What is normal compensation for bird dogging? - Posted by Chad

Posted by David Krulac on October 24, 2003 at 16:47:33:

that would be a book. I do a lot of foreclosure work, and a lot of contacting owner directly whose property is not listed and not for sale. I also do a large portion of business right out of the MLS.

I rarely rely on a lead from somebody else as they are generally not going to settle.

What is normal compensation for bird dogging? - Posted by Chad

Posted by Chad on October 23, 2003 at 15:44:32:

I am working with a Realtor/investor who specializes in rehabbing properties. He has become somewhat of a mentor for me in the last year and a half. I recently realized that in order to really learn from him how to do rehabs, I would need to bring him a deal and shadow him on it. I brought him a deal that looks like it will bring in approx. 25K in net profit. My wife and I are helping him with anything we can offer (i.e. some creative financing, grunt labor, etc.) and do not know what to expect in return. I accompanied him in meeting the owner and inspecting the damage and I am currently driving comps and helping with comp comparison. My wife and I will learn a great deal from this experience. This investor recently ask me how my wife and I would like to be compensated in this deal (flat fee or percentage of profits), to which I replied that I didn’t know what was standard but we would be willing to do more in the deal to earn more. I know he will treat us fair, but I think my wife and I need to propose something to him before we get to far along so that everyones’ expectations are met. How much is this education worth? Looking for advice on what the normal compensation would be. By the way we are in N. Calif. and the deal is in Marin Co. Thanks for the advice.


Re: What is normal compensation for bird dogging? - Posted by Ron (MD)

Posted by Ron (MD) on October 23, 2003 at 22:45:10:


Did you bring him a deal, or a lead?

If you found the seller, negotiated a good deal, signed it up on a contract…well, that’s getting a deal. If you told the investor about a possible deal, then you tagged along while he inspected the property, negotiated the deal and signed the contract…well, that’s being a bird dog.

If you, personally, pulled the deal together and flipped it to the investor, a $5k fee might be in order…if you weren’t expecting anything in return, such as an education.

Your description sounds like you were a bird dog. On a lead like this, a bird dog might earn $500 - $1,000, 'cause he lacks the knowledge/experience/ability of the seasoned investor, who knew it was a deal and how to turn a lead into a deal.

Now, it also sounds like you’re going beyond bird dogging, because you’re continuing to provide “grunt labor” and helping with comps (although I don’t understand why a realtor (/investor) would need much help with comps. You have a clearer picture of how much continuing assistance you’re contributing.

His coaching is very valuable. Bird dogging and grunt labor…not so much.

If you asked me for $5k, I’d think you were ungrateful and overestimated your value in the process (no offense). On the other hand, I’d be happy to throw you $1,000 as an acknowledgement that you did bring the deal to my attention.

Be careful here, Chad. He’s 'way more important to you than you are to him.

Ron Guy

Re: Sorry, there is NO normal - Posted by Ed Copp (OH)

Posted by Ed Copp (OH) on October 23, 2003 at 17:04:45:

You are set up for a dissappointment. So you found the deal, so what. Can you prove it? What are you going to do when your “mentor” tells you he figured wrong and there is no money for you? Are you going to “bite” when he tells you that he will make it up to you “down the road” all you need to do is find another deal (for him). So you know you can trust him … really?

Prudently you would have some kind of agreement in writing from the beginning. You might want to secure your interest with some sort of a lien, or better yet have your name on the deed with him, as a part owner. All terms are a matter of negotation, and you have not done any negotation yet, so do not expect a fair shake. If you get fair treatment it will be luck, enjoy.

Re: What is normal compensation for bird dogging? - Posted by David B

Posted by David B on October 23, 2003 at 16:05:29:

Sounds like a marvelous opportunity. You did bring him the deal so I think you should get something…perhaps $5K. But as you said the experience is invaluable because you’re getting a launch into a whole new area you didn’t know much about. I wish I could find such a realtor/investor in Princeton, NJ to mentor me. How did you find this person?
So maybe on this first one around $5K or so, maybe on future ones a little more. That’s just my guess. Perhaps you want to ask him to make an offer first (always a good policy), but clearly you want a win/win.
Go for it!!

Ron, do you work with bird dogs? - Posted by Chad

Posted by Chad on October 23, 2003 at 23:22:23:

Thank you for your wise words. I cannot argue with a single point that you made, especially your closing comment. In this case I did bring him only a lead, and the rub is that my wife and I were going to go this alone, but as you stated “lacked actual experience to be able to work quickly and efficiently”. That’s why I decided to call my friend and say “Here’s what I got, I would like to turn it over to you and watch and learn”. I don’t want to down play my role, because it was my relationship with the owner that allowed him a very easy stroll through the front door. Ron, are you in a position where people bring leads or deals to you and if you are, how do you handle these situations? I believe after reading all of these posts that I may just ask him what he thinks is fair and trust him to treat me that way. After all, only a happy bird dog will continue to hunt.

Re: Sorry, there is NO normal - Posted by Chad

Posted by Chad on October 23, 2003 at 19:22:55:

Sounds like you need to learn how to judge people better when you enter into YOUR agreements. How bad did you get burned? I guess I didn’t stress the fact that this guy has become a friend and is very trust worthy. All a product of my judgements, but that’s what counts in the end. All I am looking for is a ballpark standard that I can use so that I don’t ask for too much. What I am not looking for is a doom gloom approach to the world of negotiating, but thanks anyway.

Re: What is normal compensation for bird dogging? - Posted by Linda Simms

Posted by Linda Simms on October 23, 2003 at 16:30:33:

Yes, now is the time for the first lesson in R.E. negotiation. Ask him seriously, what does he think all your efforts are worth and point out what those efforts were and are? Get him to set some sort of price or estimate first, but do it nicely. Tell him you certainly appreciate all the good information and lessons he has provided you and perhaps even try a appeal to his better nature by asking him if he were you, what would he think the compensation should be? If he is as good as you make him out to be, it sound like he would like to be fair with you. Also, if you have done as much work as you indicate, I would think he would be very interested in working another one with you, which might be a good idea, until you can go it alone. Let us know how it turns out or any questions.

Cream and skim milk… - Posted by David Krulac

Posted by David Krulac on October 24, 2003 at 08:32:08:

imho, bird dogging is over rated.

  1. if you’re serious about investing you should very shortly move to being a wholesaler or a pruchaser, not a bird dog.

  2. I get very very little from bird dogs. The name and address of somebody who might sell is very little.
    Usually their price is too high, their debt is too high, and they need to settle yesterday. I prefer to develop my own leads as I know exactly what I want, and from time to time that might change. If I’m real busy, I might be more cream orintated, but if things are slow I might settle for skim milk.

David Krulac
Central Pennsylvania

Re: Ron, do you work with bird dogs? - Posted by Anne_ND

Posted by Anne_ND on October 24, 2003 at 08:19:42:


You say “only a happy bird dog will continue to hunt”. Does that mean you’re going to bring this guy another bird? How many deals are you going to bring him and watch before you do your own deal?

Another thing, being a bird dog is a legal grey area, because you’re bringing together a buyer and seller without a license. I recommend instead getting a deal under contract and then assigning your position in the deal for $1000 or $5000.

I have one contractor who is a really nice guy and he does great carpentry work for me. He hates to name a price for his work, and he feels very uncomfortable asking for money. This drives me nuts. If it’s a business relationship, determine your worth and just ask for it, quit with the “no, YOU tell me what I’m worth” game. Figure out what the experience is worth to you and deduct that from whatever you think your time is worth and just tell him.

If I were you I’d forget about doing the grunt work and just figure I’d learned the mechanics of doing a deal and consider myself even with the knowledge. If I were your friend I’d offer you $500 and consider myself generous.

good luck,


Re: Ron, do you work with bird dogs? - Posted by Ron (MD)

Posted by Ron (MD) on October 24, 2003 at 06:41:44:


You asked if I ever bought a house through a bird dog. Not normally.

About a month ago, I bought a house where the situation reminded me a bit about you.

I’ve helped a fellow with a business where he now sells to RE investors. It has boosted his annual income (he says) by $50k. A couple months ago, he was at an investor meeting and heard a wholesaler promoting a deal in my target area. He called me and gave me the address, the asking price and the wholesaler’s name and number.

Over the next two weeks, I talked with the wholesaler about a dozen times by phone. He wanted $29k, I offered $23k (which would yield me a $20k profit). Wholesaler really wanted more than $23k, but I stuck very firmly to my guns and, eventually, he agreed ('cause he needed to get to settlement within a few days).

So, I’m the one who had to negotiate (seemingly endlessly) with the wholesaler, I’m the one who had to bring the money and expertise to the deal and I’m the one who will work it through the rehab and sale process.

In the end, I have a deal that will yield my minimum acceptable profit. The fellow who told me about the deal didn’t ask for anything and I didn’t offer. He said that he was happy to help because I’ve given him much more than a skinny lead. If I was expecting to make more than my minimum profit, I probably would have given him $1,000…but then I becomes a deal that I wouldn’t have done. (I’m very strict about my minimum expected profit.)

I’m happy to have another deal. He was happy to help me for a change. Period.

Ron Guy

Re: Pretty bad, and a bunch of times - Posted by Ed Copp

Posted by Ed Copp on October 23, 2003 at 20:00:01:

But that’s my story.

You just want a “ballpark” standard, and none exists. Bear in mind that if you connect a percentage to the bird dog fee then most likely someone will call it brokering, and rightfully so. You can take a part ownership, this skirts the brokerage problem but you will also share in the risk. That is probably more fair.

The only type of folks that are worse to deal with, other than “friends”, would be relatives. I think it is wonderful that you can expose your profits on a verbal basis. Most of us can’t do that successfully, especially the ones of us who have done it before. Good luck, and always remember that “no good deed goes unpunished”.

Re: Cream and skim milk… - Posted by Chad

Posted by Chad on October 24, 2003 at 11:25:42:

You mentioned that you like to develop your own leads. What methods do you use to generate leads currently, and how has your methodology change from when you first got started in REI.


Re: Ron, do you work with bird dogs? - Posted by Chad

Posted by Chad on October 27, 2003 at 01:11:42:

I couldn’t agree with you more. As for my situation, we just got our offer accepted. We bought a home with a FMV of $510k for $380K in Northern Marin County. My cut is 20% just for finding the deal and helping to put it together. This guy I am working with is a winner and he has helped me build my confidence tremendously already. Just being able to be by his side at the negotiation table and walk away with a signed purchase agreement has changed my whole future. I will be successful in this business and for my first efforts- $6K just for listening to my neighbors problems and getting her in touch with the right guy… my mentor! Thanks for the posts.


Re: Ron, do you work with bird dogs? - Posted by Howard

Posted by Howard on October 24, 2003 at 17:19:58:

I respectfully disagree with you. I have found that the key to success in real estate is all about building relationships. Whether the fella asked for anything or not, I would still find some way to acknowledge his referral. Perhaps a weekend for 2 at the fanciest hotel in town, or a gift certificate for 4 to a fancy restaurant. I recently got a referral from a realtor who didn’t want the listing on a lead on a junker house that will net me $40,000 after I sell it. Also another realtor brought me a buyer (the house wasn’t even listed) on a wholesale deal that made me $35,000. You better believe I will take care of them because I want them and everyone they know to think of me first when they find out about another potential deal. I believe you are being a little greedy here. So what you’ll only make your minimum. The next deal they bring you may make you twice that. Spread the wealth, Ron, and it will come back to you in ways you can’t even imagine now.