What Is Skip Tracing? [How To Skip Trace Phone Numbers]

Published on May 12, 2023

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What Is Skip Tracing?

What Is Skip Tracing?

Having a lot of contacts in your real estate pipeline doesn't guarantee the number of deals you can potentially close, especially if you have incorrect contact information. That said, it is crucial that you personally skip trace of each of your contacts or use software to do the job for you.

Real estate skip tracing is searching for the most updated and accurate information of your contacts. This typically includes their active mobile and phone numbers, mailing address, and even email addresses. Typically, a professional skip tracer relies on the address and name of the property owner.

To get the answer as to what is skip tracing, its approaches, types, pros and cons, and more, keep on reading!

Skip Tracing Definition: What is Skip Tracing?

Skip Tracing Definition

Wondering "what is skip tracing"? Skip tracing is done when you don't have enough information about a certain contact or the information you have is outdated or you need a hand in locating people. In other words, you cannot reach them with the information you have. The word skip is derived from the phrase "skip town" which means a person who cannot be located.

If a real estate investor or real estate agent wants to pursue the opportunity with them, doing the skip tracing process is essential since it identifies the most active and current skip tracing phone numbers they have. 

Typically, the basic skip tracing process relies on an individual's name and skip trace address. But for a more advanced skip tracing, when an individual cannot be reached conventionally, the experienced skip tracer would rely on credit reports, criminal background, and even online searches on search engines to identify accurate phone numbers and all the answers you need. 

If you need a more in-depth discussion about skip tracing aside from the answer to "what is a skip trace search" read along as we also answer what does a skip tracer do, how to skip trace someone, skip trace cost, etc.

What Is a Skip Tracer in Real Estate?

What Is a Skip Tracer in Real Estate?

A skip tracer is someone or a software that can perform skip tracing. If you plan to DIY skip tracing your contacts, then you may also technically call yourself a skip tracer.

Skip tracers often have a certain skill set in order to identify accurate phone numbers. Meanwhile, if you are using a software as skip tracer, chances are, it's a built-in feature of a CRM.

There are also platforms made solely for skip tracing. We'll look into them in the latter part of this blog.

Skip tracing was originally used by a debt collection agency to collect data and private records to settle debt payments. They check every possible source to identify the whereabouts of someone who missed payment or companies that owe money to them. The skip tracers they hire can identify family members and any people who can give them the accurate phone number of their contact.

Types of Skip Tracing

There are three different skip tracing techniques depending on the number of your contacts and how private the search would be.

Batch or Bulk

Batch or bulk skip tracing services is the most commonly used type of skip tracing in real estate. Through this, real estate professionals can identify the correct information of a large number of contacts.

The data gathered is from qualified public and private databases, utility bills, collection agencies, debt collectors or debt collection agencies, tenant verification services, social media platforms, genealogy sites, collection letters, etc. Note that only public records are access and not private records of property owners to avoid issues.


A single skip tracing works when you only need the contact information of a single contact. You may no longer need a skip tracing software if this is the case because you may easily search for information on Google and social networking sites. In case there's none, there are skip tracing softwares that do single skips.


A private skip trace requires hiring skip tracing private investigators and bounty hunters. Typically, this is used when identifying the whereabouts of an heir during a probate process or other more complicated situations.

How Much Does it Cost to Skip Trace?

How Much Does it Cost to Skip Trace?

The skip tracing cost for real estate depends on what services you'll be using and the number of contacts you need to skip trace. If you plan to hire private investigators or a skip tracing professional service, expect to pay a lot more since it uses manpower.

Meanwhile, if you want to use an online skip tracing tool or software, you'll spend less since you can run it on your own. What's more, many platforms offer free trial for their software. If you are only going to skip trace property owners that are not in bulk, just use the free trial and unsubscribe before it ends so you do not get charged.

You also have the option to DIY skip trace your contacts. Although this may be time-consuming and frustrating, it may also save you more money.

Overall, skip tracing services can cost you around $20 to $400 depending on several factors.

Approaches to Skip Tracing

If you plan to skip trace, hiring someone is not your only option. Check out the three approaches or skip tracing tactics below.


DIY skip tracing means skip tracing without the aid of any real estate software or independent skip tracer. It means you will personally check the county records for tax filings, sought out debt collectors or debt collection agency, check search engines, contact family members, receipts, and other information.

This would save you great amounts of money, but definitely not your time unlike when you hire bounty hunters or use software to get an accurate phone number.

Using a Skip Tracing Software

Using a skip tracing software is the most popular way to skip trace. These professional skip tracers software only require uploading your contacts and running the software. However, this requires a fee, either a monthly subscription or per result. The greatest benefit is, you get accurate results in just a few minutes.

Hiring an Expert

There are skip tracing experts who have access to more databases than you could've imagined. If you want to find the the contact information of a complicated property, these experts or bounty hunters may be your best option.

Usually, this route is only taken when a real estate professional already went DIY and used a software as skip tracers but did not find any results. This is also used by debt collectors since many of their clients skip town to avoid debt collection.

How to Skip Trace Using a Software

How to Skip Trace Using a Software

Many real estate agents and real estate investors prefer skip tracing with a software because it yields fast results. In general, here's how to use software as skip tracers.


Before anything else, you might want to identify your exact business goals and what will be your end actions once you've contacted a potential client. Do you keep calling them with the skip traced number even after they dropped the call a few times or are you going to move on to another contact.

Getting Leads

If you don't have a list of contacts to upload to your skip tracing software or skip tracers, you would have to generate leads first. You can do this through various marketing campaigns, but SEO and buying leads may also work to your advantage.


Before you use a skip tracing software, make sure you do your research first so as not to waste money. This is what most debt collection company do. More often, the information you need are readily available on social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram as well as on LinkedIn.


After you've gathered all your contacts and removed those with accurate contact information, it's time to organize your leads. Ensure there are no typographical errors in the names you have and that the physical addresses in your pipeline are accurate since they will be the basis of the skip trace.


Right after you've organized the information, you are ready to skip trace. Just upload the contacts to your chosen skip tracer and follow the instructions on how to do a skip trace. Most probably, these softwares also perform DNC scrubbing so you won't get problematic numbers.


Once you receive the results in a few minutes, you can start re-uploading the accurate contact information to your CRM. After which, you can start calling using a dialer.

How to Skip Trace Independently

If you have a lot of time in your hands or you want to save money, you may want to DIY the skip tracing needs of your real estate business. Here's how.

Call Existing Numbers

Even before you do advance skip tracing on your own, verify if the numbers you have on record are really inaccurate. Call them one by one and list those who cannot be contacted. This way, you won't have to spend hours searching for numbers that are actually correct.

Check Mailing Address

The contact you have may not be living on your target property itself but in a separate home. Check the mailing address if your mail won't be returned. If you have the time, just drive to the mailing address to see for yourself.

Find a USPS Forwarding Address

If the contact information you have is not updated, contacting the USPS for updated information would do the trick. Since homeowners ensure that they receive their mails, they always have updated numbers on USPS even mailing address information. Of course, someone from the USPS should legally provide you with the details to avoid any conflict.

Work with a Delivery Service

Some owners just don't want to open mail from real estate agents and real estate investors if it came from their post office. You might want to try sending your mail through a delivery service like FedX or UPS so the homeowner would pick it up. 

Do a Google Search

Some of the contact information you need for a missing person or someone who skipped town is super easy to access using simple internet searches on your own search engine. Chances are, these people have a business profile on Google or are running blogs where their phone number and skip trace address are readily available.

Search Your Contact on Social Media

If searching on Google did not do the trick, check your contacts on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Even if you don't find them on these platforms, their relatives surely are. You may use them to contact the homeowner on your list.

Check with Relatives

As mentioned earlier, the relatives of your contact can very well connect you with them. More often, they live near the property of the homeowner you are looking for. If they're not, check them out on Google or social networking sites.

Reach Out to the Contact's Neighbors

If the property owner you are looking for moved places, your best bet in finding them is their neighbors. Homeowners often have good relationships with their neighbors and they would have informed them where they are moving into. They may also have the contact information you need.

Do Criminal Background Checks

After doing all the steps we've included above and there's still no sign of where the homeowner is, try checking their criminal public records. You won't really be able to find the contact information of someone who is in jail.

Is Skip Tracing Legal?

Skip tracing is legal means to determine accurate phone numbers in the United States. However, it becomes illegal when you break the law of your state in order to retrieve information. For example, looking into private documents without the owner's consent instead of only looking into public records. 

To be safe, before doing any skip tracing for your real estate business, study your local laws or talk with law enforcement agents on the matter.

Pros and Cons of Skip Tracing

Pros and Cons of Skip Tracing

While skip tracing seems to be a harmless way to identify phone numbers, it still poses some risks to your business. To help you determine whether skip tracing will do you more good than harm, check out its pros and cons below.


  • Getting Ahead of Competition: Skip tracing is like a scavenger hunt. Through finding accurate phone numbers, you also have the chance to find deals that are off-market. These deals won't be discovered by your competitors unless you have the same contacts.
  • Automated Marketing: Once you already have the accurate phone numbers of your contacts, it would be easy to automate your marketing campaigns. You can just add the accurate phone numbers to your CRM and automatically call them through a dialer.


  • Angry Homeowners: Some homeowners are hard to trace for a reason. Most of them don't want to be bothered especially by a skip tracer real estate professional. Once you got the accurate phone numbers of your contact, there's no guarantee that your calls would be received well.
  • Legal Compliance: As mentioned, if you try to access private documents to find correct contact information, you would be breaking the law. Sometimes, there's a fine line between breaking the law and doing advanced skip tracing so you better be cautious.

Top Skip Tracing Companies and Services

To save you time in finding the best skip tracing services, we've listed the 5 industry-leading skip tracers as of writing. 

Smarter Contact

Smarter Contact uses tier-1 mobile carrier data in skip tracing so they yield accurate results. They offer bulk discounts and their rates are pretty affordable. To be specific, they charge from $.10 to $.15 per result.

Batch Skip Tracing

Similar to Smarter Contact, Batch Skip Tracing offers a pay-per-match result. There's also no subscription fees so you only pay for the hits. Batch Skip Tracing has a live support that you can connect with 24/7.

Launch Control

Launch Control has a Skip Tracing app that can provide you with the most complete details of every property. Launch Control can also provide you with tax information, mortgage amounts data, comparable sales, transaction history, search history, and more. 


PropStream is a real estate software with built-in skip tracing feature. Just open PropStream, upload your contacts, and select Skip Trace from the software's navigation bar. After running the skip trace, you'll see the results on PropStream's contact page.

Property Radar

Similar to PropStream, Property Radar has a built-in skip tracing service you can leverage. If you use this skip trace services, you can get up to 500 free numbers and emails monthly. You'll be provided with both landline and mobile numbers.

Final Thoughts: What Is Skip Tracing? (How Does Skip Tracing Work)

Skip tracing is an essential step in any real estate process. It makes sense of the contacts you have and it gives you more opportunities to grow your business. 

As mentioned in this blog, you can do skip tracing independently or seek the help of a professional. You may also use skip tracing software to save time and money. 

On another note, if you want more leads to add to your pipeline, check us out at Property Leads. We provide highly motivated seller leads with accurate phone numbers to reduce your need for skip tracing.

Get your first batch of highly motivated seller leads from us by filling out the form below.

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