Finding houses is the biggest problem in the best neighborhoods to invest in Philadelphia.
So many houses have already been rehabbed and flipped in Brewerytown. Getting to be as challenging in Point Breeze. Investors in Grays Ferry saw a huge increase in house values from 2017 to 2018 because of the level of revitalization going on there. Wholesalers and flippers have been saturating the best neighborhoods for investment with direct mail, trying to find motivated sellers.
Every wholesaler or flipper who has sent out hundreds (or thousands) of postcards using something like an absentee owner list knows the big problem with direct mail is that many of those postcards come back marked “Return to Sender.” Wrong addresses!
Most flippers give up on those houses and throw those postcards into the garbage pail.
Instead of giving up, if you could track down current addresses and/or phone numbers of these homeowners, you could close some deals that are no longer on the radar of your competitors. There is a way of tracking them down and it’s called skip tracing.
What is skip tracing?
Skip tracing is the process of tracking down a person whose last known address is no longer correct. This happens when you’re purchasing mailing lists from the list brokers. A “skip” is the person being searched for, as in someone who decided “to skip town.” “Tracing” is the action of tracking and locating the skip. A skip tracer is someone who tracks down current information on people whose last known address is wrong.
Skip tracing was first used by debt collectors, process servers, bail bond agents—professionals needing to find people who had skipped town. It works really well for real estate investors looking to track down absentee owners of houses they would love to flip.
How to skip trace
If you’ve ever googled someone or used Facebook to try to find them, you were skip tracing, at a pretty basic level. If you have just the name and address of the absentee owner of a distressed house, and it turns out the address is wrong, you don’t have much to go on. Professional skip tracing services can take those names and wrong addresses, and find current contact information for the owners of those houses. They have access to databases and records that are not publicly available online. Some skip tracing services even specialize in working with real estate investors.
If you’re trying to find deals in the best neighborhoods to invest in Philadelphia, you know you have a lot of competition and you’re all using much the same lists of absentee homeowners. Your competitors all have bins of returned postcards. If you’re looking to get to the next level of investing then it takes one extra step — rather than just flooding the market with postcards and hope, why don’t you try out skip tracing to see if you could help you get some of those houses no one has been able to get to yet?