How to Find Off-Market Investment Properties, aka Bird-Dogging

A bird dog is a person who actively seeks out properties and connects them to real estate professionals. In our case, we are seeking “motivated sellers” or ugly homes. The other factor is that these homes are not currently being marketed in any way, such as being listed for sale or being represented by a real estate agent.

How to Find Deals

There are many free ways to find deals.

  1. Door knocking on ugly houses
  2. Cold calling
  3. Leaving flyers on doors
  4. Asking your friends and family
  5. Asking neighbors
  6. Posting on social media to ask if anyone knows about a motivated seller or fixer upper

Which method should be used to find leads?

I believe door knocking is an under-utilized way of connecting with people. Dress respectably, then knock on the person’s door and introduce yourself. Ask for just one minute of their time and explain why you are there: you work with a cash buyer and are wondering if they are possibly selling the home soon. If so, ask for their contact info and whether it’s okay if we contact them later.


If you prefer to cold call someone, there are many free tools to find owner’s names and phone numbers, such beenverified or truepeoplesearch. Some counties allow you to search the property tax assessor records online to find owner names. You can also google the address and see if it shows the names. From there, you can look up Youtube videos or do google searches on how to find property owner contact info.


Disclaimer: please do your own research into legal topics surrounding telemarketing. You are not being asked to cold call on my behalf.


Social media is another great tool for getting the word out there. Let all your friends and family know you have a cash buyer who is looking for deals.


How about your own friends and family? Do you have an uncle who is a hoarder? A neighbor who just inherited a very outdated home from grandma? These could be opportunities as well.


All of these methods can be effective. It really depends on your preference and skills. 

How do I present myself to owners?

You will want to present yourself as a colleague or partner of a direct cash-buyer. Please do NOT use my brand on any print or online marketing. You can share my info with homeowners personally, but you do not have permission to use my brand or name in any marketing materials. 


You will also want to use your name and contact information so that you can receive the callback and and manage the lead. 

Door Knocking

  1. Dress respectfully.
  2. Smile when speaking with people.
  3. Practice what you will say when people answer the door.
  4. Stand back away from the door after knocking.
  5. Ring and knock at the same time. After two attempts, leave.
  6. Consider leaving post-its or other notes you have pre-written short messages on (“I tried
  7. knocking but you weren’t home. I’m interested in buying your house. -Name/number).
  8. Park in an area where every 5th or 10th (for example) is a fixer and you can walk around knocking.
  9. Or, find a list of pre-foreclosures, tax delinquents or other “personal” distress situations but it’s better to not discuss your knowledge of these problems when meeting them for the first time.

Tip: study my home page well to learn the benefits of working with a cash homebuyer vs listing, and learn which types of sellers we are looking for.

Cold Calling

I must be careful giving you instructions for this topic because there are telecommunications laws that vary by state in addition to federal regulations. You need to do your own due diligence and consider using a Do Not Call scrubber if you are going to call people.

I am not directing or asking you to call on my behalf. If you choose to reach people by phone
you are doing this at your own risk.

Step one is finding the owner’s name. In some counties you are able to find the owner name via
the tax collector or assessor website. That is the first step.


Sometimes you can also google the address and you may see the owner name appear in one of the links. There are also other paid software systems such as Propstream, or you can simply do a web search for “how to find property owner name.”


Step two is finding the owner’s phone number. This part is difficult because the data is poor across the board. People change their numbers often and even the best paid sites have a high inaccuracy rate. You will likely get some wrong numbers/disconnected when calling people.

Try searching: “how to find property owner phone number” and you will find some helpful articles, especially from YouTube also has a bunch of videos on this topic.

Lastly, you will want to know what to say if they pick up the phone. Have a good opening line ready, state why you’re calling, and be prepared to answer a few questions. I recommend not overthinking this and trying to field every question. You can approach it with the mindset that you are just looking to set up an introduction and that I (Jake) can answer more questions.

I’ve had some success with being very honest and direct when I call. For example: “Hi (seller first name), my name is (name) and I’m actually cold calling you and wanted to see if I could have 10 seconds of your time?” “I wanted to see if you are selling your home on (street name) soon. I work with a cash buyer who is interested in making you an offer to buy it.”

Social media posting

I am NOT referring to finding houses that are already posted on social media. What I mean is posting in your own networks and letting people know what you are looking for.

You don’t need to mention me by name at this point. Simply let people know that you are working with a real estate investor who is trying to connect with sellers directly and to let you know of anything. 

Additional Training Resources

There is no shortage of free training materials online. Topics you will want to search for include real estate investing, sales, door knocking, or telemarketing. 


Download podcasts, read blogs, watch videos, or follow accounts on social media. Whichever methods fit your schedule and media consumption habits are the best. 

Ready to get started?

Great! Real estate investing is a great path to high income and wealth, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes education, networking, and taking action. Those are my three steps to getting started. 


You don’t need anything from me to get started. No need to check in or inform me that you’re interested. Simply go out there and start hunting!

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Skye Homes

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On the other hand, there are some sellers who need a custom solution due to either the property’s condition or the seller’s personal situation, or a combination of the two.

When the property is in really bad shape, they’re likely going to sell to an investor, so it may make sense to save money on commissions and find their own investor.

Some examples of personal situations that we can help with are: hoarding, pre-foreclosure or other financial issues that require a fast home sale, house with non-paying tenants or squatters, severely delinquent property taxes, homeowners who want to rent back the home longer than normal, or sellers who value privacy and/or are embarrassed by their home.

If your seller lead meets these criteria, you should propose the idea of making an introduction to me. You can simply suggest to them that your partner or colleague buys houses and ask if they are interested in speaking with me. Remember, you are not performing real estate agent duties. See our disclaimer below. The main thing to keep in mind at this point is to qualify them as a good fit or not. I can help you with the documentation and process things.