What exactly should someone do if they’re 6-12 months into their land investing business and things just aren't working?
Whether you aren’t getting deals, you aren't able to get properties sold (or sold fast enough), you’re not profitable at all, or you haven’t reached the level of profitability you thought you would be at by this point… what are you supposed to do about that?
If that sounds anything like you, we’re going to give you our best advice for getting unstuck as a land investor.
Back in March of this year, a member of the REtipster Facebook community named Lisa posted this:
“I have reached a real tough spot in my business… I'm 9 to 10 months in and not profitable. I've invested a lot of time and money [over 5K in mailers] and to be honest I'm very frustrated. I've been shut down and discouraged all week and want to refocus myself. I would like to maybe hear from people who can offer insight/ guidance. I honestly am very hesitant to invest any more funds at this time until I become profitable.”
Her comments seemed to really strike a chord with a lot of people because it got over 100 comments! There was a lot of great advice shared on there, so we encourage you to check it out, but Jaren and I wanted to take some time to give our two cents on the subject, and the podcast seemed like a natural place to do that.
Links and Resources
- See The Facebook Conversation That Inspired This Episode
- REtipster Land Coaching
- Land Investing Masterclass
- Traveling Mailbox
- How Land Specialized Agents Can Change the Game for Land Investors
- How to Find the Perfect Market for Flipping Vacant Land
- Profit First Change My Life. It Will Change Yours Too.
- My Experience With Fund & Grow: 0% Interest Loans for Real Estate Investing and Beyond
- Everything You Need to Know About Getting Your County's Delinquent Tax List
- A Closer Look at My Blind Offer Template
- How I Find Motivated Sellers (And Get Them Calling Me). Step 1: Getting the List
- Pebble (formerly REIConversion)
- SOLD! How to Write Real Estate Ads That Sell Properties Fast
- 030: A Decade of Land Investing Experience in 60 Minutes – Interview w/ Renee Riker
- 054: Karl Made 6 Figures Last Year as a Land Investor Assigning Conracts. Here's How He Did It…
- 098: How Luis Mastered Assignments and Double Closings on Land Deals
- How an Assignment Works
- How a Double Closing Works
- PatLive Review
- 8 Land Investing Myths Debunked
Episode 102 Transcription
Seth: Hey tipsters, how's it going? This is Seth and Jaren. Welcome to the REtipster podcast. In today's episode, Jaren and I are going to sit down to talk about a pretty interesting conversation that happened recently in the REtipster Facebook group. This was back in March of this year. There was somebody who posted, her name was Lisa, and she gave us permission to read her post verbatim. So, I'm just going to read her post.
“I've reached a really tough spot in my business. I'm 9 to 10 months in and not profitable. I've invested a lot of time and money, over 5,000 mailers. And to be honest, I'm very frustrated. I've been shut down and discouraged all week and want to refocus myself. I'd like to maybe hear from people who can offer insight and guidance. Honestly, I'm very hesitant to invest any more funds at this time until I become profitable.”
I don't know if that sounds anything like you, dear listener, or if you know anybody like that. I think a lot of us, if we're honest, have been there in some capacity, maybe we've just had a string of bad luck or a campaign that bombed or trying to sub properties and nobody's biting, nothing's happening.
And what are you supposed to do when you just feel stuck, especially when you're in that very early stage and you're just trying to prove the concept to yourself? Like you just want proof that this is worth taking the next step and spending more money on and it still isn't working. That can be a huge kick in the gut to just experience that immediate failure.
That post from Lisa really struck a chord with a lot of people in the REtipster audience because it got over a hundred comments and there's a lot of great advice shared on there. So, I encourage you to go check it out. I'm going to link to it in the show notes for this episode at retipster.com/102 because this is episode 102.
But Jaren and I wanted to take some time and give our two cents on this subject. And the podcast just seemed like a natural place for us to do that. So, Jaren, let’s start with you. What are your initial thoughts when you saw that post from Lisa?
Jaren: Yeah, I mean, I have a lot of them. Actually, in preparation of this show, Seth, I included a bunch of bullet points for us to go through on a number of general principles and ideas to help people who feel stuck in their land business. And by the way, guys, this is applicable whether it's a land business or any kind of startup business, it can get pretty tough.
And I think my initial reaction, to answer your question, is ultimately based on what Lisa was sharing, it's really important to have the right perspective when you start a new business venture. I tell all of the coaching clients that go through our land coaching program, I teach them something that I've dubbed the 24-month rule, and it's not necessarily 24 months. It might be a year. It might be a and a half. It might be two and a half months.
But in just a general timeframe, I think it's much more common for successful people to have worked on their business as a side hustle for at least a year to two years before it became anything of significance that even gave them the idea or possibility of quitting their day job to do full-time. And that's not sexy, that doesn't sell from the “ra ra” motivational stage, like the overnight success stories do, but those overnight success stories are outliers and they're inspirational, but it's not very practical to build your life around an outlier. Because it's a fluke, it's not consistent, it's not logical, it's not a repeatable process.
Something that is repeatable, if you go into this land business for two years and you say, “I'm going to commit to this thing for two years and come hell or high water, I'm going to do it faithfully,” and then see where you're at, I do think on the other side, there are certain things that people are just not called to do. If I was a contractor, I promise you, I am not wired mechanically to assemble desks or do framing work or that kind of stuff. I am super slow, super just not good at it. I'm very incompetent for lack of a better word.
But if I had the dream of becoming a contractor and I gave it two years and it didn't go anywhere, I wasn't able to get deals or get clients or make success, then I think at that point, there is a point where you just throw in the towel. I think that that's a healthy thing, but I would give it two years because most people, a lot of even people in the comment thread on Lisa's posts, there was one guy in particular. I think we actually mentioned him specifically somewhere.
Jaren: Yeah, Joe. He had a really interesting thing to say. He said, “Lisa, I wasn't profitable for the first year of my land business, but in my second year I've made more money than I ever have before,” or he's been ultra-successful and he's doing it full time and he's loving life. And it's been awesome.
Imagine if he stopped his business in the first year, what he has now with the land business has become for him in the second year is life-changing. It's amazing, his dreams are coming true, but it took two years, not one. So, imagine he would miss out on all of the benefits and all the fruit of his labor if he would have just thrown in the towel too prematurely.
Seth: More on a Joe comment there, the thing that stuck out to me, he made a really good point is named me a business that was profitable in its first year. It's actually not normal for any company out there to be profitable from day one. Sometimes it can happen. And in the land business, it certainly can if you do everything right. But even if it doesn't, that doesn't mean you're a failure. It doesn't mean that you really dropped the ball, you're doing everything wrong. It's almost an unfair expectation just from a general business standpoint.
Jaren: To kind of play a little bit of devil's advocate because if anybody knows me around the REtipster community, they know I'm a pretty strong proponent for the Profit First financial management system for entrepreneurs. I do think that you can be profitable from day one if you structure it properly, but most people don't approach business that way. The big problem that you face within your first phase of growing a business is “How do I grow?” Because you got to do a certain amount of volume to make a certain amount of money that you can actually take a salary and still have enough money not only to take a salary but also have money to go back to operating expenses and marketing costs and all of these things. So, there's a balancing act and kind of an art and a science to this thing.
I always tell people in our second session in coaching, at the very end I bring it Profit First and I say, “Success is a two-sided coin; on one side, it's the activity that you know how to do that actually generates revenue.” So, in our case, it's buying and selling land. You know how to send mail, how to do due diligence and underwrite properties, and so on and so forth. And you know how to get things sold.
The second side of that coin of success though is managing that revenue. Because how I used to operate my business when I first got started was money was in the account, I got all excited as it's time to do more mail. So, there were months where I've had tens of thousands of dollars in my account. And then right immediately just go right back out. And there are things like taxes that you have to save for, there's paying yourself not only a salary but also owner's compensation is another big piece to doing things the correct way. And there's a lot that can go into it.
So again, most people starting off have a lot to figure out and they're bound to make a bunch of mistakes because they've never done it before. To go into this thing, thinking, “Oh, I'm going to send $5,000 worth of mailers and get a bunch of return,” I think that's an unrealistic expectation.
Seth: Yeah. And I think sort of the nature of what we wanted to do in this conversation is to cover a lot of the possibilities or the potential thing that might be going wrong because it's really important to point out there's a lot of things that can go wrong in real estate investing. Sometimes it's just one little thing that's off and that kind of compromise of the whole operation. Sometimes there's a bunch of things that need to be tuned up. For example, you could be just a master at direct mail and just nail everything and do it all right. But if you don't know how to structure offer prices, it all falls apart. Or if you can't get the thing sold or if you're just too lazy to get them sold or whatever.
So, we wanted to go through a lot of the most common things that we both encountered from other land investors. These things that get posted in the forum all the time, retipster.com/forum, our Facebook group, different coaching calls, and our monthly Office Hours. It seems like a lot of the same stuff that comes up again and again. So, we just wanted to go through the list and point out some things to think about in case it hasn't already occurred to you if you happen to be struggling in some aspect here.
Jaren: The point of this episode is to really help people get unstuck because the land business is pretty unreal. Like not in a “ra ra” guru kind of way, but in just being honest. Both me and Seth have kind of been around the block a little bit with real estate stuff. It just happens to be the career that I started when I was in my early twenties. And I've just been around and I've seen a lot of what's out there. And one of the things I and Seth constantly come back to when we look at other strategies is like, “Man, the land business has ruined me to any other type of real estate investing or investing in general,” because it's not uncommon to make 100% ROI on any given deal. I mean, it's just unreal.
I'm dealing with a deal right now that I'm buying for $15,500 and we're listing it for $62,000. I don't know if we're going to sell it for that, but that's amazing. That's like that stuff doesn't exist. Even if I sold it for $50,000 or $45,000, that would be amazing. I do want to just really encourage you guys. If you've started your land business, maybe you got an education that really didn't fill in all the gaps for you or you're struggling to kind of put all the pieces together. We're hoping that this episode can be one huge dose of encouragement and affirmation like, yes, this business is a real thing and you're going to be successful if you stick to the process, and then here are some handful of practical things that you can adjust or tweak or adjust your mindset on in order to be successful.
Seth: Kicking this off, the first thing we'll talk about is, and I think this is Lisa's example here. And this is really where everybody starts just getting a deal. Just finding a property where it's a good deal. You know you can sell it at a good price. You can make the offer, the person's going to say yes. A lot of people can't get to this first stage. There's a lot of things that could possibly be going wrong here. A lot of this depends on really carefully looking at “What have I done so far that has led me to this point where I do not have results?” Because something there is broken and it's not always obvious. It doesn't always jump out to you. But sometimes it's just a matter of really breaking it down to each individual step that you've taken and start picking it apart.
When you go and do your second try, obviously you should probably change something because it didn't work the first time, but keep track of that. What did you change? If it did start working, why do you think that might be? One of the common things, there was a debate or whatnot, just a difference of thought in terms of how to handle direct mail.
But one approach is to use postcards or neutral letters where you're basically just sending out a message saying, “Hey, I see owned land and I'm trying to buy land. Give me a call.” And then you talk about it. You learn about the property. You make an offer, that kind of thing.
And another route is to use blind offers where you don't really invite them to call you. You just send them an offer. They can call you, they can respond. The idea is not to have a big conversation about it. The idea is to just get the number in front of them and see if the answer is “yes” or “no,” or “maybe.”
Both paths have pros and cons. It's not like one of them is the perfect solution for every market, every investor, every situation. So, you kind of have to understand what each one has to offer and kind of along with that, in terms of where to get the list of people to send the mail to, one option is to use a data service like DataTree, which is pretty convenient if you want a lot of different ways to filter the list down. And when you get the list, it's pretty easy to sort through. So, you don't have to spend a whole lot of time or frustration dealing with it.
Another option is to get what's known as a delinquent tax list. And I've got a huge tutorial on this. The delinquent tax list is notoriously difficult to get, and when you get it, it's usually a mess to work through. However, there is a built-in source of motivation in this list because everybody has delinquent taxes. And there are different camps out there who swear by one or the other and they say that the other camp is just stupid. I'm not going to say that about anybody because I've tried both. And I know they can both work.
But the point is, if you've gone down one of those tracks, say you're doing postcards to a delinquent tax list. If that's not working for you, consider trying the other one. Considered trying the blind offers to a DataTree list or some other combination.
Jaren: Seth, I got to just say switching from postcards to neutral letters to blind offers was a big pivot and a big turning point in my land business. When I first got started, I was doing just what you said. I was doing neutral letters to the delinquent tax list and it was “hit or miss” because getting a really solid list from a particular county was a huge endeavor and was really 50/50 whether or not I was going to get the list, if the county was going to work with me, it was just a big bottleneck.
And it definitely worked. I got good deals from it, but I really started seeing consistent deal flow when I was doing blind offers in Florida. And there's a lot of variables that can go into your responses for direct mail, but I started seeing consistent deals and I was able to actually figure out what my deal rate was or the number of deals that I'll get per a certain number of direct mail on average when I started doing blind offers.
And again, there are markets where blind offers aren't probably the best way to go. I would actually say that if you don't have a lot of comps available or there's a lot of diversity in the type of properties for a particular market. Like 10 acres on the side of a mountain is very different than 10 acres on rolling hills. And that has hookups like utility hookups and stuff to it, right? So, it's hard to narrow down kind of a blind offer approach because properties are so diverse. I definitely think doing postcards or neutral letters can be better under certain circumstances, but by and large, for me in Florida, switching to blind offers was a big pivot and big turning point in the success of my land business. So, if you're doing one over the other, I think it's really good to try out something else if it's not working for you.
Seth: Even when we say blind offers, that just those two words, there's a whole world you can get lost in, in blind offers. To price out properties and figure out what makes sense, again, whether it's even going to work well in a certain market or not. I can totally tell you I've had certain markets where I don't know what the deal is, I don't know why, but the blind offers, they've just done horrible there. And in the same market, the neutral postcard with a delinquent tax list, for some reason does better. I don't know. I don't get it. Is there something I was doing wrong? Probably, but it's a big journey to figure out what that is. And sometimes the best way to do it, or just an easier way to handle that is to just try different things.
Along these lines of direct mail, I know a really common thing I'll see in different forums and Facebook groups is if somebody says I'm not getting deals, there's something's wrong. Somebody will inevitably jump in and just say, “Send more mail. There you go. I just solve your problems.” As if that's the answer to everything. And I get where they're coming from because in a very real way, that is how you're going to get anything happening is sending more mail. But there's so much more to it than that. You don't want to just start spending thousands of dollars on direct mail if you don't really have a clear direction and goal and you're really being educated about it.
I know every time that I've messed something up in my land business, it always has come down to me shooting from the hip, like skimping on due diligence or just not thinking through my list that carefully or not thinking through my offers. Like just going “ah” and just doing something. That's when things start to go sideways.
So, be careful. One of the things I had going for me when I was getting started was I had very little money and I could not afford to make mistakes. And I was keenly aware of that and I did have time and I was incredibly meticulous about being a perfectionist.
But then when I did, and because of that, like the results came pretty quickly and some people just won't do that. I don't know if it's just the way their brain works or what, but it's important to understand that when a person does get results, they were probably paying really close attention to a lot of things and being very intentional. They weren't just shooting from the hip. Sometimes you can get lucky, but I think that's more the exception than the rule.
Jaren: Yeah. Honestly, failure is really just feedback. If you remove the emotion from failure, really what you're doing with direct mail or any kind of endeavor is you're testing a hypothesis. And if your experiment doesn't work or your hypothesis doesn't work, then failing or making a mistake or not having a favorable outcome is just feedback that, “Hey, you need a different hypothesis.”
And if you approach what you're doing that way, instead of just getting frustrated, like getting emotional about it, if you just remove the emotion and say, “Okay, even though it seems like this works for some people, for me, it's clearly not working. So, I'm going back to the drawing board again and again and again,” until you fine-tune the things that are known to work generally in the industry, you tailor that to your business specifically.
Another thing too that I hear quite often, a lot of people will hear, “You can buy land property for 10 cents on the dollar or 20 cents on the dollar.” And I think in some markets still today, like if you're in an area that's very rural or doesn't have a lot of demand or a lot of growth metrics and stuff, you definitely can find really cheap property out there. I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater and say, “You'll never be able to buy a property for 10 cents on the dollar in land.”
Seth: Just for the record. I've accepted offers in that range this year. Just saying that it's not a farce. But I think as we are going with this, it's hard to just apply that widely to every market and assume that's always what's going to work.
Jaren: And I think, in really competitive markets too, like the bedrocks of the land business, Florida, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Southern California. Again, I think if you start getting into Arizona, New Mexico, Southern California, that's where you can start finding some really good deals still. Even with that, if you're in the counties that every other land investor is hitting, in Florida I go really aggressive with my offers. Probably more aggressive than most people would be comfortable with. And I don't actually encourage anybody to go as aggressive as I do, like in our coaching program or anything because I have established relationships with land specialized agents that I have proof of concept with and have history with and I know that I can trust their valuation. I can almost trust it with my life because I've had them sell property within $2,000 of the list price over the last year and a half, two years of my life.
So, when you have that kind of track record with somebody, you can be a little bit more risky, right? So, I'll come up pretty hard. And we just ended up closing on the property last week, where the guy got back to me and said, “Hey, your offer is the best offer that I've ever gotten. Why are you offering so much?”
And the reason why I got the deal from somebody else is because I had a localized agent that went by the property and it backed up to water. And I looked into it and we can sell it for a lot higher than other properties in the area because it backs up to water and so on and so forth. So, he was getting offers around the $5,000 to $10,000 range. I offered $15,000 and we ended up buying it for $20,000 but I'm listing it, I'm listing it for $39,900. So, it's not like a super home run deal, but the numbers still make sense and make it worth it. So, I'm moving forward on that deal. And the only reason why I got a call back was because my offer was higher.
So, I do think that sometimes with offers being too low, I want to say this very carefully. I don't want everybody going off and sitting off like 80 cents on the dollar offers because you're not going to make any money that way. And like Seth said, there are deals that come in where you can buy super cheap, 10 cents on the dollar deals, they do exist out there. But I don't think you can base your business, like create a systematic business around 10 cents on the dollar. Just take that with a grain of salt.
Seth: You just got to consider what markets you're in. I mean, yeah, generally, that's true. I would give yourself more wiggle room, don't be so militant about that low. I mean, that's really low and it can happen. But to your point, you have to be able to look at each deal individually and be willing to go higher if you need to. I think one of the advantages of that neutral letter approach is that it takes way more time, it's way more tedious, but you actually have the benefit of looking at every single individual property before they get your offer. So, you can make a higher offer or if you get an agent involved, I mean, that's a huge advantage that most people are not taken advantage of. So, when you sort of try to follow this formulaic thing, which can work, you just have to realize some rules are made to be broken and there are times when you can wiggle outside of that established norm when it makes sense.
Jaren: Yeah. I think shooting for like 80% with blind offers instead of 100% perfect is a pretty good principle to go by because the fact that you're going to be off on some of the offers is going to be inevitable.
Seth: And just to clarify when you say 80%, you're not talking about the market value.
Jaren: No, no, no. I'm talking about if you are shooting for good enough versus like perfect, that's really what I'm saying. You got to understand that it's just reality. I have a full-time VA who literally goes property by property and takes an entire month to prepare my list, which is painstaking and really detailed and I'm glad he's doing it and not me. But even with that degree of scrutiny and due diligence, I am removing anything I wouldn't be able to sell. So, anything that's landlocked or in wetlands. I do all of that due diligence on the front end. So, when I send out, my list is really prime and really good property. And even with that degree of scrutiny, I still mess up where I should have offered $5,000 and I should have offered $15,000 or people yell at me and get angry at me because my offer is like way the heck off.
So, I actually put on my direct mail piece, my letter in the mail, “I generated this offer with limited resources that I could find online. I'm willing to pay you more if it makes sense. So, if you have a property that you're willing to make a deal on, I can't pay full market value for any property that I buy but if you're tired of paying property taxes on a property you're not using et cetera, et cetera, give me a call and I'll see if I can come up on the offer that I gave you.” And putting that in has really helped because it gives me some wiggle room and some negotiation room.
But all that being said, one of the benefits to blind offers is actually that discrepancy of you're not going to get it perfect. Because there've been times I offered $2,000 on a property I would have offered $6,000 and they accepted $2,000 and it was awesome. So, that does happen too, but don't, you're not going to be able to get to perfection with your blind offers. You got to just shoot for good enough.
Seth: And other nuances. We're talking about these established norms of offer mounts or response rates and that kind of thing. It's important to acknowledge that every county is different. There are some counties that may not have enough motivated sellers. People just aren't motivated to sell their or other counties where there's a lot more competition from other land flippers than others. I mean, still generally low competition, but still I guarantee it, there are some counties in Northern Michigan where probably nobody has ever set foot and other counties where lots of people are there on a pretty regular basis. So, you just have to understand, it's not an apples-to-apples comparison when you take one county to another, even one state to another. And sometimes adjustments have to be made for that kind of like what we've been talking about.
Jaren: I just wanted to mention one little story. It's a little bit different. It's not necessarily about making your offers too low or too high. It's a kind of a kissing cousin to it. I had somebody who reached out to me a while back about possibly being a coaching client. They decided to just move forward with the REtipster Masterclass and not pursue coaching, but they ended up coming back to me, about, I would say three to six months later and jumping on another call because they were frustrated. They had been going through the course and they did everything right. They did direct mail. Everything was right. And they were getting deals, but they weren't making enough revenue per deal, like gross revenue to actually be profitable. And through the conversation, what we discovered was they were going after property that was just too cheap.
So, if you're buying property for $500 or, and you're selling it for $2,000, but you're spending $1,000 in indirect mail, the numbers may not work out with your operating costs because a lot of people will pay for a website, they'll pay for a CRM system to manage their leads. Normally they'll use something like Traveling Mailbox, et cetera. I've actually broken down the numbers for our coaching students where it's kind of brass tacks outside of direct mail costs you're looking at about $500 to $700 with like CRMs and stuff like that in terms of overhead.
And then in addition to that, if you're consistently sending out mail, I'm sending out in a couple of test states right now 2,000 units of mail per month, and that's about $1,600. So, if I'm only going to be making $1,000 spread or a $500 spread per property, even if I have a great response rate, those numbers aren't going to work out. You might need to, unless you're doing terms, I think those cheaper properties are great for terms because in the long run you can make a way bigger spread.
But if you're trying to do cash deals, you might need to go a little bit higher in terms of value. And I know that brings some issues related to getting enough working capital and we can dive into some strategy and some tips there. But I do think that one possible issue is if you're not profitable and you're doing everything right, you might be running into not having enough gross revenue per deal or gross profit per deal in order to sustain your business.
Seth: Just to hit on a few other common things under this whole getting deals umbrella. I know another thing that some people fall into. I've even done this from time to time. And I've gotten super busy, just failing to follow up on every lead or getting back to people fast enough. In a way, it's kind of like a “No, duh?” Like, why would you not follow up with the people that you've spent money to have them reach out to you? Why wouldn't you close the loop? But there can be all kinds of reasons why people just drop the ball on that. And if you're going to drop the ball on that, then just plan to lose that opportunity because that's what that means. A lot of times a person may be calling about one thing and there's actually a different property they didn't even mention that they have, or maybe they know somebody. There are all kinds of things that can come out of just simply getting back with people.
And another thing that's surprisingly common is when you send mail to somebody and you're telling them to call you or visit your website or fill out the offer and send it back. There's a lot of times when certain parts of this communication cycle can be broken. Like for example, I'll never forget this lady. She said nobody's ever coming to my website or submitting anything. So, I went to her website and I tried to submit it and the thing was broken. The form didn't even work.
So, pretend that you're your own customer and go through this stuff and test it. Make sure it actually works and maybe pay attention to what you're saying as well. There could be something you're saying that's turning people off. Really look at it through the eyes of your customer. Even if maybe your form is asking too many questions or maybe it's redundant, or maybe it's not asking enough. Just really scrutinize that and you might be surprised that little mistakes or mishaps that you're finding in that process.
Jaren: Yeah. I think that's pure gold, man. That's really good.
Seth: So, moving on here. I know another common issue or problem that people run into. Maybe they're having no problem finding the deals, but they're not able to get them sold or sold fast enough. And again, there can be all kinds of different reasons for this. I know actually just the market that you're in can have a big impact on this. I know it was a pretty regular thing when I was in Michigan doing a lot of deals there, the properties would just hang out forever. And when I say forever, I mean like six to nine months before they would sell. It was not selling the next day or the next week on the regular. And in other markets, they do sell that quickly. It also has lots to do with the pricing and what you're saying in your listing and where you're advertising it and all this stuff.
But first of all, just acknowledging where you're at does have an influence on that. And that's part of why we talk so much about before you do anything, pick a good market first, pick a market where people actually want to buy land so that the hardest part of this, getting the stuff sold, isn't so hard. It just kind of happens naturally. But Jaren, when you think about this, what are some common issues that you see people having or problems or mistakes in terms of getting their properties so quickly?
Jaren: I would reiterate what you said is probably the number one issue. It’s being in a market where there's a lot of demand and it's kind of hard to quantify that. I have a blog post about market research and using a website called bestplaces.net to find growth metrics and population metrics.
But I don't even think that fully tells the entire story because you have to couple that with market activity. And it's hard to really know where to find a true representation of market activity because you could go to Zillow. And I think that's probably your best bet, but there's a lot of properties that get bought and sold that never touch Zillow. So, it's hard to really know when you're just getting started exactly where good markets are. But I think a safe bet is to not deal with things you can't get answers to and just deal with data-driven decisions.
And so, my general practice right now, I've actually been branching out into a couple of other states beyond Florida, just kind of testing out the markets and stuff. And what I've done is I've looked at growth metrics on a county level. And then I went over to Zillow between the 1 and 10 acres and looked to see how many properties were currently listed and how many properties were sold within the last 12 months.
This is shooting from the hip. There's literally no rhyme or reason. This is just kind of at a gut level. So, I'm sorry I don't have more quantified data to back up why I use this metric, but I still ended up using it. To me, if I see over a hundred active listings and I see over a hundred sold listings within the last 12 months, to me, that's a strong enough indicator of decent market activity.
If all the growth data looks good, that's kind of the thing that I use. But again, if you had 87, instead of 100, you probably would be okay. There's no real rhyme or reason why I'm using that rule of thumb. I just figure in my head like, okay, a hundred seems to be a pretty good ballpark. But I'm sure that if you were to take that at face value and only target markets that had that, you'd be missing an opportunity in markets that had 50 sold listed prices.
And I think sold prices is more important than active because you might be in a situation like the current market that we're in. There's not a lot of inventory because it's a buying frenzy. And so, you might go to a great market that doesn't have a lot of listed properties right now this very second but over the last 12 months, they've sold a thousand properties between 1 and 10 acres. And that would be a great market.
So, take it with a major grain of salt, please. But I do think at least coupling market activity with good growth data or at least positive growth. And it doesn't even have to be like the top 10% of market growth for the state. But even if it's just not negative or above 5% or something like that, I think that you can find really good deals in a lot of those markets, as long as there's a lot of market activity. The reason why you want market activity is because you want to know that when you buy this property, people are going to buy it.
Just to wrap this up, another huge misconception is people think that land is like wholesaling houses or other types of real estate. If you're doing cash, I've found that it has a longer sales cycle. So, I have sold property within a week of listing it. That does happen. But I based my business, assuming that I'm going to have a 3-6 month turnaround time per property because that's what's more normal.
Seth: There's also a lot of stuff in the selling process that in my mind, it seems rather elementary, like just common sense stuff. But at the same time, I realized there's a lot of people out there who have never done this. Maybe they're new to the business and it's not common sense. They just don't know this stuff. And we totally talk about all this in the Land Investing Masterclass.
It's all included in there, but it's just important to reiterate when you're putting together a property listing, pictures are important. They matter a lot. Parcel maps, on-site pictures. Drawn pictures, if you can get them, I don't think those are a must, but put together a really, really good visual portrayal of the property. This is really what does the selling in a lot of cases. So don't skip that. Don't just grab some screenshot from Google Earth and call it good. Really do a good job of helping people understand what they're going to get.
And when it comes to description and just basic details so people understand what they're looking at, write a good description that paints the picture of what they can expect to get. It will help people dream a little bit. I mean, that's really why a lot of people buy land is because of the dream. So, play into that and give them some to dream about.
One pretty solid boilerplate example. If you go to REI Conversion or their REI Land List Theme, and just check out their demo, the listings don't have a huge description or anything, but it just shows you like, “Oh yeah, this is what I'm supposed to talk about. This is the size, the county, the road access, the utilities, the elevation, the zoning and the coordinates, all this stuff.” Just check those boxes, make sure you're talking about it so people can see it.
We've also got several different blog posts. I'm going to link to a couple of them in the show notes again, retipster.com/102 where we've just gone into a lot of detail on how to write a killer property listing. So be sure to check that out too. But make sure that the information you're putting out there is really a good well put together package. So, somebody can see it and know exactly what they're looking at. And if they do have questions, it's not because you didn't put it on there. It's because they just didn't read it. So just make sure they have the information that they need.
Jaren: Seth, to what you just said there. I want everybody to have the mindset when you're approaching your land listings, that there's a buyer for every property. I know that there are a handful of properties that are harder to sell than others. I don't mail to wetlands. If it's on the Wetlands Mapper, I take it off. And even if it's not on the Wetlands Mapper, if it's in North Eastern Florida, if there are cypress trees on the property, I don't buy it because it's harder to sell. But nobody really wants wetlands unless they are a duck hunter.
I had a property in Southern Indiana. It was a really large property or at least larger for what I normally buy. I think it was like 38 acres and a good 5 to 8 acres was pure wetlands. And I remember I had a buyer. This was the time when I would actually go meet with potential buyers, which is not recommended, but I was showing him the property.
And the only reason he was looking at my property was because there were 5 to 8 acres of wetlands and he was a duck hunter. And he wanted wetland property specifically because apparently, it's great for duck hunting.
If your description is not speaking to the right audience, that could be a major problem. That could be the thing that's hindering you from selling the property. If you really understand the selling points of your property, then you can speak to the right audience and get in front of them and highlight why your property meets their needs perfectly. You just got to really dig deep to know the selling points of your property.
One of the reasons why I kind of go for low-hanging fruit though, and why I scrubbed so hard on the front end is because I don't have the time, frankly, because I work very full-time at REtipster to really dig deep and fully understand each one of the pros and cons of each one of my properties.
But if I was full-time in my land business and I was putting out listings, I also use the land-specialized real estate agents who do a lot of the heavy lifting for me. But if I was doing this traditionally where I was posting this, my property is out there. I would spend a lot of time researching my properties and really understanding why would somebody want to buy this. And even if it's a property that you yourself wouldn't necessarily buy, somebody out there will want to buy your property, whether it's to illegally park their camper or just to check the box that I'm a land investor, I'm a landowner. Like there's a number of different reasons. But you've got to highlight that.
Seth: Just to jump in there. So, I would totally agree, there's a buyer for everything, but that buyer may not be willing to pay top dollar for that. So, if there are wetlands, if it is landlocked, if there is an issue, know that before you buy it so you can account for that. It kind of goes back to whenever people get hurt or a very common scenario when a person doesn't make a lot of money on a land deal, it's because they skip the due diligence or they just don't really look that at heart, they shoot from the hip. Jaren is totally right. Just make sure you're actually paying an appropriate price if it's got an issue.
Jaren: Yeah. I'm really glad you brought that up because I don't want to paint the picture that you should not do proper due diligence. If you are stuck with a bad property, mistakes do happen. If you market it correctly and you get in front of the right eyeballs, you should be okay to sell it at some point. It might take two years or you should at least be able to get what you bought it for if you're buying right.
But the only time I've ever lost money in the land business is what Seth is saying, where there was a particular property in Florida where it had a road right next to the property on the parcel map. And I had an agent go and scope it out and the road was accessible and everything, but technically it was a private road. And so, technically the property was landlocked and I bought it for $10,000, we sold it for $8,500 just to get rid of it.
I wish I knew kind of what I know now about landlocked properties. There are ways where you can get easement access, but at the time I was just like, “All right, I just got to move on.” And I lost money because I didn't call the county and do what I needed to do to make sure that it actually had road access. So, it is super important. If there is an issue and you still want to buy the property, like Seth said, get it for dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt cheap, so that you can't help but win.
Seth: Another thing. I don’t know, this is like a massive reason why a deal won't happen, but it can get in the way when people can't find your property. So, something that is not a huge issue when you're dealing with houses, because there's just a simple address you can type in and you can get there. But with land, a lot of times there is no address and surveys are expensive, especially on the super cheap properties. And if you just want to use the GIS parcel maps, it can be kind of a challenge unless you make it really easy and help a person to understand, “Okay, now I'm on the property. I know I'm here.” And that kind of thing.
And really just being prepared for that obstacle, like having the tools accessible, have the exact GPS coordinates, have the parcel map that you can easily send to them. Use apps like LandGlide or the HuntStand app or the MapRight app. I think one of the drawbacks of those is that most of those require a subscription, but they do have a free seven-day trial. So, it can be useful for that.
Even if you skip the whole app thing. I know sometimes that's just getting more complicated than some people are comfortable with. Maybe somebody doesn't want to sign up for a trial or something. But if you just go nuts getting plenty of parcel maps from different angles, get the address of the house next door so they can get there, and then understand where the property is in relation to that, there are things you can do but it requires that you try. Understand that this is an obstacle and it's going to need a little bit of work so that you can make it easier for them. I think just if the effort is there, instead of just “Here's the parcel number, go find it,” nobody's going to be able to do that unless they're a land investor. Just understand that. And don't let that be something that gets in the way of getting a property sold.
Jaren: Yeah. And kind of going into our next point that we have about overturning your nose. I actually have a story that's kind of a good segue. It's kind of related to people not being able to find my property or visit my property. So, in one of the first properties I bought in Florida, it was really unfortunate because it has a road that will get you there. But the road itself is a dirt road with a bunch of holes in it. Some of the holes are super huge, so you can't really get a car past them. And so, I was always wondering why whenever I would send people to this property, why they would just ghost me after that. And so, I finally found out by having an agent go by that it wasn't the property itself that had an access issue, it was the road going to the property that you had to deal with.
And so, when you have a situation like that, where it's just like a weird outlier thing that's hindering people from being interested in buying your property, or even being able to see it. Something that's really powerful is knowing how to overcome the negatives of your property. And if you have a difficult property to sell and you constantly are having people go visit it and check it out, but then they're not buying, just ask them, “Why aren't you interested in this property? I'm not putting pressure on you at all. I'm just wanting to know what the problem is with the property.” And in enough of those conversations, you're going to find some themes and you got to just be creative and think through, “Okay, if this property has a big portion of wetlands, or if this property is hard to get to, or it has a bunch of trees on it, or it needs to be cleared or whatever the issue is.”
There was a listing that I shared in the REtipster Facebook group, probably a couple of months back now, that I think was the best listing I've ever seen in my life. It was written by an agent that had a really dumpy house that was really terrible. And the way she described the property was like, it has an "open concept." If you mean open, meaning there's no window so there's lots of light or whatever. Like she turned all of the negatives about the property into an investment opportunity that made you want to buy the property just because it was so much fun. Like her listing was that good.
And I don't know if we're going to be able to hit that, especially if we don't have experience in copywriting. I would encourage you guys by the way, if you do a lot of land listings to take some copywriting courses, like market copywriting marketing courses on how to write good ad copy, because that is a huge superpower in learning how to speak the right language to the right audience. So, if you can get in front of them, having your listing speak to the right audience based on your pros and cons of your property is a huge win.
But all that being said, bringing the point home, if you can clearly identify what is negative about your property and then overcome it. Sometimes as crazy as it sounds, I've actually seen some YouTube videos that talk about different psychology and the way people respond to communication. Sometimes people don't even really need a good answer. They just need a reason in order to check off a negative in their head.
So, you might just tell them, “Sorry, I'm late. Traffic was crazy.” But they don't press you to really know if traffic was like, really how bad was it? They just needed to have a reason why you were late. Whereas if you come and you don't give them a reason, then they're upset because there wasn't a reason for it. Sometimes we're wired weird that way.
Seth: I heard somebody say, “Sorry, I was late. The Suez Canal was blocked.”
Jaren: Yeah, exactly. So, even if it's not necessarily like a super solid good reason, if you have just any reason for a negative to be there and for a negative not to be a big deal, that's going to really help you.
Seth: Another sort of elementary thing, but again, this takes work, sometimes money, depending on how you decide to go with it. It's just getting your property listed on all the websites it should be listed on. Obviously the big three free ones. And sometimes even a paid website might make sense as well, depending on the property and the market.
But just realizing, if you don't put this information out where people are looking for it, you're going to be severely limited in your ability to reach the people who are actually going to buy this thing. So, if you have a buyers list, utilize that as well. It's really easy to put a lot of your effort into one thing, but if you're not closing the loop, you have the best property listing and the best photos, the coolest drone video ever made. If you're not getting it in front of people who actually are interested in that, it's all for nothing. So don't forget about that part too.
Jaren: Yeah. A hundred percent, man.
Seth: And also, there are these other little creative alternative strategies like sending out neighbor letters. That's kind of like a knee-jerk first reaction that I have almost on every single property because that could be a super easy sale. The idea of offering seller financing for some people makes sense for their goals, for some people it doesn't. But if you're open to that, then obviously do it because that's going to if anything, make that thing sell faster. If you want to get land agents involved, that can be a huge, huge advantage.
Jaren: Let me jump in there, Seth, on neighbor letters. Something I want to just say about neighbor letters. When you are dealing with motivated sellers on the buying side, using letters as a form of communication or as a form of follow-up can also be really helpful that not a lot of people think of.
When you're communicating with motivated sellers, not all of them, but by and large, a lot of them are kind of more flaky people for whatever reason. And a lot of buyers are flaky too. But a lot of the times I've found certain people that I've dealt with might live off-grid. Like I literally just last week I had two leads that were approaching on closing and they weren't communicating with the title company. And so, I started freaking out a little bit like, “Hey, what's happening here?”
And so, I skip trace their phone number and their email and it's a 50/50 chance whether those emails and phone numbers work from like skip tracing software. But I blasted all of the communications that I could. And then I also sent out an overnight letter to both of these two individuals. And over the weekend, they got back to the title company because they got the letter.
The other one I just kept calling and it turns out that she went out of town and her house I guess, runs on a generator. And her phone was disconnected when she wasn't there. So, I thought, I don't know what happened. She fell off the face of the planet and then her phone was just going to be beep-beep and wasn't working anymore.
So, neighbor letters and following up with letters can be a really powerful thing if you're not able to get a hold of sellers. You just got to kind of put the hustle on guys, like be aggressive, it's okay.
Seth: Yeah. And that actually reminds me of back in my old day job, what I did was close commercial real estate loans all day. That was my function. And a lot of what that job consisted of was just reminding people. Just, “Hey, remember that thing I told you to do? Do it. You haven't done it yet. This is what you still have to do. Do this.” It wasn't hard. It was just, people are busy, people get distracted. There are all kinds of other priorities and things that people are doing. Some people just don't understand. They're confused. So, you’re really treating people almost like you're dealing with a child sometimes. Like you said, get the hustle on, pick up the phone, call them, text them, email, keep the ball rolling. There's a lot of times there's really no reason it shouldn't be moving. It's just that people are forgetting stuff.
Speaking of picking up the phone, a lot of times, builders and developers and farmers and that kind of thing can be another huge source of buyers, especially right now when people are actually building things like crazy. This was not always the case. 10 years ago, this was not that effective of a strategy, at least in the markets I was working. But now it is pretty much everywhere. There's a housing shortage, affordable housing crisis. Like people want land. Call builders, they can be a great source of buyers.
Jaren: Yeah, farmers too. One of my first properties in Indiana, I sat on 10 acres of farmland for way too long. And I was getting pressure from my private money investor to get the thing sold. So, I called up local farms, and there happened to be a farm. If it wasn't connected to it, it was just like a big farm company that had a bunch of acres in that county. And they ended up buying it, like right away and they just didn't know about it. And I sent it to them and it was a good price so they bought it right away. So, getting that hustle on is a really big piece of this working.
I would say though, as an alternative, like me, I don't have the time these days. Selling property is the biggest bottleneck in the land business. The majority of what you're going to be spending your time doing is following up a buyer leads, doing your buyer email blast each week or every other day, or however you structure it, getting things listed everywhere, writing descriptions, getting pictures, or studying your property so you know how to sell it. All that stuff is what you spend the bulk of your time doing.
What I did in my business though, because I love working at REtipster and this is like a dream opportunity for me, I outsourced all things to my wife. She was the one. Give credit where credit is due. She was the one that figured this out. But there's a big difference between an agent that just buys and sells houses and one that specializes in land. And we actually have a blog article that we'll put in the show notes that shows you systematically how to find a land-specialized real estate agent.
I work exclusively with agents, but there are pros and cons to that. The pros are, I have somebody to help me on the due diligence side, somebody to help me on the comping side, somebody who will deal with all the buyer leads for me. And pretty much, once I get a deal, I’m just literally waiting to collect a check and that’s all, it's really awesome.
But the drawback is if something happens to my agent... one of my better agents just went through eye surgery right now. And he's kind of limping along and not as productive as he once was. And so, that creates a bottleneck that I have to figure out. And there are weird relational things you have to navigate because I don't want to make him mad by giving other agents my properties, right? Or if God forbid, somebody died or something like that happened you have to go through all that and you have less control. You might feel like you could get a higher price or you care more about the property so you're going to make it more of a priority because it's your property that you're selling at the end of the day.
So, if you want more control or if you're doing seller financing, that's another side that's harder to deal with agents, not impossible but harder to do. You've got to figure out how you're going to pay their commission if you do seller financing.
Branding and having an email list and all that stuff is probably the route that you want to go. But still, you are incorporating land-specific agents in your ecosystem if you are branded and you're doing your own listings is still a really good strategy. Because what we used to do at Simple Wholesaling, one of my responsibilities as the disposition manager was to blast out a specific email blast to agents that we had a relationship with that had investor buyers or had seller financing buyers and that kind of thing.
So if you can gather a list of land-specialized agents for a particular market that you do a lot of business in, blasting out to a niche list like that can be really helpful and just say, “Hey I'm kind of selling this for sale by owner, but I'm willing to pay an agent commission if you bring me a buyer,” that kind of structure, and then you should be off to the races and could probably benefit from doing a little bit of both, agents and not agents. Or if you're in a situation similar to me where you're short on time, working with one can be pretty great, but you just have to weigh the pros and cons.
Seth: We've sort of talked about these other two things here, closing and communication and due diligence. Just going to the last thing here. And this is the last thing on this list by design and that is maybe you should lower your price. And I think lowering your price, I'm totally guilty of this. It's kind of like the easy button in some ways like “It's not selling, just cut the price, maybe that'll help” when there are probably a lot of other things you ought to explore first before doing that. Because remember we're making offers that should allow us to price it really low, to begin with.
Theoretically, that shouldn't be the problem if you've already done proper research on the front end. There's probably something else that needs to be dialed in better before you go here. Like all the stuff we just talked about—better listing, posting it, on more places, all this stuff.
However, that's not to say there's never a time to lower the price. Sometimes that really is the problem. I just wouldn't have a knee-jerk response to do that as your first reaction. And also, the seller financing component, if you're able to do that, that can really make the price almost irrelevant in some ways, because they don't have to pay the full price right away.
We've also got a blog post covering a lot of this stuff, by the way. I'm going to link to that in the show notes as well. It's basically just 10 ideas you can pursue if you've got a property that's not selling. Anything else you want to add on that segment, Jaren?
Jaren: Yeah. The last thing that I would just throw out there is I don't mess with the price at all, at least for six months. I might not even touch it for another three months. I do try to sell my properties within a year of ownership. So, if I get closer to the year mark, maybe within a quarter of the year, I'll try to maybe do a fire sale or drop the price or whatever. But for at least six months, if something is not selling, I'm not changing anything about the price because sometimes you can do everything right and sometimes it just takes longer to sell.
Seth: Kind of what you just said there, Jaren, this issue of it’s just taking a while for stuff to sell and your money is kind of tied up and you're just playing the waiting game, which is super frustrating when you need that money to move so you can buy another property. So, this kind of ties into the next big issue of, “What if you're not profitable?” What if you're spending all this time and money and effort on something and the profit just isn't there, or it's not there at the level that you want it to be? Like it's not meeting your expectations in terms of when and why you got into this business. What's your story about Profit First? Do you want to go through that?
Jaren: Yeah. So, I mentioned Profit First a little bit at the beginning of today's show, but I really think that every person who graduates high school should read Profit First because it just gives practical knowledge of how to manage finances for those that aren't accountants.
Accounting is a little bit weird. It's not that intuitive because they account for money that has already been spent a lot of the time, whereas Profit First accounts for money that is going to be spent and how you prepare for the needed operation costs and taxes and things that are going to be coming to get you, to bite you. I really benefited a lot from Profit First. It's again, that second side to that success coin. It's not just knowing how to generate revenue by doing a certain activity. It's knowing what to do with that revenue that really moves the needle forward.
We all got into business to make money. At the end of the day, it might be freedom or it might be other things, but all of that stems from us making more money. And a lot of that, you'd be really surprised how many entrepreneurs and small businesses are not profitable. They might be at the REIA group like, “Yeah, I'm doing 30 deals a month or I'm doing this and that,” but behind closed doors because they're losing money and they're about to go bankrupt and they're stressed to the max and it's terrible. That's not what business is supposed to be. And Profit First, it gives you a system where if you work it according to that system, or at least use some of those principles and tailor it to your life and your personality and all of that, I think it can be extremely helpful.
The premise is you should take profit first and then run your business on what's left after that. So, if profit is priority number one for your business, that's the money that you get paid as the business owner, then there's an owner salary, which is what you get paid for being your number one employee in your business. And that's what you pay yourself once you've scaled and you can sustain your life on that. That's what you pay yourself on a monthly basis. And then there's the tax accountant.
According to the Profit First system, your business covers not only the taxes for your business but your personal taxes as well. And then from there, you can set up different accounts—like literal bank accounts is how they are divided up. They modernized the envelope system. It's essentially an envelope or a holding place for different functions in your life and business. After that, you would do operating costs and direct mail and all of that.
I tell a lot of our coaching students, “Hey, when you're first getting started, there's no rush or no pressure, no shame in running your business campaign to campaign.” So, I'm going to do a direct mail campaign, work the leads, get the properties, get them from this campaign, the majority of them are sold and I'm sitting on a lot of cash in the bank. And then at that point say, “Okay, how much am I going to allocate for the next campaign?”
You are having the rhythm of your business be from direct mail campaign to direct mail campaign instead of like, “I'm going to send out 4,000 units of mail every single month without fail.” Especially when you don't know what you're doing, that's a recipe for disaster. It can be. You might luck out, and that's great if you do. That's what really hurt me at the beginning of my land businesses. I just committed too much too quickly because I came out of Simple Wholesaling, which was a huge operation spending tens of thousands of dollars a month in direct mail. I was like, I'm going to be my own version of simple wholesaling. And I got too big for my britches, as they say.
Seth: What Jaren just said, there was a little bit of a recap of what we talked about with David Richter in the previous episode, episode 101. So, if you're interested in Profit First, obviously read the book. But David Richter actually deals with Profit First specifically for real estate investors. There were a lot of good insights in that as well. So that's retipster.com/101. So, check that out.
But I know another issue with getting past the lack of liquidity is, you could consider money partners. And this has been something that has just become more and more prevalent. It's actually kind of cool to see because there are lots of people out there who don't have the money, but they are willing to do the work. And there are lots of people who do have the money and they don't want to do the work. And it's just a matter of finding somebody who can do that with you. And believe me, everybody's out there looking for each other.
I think the wrong way to go about looking for people like this is to just post an open-ended announcement. Like, “Hey, I'm looking for money partners.” Don't do that. That's really annoying. That's kind of borderline spam. What I would do is pay attention to the forums or the Facebook groups or wherever you're at. Pay attention to who's talking, who's talking about their deals, who is clearly chiming with a lot of knowledge and smart responses, kind of just displaying their competence.
Reach out to them directly, send them a private message, your sentiment email, and start the conversation that way. It's a lot more personal. It's a lot harder for them to ignore you when they see that kind of thing. I mean they can, but when there's a direct connection like that, it’s just a lot more effective. It takes more work to do it this way, but it's more effective too.
So, whatever situation you're in, whether you have more money or a lack of money, but you do have time, keep your radar out and look for people and strike up these conversations and network because it can really solve a huge problem.
Jaren: Yeah. And if you can, I think it would be a good idea to try to get a handful of deals under your belt before you really start reaching out to money partners, because you kind of want to smooth out your mistakes or overcome your learning curve first because the pressure is on, man. That is one thing for sure. Right now, I'm exclusively using private money partners in all of the deals that I do. And it was I think two years or three years before I even thought about bringing on a private money partner. When you're using somebody else's money to buy a property, if you're wrong or you lose money, that's your reputation on the line. And that can go by very quickly. So, you got to be very confident and competent in knowing what you're doing.
An alternative to that though, there are some land guys for very expensive ROI. They will take a lot of your profit, but they will finance deals for beginners and walk you through due diligence, and be involved in the process. So, those do exist out there. And I do think that that could be a good option for those that are lacking financial resources, but you have to be willing to give up a big chunk of the profit.
Seth: Another option. I'm a little hesitant to just recommend this because it's not right for everybody, not everybody's in a situation where they can manage money correctly and wisely.
But there are options out there like Fund&Grow that can help you get access to interest-free business lines of credit. Again, I say that very cautiously because basically what's happening is you're able to get business credit cards, which do not show up on your personal credit report because it's a business line of credit. You can take the money and convert it to cash and buy real estate with it through an intermediary called plastic.
But the big catch is this 0% interest period is going to end after 12 months or 15 months. Like it doesn't go on forever. So, you'd better have a plan for paying that money back in full before that happens. Because if you don't, you're going to be paying a heck of a lot more in interest, like you're paying off a credit card.
So, if you do that, just be keenly aware of that so you can pay it back either by getting another business credit card to pay that one back, but preferably just selling the property and using the profits to pay it back that way. And that way you can keep all the profit yourself.
We do have an affiliate relationship with the Fund&Grow. If you guys ever want to check that out, you can get a pretty good discount on the fee that they charge to settle this up for you. It’s retipster.com/fundandgrow.
Jaren: And in that blog post, I document my personal experience using them. Because when I first heard about them, I was like, that sounds too good to be true. So, I'm going to go test it out. And so, I did and it was legit. So, I think I got a total of like $38,000 in the unsecured lines of credit. And it is a little bit cumbersome to go through plastic and buy property with it and stuff. At least when I was using plastic and all that, they needed a big paper trail. And at the time I wasn't doing a lot of title company stuff. So, I was trying to close myself in and got down to the wire of needing to send the funds and then would run into hiccups or bottlenecks sometimes.
So just be aware that each time you use plastic, you're going to have to have a paper trail and they might give you pushback and underwriting. They just want to verify that you're not paying yourself or paying your sister or your wife or something because that's illegal, I guess, to liquidate credit cards for personal reasons. But using it to pay vendors or using it to pay for other things like even W-1099 contractors and stuff, you can do all of that through their system. They just need proof of the paper trail.
Seth: Yeah, I'm going to link to Jaren’s blog post review that he put together. It's a super good overview of it, again, in the show notes retipster.com/102. But even beyond that, another option is to consider assigning contracts or doing double closing as a traditional house wholesaler would. We've had a number of different podcast interviews in the past. Again, I'll link to them in the show notes with Rene, with Carl, with Luis most recently in episode 98, where it's not necessarily the cleanest, easiest, rubber stamp way to do this, but if you got no money or not enough money to keep moving, it's a viable alternative.
There's definitely potential to waste time and pursue deals to fall apart and all this stuff and communication issues. But if you're geared up for that, if you know how to communicate it, and if you know how to follow up with people and connect the right people, it's a pretty cool way to make money from land deals, but actually having to buy them with your own money.
Jaren: So, one of the other things that I wanted to mention guys is something that I run into a lot is people might send out like 200 mailers or 500 mailers. And then they say, “Oh, I sent out these mailers and I got no responses. It doesn't work.” And 200 to 500 mailers probably aren’t enough in terms of a sample size of mailers in order to get good enough feedback.
But there are a lot of variables and a lot of caveats to that. If you do 200 to 500 of a delinquent tax list or a specialized niche list, or the recently deceased or something, yeah, you could have a niche list that highly increases your response rate because there's a higher level of motivation or higher potential motivation based on that list. So, take it with a grain of salt, but if you're going the direction of pulling a list from a data service provider, I typically like to at least be around 1,500 to 2,000 if I'm testing out a market. That is more aggressive and that is more expensive.
I've heard other people say they might divide that over a couple of different counties in a particular state to kind of see what's going to end up giving them a good response rate. There's so much that goes into this question of “How many mailers do you need to send out?” Because for example, I grabbed my list super hard, probably harder than most people that I talked to. Most people, they do basic stuff, might do anything under a certain assess value, anything over assessed value, removing the link duplicates or business-named, business-owned properties, et cetera, et cetera. And they might do some other things to try and see if they know there are wetlands in a certain area, they might do that. They don't go line by line.
So, if you have a lot more properties in there that are tougher properties, they are more difficult property, so there's going to be a higher response rate, but you might end up having a lower deal rate because you ended up not buying those because they're difficult properties.
It can go down to the color of the letter that you sent out or the messaging in your letter, or if you use a postcard or a neutral letter or a blind offer, or if you're pushing people to a website, or if you're answering calls live or through PATLive. There are so many different things that can influence your results on this, that anybody with integrity and honesty, can't just flippantly say, “Yeah, I get one deal per every X amount of letters.” It doesn't really work that way.
But what you can do is you can track over time to see what your average deal rate and response rate is for your specific business in your market, based on your messaging and your direct mail pieces and all of that. And I really encourage people to do that.
The longer you do that, the more and more accurate it's going to be. But if you had a solid three to six months of tracking that data, or maybe do it like three to six campaigns, if you're not mailing every single month, I think that is going to drastically help you understand how to manage your business.
I know for me in my business, I'm getting one deal per around every 2,000. It's really about 1,500. But as a general rule, I know, “Okay, if I send out about 2,000 letters per property, I know how much I need to spend in order to scale and all of that.” So, it's really helpful information to get there, but you're going to have to do that custom to your own business and what you're doing in your business.
Seth: Yeah. Jaren, I know we've covered a lot of potential alternatives or different paths people could try. We actually haven't even covered everything, but we've covered most of the stuff we were going to talk about.
But as we wrap this up, I just want to ask kind of a brutally honest question and we can both chime in on this. Is there ever a situation where a person should give up or put things on pause for the time being? So, maybe not like walking away for good, but you're just like, “I got to step away. This isn't working. I got to stop.”
What other avenues should they exhaust before they make that call? Before they say, “Nope, I'm done”? Because failure is a possibility. It's possible that this just isn't the thing for you. But as we've kind of talked to this, lots of things that can be done wrong.
So, I know as I think about that, in terms of reasons to literally quit and say, “I'm done with this” would be if it's destroying your personal life, if you can't figure out a way to make your business activity work within the confines of your personal commitments and that kind of thing and have the two, play nice, you might want to prioritize your relationships over your work. Or if those relationships truly aren't important, for some reason, then tell something to stop. But if they both need to work in harmony and they are not, that could be one potential reason to walk away from it.
And another thing I know is, I've got a good friend who actually was doing land for over a year and he was succeeding at it to a point and he decided to walk away from it. And his main reason was, he just didn't enjoy the work. It wasn't that fun for him. He realized, “I believe in the business model, I know it works. It's awesome. But at the end of the day, I just don't like spending my time this way. There's other stuff I want to do with my life and this isn't it.” And I think that's an okay reason. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. If anything, it's good to know yourself and good to know your limits in what you do and don't want to spend your life doing. Do you have any thoughts as we're talking about this?
Jaren: Yeah. For me, I think the biggest one is if you stuck to this thing for around two years and you don't have much to show for it, it might not be your thing. And I think that that's okay. I think that we need to give ourselves permission. You actually taught me about... I think it was either sinking costs or you had some phrase for it.
Seth: Sunk costs?
Jaren: Sunk costs. Yeah. Where just because you spend putting a lot of time and resources into it, that doesn't mean that you should necessarily stick it out. It might not be the most beneficial route for you to go. And like I said earlier, I'd be a terrible contractor. So, if I were to be a contractor and gave it my best for two years, I'd suck at it. And it's not the right fit for everybody. So, I would reiterate that point.
And then also what you said about your relationships. I don't think that if your spouse or your loved ones that are really your inner circle are against you doing this, it's not worth it. There are other ways to make money. There might be other issues if they're not supportive or if you're dealing with somebody, who's always an obstacle to overcome in terms of any way to better yourself and make money. But if for whatever reason, they're against real estate or they have something against the land business itself, your number one should be your family. Like my wife, she's been a huge support in my business. And if I had to fight her tooth and nail, it would not work.
Seth: And lastly, take this with a grain of salt, but it is possible that there may come another opportunity in your life, like another business or something that you legitimately enjoy more than this. And or maybe you can make more of that or in some way, it's more conducive to your life. And I think those things are honestly few and far between, and I can say that because I've looked at so many other things. And land just has so many advantages over everything else in a lot of ways, but it's still not perfect. It doesn't have everything.
Jaren: And it can get boring.
Seth: Yeah. And also, part of the reason why I hesitate to say this is because this is basically shiny object syndrome. And I've had this as well where I was like “I kind of want to try this thing for a while.” And I just realized, “No, it's just not as good.” And I talked to a lot of people who stepped away from land and ended up coming back to it because they realized the same thing. So, I would caution you on that, but at the same time, you have to acknowledge there could be something else for you. And if that is really making itself obvious, then it's not like you need to stick to this just for the sake of finishing the race. Maybe there is a reason to change course and do something else and be open to that as a possibility.
Jaren: Yeah. A hundred percent.
Seth: I think that kind of wraps it up.
Jaren: I wish that this podcast existed when I first started my land business, man. If people take what we shared with them, I think we just saved people so much money and made them so much money. This is really good stuff.
Seth: I know there's a lot of other land investors out there who would be well-equipped to answer a lot of these same questions, but I feel like we are uniquely equipped to address some of these things because this is what we talk about every month in our Office Hours calls for the Land Investing Masterclass. It's just a constant barrage of the same questions again and again. And usually, there are different twists on it, like different things, but it kind of boils down to the same stuff, which is a lot of what we just covered.
And also acknowledge, I still mess some of this stuff up. It's not like I have this figured out. I do intuitively know the answer, but that doesn't mean I'm able to sell properties in a day. I get frustrated all the time. So having this insight and experience doesn't suddenly make it easier for a person. It's more just awareness of how you do navigate through these things and you kind of give yourself a break too. Realizing, it's not the end of the world. I'm not dumb. Everybody struggles with this.
Thanks everybody for listening. Be sure to check out the show notes, retipster.com/102. And if you're listening to this on your phone, text the word “FREE” to the number 337778.
I hope you guys enjoyed this conversation. It’s kind of a unique thing that we haven't done a whole lot of just me and Jaren talking about these kinds of things, but hopefully, somebody out there got something out of it. Thanks again for listening and we'll talk to you guys next time.
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