Today we’re talking with Andrew Flanagan.
Andrew is someone I’ve noticed in our Facebook Community over the past couple of years as another helpful voice who asks good questions and gives good feedback to others.
A few weeks back I noticed him post something about how he was able to use the land business to quit his 6-figure job within 9 months and that apparently, he said he owes a large percentage to the stuff we’ve been putting out there at REtipster.
Any time I see this, I’m like, “WOW! I want to know more!”, and I’m sure the REtipster audience would love to know more too.
So today, we’re having another one of these land investor success story conversations to find out what the road map looks like. Not everyone has to take the same steps or follow the same timeline, but chances are, we’ll all learn something new from this.
Links and Resources
- REtipster Facebook Group
- REtipster Forum
- Profit First Book
- Jack Bosch
Episode 79 Transcription
Seth: Hey everybody, how’s it going? This is Seth and Jaren with the RETipster podcast. Today in episode 79, we're talking with Andrew Flanagan. Andrew is someone I've noticed in our Facebook community over the past couple of years as just another helpful voice who asks good questions and gives good feedback to others. And a few weeks back, I noticed him post something about how he was able to use his land business to quit a six-figure job within nine months.
And that apparently, he said, he owes a large percentage of the stuff he's learned to what we've been putting out on RETipster. So anytime we see anything like that, I'm like, “Whoa, I don't know exactly what he did to get there, but I want to know more." And I'm sure the RETipster audience probably wants to know more too.
So today we're having another one of these land investor success story conversations to find out what the roadmap looks like. And not everybody has to take the same steps or follow the same timeline, but chances are there is something Andrew has to say that we can all learn from. So, with that Andrew, how are you doing? Welcome to the show.
Andrew: I'm doing great. Thanks for having me.
Seth: Just to get started, maybe you can tell us your backstory. What were you doing before you get into the land business? How long have you been a land investor, and how did you get into it?
Andrew: I've been doing land full-time as my day job for just hit over a year. Before that I was doing medical device sales, selling little screws and pins that go in your tendons and ligaments and in the OR. I mean, it was a great job, full benefits, publicly traded company, but I just hated making the boardroom members rich and not me. And I just wanted a little more free time and work for myself was my biggest goal, to be self-employed.
Seth: Yeah. That makes sense.
Jaren: That's awesome.
Seth: Have you ever done anything in real estate before, or was land the first real estate thing you ever got into?
Andrew: Land was the very first. It was all I could afford.
Seth: Yeah, that sounds like me.
Andrew: I looked into them all for years. I mean, I was sold on real estate investing as a pathway, but apartments and all that stuff is way too expensive for me. I wanted to do it full-time and making $1,200 off a fourplex, I couldn't turn into a full-time gig. Something like that. And so, your blog really gave me the roadmap to have the confidence to go full-time and or just start really.
Seth: That's awesome, man. That's really great to hear. Tell me how this works. Especially when I hear that timeline of nine months from a six-figure job. I mean, that's really fast. That's a huge income to replace. I mean, obviously it's possible, you did it, but a lot of people don't make it happen that quickly. I'm just curious, how did you manage this whole thing of working that job while also building up your land business to the point where you had enough income to pull the plug on your job? How did you juggle those things?
Andrew: So, nine months was kind of when I started going full speed on my mailings and taking it a little more seriously. You know, I had sent a couple mailers of 40, 50 to a few counties kind of testing the markets. But when I started sending 300 - 500 a week, postcards, that's when it really skyrocketed. I got a couple big deals and that just gave me the financial confidence to jump ship. And I haven't looked back. It's been amazing.
Jaren: Did you use a lot of seller financing or selling on terms to cover the practicals of your overhead personally and your business? Are you just primarily doing cash? How did you set it up? Because that's what people want to know is like the practicals of, okay, I really want to quit my job and do land full-time, but how do I bridge that gap? Right? Because if you just do cash, there might be a cash flow issue there. Right? So, how did you overcome that?
Andrew: There was, and for a while, while I dabbled and still to this day, I only have one note. It was all organic growth through cash sales. So, in the beginning, I'd sell one and have to wait two months or something for it to sell and then just kind of wait, wait it out. I didn't want to borrow money. I did pull $6,600 out of my 401(k) to just kind of start mailings back when I started dabbling and then pieced it all together slowly and kind of just worked it as best as I could. There were days when I would sell one and have a closing two or three days later. And I'll say this, I had a buddy who was willing to invest or lend to me, which gave me the confidence to mail and pursue deals. I think that confidence helped a lot. I just know I had that kind of safety net of financing if I needed it.
Seth: Yeah. That seems to be a common thing I've heard from people that are having access to that kind of cash. Because it’s one of those points of friction where it's like, you're going to run out of money at some point. When that happens, what next?
Jaren: What do you do? Yeah.
Seth: That makes sense.
Jaren: I’m just curious, what market are you in?
Andrew: Well, I live in the Houston, Texas area and I've focused primarily in Texas. I mean, there's plenty of land, 200 plus counties in Texas. I've done one deal out of state in Utah and a few kinds in East Texas, but I've mainly focused kind on the coastal destination regions. Kind of these are my bread and butter. They buy these lots just to put a little cement slab on them. And that's honestly, 60% of my business is just focusing on that type of stuff. Coastal markets. You can get lots for $5,000, sell them for $20,000 to $25,000. So, it can be nice.
Jaren: Yeah. Most people don't think of coastal land in Texas, but there's a huge coastline.
Andrew: Right. I never said the water was pretty, but…
Seth: I'm curious. If I understand this right, so, you've only ever worked in Texas then. Right? Have you ever explored any other states?
Andrew: So, I did do Utah. I had that one deal and I did a little in Utah. I had a buddy in Virginia. I kind of reached out to him. We kind of work together, but it's honestly the ease of getting the list has been my differentiating factor and the quality of the county data and their TAD system, how well it's set up. Because if you can't view the parcels in TAD data and things like that, it's really hard for me to do it remotely from this room.
Seth: Yeah. And where are you getting your list?
Andrew: I go directly from the county. I initially did try AgentPro 247 and ListSource, but man, I was getting so many return mails. But at the end of the day, they're extracting the data from the county anyways. So, I figured I'd just go straight to the source, right?
Seth: Yeah, for sure.
Jaren: Makes sense.
Seth: You mentioned earlier that you started off doing postcards. Are you still doing postcards or have you looked at blind offers at all?Andrew: A hundred percent postcards. I've never liked the idea of blind offers because you're going off a percentage of the appraised value. One example, if I would have been doing blind offers, I bought a lot for $50. My second deal, the third deal was for $50. If I would have gone off appraisal, I would have bought it for $1,000. People tell you so much over the phone about the area, about their lot. You just kind of say, “Well, tell me a little about it” and they love to talk. And I do well on the phone just from sales and things like that, but you can't discount the phone and you learn that real quick.
Seth: Yeah. That's really interesting to hear because something that I hear a lot of people hating on is postcards and lists from the county. And I totally get why. In a lot of counties, it is a huge pain to get that list and then sort it and then postcards do require more time on the phone. People, understandably, don't really like that. But I think you also make really good points too about you get a lot of information if you are willing to get on the phone. And you can potentially pull more deals out of a campaign and get them for better prices.
Jaren: And direct mail is a lot cheaper with postcards too.
Seth: Yeah. It's not something you want to just like across the board “Nope, they never make sense” because they do in some cases. Especially depending on what you enjoy doing and what you're good at doing. So, I would never want to just across the board throw something out.
Jaren: Hey Andrew, I have a question about pulling a list from the county. Are you getting them typically for free? Are you paying a small fee to the county? What does that look like?
Andrew: I email them directly and just ask for it. And then they tell me the fee and it's usually anywhere from $300 to $350, but I won't pay over probably a hundred if it's a quality county, but average, probably $10 to $50. A little key that I've found is half these counties if some of them have like an FTP site that they give you the login info and password and they never change it. So, once you get it, you have their code and password. I've done that for multiple counties. Just refresh it every six months.
Seth: That's awesome. I never thought about that. That’s something that I think confuses a lot of people when they get that. They're like what? Like FTP, huh? Just give me an Excel file and I'll be good. But that's a nice little hack there.
Andrew: Your video on YouTube helped me extract that TRP file or whatever it is. Massive file. And you put the little lines.
Andrew: That's a game-changer.
Seth: That's awesome, man. Very cool.
Andrew: Like I told you, I've learned 80% of my junk from you.
Seth: The stuff that's junk, right? I'm joking. No, I appreciate that. Thanks a lot. That's actually really, really encouraging. A lot of times, I don't know who reads this stuff. I mean, I'm sure if somebody is finding some help from something, but it's hard to draw any correlations or see examples. So, it's really cool to see what you've been able to do with it. So, I'm curious when you're picking certain counties like this in Texas or wherever for that matter, in the beginning where you just kind of picking them at random or did you have some rationale for why you were picking certain ones? And then the ones that ended up working the best for you, was your instinct right? How did you end up landing on these most ideal places where you can keep going again and again for deals?
Andrew: Again, I mean, I listened to you. I went an hour or two out from each major city. We have three or four big cities in Texas and you kind of figure out quick that Texas is big and if you've ever driven across it, people aren't going to buy in the middle of nowhere, pay utility. Because, in buyers, what are they doing? They're building houses or some sort of vacation spot. And they can't do much with it in the middle of nowhere.
So, I did the hour to two-hour drive out from each major city. I literally printed out a county map of Texas and emailed every single one and asked for lists. The quality counties that I got and then kind of just whittled it down. I try to keep it simple. Everyone's trying to complicate things. I mean, I don't even input my deals into the computer until they've accepted the offer. Inputting data, taking it out, that's just not my style.
Seth: Yeah. So for a lot of people I know selling is sort of like the big bottleneck. That's where things sort of get stuck. Have you experienced that? Or, if anything, is the bottleneck in your business, what do you think that is? And have you found any creative ways to overcome that?
Andrew: I think it is selling at the end of the day, because I can always mail and always get deals, but I try to get cash sales always. Actually, just seeing the benefits of my note. They're paying a large amount each month, but I like cash sales. I just went to a realtor. I have a couple of big deals, large dollar amount deals. And so, I just put those with a realtor. And I'm also selling close to retail, 80% to 95% retail, for cash. And so, I'm aware that they're going to take a little bit longer to sell and I'm okay with that.
Seth: And how long does it take typically for the average property to sell?
Andrew: I'd say one to four months, but two to three really where it's priced at and the quality of the property and what improvements I've done too. I like to throw in a culvert and get the survey and kind of mark it off. Maybe brush hog it, clear it just so people can see it, visualize it, see the property corners, and access it with a culvert. I mean, super easy, super cheap. Just little things like that I think are selling quicker.
Seth: So, have you found that like doing a survey and doing the brush hog thing? Do end buyers’ value that a lot? Is that something that causes somebody to say, “Yes, I will buy” versus “Eh, I don't really care?” Or have you nailed down any specific things that are like, this is an obvious improvement to always do?
Andrew: I think culvert for down here because people, especially with my RV, the ones that I'm tailoring towards the RV audience, I will do a culvert almost every time.
Seth: And what is a culvert for anybody who doesn't know?
Andrew: It's like the water drainage pipe under a driveway. But you have to have the county do it typically, they'll like size it. And I mean, they'll do everything. They do the crushed rock and install it and everything, bring the pipe to the site. So, that can be a problem for some people, but I like getting handsy and dirty sometimes and get out of here some days. And so, I haven't nailed down like, any metrics or like if the culvert or no culvert works, but they sell faster I think when they can see it. And especially when the grass is higher, the neighboring properties they can see their little piece that they're going to get. I think they can visualize it a little better. This could all be in my head, but I think it helps sell and pictures better. When you take pictures, they can see it. I think it helps.
Seth: I've had those conversations sometimes. I was actually sitting in on a Mastermind meeting yesterday. A group invited me just to hang out with them. I'm not normally there, but one of the things they were talking about was are there any improvements that really make a difference. Like either make itself for more or sell for faster and actually justifies the cost of doing that? I don't know what the answer to that is honestly, because some people might value something and other people might not. And I'd hate to just like, throw money at something when you don't have to, or if somebody has a different plan for the property.
But it seems like if a property has a certain zoning where it's like, you can only do one thing with this and one thing only. So, why not get them another step closer to that? Maybe I could see it then. And maybe that is what you're sort of seeing in those examples.
Andrew: Yeah. It's hard to say, but the couple realtors that I've talked to say that land clearing does help more of the residential lots.
Seth: Yeah, I can see that.
Andrew: I typically keep the big mature trees. I'll do all the underbrush and kind of just nasty stuff. And you can get guys off Facebook, good old boys that are just local. I mean, they would love to do it for you. You can beat them down on price. It can get expensive, larger acreage, but I mean the quality of deals that I'm going for, I adjust for those things.
Jaren: Andrew, I want to go back a little bit to the county list that you were pulling and I just had a quick question there. I know a lot of guys typically say they don't mail out to the same list, except for once in every six months or so. Is that kind of your strategy or how often are you… because you mentioned that you will hit the same county again, using the hack of saving the login details to access the list. So, how frequently do you hit one list?
Andrew: The few that I have the login for, they are large lists. I just refreshed it today and it's like 16,000-line items. And so, I'm doing 500 a pop 16,000 divided by 50. I just got through it about a year last week. I mean, I just finished the X, Y, Z. But I'll miss a week or two in there and if I'm low on funds or I got too much in the pipeline or you can always adjust, but I won't resend within 6-8-10 months, but I'll definitely resend a year later for sure. Especially if I like the county and I'm seeing results.
Jaren: That’s awesome. Do you have a particular acreage size that you target or do you just kind of pull a list? Is there like a certain threshold that you don't go under? Like I know for me in my land business I typically do an acre or higher, but I really don't like anything under 0.25 acres just because I feel like it gets too small at that point. But what's your experience and what do you target?
Andrew: Those planted infill lots have killed it for me. I wouldn't discount them. I mean these 5,000-, 7,500-square foot lots, people are looking for them and builders, you get them at the right price. Maybe don't buy in like an old neighborhood where it's like, a house got flooded and they just demolished it. No one's going to build a new building there, but these coastal regions or these infill lots or just random smaller ones, they do really well. I've even subdivided. You buy two on a tax ID and then subdivide it. I mean, that's one of my home run deals. I love them.
Seth: Maybe you can tell us about your home run deals. I know sometimes I don't want to draw too much attention to these because obviously it's the ones that are out of the ordinary. Like you shouldn't expect this all the time, but just for the sake of showboating, maybe you can tell us what's something you're really proud of. What was the awesome deal that had just amazing numbers?
Andrew: So, I was thinking about this. One day I was super tired and I was on the phone. I was just trying to get through my calls and I didn't really even want—I didn't think I could afford the lot. So, I said, okay, $12,000. And he said, okay. I was like, wait, $12,000? And then I listed it for $73,000.
Andrew: And it sat and sat for probably two months. And then I subdivided it and sold for $78,000 in two lots for $78,000 total. So, I made a little over $60,000 on that. I mean…
Seth: Yeah, that's huge.
Andrew: And they sold super quick. And so, that's when I fell in love with subdividing and I did a similar deal probably like a month later. I bought it for $20,000, sold it for $84,000.
Seth: Man, that's awesome. What's involved with subdividing in that? Because I know sometimes it's like, super easy, other times it's super complicated.
Andrew: So, what I've learned with acreage, there are platted lots that are already previously platted from years ago of a surveyor. And then there's like acreage that you have to get a surveyor to separate them. But if they're already platted, I literally just email the county and they'll just do it and send me a new tax ID number and a new legal description. It's over, it's free. It's over.
Jaren: Shoot, man. I felt like I didn't get in Texas.
Seth: Yeah, that sounds way easier than a lot of places I've worked.
Andrew: If it's over four platted lots or you can't subdivide them less than that platted lot. If you want to go more than four lots or something, they make you do surveys. And there's a little more restriction once you get higher up. But if it's like a three-platted lot and you just want to separate them into three tax IDs to sell a mass, then simple email. Around here at least.
Jaren: That’s awesome.
Andrew: It was a killer deal.
Seth: Yeah. That's pretty cool, man. Now with surveys, I'm just curious from your experience. So, if you want to get a survey on a property, just like a basic drawing and just stick the corners so people that see onsite where it is, how much are you usually paying for that kind of survey?
Andrew: $350 to $400. So, I specify a boundary survey only, not a mapping survey. Mapping shows like the structures and all the junk in the middle. But if you just want the corners, staked and a little PDF, that's just a boundary survey. I get $350 to $400.
Seth: That’s a big takeaway right there. I hear from time to time from people who are like “I'm trying to get a survey and it's $3,000. This is crazy.” Yeah, I understand. There are lots of different kinds of surveys and some are much deeper and more comprehensive than others and include, like, easements and everything you can imagine. And a lot of surveys would just assume, well, that's what you want, right? But now you've got to specify the simplicity that you're looking for. And that's the pretty much the exact same cost that I've encountered too.
Andrew: I think with raw land, the simplicity comes with that. But I think with houses involved, you do have to get that mapping to show how far it is off the property line and things like that. But raw land, it's just boundary survey.
Seth: So, I'm curious, are there any, like, software tool you use in the course of your business? Whether it's paid or free, just in general for any step of your buying and selling process? What services have been the most helpful to you?
Andrew: Once I started getting more than two or three deals in the pipeline, I use free Podio still to this day, just to kind of keep track of the name, the size of the parcel, kind of the stage it's in. That's about it. I still use a free Google Voice. I was buying in my name for the first 10 months and then I finally switched to an LLC. But then I try and keep it super simple, super cheap. I'm cheap in general, but I think we try to overcomplicate things. And I have a wix.com website. I mean, super easy and I still get submissions.
Seth: Cool. That's awesome. You don't have to spend a ton of money to make stuff work.
Andrew: A PO box and that's about it.
Seth: I'm curious when you say that you're cheap, if you're willing to share, you don't have to. How much money were you working with when you started out? Were you just pinching pennies or did you have a big slush fund at your disposal?
Andrew: So, I started with that $6,600 out of the 401k and started just mailing. And then when deals would come through, I would fund as needed. First, I borrowed $5,000 from my buddy at 20%; I was given my friend’s and my brother-in-law’s later 20%. Now I dropped down to $15, but if anybody's out there looking for deals… I was just on a shoestring budget. Again, I didn't have money for a $300 LLC. So, I had no assets to protect and minimal PO box just to keep a little anonymous. But, hey, it's worked for me.
Jaren: I just had a coaching session yesterday, where we were talking about the LLC and a lot of people starting off, they think that they got to do all this stuff to become an official business. And obviously this is not legal advice. It wasn't legal advice that I was giving them at all, obviously. But I was just telling them in my opinion, right now, you're just trying to get proof of concept. You're just trying to get to your first deal. And I said, talk to your legal professionals and your tax professionals. But if you don't have that many assets to protect, the likelihood of something happening on a vacant land parcel that you bought for $1,000 to $5,000 or less, isn't that huge.
So, I just was letting them know, “Hey, you don't have to get an LLC right out of the gate.” You can just buy properties in your personal name. And I was telling them that I wish that I did that because when I first started my land business, I started in Indiana, but I didn't know what I was doing. And I didn't know what the future of my land business was going to become. And now I've switched everything to Florida. So, I started off with an Indiana-based LLC that I don't use anymore, but I paid money with a rocket lawyer to get it set up. And it was wasteful.
Again, everybody has a unique situation and you got to talk to the right professionals about your unique situation. But for a lot of people out there, it might be a good option just to buy things in your personal name, to get a couple of deals under your belt and then figure it out from there.
Andrew: The only reason I even put it in an LLC is so my wife wouldn't have to come to closings to sign off on the property. She was getting more annoyed than I was.
Jaren: That's awesome.
Andrew: Yeah. That's the only reason really. And just to be anonymous.
Jaren: Yeah. It gives them some separation there. Wait, I wanted to ask you Andrew, for those who want to go full-time, but they feel stuck in their day job. Everybody has different circumstances, but bills are bills and they're not fun. Why do you think that people get into that situation? How do you think that they can get out? You had a great job and you were in a great situation and you were able to transition out within nine months.
I guess this is a two-part question. One is why do you think that people get caught up in that situation where they emotionally feel stuck? Where, when you remove the emotion out of it, they can easily just leave or they can just figure out a very clear game plan? And then second to that, how did you personally do it? What was your thinking process? And did you deal with any personal anxiety? What was your process there?
Andrew: Financial security is a real thing to be uncomfortable and no one wants to go down financially, right? And we often think that when we're going to quit a nice job or and so I didn't have any kids, we're expecting, but I was married, my bills aren't going to get any cheaper than they are now. And my kids' daycare bills are not going to get any cheaper than it is now. So, I said, this needs to be the time that I start. And so, I just went full bore. People do it out of comfort. They're not uncomfortable enough. I was very, very uncomfortable and just didn’t know what I was doing. Yet, it provided, but I didn't hop out of bed every morning wanting to jump into surgery. I mean, it was cool. It was super hard, but I almost felt like I was doing my company a disservice as well, just by not giving it my all. I think just the fear of failure as well.
Honestly, I don't think I'd be sitting here if I didn't have the clarity of the steps to take through Seth's blog. I mean, that's why I'm so scared because I'm one of those calculated people that need those steps kind of laid out for me to make that leap of faith. And at one point I got so uncomfortable. I just said, no one's going to show up on my doorstep with financial freedom. So, I just bit the bullet. I mean, what are all these people talking about? It must be real. So, I got to try it now or I'm going to be 60 regretting it. And man, I'm so glad I did it. This is like a dream come true.
My biggest goal was to be self-employed. I wouldn't say I'm financially free through like, passive real estate. Self-employment was the biggest goal at the time. And so I'm just obsessed with land.
Seth: That's so cool, man. It's so good to hear your story. I mean, it's just a breath of fresh air to hear another example of somebody who kind of made it and just took the risk and it worked out. It's awesome, man.
Andrew: Yeah, thank you.
Seth: For other people out there who maybe they've heard about land or they're considering it, but they're like, “Yeah, but I don't know if this is for me, I just don't know,” do you have any advice for people? Whether they're holding off because they're afraid or they're uncertain or even if they've already started and they're just figuring out the ropes. They don't know exactly what market to go in or what to do. Any advice come to mind for you that you would give to them?
Andrew: Yeah. The biggest reason I chose land was the cost barrier. It's so cheap to get in. And if you're sold on real estate investing, what are all these real estate investments built on? They're built on land. I'm cherry-picking these lots and I'm keeping a few from my portfolio to build things. Almost built a shopping center a couple months ago, but kind of backpedaled because of the virus and stuff. But the opportunities given to me through land has just been incredible. I think—we think we can't jump to another niche of real estate if we just stay in land. And I don't think that's true. You have a few rental houses, right Seth?
Seth: I did. I sold them off last year.
Andrew: Oh, cool.
Seth: It’s not because I'm not for average it's just, people were paying crazy high prices for them. So, I figured I'd take advantage of that. But yeah, land isn't the final destination for me either. It's just a really good cash machine to get the money that you need to take the next step.Andrew: Exactly. I'm just trying to build the bank role. I'm debating between like large apartments or stuff like that, or kind of self-storage and RV parks. They're big in Texas. And so, I'm kind of still up there, but I'm just enjoying my time with my wife and being self-employed really.
Seth: That's awesome, man. It's really cool. I've thought about that too. The whole idea of developing something, building from the ground up. Normally there's a fair amount of risk in that. And I think there still is even if you get the land super cheap. But the ability to buy land for pennies on the dollar, it's really a huge hedge of protection against that. If you get a good location, it makes it way easier if you want to pursue that. So, yeah, I would agree.
So, for somebody like you, and I think I see this in a lot of people who get to where you are. They don't do it without being really good at one or even several things, almost kind of like a jack of all trades in their business. Because it's only you in the beginning. You have to wear a lot of hats and figure things out. Is there any particular attribute of yourself or your personality or the way you think that has been the most important factor of your success? And is it because you're good at sales and talking on the phone? Or is it because you're able to multitask? I don't know, what comes to mind for you?
Andrew: I think being just comfortable on the phone makes them comfortable and I use good manners and try to be polite. And I think that goes a long way over the phone. They're trying to fill you out. They don't know if you're just some sketchy dude trying to scam them, but use manners, follow up. And just being consistent. People emphasize that, but you don't really get that until you're in it. Just consistently mailing. Like if you mail, they will call. It's tried and true.
Jaren: On that note, have you ever had a month where you mailed and it just bombed for whatever reason? It was a fluke of a thing where it’s like, “I just didn't get any calls from this campaign.”
Andrew: Yeah. The PS. I typically mailed by the letter and the PS just didn't do too well for me just a couple weeks ago. But I think it's by county. Again, the quality of the county list. I spend a good amount of time scrubbing the list. I think that's critical. And so, I focus on that. I don't know if I could ever outsource that to a VA or something. I see things and there's little things about list scrubbing that you can't just teach.
Seth: I remember the first few delinquent tax lists I ever got from the county. I spent, man, I'm like, embarrassed about this, but I spent maybe five to eight hours per list just scrubbing it. Just being ridiculous. Like trying to get to only the right people on there. And they did do really, really well. And I'm curious how much time and effort do you spend per list scrubbing that and what specifically are you looking for?
Andrew: I've nailed it down. I got a few shortcuts and hotkeys that I can use, but I'm still spending a couple of hours on these lists. They're 20,000-line items, 16 when I'm done. But I take out LLCs, like you've talked about, and a full little list of little things I take out like County Inc Incorporated, LLC Corp company. I take out all those types of things, but I leave all the names and states. But I think trial and error, honestly, you see what, who calls and who doesn't just slowly build in your process.
Seth: Yeah. I know another issue that commonly comes up with that kind of list is the inability to separate land from houses on the list. Like, “I want only land on this list. No houses.” Is the county able to do that for you? Or have you found an effective way to make that work? Or do you just hit houses inevitably in?
Andrew: No, I'm lucky that the county that I love mailing to, that I've been referring to this whole time, has land use codes that can C-1 through D are all just a type of land, A-1, houses. So, just cut those out. I'd be spending five times as much money.
Seth: Yeah. That's an important point because I think a lot of times on those lists. They do come with that information. But you, as the person scrubbing it, need to understand that it's there and what it means and how to actually use it to filter your list. And that's usually not obvious for the first time or going through a list. So that's a good point to look for that. And if you can, you probably have the filtering criteria you need right there. You just have to be aware that it's there.
Andrew: Again, I want to emphasize just keep mailing and just stay at it. I mean, persistence is key. I know it's super cliché, but it works, it really does. I was super skeptical of just this flimsy postcard. Which one of us have truly responded to a solicitation in the mail?
Seth: Actually, the personal letter postcard template. I had gotten one of those from a completely different company. It wasn't exactly that, but the font was the same. Something about it, it was a weird thing that clicked in my head that made me think. Man, I wish I could remember what it said. But I just remember it was just so unusual that I would get a postcard that said this specific message. And I actually called the number and it ended up being just something stupid and hung up. But still it made me take action based on that. So, I don't know, there's something. Maybe it's because it's so unusual. I get plenty of like, junk mail from credit card companies and stuff like that, but it's pretty rare I get junk mail that looks quite like that on a postcard like that. So, maybe it sort of sticks out somehow.
Andrew: I'm really clear on my postcard. It's bright yellow, one side says “Notice." So, they'd probably think it's some bill, but they're in New Jersey and they see this bright little yellow postcard about a lot that was inherited to them 20 years ago that they'd been paying on. Perfect timing and they call. It’s magic. I don't know.
Jaren: That's awesome, man.
Seth: And do you have any virtual assistants or people or services that you hire out on a regular basis?
Andrew: Nope. Just back to the cheap part. The few critical things that I could source out, I don't want to. Like list scrubbing. I don't want to source that out. I don't think I’m going to have to level to be doing that. I want to get in on some SEO maybe for my website. I take every single call. Not live, but I call back every single person and analyze every single deal. Because at the end of the day analysis is the biggest key as well, I think. And no VA is going to know the local market. I live around here and know the area well and certain neighborhoods I don't want to buy in and things like that.
Seth: Yeah. Maybe a good question is because you kind of sound like me. I had a really hard time letting go of anything. I just didn't trust anybody to do anything right. And you know, there's some validity to that. People will screw stuff up and they will cut corners and they're not going to care as much as I do. But still at some point you do become the bottleneck. If there was any one thing, if you had to pick anything to get off your plate and give to somebody else, what do you think that would be? Would you trust somebody to do it?
Andrew: Maybe the ads.
Seth: Posting listings on websites and stuff?
Andrew: Yeah. And renewing and replacing them throughout this place, as we put them. Other than that, it's hard to say I have the time to do it. And I think until I'm like, super busy, I don't think I should be paying someone when I'm sitting on the couch.
Seth: Yeah. What website has been most effective for you at getting your property sold?Andrew: Zillow and Facebook really. And Craigslist. Those are really the only three I use.
Seth: Of those three, which one is most impactful?
Andrew: I'd probably say Zillow. Just because it's got a large audience and it's got the mapping feature. You can't really map on Facebook yet, or that I've seen. Because they just see them in the feed or whatever. Well, then the groups though, Facebook groups. I'm in all the local buy/sell groups of that area. And so those help as well too.
Seth: It's hard to pick just one.
Andrew: Facebook probably if I had to choose. I don't know, I’m super fickle.
Seth: Luckily, you don't have to pick one.
Jaren: It's really interesting because when I tell coaching clients in the land business that the best websites to sell properties on are free websites. Sometimes I get some pushback, like, are you sure how does this work? And I just tell them, “Hey, sometimes it just takes time to sell a property." But if you're listing them on Facebook Marketplace, buy and sell trade groups, Craigslist and Zillow, you're going to be fine. And to be honest, I subscribed to Lands of America for an entire year. And I didn't really have any luck selling on that. And it's expensive. I admit the year, the one I was paying was $320 a month and they lock you in for a year.
So, I think that if you're doing the more premium property, like the 50,000 plus range, maybe there's some opportunity there for bigger, more expensive stuff. But for what I do, I haven't seen any benefit from it. And even I did another one. I forget what it was. I think Land Century or something like that. It was like $50 a month. I didn't see anything from that. The bulk of the sales have always come through those free channels.
Andrew: I would think about putting on one of those paid websites, but it was like a large 20-acre farm property or something, a couple of hundred thousand dollars, but I'll just use a realtor for those.
Jaren: And they're paying for it anyway.
Andrew: Yeah, they are paying.
Seth: I get this, I don't know if you guys get this too. I don't even know why I get it because I never signed up for it, but I get this land magazine every quarter I think it is. Or maybe even every month.
Jaren: I get that too.
Seth: Yeah. It's a huge, thick catalog. Maybe you get it if you sign up on LandWatch as paying. Actually, it seems like a really high-quality magazine. It's the kind of thing you'd put on your coffee table. Like it's got beautiful pictures in it, really well written listings. I have noticed all the listings there are like, pretty high-end stuff. 40,000-acre ranches and stuff like that. So, maybe that is like, and this is spot on, I don't really know, but maybe it's the kind of thing where if you have a higher end property, it makes a ton more sense to use that kind of a paying thing on the regular.
Andrew I really appreciate you coming on the show, man. It's been really awesome to talk to you. Lots of really helpful insight on how you've gotten where you are. So, at the end of every interview, well, most interviews we do, we ask three closing questions that aren't really real estate related, but kind of just to learn more about how you think and how you work and what makes you successful. So, the first question here is what is your biggest fear?
Andrew: Is this professionally, or all over? Everything?
Seth: Any way you want to go.
Andrew: I'll say two-sided. Professionally I'd say just the fear of failure. People relying on you, your family relying on you. Being self-employed. And on the personal side, being a man of faith. Just going to hell really.
Seth: Hey man, I hear you.
Jaren: So, what is something you're most proud of?
Andrew: I never thought I'd be here. I thought I was going to be a corporate drone for 30 more years. And so, honestly, I'd say being self-employed, being my own boss and being on this journey to financial freedom. I've had a blast, really finding a passion. My wife had to keep a note up here, keep it smooth and slow because start talking to some land with people, I get super excited and I talk fast. But just being able to be passionate about something and just be self-employed, really.
Seth: Yeah. That's huge. It's funny how I have that same kind of drive and ambition like that. That matters to me. That's important. But it's funny when I talk to people who don't care about that. They are totally cool just working a job. And I guess that’s cool for them, but it's weird how we're wired differently, you know? Like some people need that autonomy and freedom and others don't need it at all.
Jaren: And then there's hybrids out there like me where I'm definitely wearing the employee hat, right?
Seth: But you got the autonomy though, right?
Jaren: Yeah. And it's weird how my career has developed into this kind of in-between where I have a lot of the perks of being self-employed, but I'm not self-employed. It's just interesting.
Andrew: You had the choice though, right? You kind of joined forces.
Jaren: Yeah. It definitely was like the perfect fit, man. It's been a dream come true. RETipster has been a dream job from day one for me because I've always wanted to do content stuff and I love teaching. I love making videos. It’s just awesome. I wanted to say though, I know we have one more question to ask you, but it's really interesting how similar your and Seth’s stories are.
Seth: I think maybe what it is, is everybody has a gift to give to the world. Like something that they're really good at. Value that they can give to anybody who wants what they have to offer. The trick is figuring out what that is. Because when you know what your gift is and you give it away, magic happens. And some people never figure it out. Or if they do, they have trouble figuring out how to give it away or actually having the resources to do that. So, if you're ever in a spot where you know what you can do better than anybody else and you can do it, that's just an awesome thing.
Andrew: I scream it from the rooftops. I tell everybody I can about land and real estate investing. I got a couple converts. My best friend made over $100,000 on his first deal.
Jaren: Wow. We gotta get him on the podcast.
Andrew: He held it for a year, but it was like a 40-acre parcel good buy, but was kind of out there. And he was okay with sitting on it. I mean, he killed it.
Seth: That's awesome, man.
Andrew: Yeah. People can just see my passion and my enthusiasm for it. And they just want to learn more and I'm just always excited to talk about it.
Seth: I never really get tired about telling people about it. It's such a unique thing. And it really does bring things to the table that no other real estate business or really no other business period has to offer. And it's cool when you can talk to somebody and they start to see the light and you can sort of see them start to get it. And it's a fun thing to talk about.
Jaren: I literally just had a call right before we jumped on the podcast today. Somebody who is in kind of the apartment syndication space and he's doing well, but he just was looking at some other options for more consistent cash flow and stuff. He was asking me about land. I just straight up told him that I don't think that there is anything else that compares to the land flipping business because most land investors don't even look at a deal unless they're making 100% ROI. Like, how do you beat that? When you say that at a surface level, people think you're lying. Or you're some snake oil salesman, but it's like, no, it's just that's what it is.
Andrew: Yup. That's awesome.
Seth: I'm actually kind of surprised. I remember back when I first started, nobody was talking about this. I mean, truly nobody. It was an unknown business. And then there was like a really small crowd with Jack Bosch that started to learn about it. And I remember thinking like, man, oh, I really hope nobody else learns about this because it's just going to kill the opportunity. And all these years later, thousands of people have gotten into it. Granted not all of them have stayed, but the secret is out. It's not like this novel thing, but even then the secret still sort of isn't out. Because I talked to people all the time who have never heard of it. It's like, man, how can something this good stay under wraps? Are people just, they must just be dismissing it when they hear about it or I don't know. I sort of thought it would be more commonplace now, but it's still not.
Andrew: It’s not as cool.
Jaren: Yeah, it is not as cool. If you notice the people in the land community, a lot of them are kind of more detail oriented, not all of them. But generally speaking, there's a lot of engineers, a lot of software guys. And it’s because they can see the opportunity in the midst of the boring detail stuff. Like dirt is boring as it gets like there's nothing, there's never going to be an HGTV show about flipping land. But because there's not a lot of people in this space and because there's just so much opportunity with the vastness of how much undeveloped land is available in the United States. Like, there's a lot of room for a lot of land investors to enter into the industry.
Seth: So last question, Andrew. What is the most important lesson you have ever learned?
Andrew: I would have to definitely say regarding land, just keep mailing. Like I was saying earlier, just stay consistent and persistent. There's been times where no deals come, you'll be in a month or two, nothing of quality comes through. And then all of a sudden you get your grand slam. Just stay consistent. I mean, it's there. It'll come. It really will. I was so nervous, but just listen, I trusted you Seth. And I just kept plowing through and I’m just lucky to be here.
Seth: And I know this is a very common thing. I've experienced this and I hear this all the time from people who, there sort of comes in waves where they spend a lot of time sending out mail, then they get a huge influx of deals and they kind of work those and get them sold. And while they're selling them, they're not sending out more mail. So, there's sort of like through the cycle. Have you found a way to keep a consistent pipeline of deals coming in while you're working on getting them sold? Or do you sort of follow that same like, “Okay, this month I'm in acquisition mode. Next month I'm in selling mode?”
Andrew: I mean, I try to stay consistent because there's such lag between the stages. I've learned you got to just keep the pipeline full. My wife was just telling me, stop mailing, stop making offers, because I hadn't sold one in like a month or two, but then I just sold one and got one under contract. And so, then she was like, okay, well… But staying consistent and just keeping the pipeline full, really. I never stopped mailing.
Seth: Is it ever hard for you to, on the same day, be in an acquisition mode and then switch gears to selling mode? Like, okay, now I get incoming phone calls. Now I have sales phone calls. I don't know. Is it hard for you to switch gears like that?
Andrew: Sometimes it's hard to keep track of what's what, what stage it's in. And I have a lot of sticky notes. I've burned through those things, but that’s…
Jaren: That's the most sophisticated CRM system I've ever heard of, man. Super complicated for me.
Andrew: It helps. But still a lot of stuff's on paper for me until it's a deal like I was saying earlier. But I don't think there's big secret sauce, big secret to it all, there's really not.
Seth: When you're sending your mail out, what does that look like for you? Are you just kind of taking a postcard template and using click to mail and that's it?
Seth: Okay. Sweet. Pretty straightforward then.
Andrew: I mean, I adapt it. Everything you've said kind of adapted that I go for a certain type of deal. I don't do those desert lots for $500, stuff like that, but just standard templates. But I'm very clear about, I want your vacant land in blank county, Texas or whatever. So, they know right off the bat. And here's what bullets I can pay all cash, I pay closing costs. They net the full offer amount. So, my current postcard is multiple generations but just keep working at it, really.
Jaren: That’s awesome.
Seth: Sweet. Do you want to share a website or anything?
Andrew: If they're inclined, they can just find me on Facebook. My personal page. I'm not hiding anything. Andrew Flanagan, there in Texas.
Seth: Sweet. If you guys want to get in touch with Andrew, I know he's also an active member of the RETipster community. Thanks again for doing that, Andrew. It's always helpful to have your voice in there. Cool man. Well again, thanks a lot for sharing your experience. It's been great to talk to you and hear what's worked for you and we should stay in touch. Maybe we can do another one of these, someday.
Andrew: Thank you Seth. Your blog and your podcast and everything have been amazing. Thank you, Jaren too.
Jaren: Yeah, man.
Seth: Well, there you have it folks, that was their interview with Andrew. Hope you guys enjoyed it. I really, really liked that. I don't know. I just felt like he had a lot of practical, down-to-earth guidance. It's kind of cool how he's managed to not spend a whole lot of money. I say that's cool. Sometimes it ends up costing you more than it actually helps, but I was at a very similar way when I was getting started and I can totally understand that.
Jaren: I just posted on the RETipster forum. Somebody was asking about blind offers on postcards. And Seth has taught me a lot about over committing to things. So I'm not committing to this, but I'm thinking about it. And I'm probably 60% - 70% of the way there about testing it out in my next campaign. Because if you compare the cost, at least with like letterprinting.net who I've used in the past to service my direct mail postcards compared to a one page letter or even a two page letter, the costs to do postcards is significant. You're saving a lot of money. And so, if we could figure out a way, because I mean, it wouldn't be that hard, really. You would just say, “Hey, I will offer you X for your property in X county.” And you do the exact same process. You're not doing an actual purchase agreement, but you're at least throwing out a number. I wonder if they would do well.
Seth: Yeah. I actually have on my to-do list, make blind offer postcards again. I'm not committing either, but it's on my radar. There's a lot of different ways you could go with that. You could make it look exactly like the standard letter with just a number, insert it somewhere. Or you could like, take one side of the postcard and blow up the number, so it's huge. You could make it look like, I mean, it wouldn't really be that effective, but you could try to make it look like a dollar bill or something cheesy like that. And as for what works best, who knows? You just have to try a bunch of things and see what sticks.
But I can see how a number like that would have power in it. And probably would be, I mean, more noticeable than a letter anyway. And I think in that forum thread some people were talking about, am I contractually obligating myself to something by doing this? And pretty sure again, I'm pretty sure the answer is no, because nobody's signing anything on that postcard and there's no terms, there's no dates, there's no closing date or acceptance date or any of that stuff. It's literally just a number. It’s kind of like the 32nd email offer—or it is automated offer now—through REI conversion. But that email offer where you're just throwing a number out there. The point is just to throw something against the wall and see if anything sticks. So, it's not a contract per se, but I don't know. I feel like there's something there. We've got to explore that a little bit.
Jaren: Now, one other thing I did want to throw out there. Something that I have recently changed. I used to have the same philosophy about direct mail consistency, and no matter what, I'm going to send out mail. He's doing the smaller volumes. So I think if you're doing 300 to 500 a week, that's okay, that's doable. But I was doing about a 1,000 to 1,500 a week and I was really trying to scale and grow. But again, you guys have been hearing me talk a lot about Profit First recently, because it's had a really big impact on my life. And to adapt that towards real estate, I'm actually doing what they call an allocation, meaning I'm assigning when profit comes in, our money, revenue comes in from a sale and then I'm assigning money to different buckets as it were.
And that actually I am practically checking accounts, different checking accounts for different functions. I'm actually pulling my marketing costs after each sale. So, I'm personally running the cycle and my consistency on my business from sale to sale and not committing to sending out mail unless there's actually money in the bank for mail. So, again, I don't know what his circumstances are. And I just want to wave the flag for you guys. I actually think it's especially starting off. It's financially more wise personally, it's safer to only send out mail after you have an influx of cash from a sale. So, for what it is, you can definitely, I know other guys and Andrew's also full-time and I'm not, and there's different circumstances there. So, you got to assess your own unique situation.
And I know a lot of other land guys who are full-time say, “No, this is my full-time thing. I'm committing this amount of direct mail every single month." And if you have cash flow coming in from like terms deals, for example, to cover your overhead in case you don't have sales pending, I think that's fine. You can definitely set it up that way. But for somebody who's doing it on the side part time, you can definitely set it up where you send out mail after a sale. So, you don't have to commit to a big overhead at all.
Seth: Yeah, man, I got a lot out of that. I think Andrew's got a really good head on his shoulders and I'm curious to see at what point he ends up outsourcing any of that work. Because I just know that it gets to be a lot in terms of wearing all the hats in your business. It's like at some point, you got to get other people involved. I'm totally the biggest hypocrite in the world because it took me forever to even start doing this.
Jaren: Well, and it's still kind of a struggle.
Seth: Yeah, I'm still not good at it. It's not like I have it figured out, but on the same coin though, if your goal isn't to grow it to be the biggest thing in the world, you might not need it if you're okay with that and if you enjoy it. So, it's not like it's wrong to not by any stretch, but I don't know. It'd be interesting to fast-forward five years from now and see, “Has Andrew outsourced anything?” And if so, what did he outsource and how did he get comfortable with that?
Awesome, man. Well, I guess, let's transition to our little standard question that we do. All right. So the question today is who is the most famous person you have ever met?
Jaren: So, this is actually a pretty funny story. When I was six years old, my dad was married to my stepmom at the time she was Puerto Rican or is Puerto Rican. She grew up with somebody who knew Orlando Cepeda, who was entered into the hall of fame. And it was like a big baseball guy who played for the San Francisco Giants. And so, I was six years old and we went to his induction day into the hall of fame. All right. I think that's what it's called. I'm not a sports guy, people. So, I apologize if I'm butchering any of this, but I was sitting there in the dugout at six years old with all the San Francisco Giant people. And here comes along a guy named Barry Bonds who just sits there. And I was bored. I didn't know what was going on. And so I was like, kind of dozing off trying to take a nap. And Barry Bonds came and sat next to me and he's like, “Hey kid, no sleeping in the dugouts." And I turned to him and said, “My dad lets me do whatever I want.” And I could see my dad hearing me. And he turned around and went bright red, seeing me like mouth off to Barry Bonds. So that's my story.
Seth: Was that before you met Jesus?
Jaren: Yeah, I was six.
Seth: Back in those days.
Jaren: I was like six years old.
Seth: Oh, man. Have we talked about this? I feel like I've heard that story from you. Maybe it was…
Jaren: I don't think it was on a podcast. Yeah.
Seth: Well that's a good one. I mean, that's a pretty famous name. I don't think I've met anybody that's famous before. I've met people who were like, famous in some circles, but like others wouldn't know or care about them. In my mind, somebody like Pat Flynn is super famous in the online blogging world, but the average person on the street doesn't know who that is. So, I'm at Pat Flynn. And I got to hang out with him for a few days at one of his workshops. I thought that was fun. In terms of like across the board famous people that everybody knows.
Well, even this, I don't think everybody knows them, but so there is a big retail giant called Meyer. It's sort of like Walmart, but Meyer is pretty much only in the Midwest. Fred Meyer, the guy who owned the whole thing, when I was 16 years old, I used to work at the airport. I was one of these people who would stand out on the runway, pointing planes, “Hey, go over here.” I’d use my arms and tell him which way to turn. Which I always thought was kind of a cool job for a 16-year-old. Not many 16-year-olds did that. But anyway, so his private jet flew in, because Meyer is headquartered in Grand Rapids. I helped him off the plane and I rolled out a red carpet, like he's royalty that he can walk over. And I was like, “Sir, can I help you with your bag?” And he said, “No." And that was the extent of our conversation. But hey, I met the guy and I just thought that was pretty cool.
Jaren: That's awesome.
Seth: So that’s my story.
Jaren: That's awesome. Probably the second most famous person I've met is Perry Marshall and he's in the marketing space.
Seth: You didn't just meet the guy. Like you actually, like he knew you. You did a lot of stuff together.
Jaren: Yeah. I mean, we still talk to each other and stuff too. Like we text back and forth on a rare occasion.
Seth: I should also say I met Ramit Sethi as well. He's another one of these online…
Jaren: That’s a pretty big deal.
Seth: Yeah. I think he actually might be more famous than Pat Flynn if that's possible.
Jaren: Yeah. That's a pretty big deal. I'm trying to think here. I mean, there's a lot of guys. I feel like Leslie Samuel, who we had on the podcast is a pretty big deal and we've had some pretty big guys on the podcast.
Jaren: Did I miss that amazing opportunity for a joke? Right out of the gate I should've been like Seth Williams. And I should have called you a celebrity and I missed the golden opportunity.
Seth: I'm not really famous though, man. I don't know if anybody would laugh at that or maybe they would laugh because I'm not famous. Right. Is that the idea?
Jaren: Oh, no. You're famous in the land circle, right?
Seth: Yeah, I guess so. I don't know. I guess it depends on it's all in the eye of the beholder, right?
Seth: Actually, I think it's really cool that anybody that pays attention to anything I say. I think maybe it's because I've had enough people like that in my life that I looked up to and it's like, “Man, that person is so cool.” I'll do anything they say, because I look up to them that much. The fact that anybody would look at me in that light, it's kind of mind-blowing. And you too Jaren, you're going to be famous now. Right?
Jaren: I don't know about that.
Seth: Has anybody ever asked for your autograph?
Seth: Me neither. So, maybe we're not there yet.
Jaren: Yeah, man. Hey Seth, can I have your autograph? Boom.
Seth: Oh, done. Take that off my bucket list. So, you are asking me that?
Jaren: Never have I ever.
Seth: Alrighty. Well folks, if you’re listening to this on your phone, feel free to pick up that phone and text the word “FREE." F-R-E-E to the number 33777. And you can stay up-to-date on what we've got going on with RETipster.
Be sure to go check out the forum too. There's all kinds of cool conversations out in there every day. That's retipster.com/forum. And if you want to see the show notes from this episode, you can find those at retipster.com/79. Because this is episode 79. And thanks again to Andrew for coming on the show with us. It was awesome talking with him and thanks to you, dear listener for hanging out with us. And hopefully we'll talk to you in the next episode. See you then.
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