In the competitive world of real estate, finding property owners who have seemingly disappeared can be a game-changer. Whether you are an investor looking to acquire distressed properties or an agent seeking to contact absentee owners, skip tracing is a vital tool. This process involves locating individuals who have moved or are otherwise difficult to find, enabling real estate professionals to pursue opportunities that might otherwise be lost. In this article, we will explore what skip tracing is, its relevance in real estate, and the techniques used to successfully locate property owners.

What is Skip Tracing?

Skip tracing, derived from the phrase “to skip town,” refers to the process of locating a person’s whereabouts. In real estate, this typically involves finding property owners who have left without leaving forwarding information, are behind on taxes, or have otherwise become hard to locate. This technique is crucial for identifying investment opportunities, recovering delinquent properties, and maintaining accurate property records.

Why is Skip Tracing Important in Real Estate?

Skip tracing is essential in real estate for several reasons:

  1. Identifying Investment Opportunities: Real estate investors often seek distressed properties as they can be purchased below market value. Skip tracing helps identify owners of such properties who may be motivated to sell.
  2. Contacting Absentee Owners: Property owners who live out of state or are otherwise absentee can be difficult to reach. Skip tracing allows agents and investors to find and contact these owners to discuss potential sales or other opportunities.
  3. Recovering Delinquent Properties: Municipalities and tax authorities use skip tracing to locate owners of properties with delinquent taxes, ensuring that these properties can be brought back into productive use.
  4. Negotiating Purchases: By finding the right owner, real estate professionals can negotiate purchases directly, avoiding the complications of dealing with intermediaries.

How Does Skip Tracing Work in Real Estate?

Skip tracing in real estate involves a combination of data gathering, analysis, and sometimes fieldwork. Here’s a breakdown of the process:

  1. Collecting Initial Information: Start with what you know about the property and its owner. This includes the property address, owner’s name, last known contact information, and any publicly available records.
  2. Database Searches: Utilize various databases to find more information. This can include public records, property records, utility bills, tax records, social media, and proprietary databases that aggregate data from multiple sources.
  3. Analyzing Data: Cross-reference the gathered data to identify patterns or leads that can point to the owner’s current whereabouts. This might involve looking at recent transactions, changes in utility services, or social media activity.
  4. Fieldwork: If necessary, conduct fieldwork such as visiting the last known address, talking to neighbors, or checking with local businesses. This can provide additional clues that online searches cannot.
  5. Verification: Once a potential location or contact is identified, verify the information to ensure you have located the correct individual.

Tools and Techniques for Skip Tracing in Real Estate

Modern technology has significantly enhanced the efficiency and accuracy of skip tracing. Here are some key tools and techniques used in real estate:

  • Public Records: Property tax records, deed records, and other public documents are often the first step in skip tracing.
  • Online Databases: Services like, Propstream, and Reonomy provide access to a wealth of information that can aid in locating property owners.
  • Social Media: Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can provide insights into an individual’s current location and contact information.
  • Data Aggregators: These tools compile information from various sources, offering a comprehensive profile that can help in locating the individual quickly.
  • Professional Skip Tracing Services: Hiring a professional skip tracer who specializes in real estate can be a worthwhile investment, especially for complex cases.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

While skip tracing is a powerful tool, it’s essential to conduct it within the bounds of the law and ethical standards. Unauthorized access to personal information, harassment, and privacy invasion are significant concerns. Ensure compliance with relevant laws such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and any local regulations governing data use and privacy.


Skip tracing is an invaluable asset in real estate, enabling professionals to locate property owners who are difficult to find. Whether you are an investor seeking distressed properties, an agent trying to contact absentee owners, or a municipality recovering delinquent properties, skip tracing provides the means to connect with elusive individuals and unlock new opportunities. By leveraging both traditional methods and modern technology, real estate professionals can enhance their ability to locate owners and close deals that might otherwise remain out of reach.

Mastering skip tracing can give you a significant edge in the competitive real estate market, ensuring that no opportunity slips through the cracks. You can start skip tracing today using