Finding a property that could potentially turn into an awesome real estate investment deal is what an investor wakes up for each morning. One of the difficult parts of launching an investment deal – especially for damaged or abandoned properties – can be finding the owner of that property. In many cases, traditional methods of reaching out to an owner will not work. It can be time consuming and costly to find the owner of an abandoned home, unless you’re familiar with real estate skip tracing.

What Is Skip Tracing?

Real estate skip tracers are similar to private investigators in that they use a number of tools to find property owners who are intentional about not being found. But, even when homes are left to overgrown grass or unrepaired fire damage, property records still exist and are a good starting point.

Pull Tax Records

Real estate records should be accessible online, but you can also go to your local tax assessor’s office for the documents. Find the property records when you:

  1.       Log onto the county tax assessor’s website
  2.       Type in the abandoned home address
  3.       Click to view the property details

The last known owner of the property will be listed. If the owner’s listed address matches that of the property you’re researching, it’s a pretty solid indication the owner lived in the property at some point. If the addresses are different, you have a place to start in finding the owner. Use the second address as your first lead to contacting the owner about selling. If the tax records aren’t helpful in leading your toward the owner, try the postal service technique.

Post Office Skip Tracing Method

Using real estate skip tracing through the postal service can be helpful and relatively easy. While the post office will not give you the forwarding address of the owner if one was registered, you can use this workaround:

Mail a letter to the owner’s last known address. In order to obtain the forwarding address, write on the outside of the envelope, “Do Not Forward. Return Service Requested.

The letter will not be forwarded to the owner’s new address. If a forwarding address was left, the postal worker will apply a sticker to your envelope with the new address and send it back to you. You can then use the address to reach out to the property owner.

Search Social Media

Nearly everyone is on at least one social media platform, and you’ll have even better luck using social media to find someone of they have a unique name. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are great resources to search for a possible owner. Use photos and the user’s personal information to find a possible match and send a direct message asking if they’re interesting in selling the property.

Real Estate Skip Tracer Companies

When you’re unable to find owners of abandoned or damaged properties through tax records, social media, or the post office, you can purchase software that will aid in your hunt.

A number of different companies offer the help or software access you need to find a homeowner. These methods are paid, and advance in price depending on the type of access you desire.

Skip tracing is one of the best methods to find owners of abandoned or dilapidated homes. Don’t brush aside potential investment opportunities because the house is boarded up or you know the search for the owner won’t be easy. These properties can offer an excellent return on your investment and skip tracing may just be the way to get started.