REI professionals face a daunting task every time they make a call: getting the person on the other end of the line to not immediately hang up.
Part of the problem, of course, is that people are conditioned to think that any unfamiliar number that pops up on their caller ID is an a-hole. And for the most part, they are right. An April 2018 report by TrueCaller found that the average American receives 23 spam calls a month. That many can make anyone scream “Go to hell!” upon answering the phone …
This is a particularly vexing challenge for REI pros, who depend on their call recipients to be cordial and stay on the line. The stakes get higher when you use a skip trace to find people, but the chance of success also can increase—if you use the right approach. The wrong approach can lead you nowhere and allow competitors with a smoother demeanor to snatch up the properties you’ve spent valuable time researching.
Skip Tracing, Explained
Skip tracing comes from the idea that someone has “skipped town”—in this case, abandoning or neglecting a property—and you need to investigate where they are. Finding the person who owns such a property may be difficult, and conventional search methods often come up empty or return outdated information. Skip tracing uses advanced strategies to find owners that are seemingly unfindable. Besides finding people, advanced skip trace services like those provided by Hoozip, also produces data, such as liens or social media accounts, that are often not easily obtainable. Armed with this knowledge, you can make contact with the owner and engage the conversation fully informed.
4 Things Not to Say
With your skip trace complete, the inclination might be to put a full-court press on the owner in the hopes of quickly securing a deal. Although enthusiasm and effort serve REI professionals well, this isn’t like negotiating for a new car or a raise from your boss. Some absentee owners don’t give a flying fish about their distressed properties, but others could be in this predicament because of rough, possibly embarrassing circumstances. Come across too strong, too brash, or too condescending, and they may hang up on you. The right tone is essential to any chance of success; the wrong tone prevents a relationship from forming.
With that in mind, here are four approaches you absolutely, positively, should not take:
- Don’t tell the owner you skip traced them: If you were romantically interested in a person who didn’t know you existed, would you tell the object of your affection you went to great, stalker-esque lengths just to get a phone number or an email address? Unless you were a creep, of course not. Besides appearing obsessive and greedy, you risk losing the relationship before it even starts. REI with skip-traced property owners is the same way: Come across as too eager, too much like the property is your “prey,” and the owner may tell you off and hang up. Most people in today’s digital age know that tracking down personal info isn’t the crapshoot it once was, so the topic doesn’t even need to come up unless the owner asks—in which case, a simple “I’m a professional real estate investor, sir (or ma’am); it’s a skill we develop to help understand our clients” should be sufficient.
- Don’t treat owners like they’re deadbeats: People have a myriad of reasons why they no longer are maintaining a property/why they skipped town. Communicating with them as if they are deadbeats is just plain rude—and prevents you from establishing the trust you need to secure a deal. Through your skip trace, you may know for a fact an owner is a deadbeat, but even in that scenario, you must treat this person with respect and dignity. You want to empower the owner to want to do business with you; saying, “Your property is blighting the neighborhood, so you might as well sell it to me!” doesn’t achieve that goal.
- Don’t treat the owner like a number: The opposite of getting nasty with a distressed property owner is just as ineffective. Being impersonal, almost robotic, can show that you don’t care for the owner’s well-being, and that this person is just a name and a means for you to make money—not a person for whom any sale might be difficult, even emotional. Therefore, always treat the person you find via a skip trace like a friend and not a number.
- Don’t conduct an inquisition: You performed a skip trace and likely already found out a wealth of information about the property owner. Therefore, forcing the prospect to rehash all this information not only wastes your time, but also stagnates the relationship you are trying to develop. If you show you are a professional and have done your homework, the property owner will fill in the details as they come up in conversation.
What’s most important as you use the results of a skip trace to hopefully score a real estate deal is remembering that prospects won’t just open up to someone they don’t know. You are a stranger on the end of the line, and as such, will be viewed with suspicion until you can prove you can be trusted. Between the skip trace and an intelligent, friendly approach to your first call, you can better guarantee a second call.
How to Approach Someone You Have Skip Traced
- Skip tracing gets you the information necessary to reach out to MIA property owners.
- The first call needs to be perfect to establish trust.
- Don’t treat prospects like a deadbeat or a number, don’t tell them they were skip traced, and don’t conduct an inquisition.