In today's real estate market, finding new and valuable properties to fix and flip or turn into rental income can be challenging. The housing shortage means that investors, agents, and services need to become resourceful, creative, and tenacious in finding great opportunities before they come on the market. Skip tracing, if done correctly, leads to those opportunities and should be incorporated into your cold calling and marketing strategies.
What Is Skip Tracing?
“Skip tracing” is really a misnomer that doesn’t accurately describe the process most investors and agents use. A better term would simply be “contact finding.” Essentially, your goal is to track down a property owner’s name, email, and phone number when it’s not readily available. When done properly, skip tracing enables you to do this and personalize your outreach to those property owners. However, this is easier said than done — especially when you don’t have the right tools.
When you’re trying to track down and collect contact information, there are two primary markets where you can look.
- Contact info for collection agencies, financial institutions, government agencies, and voter registrations: Although this is the gold standard, only governments and financial institutions have access to this information.
- Ad hoc marketing lists: This is a “deregulated market” for contact info, which is sourced from users who have at one point made their information available to third parties. Information can vary significantly from provider to provider in terms of its age and accuracy.
At PropStream, we multi-source our skip tracing data service from several providers so that our clients have the best chances of getting quality contact information.
How to Skip Trace Like a Pro
For investors marketing by using skip tracing, it’s essential to have a large list of telephone numbers and email addresses. This increases the chance of making contact with a homeowner from your targeted area, which is why skip tracing is an essential part of a real estate investor’s or agent’s strategy. Having access to telephone numbers and/or email addresses is indispensable because it allows you to market to prospects through multiple touchpoints, increasing your chances of successfully connecting to an owner. Once you have connected, you've opened the door to negotiations and deal-making.
When working on your own, you might be focused on just trying to reach one property at a time. A better approach is to have several potential properties prospected at the same time. This creates the opportunity for more leads and greater closing and investment success. Some investors double down in this phase by having teams, or PAs (personal assistants) cold-call targeted property owners to increase the number of potential properties that can be reached.
Skip tracing is great, but most investors and agents (especially those that have a team) need the right automation tools to ensure their property lead lists are regularly updating — in a comprehensive marketing system.
Integrate Skip Tracing and Marketing
When trying to connect with someone, you must use a combination of techniques to break through quickly and efficiently. One such method is targeting groups of contacts with similar characteristics at the same time so a similar communication outreach can be utilized.
Our system enables you to do this by pinpointing specific criteria and filters, including pre-foreclosure properties, vacant properties, bankruptcy and divorce filings, and zombie properties. It then provides a list of potential contacts for each person, name, and address.
When you choose to skip-trace your property list owners with PropStream, records with a successful skip trace will show one of the following for each owner:
- A single email address or phone number
- Both an email and a phone number
- Multiple emails and phone numbers
In some cases, there may be no contact information available. If this is the case, you will not be charged.
The returned file is organized by type (landline, mobile, etc.) and in order of most recent and most likely to be used. You can discover ways to reach the owners and send targeted messages or emails to them.
If your list has multiple pieces of contact info, start from the top, as that information is more likely to be current. Work your way down the list and don’t try multiple contact points for the same owner at once. For example, if you call a contact and don’t reach them (but the number is not disconnected) don’t try the other number listed just yet. Give it a few tries before moving onto another number.
Another tip is to clean your list as you go by removing any “hard-bounce” emails that show the address is no longer valid or phone numbers that have been permanently disconnected. If there is another email or phone number in the sequence, try that contact information next.
Closing the Deal Takes Persistence and Tact
Once you've found the homeowner, you can begin to negotiate a deal that works for all parties involved. Know your facts and offer terms that will be attractive to both the property owner and the financial institutions that might be involved. Having an active PropStream membership means that you can check your facts with any updated information in the system. Data helps you build trust and reassures the homeowner that you can be part of the solution to their hardship.
When you're able to spend less time tracking down owners, you free up more time to negotiate fair deals. This opens up a great new source of leads for your real estate practice and helps homeowners solve their financial problems. It's a win-win.