Today’s episode is a little bit different because I’m talking to Larry Higgins, a skip tracing genius. He’s got his own company – Skip Genie – where his team helps other real estate agents do all of their skip tracing.
For those of you who don’t know, skip tracing is a way to find sellers. These sellers are usually hard to find because their properties are what Larry calls “distressed”. These are vacant properties, tax delinquent properties, or properties where owners are deceased and the estate is looking to sell. If you can skip trace correctly and connect with these unique sellers, you can catch some amazing deals.
You’re going to be surprised at Larry’s investing profit strategy. He absolutely hates direct mailers (even though his company deals with a lot of mailers!), but his unique perspective really gives him up a leg-up in this industry. He can connect real estate agents like you with skip trace sellers looking to sell ASAP. His secret is automation. Your mailers combined with his searching techniques could really unlock a lot of possible deals for you by just connecting you with sellers you would have never known about otherwise. So listen to the podcast and hear what Larry has to say! He’s going to blow your mind with his skip tracing strategies.
4:13 – Larry joins us from Houston!
5:18 – How did Larry segue way from real estate to tracing?
7:08 – Skip tracing was a natural progression for Larry
8:36 – We’re both great friends with Mitch Stephen
9:43 – Larry’s skip tracing profit master investing strategy
11:20 – What’s Larry’s beef with direct mailers?
14:14 – Larry breaks down his skip tracing services
15:50 – The benefit of working with Larry Higgins
18:55 – What is skip tracing really?
20:04 – What kind of info does skip tracing deliver?
21:25 – How often does Larry find properties with skip tracing?
24:36 – How much mail does Larry process with skip tracing?
25:54 – Larry’s favorite books
27:53 – Larry’s favorite app is seriously Google Maps
28:21 – Larry only wants 6 hours of sleep
29:02 – What’s Larry grateful for?
32:03 – Get in touch with Larry at firstname.lastname@example.org
Links and Resources:
My Life and 1,000 Houses by Mitch Stephen
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Cory: What is up party people! This is Cory Boatright. I am your host in Real Estate Investing Profit Masters and your founder of Real Estate Investing Profits. Hope you’re having a phenomenal, productive, fun, intentional, freaking glorious day. Every day you’re above ground, be grateful. This is an incredible time in history right now for real estate investing. Why? Because you’re listening to the show. You have specialized knowledge and you’re using it, and you’re listening to other folks that are using it and crushing it not only in their local market, but virtually. Incredible things are happening.
Now, who are we talking with today? It’s none other than Mr. Larry Higgins. Now who is Larry? He runs Skip Genie and what they do is skip tracing. They track down sellers that no one else is really looking for. It’s the gold. These are some incredible leads once you figure out the best way to get in touch with them because no one else typically is going after them. It is just perfect for you to crush and get these awesome deals. Alright.
Make sure that you pay attention to what Larry is doing with Skip Genie. I think you are going to enjoy a lot. The audio and the video is kind of weird on this. I apologize on that, we did our best to splice it together but you should be able to get everything out of the interview that you need, which is all the nuggets, all of the strategies, and most importantly, how you can get in touch with Larry. I want to make sure that you pay attention because you’re going to dig it.
Have you downloaded your Ultimate Real Estate Investing Quick Start Guide? If you haven’t, text the word “profit” to 38470. Do it right now. Take out your phone, make sure you’re not driving. If you’re jogging, just pull over or just stop. Stop your jogging, just stop and text the word “profit” to 38470. You will have the Ultimate Real Estate Investing Quick Start Guide automagically sent to you.
If you’re interested in wholesale coaching, I’d love to talk to you about that. We do roughly about 100 deals a year and that’s wholesaling. We focused primarily on wholesaling. I’d love to talk with you about how the machine is setup to do that. We send over 30,000 postcards, letters out every single month. If you’re doing your math, that’s around a little over 75,000 a week.
We have got this game down pretty well and got results. I’d love to talk with you about what that looks like in your market or wherever you want to invest, the strategies that are involved in that. I can tell you, if you are wanting to figure everything out yourself, you can do that but you’ll spend a lot more money than just getting a coach.
We have a strategy session for coaching, I love to talk with you. Simply go to coryscoaching.com and check it out. Make sure you watch the video right on the home page there and we’ll ask a couple of questions, see if we’re a good fit with each other.
Here you go. This is Mr. Larry Higgins and I hope you enjoy what he’s doing with Skip Genie.
Larry, are you there my man?
Larry: I am. How are you doing?
Cory: I’m good. Thanks for taking the time to be on here. Are you calling in from Houston? Are you out there with Will? Where are you calling in from?
Larry: I’m based in Houston. I’m actually working from the home office today. I’m based just south of Houston but I’m obviously there all the time.
Cory: I got you. It’s kind of interesting how we met here and how you’re on because Will Denker is in the Collective Genius Mastermind and he works with you for skip tracing and you guys have been doing things for a while. I’ve just also sent over some postcards or some letters for skip tracing as well. I’d like to talk about that obviously because that’s where your expertise is but before we get into that, what got you involved in real estate investing and then moving over to the skip tracing world?
Larry: There was never a lightbulb that went off, “Hey, real estate is an awesome thing.” Even being a kid, I always thought it’d be cool to have rental properties. When I got older, I look at it more as a nice little retirement nest egg type thing to work towards. I can’t say I have a furious passion for it until circumstances, jobs, things like that. I always had good jobs, graduated from Texas A&M, multi-family construction, life was good and then all of a sudden I found myself in a job for the first time in my life. I was bored out of my mind in it. I didn’t like going to work, longest days of my life. Great company, salary is good, great people, I just had miserable days.
I happened to stumble onto Mitch Stephen. At that time, I was hearing ads on the radio, all these different people, different groups doing seminars and I thought I might check that out. Then I heard, “Hey, our speaker this week is going to be Mitch Stephen.” I researched him, found his book, read it in two days and he called me two days after I read it, he called and that kind of lit the fire under me. I quit my job and just jumped into it. I never even bought a house before. I didn’t even own the house I was living in at the time. Everything was about as new as you can get to me.
My attitude was all these other thousands of people are doing it, making a living doing it. But as far as the skip tracing aspect, it was just kind of a natural progression. I started out like everybody else, bandit signs, mailers, driving through dollars and things like that. I realized real quick that I had more leads that I need to follow up on than I had the ability to, and I definitely couldn’t afford to. Just out of necessity, I learned how to become my own skip tracer. Not having to be picky about which ones I decided to follow up on and just saying you know what, I’m going to do them all. It totally changed everything for me. That is kind of how I got going.
Cory: I got you. Basically, you had some postcards and you have some mailers and everything that are going out and you have some that are coming back. We all know those are the gold nuggets but there really isn’t a systematic way to really follow up on those but just getting them and skip tracing them one by one.
I’m interested in seeing how you have created that system to be able to do that. Again, for me, it’s a no-brainer. I can just send them and you’ll take care of them. You don’t even charge if you don’t find the person, is my understanding. Is that correct?
Larry: Correct. If there’s no result on the search, there’s no fee.
Cory: There’s no fee, right? Okay. Mitch Stephen is a good friend of mine. He’s an incredible investor, really knocking it out the park with owner finance or he also does some lease options. Owner finance, he really is a master of that. Would you say that’s true?
Larry: Definitely. He’s just a great guy.
Cory: Yeah. He’s a great guy.
Larry: After I found him, I never would have paid for a mentor. That was probably the best decision I made. It was having him and paying for his coaching. I’m really skeptical of coaches and mentors. I did my due diligence and that kind of thing. I said he just seems like a real deal. By far, the best money I’ve spent on my education.
Cory: That’s great. He is a great guy. He is the real deal. He has a ton of properties and tons of results, great books.
Larry: He’s about as creative as you can get.
Cory: He’s crazy creative, crazy smart on how he puts together a deal.
What is that kind of what we call the profit master investing strategy? I know it involves skip tracing but really what’s something that you’re doing right now that is giving you an edge, would you say, on your investing?
Larry: Me specifically, it’s just being a little bit [00:10:06] in what properties I go after. Everybody likes vacants. Tax delinquent properties, it’s about figuring out the distressed properties and trying to find those indicators that make it and/or estates that fly into the radar, so everybody knows estates.
Direct mail is so saturated. I can’t say how many times I’ve walked [00:06:24] to the point [00:06:26] sellers like hey, I got all this mail. They literally are offering me if I want it but I don’t need it. The only reason [00:06:34]. I did take it one time, I was just curious to see what the different types of mail people were sending. It’s funny because I’m seeing other investors I know around Houston and I’m like, “Yeah, not today guys.”
Those are the ones I really like. It seems to ease the transaction. You’re not dealing with having to get a move and all that, especially with inherited properties that need some work. They just seem to be better deals, unless when you find them in those situations, less competition for them.
A lot of times, if you mail that list—my problem with mail, I’m not saying mail doesn’t work, besides that it’s saturated, the problem with mail is you never know if that person got it. I literally had a letter returned I think about a month ago. I mailed it two years ago. That just set a new record for me. Two years later, it gets returned.
Cory: It happens, right? Because people don’t either throw stuff away or sometimes, they just show up randomly. I had that happen too.
Larry: Had that been a hot deal, I would have lost it. But I went ahead and looked it up. I figured out why. I mailed the lady really fast, she had some great properties in Houston, a lot of distress. Finally tracked her down, did the phone call and knocked on her door, couldn’t get her to answer the phone and made an offer the other day. I’m not sure if she’s going to accept it but I never would have the opportunity just relying on mail.
First and foremost, just calling instead of mailing, me personally—you can do both, I would never tell anybody not to, multiple touches and things like that, I’m just really targeting what I go after. That’s what I’m trying to help other people with, especially newbies. The goal is to get you a deal as quickly as possible, as cheaply as possible. Whether it’s driving for dollars or having to filter the list to look for certain indicators that you can go after.
Cory: Right, that’s kind of interesting. They different mail a code, if you will, you have a different value that you declare or a weight on each one of those mail codes?
Larry: No, I don’t. As long as I get two codes and they handwrite them, or sometimes I’ll stamp them vacant or deceased. Return mails are return mails to me. Those will get priority because they’ve already told me a lot. I don’t have to research it.
Larry: They’re all priority. I just give those a little bit more priority, that kind of thing.
Cory: Sure, I do too.
Larry: These days, again, I won’t tell anybody don’t do mail, I don’t really send mail unless it’s the last ditch effort and I mail a contract. But that’s a different scenario. Just so you chill the skip tracing, everybody mentions it in passing, just skip tracing. My general rule is the harder somebody is to find, the more likely that’s going to be a pretty good deal.
Cory: You’re right. More people are going to be willing to take the time to find the person and it’s just going to be gold. These days, you’re really being more blessed at skip tracing facility. You have skip tracing program where people can send you their postcards, send everything to you and then you look them up and it’s on a per field basis or per lookup basis. You’ve got to make sure that you can find some information on them and if you do, then they’re charged the flat fee. Is that correct?
Larry: Correct. We have that service for what we consider a volume of people that have a lot of mail and stuff like that. There’s an issue there. They don’t have time to do anything with the mail to get started. So we said, “Hey, you know what? Ship it to us. We’ll take care of it.”
Then what we do is we provide, when we run those searches, we provide that back to the customer in a format to where they can upload it into an auto dialer or whatever program they want to use to do mass text messaging, voice mail drops.
A lot of people have the systems in place where they do a 6-month follow up every 30 days, something like that. Once you have those numbers, you’ve got them. Put them on a 30-day rotation. Voice mail, text message, whatever the case is. It’s all automated at that point.
Cory: That’s great. Basically right now, investors are listening right now and many of them haven’t even done a mailer. Some of them have done their mailers but the question really comes down to why they would want to send those letters and postcards to you as opposed to kind of doing it themselves? Can you talk about what would be the benefit for them working with you?
Larry: Well, first of all, our information is going to be as good or better as anybody else’s out there. When I say anybody, I mean anybody, for all these other services out there. We have customers now that are using upper tier services. Now, they are both sides but we’re able to do so much more than what they can offer as far as formatting and helping with messaging on scripts, templates on mass text messages, what to say, voice mail drops, things like that.
Then the smaller people, smaller groups where they’re not doing the volume, it’s just one off, they may be doing 5 or 10 a month or 20, whatever the case is. They may just want the numbers but there’s also a good chance they’re really trying to do a full blown skip trace. It’s not just about contact information. It’s, “The owner is deceased. I need to find the relatives.”
There’s a lot that goes into skip tracing rather than just a report. We’re going to provide a lot of information for you on where to go, what to do. It doesn’t happen often but we’ll say “At this point, if you’re looking at a really hot deal, this is when you want to get a genealogist involved.” Then people are like, “A what?” If you ever have the opportunity to call somebody out of the blue, a distant relative of a deceased inheritance, inform them that they’re the legal owner of a property. It’s free money falling out of the sky, especially if they’re [00:13:46] estate.
The best deal that we did by far last year, I called a lady. I didn’t realize she was in Alaska. I called her at 6:00 in the morning at her time and she didn’t know her cousin had died, I’m filling her in on her family history. “Hey, I think you’re related to this guy.” She says, “Oh yeah. My cousin, Alfie. He died. I haven’t seen him in 20 years or so.” “You own a piece of his property, and by the way you’ve got squatters in it too.” It was well worth all the effort put into that.
That’s obviously one of the more complicated deals but we can help people get to that level. It’s in the works now, we haven’t started but just like a weekly or biweekly call, people hop on, “What issues are you having?” Some people, the thought of cold calling out of the blue, they don’t want to have anything to do with it but it’s all worth it. My mindset is there’s $10,000 or $50,000 on the other end of that line, and I just have to call.
Cory: Sure. For those who that don’t even understand what skip tracing is, can you explain it?
Larry: Skip tracing, I’ll put it in investor terms. Say you see a vacant house and you want to look up the owner, there’s some people that don’t even know where to start, they even go to the county appraisal district or something like that. You can start with just an address, figure out whose owner record is and then it’s a matter of—most people, they stop right here. The owner of the records, the mailing address is the same as the property address. It’s deer in the headlights, I don’t know what to do and they just forget about it.
Skip tracing is figuring out where is that person. Did that person move, did that person die, you’re just trying to find them. That’s what it is all about. Ideally, you can get a phone number fairly easily but sometimes, some people, they’re just a little bit harder to find than others. You might have to call relatives or knock on the neighbor’s door, call neighbors, whatever the case is.
Cory: What kind of information do you deliver from skip tracing?
Larry: Name, age. Age is [00:16:18 – 00:16:23]. Our reports will also tell you if somebody is deceased which obviously is an important thing. You want to look at the age as well because sometimes, you see people 100 years old and they show up as alive. It doesn’t mean they’re alive. We’ll tell you what to do when you see that. Search for an obituary or something like that. If that death is never reported at SSDI, no database has record of it, so the person always looks alive.
That little thing, the age, we have a list of possible relatives, likely relatives, all the phone numbers known associated with that person, their address history, different financial indicators as far as stress, bankruptcy, liens, judgments, possible email addresses, possible criminal history, and some social media stuff. Social media is a hit and miss but it’s there. If you’re doing automated, it’s all getting plugged into the system anyways. It doesn’t hurt to try.
Cory: What are your odds and what is your percentage that you find the people? How often do you find them?
Larry: Me, personally, it’s over 90%. I rate everything on the face value. I look at something like if it’s a tax delinquent property. I look at certain indicators there, is the owner deceased, if there’s a huge delinquency but there’s still a lot of equity left in the house, is it in a rough shape, all indicators telling me they’re likely to sell in that pretty significant discount.
At that point, I’m willing to put a lot of effort in finding that person. But if it’s kind of tied on the faith of it, if I can’t get them relatively easily, I’m like, “Okay, onto the next.” Opportunity cost. I can only put much, spend much. But most people are findable. That’s majority of it. If any of our customers have help on something like that, they have a really hot deal, I will do whatever I can to help. It’s a rush. You get a really good deal like that—especially a new person, it’s hard to believe you can make $70,000 or over $100,000 on single family residence. I’m not going to say it happens per month. It happens. But you’ve got to know when you really need to run that thing to the ground and find those people.
Cory: There’s gold in those cards, there’s gold in those letters, those return letters, return cards. It would seem like it would make a lot of sense instead of physically mailing all of these letters and postcards to you that the return address on the letter or card could be something that goes back to a digital mailbox, like a travelling mailbox or paytrust, or something along the long lines like that where it comes in and they open it up and they scan the letter then obviously the name on there and the address and then that could come over to you guys. Do you have a digital way of really organizing or do you right now just only have physical cards and postcards or letters coming in?
Larry: Right now, it’s just physical. It’s funny that you bring that up because we are looking at that. Is there a way to electronically streamline that process? If nothing else, say we have a customer that we developed that relationship, they use the service, they like the service, we’ll discuss the middle man now, make us your return address. Just [00:20:22] and manage it. It just saves you from having to pack it up and mail it to us. If people do this longer, like I said, we develop that relationship that will come if we haven’t figured out the electronic shortcut anyway.
Cory: Right, it’s true. Give me an idea of the operation right now. How many pieces of mail are you processing on a yearly basis? What does it look like right now? Did it just kind of get going or is it on a steamroller right now?
Larry: We’re still early in the grove. We just started offering the service out—it’s been forever. Probably in the last six, eight weeks, just spreading the word out there. I think between this week and last week, we’re processing 2,000 or 3,000 pieces of mail, somewhere in there.
Then steadily doing the list where people submit their list electronically. That’s something else. It’s not just mail. Some people will take something they used to mail or do mail, “You know what, I want to do calls too.” We’ve done probate lists, vacant lists, and we just run the whole thing. They just hand us their mailing list and we run it and they’re doing the full automation.
Cory: Sure, that’s good. Do you have a book that inspires you, Larry? Anything that you live by, your motto, that’s really helped you in business?
Larry: I’m not getting paid for this by Mitch but Mitch’s book, that’s just the one that really got me interested. My Life & 1,000 Houses. That’s the one that has really hooked [00:22:35] and sold me on [00:22:37] this is workable.
Other than that, How to Win Friends and Influence People. If I only got one thing out of that, cause I do a lot of phone calls. One of the things he talks about in there is smile when you’re on the phone, it comes across on the other end. Every time I pick up the phone, I have my process. A lot of times I’ll stand up too, smile. I want to sound as friendly, approachable, and relatable as possible. I don’t want to sound like a cold business just trying to grab your house type of deal. Those two books.
I read a lot of other stuff but I really like a lot of history biographies of people just for greater perspective, historical figures, it’s just perspective for us. It’s all about perspective, people. No matter how you think you have it—I’ve travelled to third-world countries too, I have lived in some too—no matter how bad you think you have it, there’s literally people who would love to trade places with you.
Cory: You’re worth staying in someone else’s paradise. I said that every day.
Larry: You just gotta maintain that perspective. No matter how low things are, how bad things are, you’ve got it pretty dang good here.
Cory: Absolutely. Do you use mobile apps a lot? Do you get involved with some of the technology?
Larry: Yeah, it’s funny. The biggest app I used not for directions but it’s a free app, everybody uses Google Maps just to pull up pictures of houses.
Cory: That’s a great app, sure. Do you get eight hours of sleep every night?
Larry: Oh no, no, no. I went through a phase where I was going to try and do that to see what the results are. I have an internal alarm clock. I’m basically on six hours, sometimes five and a half, sometimes six and a half and that seems to be the [00:25:03] for me but if I get more than that, if by chance I can and do that, seven or eight hours, I’m groggy. I feel slow. I just feel fresher at six hours.
Cory: Larry, what are you most grateful for?
Larry: Besides family and friends, which I think is pretty obvious for everybody, health and just living in this country. I’ve never had any major health issues but if I just get sick, if I get a cold and I’m not 100%, it makes me realize how much I take for granted. I’ve been known to break a bone here and there, tear some soft tissue, just not being 100%. Again, it’s about perspective. You don’t realize how good you have until you lose something.
Larry: Then, this country. The freedom, the opportunity that we have is like nothing else anywhere else in this world. If you told me I was going to be in real estate, doing podcasts about a little niche thing within real estate, I would have laughed at you.
Cory: Right. It’s interesting how we started in one area and then we move to another and then we come back. What’s interesting about what you’re doing with skip tracing, and I believe is going to be a nice add on for every investor’s toolkit that they need to be able to have this. Why don’t you talk about what’s the best way to get in touch with you and kind of what your pricing structure is or if you want to discuss that whenever they call you based on particular areas? How do you do that exactly for others? What’s the best way to get in touch with you?
Larry: Our pricing is the same nationwide. We have basically four different packages, $50, $100, $200 a month depending on different volume levels. For both processing to all the returning mail and helping you with the automation, that’s $250 record minimum and $2 a record.
We are working on driving our cost down as we get more and more volume just like anybody else. If we can drive our prices down, we’ll pass that down to everybody else. This is something that whether you’re a subject two guy, real property guy, this is the most underutilized thing that I have come across. It’s funny you bring up skip tracing, we’re going to do a class later, I think next month, here locally for one of our clubs in Houston. We’re talking to the guys that were in the club and mentioned skip tracing [00:29:28] that’s awesome. I have never talked about that. We’re going to give you four to six hours of it.
Cory: Right. I appreciate you taking the time to be on here, Larry. What’s the best way to get in touch with you?
Larry: You can email me at email@example.com. If you have any questions about anything, about some of the educational stuff, we’ll give you as far as how we can help you utilize this, I can kind of give you an idea of what we can do and get you started.
Cory: Sure, okay. Thank you for taking the time to be on here, Larry. Make sure that you get in touch with Larry over at skipgenie.com and we’ll make sure to have this in the shownotes as well. Stay tuned to be on the next Profit Master Podcast series. We’re going to bring incredible guests, just like Larry, over to you to help you be productive and actually more fulfilled in this business. We need to have fun. Thanks again, Larry.
Larry: Aye, Cory. Thanks for having me.
Cory: Thanks, bye now.
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