Provided you already know what you are doing in real estate marketing, bird dogs can help you scale your real estate business.
They fall in the category of assistance you can outsource different tasks to without paying a regular monthly salary.
In this article, I will dive deeper into real estate bird dogs and discuss…
…what they are and what bird-dogging is
…whether real estate agents can be bird dogs
…how they get paid and how much they make
…the difference between wholesaling and bird-dogging
…when and how to find bird dogs for real estate marketing
…31 real estate bird dog apps
…what a bird dog agreement is, and where you can find samples
What Is a Real Estate Bird Dog and Bird Dogging?
A real estate bird dog gathers real estate property data traditionally for real estate investors. They locate a motivated seller and then refer them. In turn, they get a fee for their services.
Because the properties they usually focus on are primarily underpriced, using a Bird Dog is generally not that interesting for realtors unless the same realtor also works as a real estate investor looking for deals.
So bird dogs are often used by investors who don’t have the time or resources to find properties themselves.
They will provide the investor, or the real estate professional with a detailed report of the properties they find, including any repair estimates that need to be made.
The latter is pretty flexible since you, as a real estate professional, can determine what you want from your bird dog in the end.
From the bird dog’s perspective, it can be a great way to make extra money if you know how to find motivated sellers. In a sense, bird dogs need to be excellent in marketing and prospecting to find these types of sellers.
So, they will research (property data gathering), and do marketing and prospecting tasks, such as:
- Scanning online real estate listings
- Contacting estate agents
- Going through probate records
- Searching online forums
- Using property data scraping or data gathering tools
- Driving for dollars
- Checking FSBO sites
- Go to unemployment offices and leave flyers
There are many more methods a bird dog could use, such as the ones I already mentioned in this article.
But who says you can’t also use bird dogs as a realtor for retail deals?
If you look primarily at the different marketing and prospecting tasks, it is basically a question of training the bird dog to target a particular type of property.
In the traditional sense, these can be the typically underpriced properties, but in a seller’s market with a low property inventory, why not use bird dogs to find retail properties for realtors?
The only thing that would change is the different prospecting and marketing tasks that inform the requirements you will have for your particular bird dog.
You don’t want to use a bird dog that has experience in marketing to motivate sellers to now find retail sellers that may be open to signing a contract with a realtor.
So, in my opinion, a bird dog is actually a type of marketing assistant that you can train or use to target different kinds of sellers, not only the motivated ones.
Can Real Estate Agents Be Bird Dogs?
Real estate agents can also be bird dogs. In fact, many real estate investment companies hire agents specifically to act as bird dogs.
This also means that they shouldn’t act as traditional realtors when working as bird dogs and not actually represent either the seller or the buyer, although the latter can happen.
They are basically 100% in the marketing and prospecting business. But overall, this is a bit of a grey area.
Moreover, in some states, it is even required that Bird Dogs are also licensed real estate agents. This is the case in Florida, for example, according to this source.
The main difference is that real estate agents are licensed professionals, while bird dogs often are not. And in some states, it is borderline illegal to work as a bird dog without some sort of real estate license.
Why? Because a bird dog can become part of a real estate transaction that puts them in a realtor or broker’s role. (source)
On the other hand, a realtor will need to follow certain rules and regulations when it comes to finding properties for investors.
Should they become part of the transaction, this usually involves disclosing enough information about the real estate transaction. (source)
But there is also another advantage when a realtor works as a bird dog.
They have access to a broader array of resources (e.g., full access to MLS data), making them more effective at finding good deals.
Ultimately, whether or not a real estate agent can be a successful bird dog depends again on their individual skills (mainly marketing and prospecting skills) and abilities.
How Do Bird Dogs Get Paid and How Much Do They Make?
Bird Dogs get paid a fee or split profits when the deal closes.
The most common way to compensate a bird dog is to pay them a flat fee.
For example, if you agree to pay a bird dog $500 for each deal they bring you that meets your criteria, then that’s what they’ll receive regardless of how big or small the deal ends up being.
You can also give the bird dog a split of the profits. For example, you may agree to give the bird dog 20% of the profits on any deal they bring you.
This would be a high percentage. This source states profit share commonly to be between 2% and 8%.
The percentages method is riskier for the bird dog because they only get paid if the deal actually goes through, but it can be more lucrative for them if it does.
What About a Bird Dog Real Estate License?
On the flip side, if the bird dog is not a licensed real estate agent, it can also increase the legal risk because it can be interpreted as involvement in a real estate transaction. (Disclosure: I am not a lawyer, you may need to consult on this with your lawyer specializing in particular state law).
Speaking from the point of view of the bird dog, it might be a good idea to get a real estate license before getting into the bird-dogging business to be on the safe side.
So, how much you ultimately decide to pay your bird dog depends on several factors, such as your budget, the market conditions in your area, and how competitive it is to find good deals or the type of properties and sellers you are looking for.
As a general rule of thumb, most bird dogs expect to earn between $500 and $5,000 per deal.
Bird Dogging vs. Wholesaling
The main differences between bird-dogging and wholesaling are the amount of risk you take and the degree of involvement in a real estate transaction.
As already established earlier, a bird dog finds a real estate deal and then passes this information about a property and/or seller to an investor or other real estate professional (e.g., a real estate agent).
Regarding risk, there is not much (besides the time investment) and likely marketing costs for the bird dog because they don’t put any additional money into the deal.
But the bird dog will need to rely on the respective real estate professional to successfully close the deal.
On the other hand, when you do real estate wholesaling, you will have more skin in the game. Why?
Because you have to cover the costs for marketing to find the deals and in the traditional form (if you don’t do contract flipping), you will need to buy the property yourself to sell it quickly for a profit afterward.
When and How to Find Real Estate Bird Dogs for Marketing
A while back, I wrote an article about how you can automate your real estate business, where I covered the typical real estate business processes.
And in another article about licensed real estate assistants, I covered a similar case to the one here with bird dogs.
There is a big advantage of working with a bird dog to hiring a real estate assistant full-time.
What is that advantage?
Besides increasing your chances of finding properties according to your requirements, there is not much more risk involved when working with a bird dog.
Remember, most get only paid when a deal closes; you don’t hire them and have monthly fixed costs.
Nevertheless, there are chances that you may waste time when you don’t have your “marketing machine” already established and don’t have experience in hiring bird dogs yet.
The ideal situation would be that you already have a marketing system that helps you find real estate deals or generate seller leads according to your needs.
Wait, what? But isn’t it the idea of using a bird dog to just have them do that for us?
I would argue: yes, and no.
Because I would use a bird dog not to initially help you find your first deals or real estate listings but use them to scale your already existing and more or less established real estate business.
This is a big difference.
Because if you don’t know yet by experience which marketing methods work to generate seller leads, how will you be able to know what to expect from the bird dog?
In turn, when you already have your “marketing machine” running and know the channels that work, you can then outsource this to bird dogs and understand what these bird dogs need to have in terms of skills.
Sure they may then also be able to bring some additional skills to the table so you can extend the marketing channels you already use. This is provided the bird dog has already experienced the additional ones.
It’s counterintuitive, I know because should you start out, you want results fast, and a bird dog may be a nice shortcut.
But I think it’s better to go through the school of hard-Knox and first find the proper marketing methods yourself before you outsource.
Nevertheless, some signs can show you that it may be the moment to look for a bird dog that can help you with your seller lead generation:
- You are short on time and more often than not have to turn down new clients
- More and more client complaints (because of a lack of time)
- Your real estate business hit a plateau after some growth
- You contracted already freelancers in the past, and now you need even more for additional and more tasks
There are 9 ways you can find real estate bird dogs (some obvious, some not so much):
- Online Search
- Show on your website that you are looking for bird dogs like this website is doing.
- Use websites that can connect you with them, such as this one.
- Network in your local REIA group
- Advertise on Craigslist
- Word of mouth from other real estate professionals
- Ask local first responders.
- Ask professionals related to the real estate industry, such as accountants, title agents, bankers, attorneys, insurance agents, appraisers, etc.
- Ask drivers, such as taxi and Uber drivers, postmen, FedEx employees, etc.
31 Bird Dog Real Estate Apps
In the first section of this article, I discussed what Bird Dogs are. You might have noted that many tasks involve gathering property data, such as scanning online real estate listings, going through probate records, etc.
This might remind you of different apps and tools and their features I have already covered in various articles, such as in the following ones:
- Propertyradar – An In-Depth Examination
- Batch Skip Tracing | Reviews, Costs & How to Use It
- Flipster – Analyzing Reviews, How it Works and Its Performance
- Batch Driven | Analyzing Reviews, Pricing, and Performance
- Vulcan 7 | Reviews, Pricing, and Competitors Analyzed
- BatchLeads Review | Analyzing Pricing, Skip Tracing, Texting
- Skip Tracing Real Estate [Free?] – Apps, Services, and Costs
So a large portion of what a Bird Dog will do can already be done by different real estate apps and tools that fall into real estate data and contact scraping or property data gathering.
Therefore, real estate bird dog apps are becoming increasingly popular among property investors and other real estate professionals.
This type of app allows users to search for properties that fit their investment criteria, find out contact information about the respective property owners, and then share them with their network of potential investors.
Below, you will find an overview list of “bird dog” apps or property data gathering apps I already mentioned in my blog and collected in my larger database of 500+ real estate marketing tools.
- Rebo Gateway
- Foreclosure Home
- Free List of Fixer Uppers
- Vulcan 7
What Is a Bird Dog Agreement?
A Bird Dog Agreement is a contract between two people, typically a Real Estate professional (the bird dog) and an investor. The real estate professional agrees to find properties that match the investor’s criteria and receive a fee.
The Real Estate bird dog agreement typically stipulates how much the Real Estate professional will be paid for their services and any other contract conditions.
For example, the agreement might define that the Real Estate professional will only be paid if the investor purchased the property. So what you include in an agreement like that will depend significantly on what terms you negotiate with the bird dog.
However, it’s important to make sure that all agreement conditions are clearly spelled out to avoid any misunderstandings down the road.
This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.