One of the most challenging parts of real estate investing is finding the right investment property.
There are several tried and trusted real estate lead generation strategies — but which one is right for you?
There is one strategy with a unique name that can be advantageous for real estate investors. Plus, you may have never heard of it.
It’s called bird dogging.
Besides being advantageous for real estate investors, bird dogging can also be a great way for new real estate investors to slowly dip their toes into the real estate investing pool.
In this article, we’ll look at bird dogging to help you decide if it's the right real estate lead generation strategy for you.
What is Bird Dogging?
The term “bird dogging” is a reference to a type of hunting dog that finds birds for hunters and retrieves them for the hunter.
In the world of real estate investing, bird dogging refers to the act of looking and finding properties that may not be listed for sale, and then giving the leads to a real estate investor for compensation.
For someone new to real estate investing, this can be a great opportunity to learn real estate lead generation and build their network, all while doing so with zero risk of losing money on a real estate deal as an inexperienced investor.
For active and experienced real estate investors, it can be a way to find the next great investment property.
There are several factors that you need to consider before you commit yourself to bird dogging, such as:
- Do you have enough extra money in your investment business to pay someone to find properties for you?
- Are there lead generation strategies that already work for you?
- Do you live in an area where there are so many properties to consider that you need an extra set of eyes?
- Are there people in your target area that offer bird dogging services?
Since bird dogs are not licensed to facilitate deals, it’s crucial to understand the role that they can legally play in a real estate deal in any given state.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Bird Dogging
Bird dogging, like many lead generation strategies, has its own list of pros and cons.
If that lead turns into monthly cash flow for a real estate investor for years to come, it can be money well spent.
Additionally, a real estate investor can work with multiple bird dogs without having to pay them unless they lead the investor to an ideal investment property.
On the other hand, the legality of bird dogs differs from state to state.
Because a bird dog is not a licensed real estate professional, it’s critical that someone acting as a bird dog does NOT facilitate transactions between buyers and sellers because doing so would be illegal.
Another downside is that a bird dog may provide leads that don’t meet the real estate investor’s personal expectations.
4 Ways To Work With a Bird Dog Successfully
If you are a real estate investor and you want to use bird dogging as a strategy for finding investment properties, it’s important that you know how to do so efficiently and effectively.
These 4 simple steps can help with that.
Step 1: Vet Your Bird Dogs
Spend some time to vet the people that you’re considering paying for bird dogging services.
- Are they experienced?
- Why do they “bird dog”?
- Do they have excellent references?
- Do they have a past history of providing investment properties that an investor has then purchased?
- What is their overall bird dogging strategy?
Step 2: Setting Your Strategy
Since the bird dog that you’re paying for information works for you, make sure they know your overall investment strategy, including your real estate niche and the exact types of properties you are looking for.
Step 3: Create a Contract
What happens if a bird dog provides poor investment property choices, but expects to get paid?
To protect yourself, and to protect the person acting as a bird dog, it’s wise to write up a contract that spells out:
- the business relationship
- as well as other contingencies
Step 4: Do Not Forgo Due Diligence
Remember, just because a bird dog brings you information about a property, don’t rely just on his or her experience.
You are still responsible for doing your due diligence on it. For every property a bird dog provides, ensure that you examine it and the deal thoroughly.
Bird Dogging vs. Wholesaling
While both bird dogging and wholesaling both involve finding investment properties, there are notable differences that are important to understand.
A wholesaler finds an owner who is willing to sell at a lower price, signs a contract with the owner to buy their property, and then markets the property, looking for potential buyers. The goal of wholesaling is to sell or assign the contract to a cash buyer at a purchase price higher than what the seller would accept, resulting in a profit.
In bird dogging, investors dispatch people into neighborhoods to look for properties that meet their criteria before they themselves make an offer on the property — if they believe it’s a viable investment.
The Bottom Line: Is Bird Dogging Right for You?
Bird dogging can be a great tool for investors looking for the most profitable real estate lead generation strategy.
But keep in mind that it’s just one of many lead generation strategies. Your success as a real investor may lie in testing out several methods — from bird dogging to driving for dollars, direct mail marketing, and more — to find the best lead generation strategy for your real estate business.