The Do’s and Don’ts of Skip Tracing in Real Estate

Skip tracing is a powerful tool in the real estate investor’s arsenal, especially when it comes to locating property owners who are hard to find. The technique involves gathering information to locate an individual’s whereabouts for various purposes, such as debt collection or, in this case, real estate investment. However, like any tool, skip tracing must be used responsibly and effectively. 

This article will guide you through the do’s and don’ts of skip tracing in real estate.

The Do’s of skip tracing in real estate

  • Use Multiple Sources for Information

When it comes to skip tracing, the more information you have, the better. Utilize a variety of sources, from public records and online databases to social media and professional networks. A multi-pronged approach will give you a more comprehensive understanding of the property owner’s location and how to contact them.

  • Document Your Research

Proper documentation isn’t just good practice; it’s essential for effectiveness and accountability. Keeping track of the sources you’ve used and the information you’ve gathered can help you cross-reference data, identify inconsistencies, and streamline your search process for future cases.

  • Reach Out Respectfully

Once you’ve located the property owner, the next step is to get in touch. It’s vital to approach this step with a lot of tact and professionalism. The owner could be going through a difficult financial or personal situation, which is why they might be hard to find in the first place. A respectful and understanding approach is more likely to lead to a constructive conversation.

  • Use Technology Wisely

There are several tools and software designed specifically for skip tracing in real estate. These can automate much of the manual work involved in gathering and cross-referencing information. However, it’s crucial to ensure that the technology you use is compliant with privacy laws.

  • Keep Your Information Updated

The world of real estate is ever-changing, and a property owner who was hard to reach a few months ago might be accessible now. Therefore, it’s essential to keep your information updated. A change in circumstances, like a phone number update or a move, could be the key to finally reaching your target.

  • Prepare for Different Outcomes

Skip tracing doesn’t guarantee that you’ll always find what you’re looking for, nor does it ensure that the found individual will be willing to negotiate. Preparation for different outcomes, including rejection, can help you remain professional and take appropriate steps for each scenario.

The Dont’s of skip tracing in real estate

  • Don’t: Overlook Privacy Laws

Skip tracing real estate walks a fine line when it comes to privacy. It’s crucial to be aware of and respect privacy laws and regulations. Unauthorized access to someone’s personal information can lead to legal repercussions. Always make sure you’re sourcing information from public or authorized databases.

  • Don’t: Make Assumptions

When you’re trying to locate someone, it’s easy to jump to conclusions based on the information you find. However, making assumptions can lead you down the wrong path. Always cross-verify the information from multiple sources before acting on it.

  • Don’t: Be Intrusive or Harassing

In your quest to get in touch with the property owner, don’t become a nuisance. Bombarding someone with calls, messages, or visits can be seen as harassment, which is both unethical and potentially illegal. A measured and respectful approach is the key to successful engagement.

  • Don’t: Ignore the Human Element

While technology can be incredibly useful, it can’t replace the human element. Sometimes, a conversation with a neighbor or a local business owner can provide insights that no database can. Emotional intelligence and people skills are invaluable in skip tracing, especially when it comes to approaching the property owner.

  • Don’t: Misuse Information

Once you’ve gathered information on a property owner, it’s crucial that you use it for its intended purpose and no other. Misusing personal information not only tarnishes your reputation but could also get you into legal trouble. Always stick to ethical practices and ensure that your use of gathered information complies with the law.

  • Don’t: Neglect to Follow Up

Finding a lead is just the beginning. The key to successful skip tracing lies in diligent follow-up. Whether it’s a second call, a formal letter, or another form of communication, following up shows your genuine interest and increases the chances of a successful negotiation.


Skip tracing in real estate is a powerful, yet sensitive endeavor. By adhering to a strict code of ethics and legal compliance, you can optimize your success while minimizing risks. Remember to use diverse sources of information, respect privacy laws, and maintain an organized approach through proper documentation. Coupled with respectful engagement and intelligent use of technology, these do’s and don’ts form a comprehensive guideline for effective and ethical skip tracing. Whether you’re a seasoned investor or a beginner in the field, paying heed to these best practices can significantly improve your effectiveness in finding and negotiating with elusive property owners.

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