owners, and people who own multiple properties.
Their pricing is per record and depends on the types of records you're looking for. You can also prepay for multiple orders to get a slight discount on each record.
Reonomy is specific to commercial real estate and multifamily properties. It isn't a skip-tracing service but a property data provider. You're able to get owner names, contact information, tenant details, and other information on all of the properties in their database.
You don't have to submit a list of properties you want information on. You can simply browse their database and choose the properties you want to target. You can also search for properties by the owner's name to see everything they own.
They charge a monthly fee for unlimited property data, and they offer different plans based on the amount of additional tools you want to use.
PropertyShark is one of the few services that will provide information on the owner of an LLC for residential properties. However, PropertyShark is only available in select markets.
They provide very detailed information on each property. In addition to owner contact information, you can also access recorded documents, building permits, and code violations.
PropertyShark charges a monthly fee for access to one county. You can access multiple counties, but you have to pay for each.
The value of real estate skip tracing
Skip tracing for real estate owners can provide you with investment opportunities you may not find otherwise. Having the right data available can provide insight that will help you in negotiating the best deal for yourself. Finding the right deals is essential for real estate investing, and skip tracing makes this a lot easier.