Watch what the pros in real estate investing are saying about REsimpli Play

What is a Skip Search? Everything You Need to Know

What is a Skip Search? Everything You Need to Know

What is a Skip Search? Everything You Need to Know

In the intricate, increasingly digital realm of real estate, certain terms and techniques can be confusing and complicated to the uninitiated. Among these, “skip search” or “skip trace search” frequently emerge, often leaving many pondering: “What is a skip search?”  Beyond having a catchy name, a skip search is a powerful technological tool that real estate professionals and various other industries leverage to locate individuals who are difficult to find, typically because of relocation or intentional evasion. 

But why would a real estate professional need to find a specific person, and how does this process actually work at its core? We wrote this blog to delve deeper into the intricacies of skip tracing and, indeed, skip searching, unraveling each practice’s significance in the real estate world and elaborating on its broader implications.

Whether you’re an industry professional seeking to grasp the concept better or simply curious about it, this guide promises to shed light on the elusive topic of skip searching.

What is a Skip Trace Search?

In its essence, a skip search is the process of sourcing information through skip tracing. This is a method used to locate any individual who has “skipped” or moved on from their last home without leaving a forwarding address or other important contact details.

The term “skip” traditionally refers to the subject being searched for (typically someone who is avoiding contact for any number of reasons), while “trace” means the act of tracking them.  This investigative process is employed in various professions, such as private investigationsbounty hunting, debt collection, and, of course, real estate.

It’s worth noting that a skip trace search in real estate doesn’t always come with the same sort of pressures or conditions that other skip searches do. 

Types of Information Retrieved Through a Skip Search 

While the primary goal of a skip search is generally to find an individual’s whereabouts, the process can uncover a lot of information that can be more relevant to real estate professionals. Depending on the tools used, a skip search can reveal: 

Contact Information: This can encompass a current and previous skip trace address search, phone number retrieval, and email address capture. 

Employment History: Details of current and past employers, potentially useful for determining whether a person is likely to be in control of a distressed property

Financial Records: Information such as bankruptcies, liens, loans, and other financial obligations can be sought out, which is great for real estate wholesaling or investing in distressed properties. 

Associates and Relatives: By identifying any close contacts or relatives, investigators are given a leg-up on leads that bring them closer to their subject. 

Property Ownership: Details of any real estate or other significant assets owned by the individual can be highly useful, especially when seeking sellers. 

Skip Search in Real Estate 

Skip tracing is a particularly valuable tool in the real estate sector, being a great precursor for targeted list stacking and mass marketing. Here’s how it can be applied: 

Locating Absentee Property Owners: For investors looking to purchase properties, particularly those that are pre-foreclosure or distressed, tracking down absentee owners can offer potential opportunities. An owner living away from their property might be ready to sell, especially if managing the property from a distance is challenging. 

Tracking Down Delinquent Tenants: In cases where a tenant has abandoned a rental property owing rent, a skip search is useful for landlords attempting to locate them and secure owed monies. 

Historical Property Information: For anyone interested in a property’s history or previous owners, skip tracing provides valuable insights and contact details. 

Heirs of Estates: In scenarios where property owners have died without a clear will and testament, a skip search helps identify and locate potential heirs. Using skip trace search engines in real estate can bridge the gap between the known and unknown, ensuring all opportunities are grasped, with all legal obligations sufficiently met.

How Do You Skip Trace Someone?

Skip tracing a lead requires a carefully considered approach that uses traditional investigative techniques and modern technology. The process involves a series of steps, each vital in locating the individual in question. Remember, in real estate, all you really need is their contact details and address before you reach out.

Gather All Available Information

Before initiating skip tracing, assemble all readily accessible details about the subject. This information should include their full name, last known address, date of birth, and any other characteristics. The more information you have, the easier the rest of the process will be.

Use Online Databases

There are various online databases that are perfect for performing skip searches. Scouring public records, including court documents, recorded real estate transactions, and business registrations, helps to form a comprehensive view of an individual’s activities and whereabouts.

Social Media and Internet Searches

Social media platforms, blogs, and other online platforms feature individuals sharing details of their lives, which can give insights into their location, employment, and other activities.

Check Credit Reports

With the right permissions, credit reports offer valuable details on financial activities, which are useful for locating individuals. For instance, a recent credit card application can provide a relevant address.

Leverage Software

As a real estate investor, you should be using a CRM system already. The best CRMs should include a skip trace algorithm technology in their package so you can find leads at a faster rate.

How Long Does a Skip Trace Take?

The time frame for skip tracing varies significantly based on numerous factors, sometimes taking hours, weeks, or even months. 

Factors Affecting Skip Trace Time Frame: 

Amount of Available Information: The more preliminary data you can find, the quicker the process should be. 

Age of the Information: Older information can lead to dead ends, extending the search. 

Individual’s Digital Footprint: Individuals active online or with significant public records are easier to trace than those who maintain lower profiles. 

Complexity of the Case: Some people intentionally hide their whereabouts, making the skip trace process more challenging. 

General Estimates: Straightforward Cases: For individuals who haven’t made any efforts to hide and have a significant online presence, skip tracing should take somewhere between a few hours to a couple of days. 

Moderate Cases: If someone has relocated multiple times, changed their, or further complicated their records, skip tracing might span several days to a week. 

Complex Cases: In situations where individuals are intentionally evasive or with very limited starting information, skip tracing can take several weeks or even longer.

What is Skip Trace Real Estate?

Skip trace real estate is a specialized field within the realm of property, focused on locating property owners or residents who may be difficult to find. While a standard skip search is broad, encompassing various sectors, skip trace real estate narrows this focus to property-related matters. 

Methods Used in Skip Trace Real Estate: 

Database Searches: This practice involves scouring property records, transaction data, tax records, and other real estate databases to find traces of the individual. 

Social Media Monitoring: Platforms like FacebookLinkedIn, and Instagram can provide clues about a person’s whereabouts or activity. 

Field Investigations: A physical visit to the last known address or locality might be required. Engaging with neighbors or local businesses can also yield clues. 

Networking: Engaging with other real estate professionals can sometimes result in new leads, especially if the individual has had past property dealings. In real estate, skip tracing is essential for locating absentee property owners, individuals behind on mortgage payments, or tenants who have evaded rent and left without notice. By successfully skip tracing, agents and property managers can secure deals, recover funds, or ensure the properties are treated with respect.

Comparison and Benefits of Skip Search and Skip Trace Real Estate:

While skip search and skip trace real estate involve locating individuals, the key difference lies in their application. Skip search is a broader practice used in professions from debt recovery to private investigations. In contrast, skip trace real estate is entirely focused on property-related issues.  

Benefits in Real Estate: 

Efficiency: Both these practices speed up the process of locating individuals, potentially saving considerable time. 

Cost Savings: Instead of spending on extended searches or legal proceedings, a successful skip trace can resolve issues swiftly, saving time and money. 

Informed Decision Making: By using these tools, professionals can get a clearer picture of potential deals, ensuring they make considered decisions with the best possible information. 

Risk Mitigation: Knowing the whereabouts and financial standings of property owners or tenants helps in assessing the potential risks involved with certain deals.


Navigating the real estate industry requires a combination of intuition, experience, and the right technology. Skip search and skip trace real estate are vital tools for discovering crucial details that can make or break a deal. Whether tracking down an elusive property owner or assessing the risk of a potential deal, understanding and using these methodologies can be highly useful. In the dynamic world of real estate, using every tool at your disposal ensures success and the peace of mind that comes with informed decision-making. For professionals reaching for the pinnacle of their careers, integrating skip search and skip trace into their practices is not just recommended but essential.

For more on real estate investing practices, check out our blog today.