I was reviewing properties submitted by a new bird dog last night. Several came straight from Craigslist, Zillow and/or Trulia. Is this good? Is it bad? The answer, of course, is that eye-roll causing “It depends.”
It depends on what you want your bird dogs to bring you. If you’re not specific upfront (and many times, even if you are) you’re going to receive a lot of property submissions that don’t fit your criteria.
Most investors tell bird dogs they don’t want any properties that are listed with a Realtor® or in the MLS. The same may go for Craigslist and other on-line classified ads. An investor could outsource scouring the online ad sites to a virtual assistant in a third-world county or even use a scraper program fairly cheaply. Or they could look through the ads themselves.
On the other hand, they may not mind those types of submissions from their property locators. If you are going to accept online classified ad leads, I recommend choosing one of your bird dogs to do this and tell the others you don’t want those leads. Why? It cuts down on multiple submissions of the same property.
Face it, most FSBO home sellers know enough to list their properties online. So you could receive the same property from a bird dog going through Craigslist and one out in the field, driving for dollars. In that scenario, it’s a case of first come, first served. The bird dog who submits the property first is the one who gets the credit.
If you’re using several bird dogs and receiving a great deal of overlaps on submissions, you could assign territories. Unless you live in a very small, isolated place, there should be room for more than one bird dog. And, if you live in a small area, you probably only need one or two bird dogs.
The fact is that most bird dogs are not full timers. They are casual house-hunters. The guy who works for a moving company may call you once or twice a month with a lead. The UPS gal who delivers to your favorite farm area may or may not remember to call you when she sees a FSBO sign go up on her route. Every so often you get a bird dog who is a go-getter and they submit properties to you in batches. These are your people but please know they will only be with you for a short while. They will quickly move up to wholesaling and then possibly move on to other aspects of real estate investing. That’s okay. They become a strong connection in your investor network.
The average investor does fewer than five deals a year. A wholesaler may do 5-20 (or more) deals per month. The volume of your business may determine how many bird dogs you use or if you use any at all. If you’re not doing a large number of deals (and even if you are) you may want to join up with other investors to share bird-dog leads. Most investors have preferred territories and niches – what doesn’t fit into your parameters may very well fit in with theirs. Bird dogs don’t really care who pays their fee. So the more of their deals that close, the more likely they are to keep submitting properties. And that works all the way around.