Today, I’m talking with my friend Jesse Marchand.
I first got connected with Jesse a couple of years ago when we started the REtipster Facebook Group and he volunteered to be our moderator and he has been hugely helpful in helping us keep that community on track and thriving.
As I’ve paid more and more attention to this guy, I’ve found that he’s actually got a wealth of experience and he’s seen a whole lot of things and learned a whole lot of lessons that we can all benefit from.
Links and Resources
- Earthly Acres (Jesse’s Website)
- Screen Your Calls Like a Ninja
- PATLive Review: How Is a Virtual Receptionist for Busy Entrepreneurs?
- PATLive (REtipster Affiliate Link)
- Single Source Funding Explained
- How Does a Double Closing Work?
- How An Assignment of Contract Works
- Learn Land Mastermind (Clint Turner’s Website)
- DataTree (REtipter Affiliate Link)
- Google Voice
- Rocket Print & Mail (REtipster Affiliate Link)
- 030: A Decade of Land Investing Experience in 60 Minutes w/ Renee Riker
- Wholesaling Made Simple! A Comprehensive Guide to Assigning Contracts
- Land Investing Masterclass
- REtipster Certified Coaches
Seth: Hey everybody, how's it going? This is Seth Williams. You're listening to the REtipster podcast. Today I'm talking with my good friend Jesse Marchand. I first got connected with Jesse a couple of years ago when we started the REtipster Facebook group. I always kind of seen him around different groups and that kind of thing. But about the time we did that, he just kindly reached out and said, “Hey, I'm happy to moderate your group if you want. I'm there all the time anyway.” And I was like, “Yeah, I totally need help.” He'd been doing a great job just keeping all that neat and tidy and helping out with that.
And as I've just sort of sat back and watched Jesse and seen his comments and questions and usings about the land business, I realized this guy knows a lot of stuff, and he's been doing this for a while, and he has a lot of experience. I figured why not get this guy on a call and grill him about his experience, everything he knows. And we can try to extract some of the knowledge up in his noggin, and hopefully, through this, we can all learn something. In fact, I know we're going to learn something. I've already talked to him a little bit before this conversation, and lots of takeaways just right there. I think this is going to be good. Jesse, welcome to the podcast. How are you doing?
Jesse: Thanks, man. I’m so proud to be here, actually. I love it. This is my favorite land podcast.
Seth: Why don't we start back from square one. When did you learn about the land business? What made you decide to give it a shot? Help us figure out how you got under this.
Jesse: Well, I grew up here in Massachusetts, and I used to live in Florida, moved down there for a little while, about 10 years. And while I was there, I always knew that real estate was a thing and a good way to make money. And that's how most rich people got rich. So, I looked into flipping houses, and I did about three of those, but they were more like live and fix up myself, sell, move, do it again, which obviously is not the most efficient way to do it.
Then when I moved back to Massachusetts, I sold everything I had, and I wanted to hit the ground running with this house flipping thing. I was listening to podcasts and learning as much as I could. And it all became overwhelming really fast. I didn't love the idea of having to borrow $250,000 and pay it back within the next three months, or I was going to start hemorrhaging about it.
Around the same time, the house flipping podcast I was listening to had Mark Podolsky talking about land flipping. I was like, “Oh, that's very interesting.” I started listening to his podcast, and then I'm pretty sure he had you on. And then, in all honesty, when I found you, I was just like, okay, you provided so much free information and easy to reach information that I went down that rabbit hole and never really came back up.
I kind of hit the ground running with that. I got a mentor sort of a one on one that didn't exactly work out. He was reluctant to teach me. He was like, it didn't really work out for me before. So, it didn't really pan out, but I won't put that on him.
After that, I was kind of reluctant to get into coaching or get into another course. And from there, I was like, I'm just going to figure this out on my own. I started learning and learning and learning and learning. I’ve been doing that for six years now.
Seth: Wow. You've been actively plugging away at this for six years. How has the journey gone? I know it seems like there are a few different paths people take, and this is obviously grouping people into very broad categories, but some people sort of start out, and it just kind of flops. Like it just doesn't catch, or maybe it does, but they just realize I don't like the work. So, they just kind of fizzle out and drop out.
Other people do the total opposite where they just jump into it huge, or they have a really massive early success. And it's just amazing. These are basically the success stories that you hear about. But for a lot of people, it's just a slog. It works, and that's really appealing because a lot of things in life don't work, and that's enough to hook you and keep you in the game, but it's not like you're making millions overnight. It's hard. It's very time-consuming. But what does your story look like?
Jesse: Yeah. When I first started doing it, I learned so much, and right off the bat, I might have got blind to the idea of it. But I was like, “Yeah, I'll just quit my job, and in two years, I'll be done. All my dreams will come true in two years.” Every year since, I've been like, “All right, two more years. All right, next year. Two more years.”
But in the beginning, I started off kind of slow. I was mailing about 1,000 or 1,500 a month, and it was going okay. I was picking up deals here and there. Really what it was, I proved the concept. I wasn't making huge amounts of money, but I was proving it could be done. And that's really what kept me going. I knew that the further I got, the better I would do. Yeah, there was a long time where I was just slogging away, but I was taking little steps each time, and that kept me going. In all honesty, I never lost money on a deal. The least amount I ever made, I think, was like $50. And I was like, “Eh, chalk it up to experience.” But yeah, I kept plugging away.
Seth: I think in our previous conversation you had told me that for a while you felt like you were treading water, kind of like fitting into that middle category where probably a lot of people who stick with it, that's what they fall into where it's just hard work, and it's not instant riches or anything like that. But I think I saw it in our Facebook group. I think it was this past year. I don't remember how long ago it was, but it sounded like you sort of turned a corner, and things got way better and started doing bigger deals and more volume and that kind of thing. And I'd love to understand what was it before and what is it now? And why? What caused the change?
Jesse: Right. Great question. I think for those five years, I was “treading” water. I was thinking about this. I kept trying to get that financial gain, and for reasons we might go into a little bit later, I wasn't quite getting it. But I was able to barely keep my head above water. Every now and then, I had to take a little bit out of my savings. $1,500 here just to do like a transactional type close or even borrow from my mom a little bit just to get the deal through. But I was basically keeping the business moving forward without really taking a financial gain.
However, looking back now, I realized that my real gain was more experience and knowledge. And another one that's been a huge impact has been networking or just really making friends in this community. And I've noticed that that has been a gigantic thing.
Seth: That is a big deal.
Jesse: Which we could talk about also. At one point, I was probably doing honestly one deal every two or three months. I only had so much time based on my current lifestyle. There was only so much I could do. I probably only did like half a dozen deals a year. I think the best year I had was like 9 or 10, maybe 11 deals, which really is something but not a lot.
And then I kept telling my wife, “I know I could do this. I know I can do it. I just have to get there.” But I realized that I also couldn't do it on my own, but I also couldn't afford a team at the time. Then I kind of struck gold with a deal that I did have to get a partner with, and I did have to split, but it netted me, I think, about $28,000, which was awesome.
And that was even a 50-50 split. And I still walked away with that.
And then I had the money to really put into this business. It wasn't just covering overhead. Now I could take that chunk and put it towards scaling the business. I hired Clint Turner as a coach, and he basically kind of walked me through it. "This is what you got to do. This is what you got to do."
And one of the first things he told me was you have to get off the phone. If I can make a quick note about coaching, I think one of the things that a great coach will do is they will tailor their coaching to your needs. And my need was that I couldn't be on the phone. It's too much of a time suck.
I hired my acquisition manager, and about a couple of months later maybe, I hired my marketing manager, and we have been skyrocketing since. And if I could add something really quick, I talked to my bookkeeper the other day, and they told me my business since the previous year has grown 292%.
Seth: Wow. That's awesome.
Jesse: That's incredible.
Seth: Where did you find this acquisition person?
Jesse: I hate when people ask me this question and only because I got incredibly lucky. When people ask about hiring a team, I'm like, I have no secret formula for you. I have no tips, and I have no advice. And in all honesty, what happened was, I put a post-up on the REtipster Facebook group. And I was like, can anybody recommend an intake manager? And a girl reached out to me, that's in your master class. And she was like, I'll do it. And I was like, all right. So, I started working with her, and she's been awesome.
And then we were talking about needing a marketing manager, and she's like, well, my friend can do it. I'm like, all right, sure. I'll give her a shot. And she's been amazing too. I seriously have been incredibly lucky with these two girls because they've been phenomenal. And I just got lucky. I didn't really find them anywhere. They kind of found me.
Seth: So, you just put this post out there on Facebook and they responded as a comment, or did they direct message you? Were they the only people who responded, or did you get like 20 people and you just happened to pick the right one?
Jesse: The little bit of a longer story, this one guy reached out to me first, and he was learning the business. He was in another country. I was looking for somebody who could speak English fluently because I needed somebody to call sellers and call the county. And I didn't want there to be any sort of communication breakdown. And he was fine with that. At the end of the day, he didn't have the time to commit.
But right about that same time, I got a message from another guy who is my intake manager's husband because my intake manager at the time didn't have Facebook. So, he was kind of reaching out on her behalf and I said, "Well, I'm sorry. I just found this other guy." And then when that guy didn't work out, I went back to her husband and was like, "Is he still interested?" And we started just talking through messenger and the rest has been history since then.
Seth: And just to confirm, when you say intake manager, is that synonymous with acquisitions manager? Talking about the same thing, the same person?
Jesse: I call it that, but in all honesty, at this point, I'm responsible for sending out the mail and then once the call starts coming in, they basically go directly to her, and she handles pretty much everything. Occasionally, she'll set a deal for a review or purchase for a review, but she handled everything all the way up to marketing. And when it's time to market the property, it gets switched over to our sales and marketing manager. And then she takes it all the way to the end. And at some point, a mobile notary showed up at my house and I just sign the documents and they wire me the money.
Seth: Yeah. Bunch of questions that come out as I hear you talk. It's really interesting. The intake manager or acquisitions person. In your business anyway, are you sending out blind offers so the offer price has already been out there, or is this person deciding on the offer on your behalf? Is it a neutral letter?
Jesse: Yeah. I've done a mix of everything. We were doing range offers for a while and I actually stopped doing those and we're still making adjustments, but we've recently gone to full neutral letters and we mailed 3,000 a week. 3,000 neutral letters go out each week. Again, I'm tweaking it a little bit to kind of cut down on tire kickers and people that expect market value prices.
When the call comes in, she does a little bit of quick due diligence just on the property. And actually, it goes directly to voicemail. She does a quick little due diligence. She does comps, and then she'll kind of determine this is the market value. This is 75%, which is what we try to sell our properties at. This is the 33% of what we'd like to make an offer on.
And then I have started giving her more freedom and tiering things where this is how much money I want to make if we're selling the property for this amount. There is a profit spread that we're kind of trying to hit on certain tiers. I have said it where she can automatically approve deals without my input.
However, the caveat to that is we also do mostly options. The risk of being off is very low. If we have to buy it with cash, then I automatically review it. If she's not quite confident in her comps, automatically she'll set it for me to review it. But if she's confident in it enough and she can get an under an option agreement, it just pushes right through. So yeah, occasionally, we have deals that I don't even know about. I'm like, “Oh, this is happening. Okay.”
Seth: So, you're doing options a lot, you say. What percentage are going the option route versus purchase agreement? We're going to buy it, and that's our intent.
Jesse: 95% -99% option.
Seth: I know a lot of this is sort of in the art of communication, that kind of thing, but is it harder to get deals under option when you're not really making a commitment to somebody? How do you explain it to a person so that they're like, “Yeah, okay, I'll take a discounted offer on an option with no commitment from you to buy it?”
Jesse: I was afraid you're going to ask this because I don't know. She does have a script, but she's also gotten really good at it. First, we go at them with, “This is our offer. This is the amount. This is the option. We're doing this because maybe there's not a lot of comps in the area. We're new to that area. We don't have a lot of confidence in the market yet, because we just got here.” Maybe the property is really rural, and we're not sure about our buyers if they're going to want that.
She'll come up with some sort of reason that we should go with the option route. Frequently, but not all the time, they'll say, “Oh, I don't like the option. How much are you willing to offer me cash?” And then it gets sent back to review. I'll review it. And I'll say, this is our cash offer, which is obviously cheaper. And that is where we end up buying some properties with cash. But she manages to sell them on option and they are higher obviously, but our risk is so low and we're able to not have to borrow money very often. In fact, I've only had to partner with somebody for finances that one time when I was by myself. Since then, we've just been kind of maintaining our process.
Seth: Yeah. And just for people out there who are listening, if you do have any curiosity about how to explain this kind of offer to somebody where it's non-committal, but it's still low, I've got a blog post I put together. We also had a conversation with Renee Riker in episode 30 of the podcast. retipster.com/30 or retipster.com/wholesaling is the article I put together about this.
But the way that we explain it is a little bit different. It's when you get a regular purchase agreement signed with an assignment clause in it. But the whole idea is how do you explain this to somebody in a way that they can get on board? And they're fully informed, they understand what's happening, but it's not too confusing that they're going to say no. There's a lot of explanation in those resources if you want to check it out.
But just with you, Jesse, it sounds like if you're getting stuff under option, I guess one question is how long is that option out there and what do you have to pay, if anything, to get that thing enforced? And is your intent to never buy it yourself? Just assign it to somebody else or do you buy it and then quickly sell it in a double closing? How does that work?
Jesse: First off, we do explain to them that we are going to market the property for this time. We used to do it for 90 days, and then I'm not sure what happened. At some point, I think my acquisitions manager made a mistake and accidentally told them 120 days and they didn't disagree. So, we're like, “Oh, okay. I guess we'll keep trying that.” And so now the majority of them are 120 days and we'll use that as a negotiation tactic. We'll say, well, what if we did it for 90 days? Or if it's a large property and it's expensive, we'll try to push that to 180 days because we realize that our buyer pool will be a little bit smaller.
Seth: Do you have to put down any kind of money or consideration to enforce this thing?
Jesse: No, we don't.
Seth: Basically, if they just said, “Nope, I don't want to,” there's not really anything to do about it, but they're not going to do that.
Jesse: Occasionally. It depends on a number of things, but it certainly depends on the county. We'll record the option contract to clap the title.
Seth: Okay. So, they got to get it notarized and everything.
Jesse: No, we just record it. We e-record it. But we made a mistake one time. We started doing it more frequently when we kind of got screwed on the deal. It got bought from underneath us. Actually, we ended up being the "mistress" on that one and it turned out that guy had a sales agreement with somebody else before us. And while it was going through the title, our title company came back and was like, it's already been sold. I'm like, okay, "Well, I guess we'll start recording our agreements." It depends; if it's a really big deal, yeah, we'll try to make sure we're recording that.
Seth: What percentage of these deals would you say fall apart and don't go anywhere?
Jesse: Yeah, that was what I was going to say. We obviously try really hard to pick properties that we are confident we can sell within 90 days. That takes a lot. That does take experience. And that takes knowledge in having all your right data because we don't want to go back to the seller and say, sorry, we couldn't sell your property. And in the past year, that's probably happened two or three times. It really doesn't happen that often. We get better at it as time goes on.
Seth: Are you sticking to the classic 10% to 20% to 30%, maybe even 40% of market value when you're putting these options on, or are you free to go up to like 80% or whatever? Because there's no money on the line unless you get the thing sold, right?
Jesse: Yeah. Here's one of the reasons I went with neutral letters. As this industry becomes more and more popular, I'm not going to say it's saturated because we keep pulling deals. We target Mojave all the time. We still pull deals out of it. It’s the most saturated market.
But what I'm realizing is when I first came into this, people were talking about the days when you could offer 10%. And now everybody's offering 20%, 25%. And then when I really started getting, when I started picking up speed, I was offering 33%. Then I hear people offering 40%. And I'm like, “I can't keep up with this. Let's just throw neutral letters out there. And when they come in, we'll just try to make a certain amount of spread. And that's like I was saying about our tiered. It's not concrete, but it's like, look, if we're buying a property for $10,000, I don't want to pay more than $5,000 for it. Anything under $5,000, we will get it.
If it's a $20,000 deal, it would be nice to make $10,000. If it's a $50,000 deal, I'd like to make maybe $15,000 or $20,000 on it. And it kind of keeps going up. It depends on how much work is involved. Because that's another thing. If I get this property and it's an awesome property, and I know I could sell it within a couple of weeks, then even if it's a $50,000 property, I'll take the $10,000 because I know I'll have it sold by the end of the week. Not that that always happens, but at this point, we're looking at it on a property-by-property basis.
Seth: It's not really so much about percentages. It's just about how many dollars can we pull out of this?
Jesse: Pretty much. Yeah.
Seth: Just as an example, what would be the highest percentage of market value that you would offer? What's an extreme case where you would go way above and beyond? Do you ever go over 50%, for example, or 60%?
Jesse: Yeah. Yeah, of course. I'd have to look at what we have on the record right now. Let's say I could sell it for $100,000. I would like to make a minimum of $20,000 on that property. What's that? 80%. But again, it depends on how much work. If we're going to have it on books for six months. If it's going to be hard to sell, then I'll offer less. But yeah, if I think I can sell it fast and I can make $20,000 in a couple of weeks or in less than a month, then absolutely.
Obviously, there are negotiations that have to be made with the seller. We do obviously start low. We don't give them our highest offer, but with my acquisitions manager, it's like, “Hey, I think we should start here, but don't go above this amount without talking to me first.” And then if we have to go over that amount, then I go back, I really do a review of the property. And then I really start looking a lot deeper at it to see whether or not we could go higher. But for the most part, that's not the case. I'm sorry I don't have a percentage amount for you.
Seth: No, that's no problem. Sometimes that helps me get clarity. Look for the most extreme example of something just to understand what we are talking about here? That's why I ask. Let's say you get a $100,000 dollars property. It's worth that and you get it on an option for $80,000, like you said. You market it and then somebody says, “Hey, I want to buy it. Let's do it.” Are you buying it? You're exercising an option to buy it yourself and then you're selling it to them with a double closing, or are you somehow assigning the option and they jump in? How do the mechanics of that work?
Jesse: We've been really fortunate. We have expanded. But when we started doing this method, I was about to tell you about it. We started in Arizona and we work with a great American title agency out of Phoenix there. They have been awesome, and I recommend them to everybody. We've also found one in Tennessee that we use. And what we've been able to do with them is do a true A to C double close, where they use the buyer's money and they pay everybody. And that has been a huge game-changer for us.
Not only that, they're able to do it without disclosing what our profit would be to either party, which has also been phenomenal for us because sometimes our spread is massive. Almost like it would be insulting to both parties. But if we did an assignment, then that assignment fee would have to be revealed and our profit would be disclosed.
And I don't really love that. You could do it, certainly, but I'd rather have some things to be undisclosed.
We have the option come in, we get that signed, we market it. We found this buyer. We get both parties to sign a sales agreement. We then take those sales agreements, send them to our title company. The title company handles everything. It comes back. The notary shows up, I sign all of the paperwork, send it back to the title company. A couple days later, they wire us our money. Not all of the deals work out that way. And as I'm expanding the business and moving into different states, I will probably have to start enacting transactional funding, which won't stop me at all from doing. Just if I can't find a title company to do what we want, I'll have to adjust.
Seth: Yeah. And I know some of this stuff is getting into state-specific law, even in some states. Ohio is the one that comes to mind. I forget the other ones. But in some states doing this kind of thing where you put an option or a purchase agreement with the intent of assigning it, some people perceive that to be pretending you're a real estate agent when you're not because you're sort of working on somebody else's behalf to market and list their property and sell it.
But I think that one important thing is just to understand, “Is this allowed in the state or not?” And I think in most states it's fine, but there are some places where it's a problem. Just be aware of that.
Jesse: Yeah. And you're absolutely right. I kind of jokingly say, I just do what I want. I realize that that is a very important thing, and I don't recommend somebody going into a state and just doing whatever they want willy-nilly. We also are at a point where all of our deals are pretty much going through title companies except for a couple of them.
I put a lot of the legalities on the title companies. As far as option agreements and marketing, I'm moving ahead without really researching each state specifically at this moment. But what I would like to do is every state that we go into, hire an attorney, drop the right paperwork, talk to them. And we've done that in a couple of states that we've worked in. But as we're moving forward so fast, I really don't have enough time. Any attorneys out there listening, you didn't hear anything from me. But yeah, that's on our very near horizon to make sure we're doing all these things legally.
Seth: Yeah. I hate to say this because, in my position, the stance I always choose to take is to talk to an attorney, get the right stand answers, blah, blah, blah. It's super boring and slow and annoying, and I totally get it because I feel like it'd be bad for me to say, “Yeah, just go do whatever you want. Figure it out.” But I got to tell you, there's this weird commonality I notice among people who just blow up and do huge things. They kind of take that approach where they're just like, “I'm just going to bump into the walls. If I make mistakes, so be it. If somebody sues me, so be it. Whatever, I'm just going to move forward at all costs.” Is that prudent? I don't know. Maybe not. But look at the results. They get really far. It's hard to know.
Jesse: And the land investing industry it's so gray. I don't know. And I've talked to attorneys who know what they're talking about, and they're like, “Yeah, it's kind of a gray area.” They don't have the answers. Like this is your state, you're an attorney in the state, and they're like, “Yeah, well, it depends.” I want to do things as legal as possible, but at the same time, it's like, “Yeah, I'm hoping karma won't come back and sue me.”
Seth: Yeah. I think what it is honestly is that most attorneys and CPAs, they just don't deal with land. Period. Even though they are experienced in all this stuff, it's just a super niche industry. It's hard to get the answers, and you have to dig. And sometimes you get the wrong answers from people who tell you like they know it, and it's super frustrating. But yeah, it's one of those things where it's tough to know where to draw the line in terms of how much information I need to have before I'm comfortable moving forward. Because you can totally get stuck and never move anywhere if everything needs to be known and perfect before you make a move.
And I think I know the answer to this, but I just want to clarify. In the days when you were sending blind offers or range offers, when you were doing that, was it not in the form of an option?
Jesse: I've kind of always done options. In the very beginning, I don't think I even knew, maybe I did know about them. I was buying property super cheap, $500, $1,500 to $2,500. I was buying cash, but I also didn't start with a lot of them. I started with $10,000, but I ran out pretty quick. Especially when you only buy two, three properties, you're done.
Options came out of a necessity, and as things grow, we keep buying more and more properties, which keeps sucking up our profits, which is great, but it doesn't leave us with a lot, which is fine. So, if I wanted to scale and be greedy about keeping my money and not giving half of it to a partner, I had to get creative. And so, it's an added step because then you have to go back and get another agreement signed.
There are added steps, but I love the options because the risk is super low and it allows us to scale huge. Not that I have, but get a million-dollar property under option. Now, granted, I suppose if I did that, I would probably use a better option because our option is just like a one-page option. But it does allow us to keep going relatively risk-free and without any money out of pocket. We have a regular overhead, but if you can do that true A to C close, you haven't really spent any money except for your regular overhead. And then they wire you a check for $10,000 to $40,000. That’s an instant ROI, right?
Seth: I'm actually really surprised you even found anybody to do this. Single-source funding is the term I've heard called where you basically use the end buyer's funds to pay the land investor and the original seller. Because that used to be pretty commonplace back before the crash of 2008. And then a lot of people were just like, “No, it's too weird. We're not going to do it.” But that's a big deal. How did you find a title company to do that? Did you just get lucky? How did you know what questions to ask, and did it take a long time to find them?
Jesse: It did take a little bit. When I was self-closing myself, that's what I was doing on my own. I would get the buyer to send me the money and then I would just do the self-closing within a couple days. I knew it could be done, and I forgot exactly what happened, but at some point, it got to a pretty big property that I wanted it to go through title. And so, I just Googled, and I started calling title companies working my way down the list. And I basically struck gold on one of them.
Once I found that out, I was just like, we are always going to mail Arizona because we can make it work and it works out. Every Arizona deal we can get, we're going to give to Great American. And there have been times where the seller has wanted to use their own title company, but we've been able to convince them to go with our own title company.
It was like, “Hey, we've worked at this title company a lot. They're great. We've already vetted them for this type of transaction. We have a long history and a great rapport with them.” So, we will occasionally have to talk them out to the seller, but it's always kind of worked out.
I think one deal we had to go through Payoneer, which Payoneer is great too. I actually think the seller went through Payoneer, and then the buyer went through Great American. It was a little strange.
And then the one we found in Tennessee, my acquisition manager who went through your class, kind of does a little bit on her side, and she found that one, but we've been pretty lucky by just kind of asking around, looking for investor-friendly companies and just hitting Google. But we're moved into a few other states at this point. We haven't quite found that title company to do that there. But like I said, I'm not above doing transactional lending. We've just been lucky enough not to have to use it yet.
Seth: Is there anything special about your option agreement? Does it include some “You will allow us to do a double closing?” that kind of thing? Or is it just a pretty standard boilerplate option template?
Jesse: It's a pretty standard boilerplate option. We have recently had to add a POA, a sort of power of attorney, which scares people, but it's really only for advertising or for marketing. It's a marketing power of attorney that allows us to put it on the MLS if we're going to take that route. So, it does include that.
Seth: So, the seller is saying, I allow you a limited power of attorney to market this property on my behalf, basically.
Seth: Okay. And that's just a clause that's baked into the option?
Jesse: Yeah, pretty much. It's the second page of our option.
Seth: Is it just a two-page document total? Is it pretty simple?
Jesse: Yeah. I wish it was more concrete saw looking, but in all honesty, I don't know how much weight an option holds. We record him sometimes to cloud the title, which would be something if the seller sold it from underneath us, but I'm probably not going to take him to court on it.
Seth: It holds weight when money is exchanged for it is the answer to that.
Jesse: I do know that. Yeah. And that kind of adds another element to the whole thing where yes, you could send him $100 as consideration. Absolutely. But we also try to keep up with our sellers and let them know. I was just talking to the acquisition managers. I was like, hey, call this guy every couple of weeks and just give him a heads up that this is how marketing is going on your property in case they decide they're going to pull up. Which only happened one time because it may have gotten confused, but I realize I'm playing this whole game very loosey-goosey. And at some point, I do want to tighten all those nuts and bolts down and really do it. But there's so much going on right now. I'm having a hard time just keeping this thing rolling.
Seth: Yeah. I know back when we talked to Renee about how she does assignments with purchase agreements, and even in my own personal experience of doing this, there was a season where I did this a lot. Every deal would be this, not an option, but you get a purchase agreement with a right to assign it. Same general idea, a little bit cleaner, but you just got to be really clear with the seller about what's going on.
But I found that probably half the deals that I would try to do this way would fall apart. And I think what was going on was I was doing everything I could. Because I was like, well, why not? I mean, there's no money out of my pocket. Why not just do it? But it sounds like you've got better criteria for really understanding, “Okay, this is a good deal. We're confident this will sell for this price.” Because if a deal doesn't go to fruition, you've just wasted a whole lot of time trying to push something that did nothing for you. And I'm wondering, how do you know? How do you get confident like, “Okay, this is going to be a good deal?” What do you look at?
Jesse: We do have minimum requirements. As the company has grown, our minimum requirements have grown. And at this point, one of our minimum requirements is a $5,000 profit. If we can't make $5,000 by selling it at 75%, then it's an automatic pass. But there is the topography. There is access, flood zones. We pass on landlocked deals. I know a lot of people that do them and it works out great for them, but they could be a struggle and they can be difficult to sell. And if a buyer can't find the property, that can be difficult.
We pick properties that aren't on the side of a mountain, they have road access, they have some worth, and we also target active areas. Again, I hesitate to call them saturated, but they are very active areas, very active counties. We know properties are selling there. If there's not anything selling there, if we can't find any comps, then we'll probably pass on that too due to lack of market value or lack of market research.
So yeah, it really does have to be pretty active in that area. I shouldn't say we have to, but I'd like to see at least six comps really close to that property as a location and attributes. There's a number of things.
Seth: Yeah. And if you can't get that, see if there's only two comps or something, you just think, well, we're not going to do it. Is that the criteria by which you say it's not worth our time?
Jesse: We kind of have to check a lot of boxes. If there are only a couple comps, but it's like, we could potentially make some really good money if we sold it, then we might let it go through, but it does have to check a lot of other boxes. We've got to kind of weigh our pros and cons.
Seth: How do you compensate them? Are you just paying them an hourly rate, or did they get like a chunk of each deal? What would motivate somebody who understands the land business and is a really good worker? What would make them happy enough to keep doing this?
Jesse: I started them off when they first came on. My acquisition manager, who is very familiar with the land business, she does a little bit on her own on the side. And I can't really speak for her, but I think the reason she sticks around is that all of our systems are in place and she still has a business to build. They're both stay-at-home moms. I think that I provide (I don’t know if I want to call it "easy work" because I know it's not easy), but I do provide all the tools to just say, “Hey, here's everything you need to do for the job. You don't have to build all this on your own.”
I started them off at $10 an hour plus 5% of gross profit. Then when they got a better understanding of it, it went to $15 an hour plus 5% of gross profit. And then my acquisitions manager went on maternity leave. So, my marketing manager helped fill in for her position. And I told her, I will bump you up to $20 an hour plus 5% of gross profit. And then when the acquisitions manager comes back, she'll get $20 an hour plus 5% of gross profit. So that's where we're at. They both get $20 an hour plus 5% of gross profit.
Seth: Okay. Gotcha.
Jesse: And they're U.S.-based.
Seth: Yeah, I know that. That's a huge deal, though. Especially for a stay-at-home mom, just having that flexibility and an employer who understands that stuff, that goes a long way.
Seth: Earlier, when I was asking you back when you used to send blind offers or range offers, what does that look like if you're sending an option? You have a one-page letter that explains, “This is not a purchase agreement. This is an option,” and then the second page is an option? Or does it start with a purchase agreement, and then does it morph into an option once you talk to them? Or are you just not sending out options that way? Because you kind of have to know the number, and if you're willing to go so much higher, it kind of changes things.
Jesse: Yeah. It's been a while since I've actually thought about this. It might take me a moment. When I was sending my blind offers, there was an amount in there, obviously. Of course, there's also like a line at the bottom that says, “A counter offer for you to fill in.” And sometimes, they would come back with that.
I believe the blind offer amount was set at 33% and let's say that's the cash amount. I'm pretty sure it was the cash amount. Anytime you send an offer, it's a shot in the dark. It's a calculated shot in the dark, but it's a shot in the dark. When they call, then you really will hone in on what you can offer. Hopefully, you're pretty close to that.
And then you realize, “All right, I can offer you this much cash, or I can offer you this much as an option.” Usually, the 33% was a cash offer. So now I could say, “I can offer you a little bit more if you're willing to do an option agreement.” Or, “I'm sorry, your property ended up, not because of this, that or the other thing I can only offer you this amount of cash.” I know the blind offer said this.
And then the range offer, the way I was doing that, it was pretty tricky. That was mentally exhausting. That's part of the reason I only send options or neutrals now. But I would basically break that down to zero to five acres, not really five acres, but wherever the curve is set. Zero to five acres seemed to fall between $150 an acre to $300 an acre in this area. So that's what I would put on my range letter. And I don't think we ever mentioned anything about it. It's really not until they call in, and then we give them the option agreement option.
Seth: Just to clarify, when we're talking about range offers, does that mean you're sending people like a single person will receive more than one offer price, or does that mean it ranges based on how big the property is? Like, if it's zero to five acres, you get this much per acre. If it's 5 to 10 acres, you get this higher amount per acre. What do you mean by range offers exactly?
Jesse: I would break it down from zero to X, X to Y, Y to Z, but those were broken down by acre ranges and towns. I would comp an entire town. I break all that up into acre ranges. And then I could come up with generally a solid number. Let's say it's $300. But probably I could be willing to pay more and I'd be willing to pay less. If my hard number for zero to five acres was $300, I would try to put that right in the middle of my range and say, “I'm offering $200 to $400 an acre.” And then the next size, say it's a 5.01 to 10, would be a different range amount.
That's why it was so mentally taxing because I would do that for every town in my entire data list. And so, I'd have 20 something towns in this one county and just have to go nuts, trying to figure out everybody's offer. And then, if I wasn't confident in it, they would get a neutral letter, or if I just thought it was way too high, they would get a neutral letter. And I ended up realizing that about a third of these offers ended up being neutral letters anyway. So just give them all neutral letters.
Seth: If I'm hearing you right, was there any benefit to doing these range offers, or is it just no, don't bother with, it's not worth it?
Jesse: Yeah, it worked out great. Honestly, we got a lot more calls. I was doing blinds and neutrals before, and then that was one of the things Clint suggested was the range letter, which at the time at the beginning of 2021, I hadn't heard of. Now the secret is out, and it really worked great, honestly.
I loved it because it gave the sellers a number, but it wasn't market value. But also, they were able to realize that they're not going to get market value, but they will get something. Obviously, most of them wanted a higher amount or the top part of your range, but you would tell them for whatever reason I can't give you that. Not every time. I mean, I'm willing to offer more if it works out for me.
It was a real game-changer for us because we were getting a lot more calls, and we were able to negotiate with them and make adjustments and give them an amount. It didn't set a precedent that they're going to get market value, but it did give them sort of a number.
Seth: Yeah. Again, just to clarify this a little bit further, when you said earlier $200 to $400 an acre, does that mean that in your letter, you're literally saying, say if it's 5 acres, we will pay you somewhere between…?
Jesse: Yeah, I think I know what you're asking. The line said something like, “In this area, we're offering this much to this much per acre.” I didn't put the math in there.
Seth: You're not actually giving them an offer at all. You're just saying we're paying this much per acre around this area.
Jesse: Yes. In this area, in your area. Yeah, I'm sorry. I understand what you're asking now.
Seth: Because I've heard people doing it the other way, where they do actually give them an offer. It'll be between this and this price, and people just assume it's going to be the higher price and call, but then you got to talk them out of it. And so, it sounds like those numbers are just kind of there to lure more people into calling because you're giving them something to sink their teeth into in terms of what it might be.
Jesse: Yes, absolutely. But I would only do it if I were really confident in those amounts. And if I wasn't, I would send a neutral letter. I would say the majority of the time, my numbers were pretty accurate. I could fall within that range.
Seth: Yeah. Would you say the range offers get more responses than the neutral letters or the opposite?
Jesse: Probably not. And that's something I'm starting to adjust or try to adjust with the neutral letters. One thing about the neutral letters is you get a ton of costs. People expect market value prices, but you get a ton more calls. And part of the reason that I've gone to neutral letters is that I've tailored our letter in a way that it does tell them we are an investment company, we can't pay market value prices. So, it does let them know that. That is in there.
But I also started trying to cut out lower-valued properties when I pulled my list. Part of the reason that I'm also doing neutral letters is because I have a team to handle those neutral letters. When I was by myself, there was no way I could handle this amount of volume of neutral letters because, honestly, we get maybe 20 calls a day. It’s crazy. Our marketing manager is calling, I think when you reached out about the podcast, she had like 40 or something people to call back that day. And she is on top of her game. She's calling dozens of people back every day, and we are passing on a lot of them, and it can be a bit overwhelming.
But I really feel like if you're going to send that volume of neutral letters, you really need to have a team of people because you get a ton of calls. And so, I'm trying to cut out tire kickers of people that are expecting market value prices or properties that don't meet our minimum requirements. There's a lot of tailoring that's happening now and that will continue to happen in order to bring those calls down, bring the responses right down and the purchase rate up.
Seth: It sounds like you probably get the most calls from neutral letters, medium with range offers, and then probably the least amount of calls or responses from blind offers.
Jesse: I would say so. Yes.
Seth: Could it be said that your direct mail dollars are best spent on neutral letters, but it's also going to cost you a lot more time to get to the bottom of those? Is that an accurate statement?
Seth: Okay. And having a full-time acquisitions person on staff. When these people call in, are they calling directly to her, or they call a voicemail, or do they call PATLive? How do you handle that intake?
Jesse: With Google Voice. I'm a little on the fence about Google Voice, but I've used it the entire time. I'm going to keep doing it. Some people have said, “Well, what's going to happen when Google decides to eliminate it?” I don't know. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get there.
When I was doing this by myself, I said it to go directly to voicemail for a couple of reasons. One, I wasn't always in front of my computer to even know what they were talking about or who was calling. Also, I realized one day that sending them directly to voicemail is kind of a qualifier. I figure if they want to sell bad enough, they'll leave a voicemail. If they want to buy something bad enough, they'll leave a voicemail. It goes directly to voicemail. When the acquisition manager gets it, she does her quick due diligence, her comps. We talk about the property maybe, or I review it a little bit. And then she calls them back with an offer. That usually happens within 24 hours. Every morning I wake up, I go through any reviews that I have to do and she has her own schedule, but within 24 hours, we call them back with an offer.
Seth: Okay. All these questions came up that I wasn't even planning on. This is awesome. I appreciate you being so open and just sharing what's been going on. Just for fun, are there any examples of awesome deals you've done in terms of purchase price, sale price, how much you made and learned along the way? What's a normal deal, and what's considered an amazing deal for you?
Jesse: A couple of notable deals that come to mind are the first deal that really kicked this whole thing off the scaling. I came across a great deal. It was an older woman. Property was worth about $100,000. I said, well, we could do an option. I'll offer you $55,000 or whatever it was. And we'll do it for 90 days. And she's like, okay, that's great. Then she called me back the next day. And she's like, I really need the money right now. And of course, I think at the time, I only had like a few thousand dollars in my account.
Right before that, Ryan Pope, who is a land investor, but also does private lending, had reached out to me and he said, “Let me know if you got any deals coming up and we can partner on.” So, I reached out to him and he's like, “Offer her $35,000 and see what she says.” I said, all right. I went back, offered her $35,000, and she took it. Then we immediately began marketing the property. I think I had it sold within like two weeks, and I sold it for $90,000 or something. After everything was all split, I locked it with like $24,000 or something like that.
Seth: That's awesome, man.
Jesse: Yeah, that was amazing. And then I had the money to really put it back into this. Another deal that is kind of notable, it was pretty much a land-locked property that was 260 acres. And it was right next to a lime mine. And I was like, who is going to buy this thing? And I remember I was sitting there looking at it on Google Maps, and I was like, “I'm going to call the mine.” I called the mine and they're like, “Yeah, we're interested.” And they're a worldwide corporation. That was a long deal. That thing went like six months because it had to be brought up in their quarterly meetings that were like in Belgium. It was wild. But in the end, they bought it. I sold it to the neighbor who was a mine. I made pretty good on that one. I think I made like $30,000 or something on that one.
Seth: Cool, man. That's interesting.
Jesse: Yeah. Those are some pretty notable ones. We have three right now from one seller. One's like 90 acres. Another one is 100 acres, and another one's like 129 acres. I think if we sell all those, we'll probably net close to $90,000 total on those. However, I think most of our deals probably net us between $10,000 and $40,000. I think the majority of them are probably around $20,000. I would like to push our minimum profit to $10,000. I'm kind of doing that now, maybe up to $20,000 next year sometime. Because I realized making $5,000 and making $40,000 takes just as much work. If I can get the same amount of volume at $20,000 plus, then all the better for everybody.
Seth: Have you quarantined most of your direct mail efforts to a couple states then? I've heard you mention Arizona, Tennessee.
Jesse: Actually, I've always focused on about one county a month, and I haven't really had the time to do much more than that. Now that I have the team doing it, now I can focus on targets. At the beginning of the year, we targeted Mojave. And it was like one right after the other, and we killed it. Absolutely amazing. I was like, holy moly, we're killing it. Then my acquisition manager went on maternity leave.
So, I kind of turned the dial down and we were only mailing about 500. We were mailing 1,500 a week. Then we went to 500 a week just so we could kind of keep going. And then when she came back, I was like, “All right, it's been about four or so months since we targeted Mojave. Let's hit them again because we did so great. We'll just really kick this and get going, rocketing up this hill again.” Total flop. No idea why. I still can't figure it out.
I realized that I needed to target more counties or more areas at the same time. My most recent strategy has been five different counties in five different states; each week, it rotates. One week it's county A: 3,000 letters. Next week county B: 3,000 letters. Or 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and then it rotates again. Every week one of the five counties gets 3,000 letters. Now we're officially a coast-coast company.
Seth: 3,000 a week, I assume you're the one pulling the lists and targeting the markets and doing whatever sorting has to happen and actually pulling the trigger on mailing stuff out. Is there any software or anything that you use to sort of keep that on track? Because I know that can be a lot of work unless you've got some good automation in place.
Jesse: Yeah, it was exhausting, but I've also said by doing that with the five counties and 3,000 a week, I was able to do it. This is another thing I'm trying to employ is mailing in yearly quarters instead of each month. Because that's what I was doing before. So now when I send mail, it's for the next three months. It does take a lot of work to do, but I only have to do it every few months. I pulled my list from DataTree. It obviously takes me a long time to figure out exactly what I'm going to do. I'm looking at different counties.
I'm shaking my head because I remember only about a month ago when I went through all this. I chose the easiest states and then the easiest counties in each one of those states. I ended up filtering through 130-something counties. I kind of researched all of those counties, chose the top five, and mailed those.
I get my list from DataTree. All comes into Google sheets. I spent a couple days organizing, scrubbing, and setting everything up. And then I sent it to Rocket Print and I told them, "This is how I want it mailed." And they put that into place. But yeah, it takes me like a week. Easily.
Seth: Yeah. That doesn’t really surprise me. You probably saved some time, though, by not doing blind offers or range offers. Because with just neutral letters, it's more filter for what you want, and that's it.
Jesse: My God. I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't. I use Price Boss, which I liked, and it allows me to have full control, but I'm neurotic. So, I have to have full control. I have to adjust every little metric, and I take every little town, and I got to pull in all the data for each one. I got to do all this work. And when I was doing one county a month, I'd have to do this every month and it'd take me three days to price that county. And I'd be whooped. I didn't realize how exhausted the body could get from just sitting in front of the computer day after day.
I was like, “This is the worst part of my job. I can't keep doing this. I'm done. I'll just send everybody a neutral letter.” I hit a couple walls where I was just like, “I don't want to do this anymore. You're getting a neutral letter, and you're getting a neutral letter, and you're getting a neutral letter.”
Seth: Oh, that's hilarious.
Jesse: Yeah. Now I have a new strategy that we're doing. I think it'd be a lot less taxing on my brain.
Seth: Well, it sounds like that acquisition manager unlocks a lot of possibilities. It sounds like Clint gave you some good advice on that. And it makes me wonder, for other people who are listening to this, if they want that acquisition manager, what is it that yours does so well? Is she good at following through? Is she good at verbal communication on the phone or written communication? How could you replicate or clone her?
Jesse: I have no idea. Again, I got extremely lucky with these two girls. I really did. I don't micromanage them. I don't want to micromanage them. I try to give them as much freedom as I can. They have their own schedules. They have their own lives. They're organized, they're intelligent, they're hardworking. They don't require a lot of overlooks. That's why I hate when people ask. I wish I had advice. I wish I could tell you. I don't know.
I think my acquisitions manager, because she understands the land business so much more than anyone else's just coming in to do a job. She's enthusiastic about getting these deals. But I realize, too, this is another thing. I'm not going to call her protege or whatever because it's not really that kind of relationship. But if you take on a protege, that's somebody that is going to eventually leave. And so, I realize that and that's really going to be terrible because they're great. But I realize, at some point, I'm going to have to do something else. That's tough too. You can bring somebody in that really knows the business and wants to learn the business, and they could be enthusiastic about the business. But at some point, they're probably going to want to leave to go do their own thing.
Jesse: I'm sorry. I don't have advice for people. Like I said, I know how lucky I got with the two of them.
Seth: Yeah. And I don't know exactly what's motivating them, but this idea of sharing in a percentage of the gross profit and that kind of thing. Anything you do to make a person feel like they've got skin in the game and “I own a little piece of this” coupled with if it's a work they enjoy and they're capable.
Jesse: And I think that's part of it too. I think any job you have that you're enthusiastic about or that you're not only qualified for, but you like the work, you're going to do a better job. I forget who said it. “They're only going to do 80% of what you would do.” And it's true and that's fine. But sometimes, trying to get them to do 80% can be really hard.
But yeah, I definitely believe in giving them a good commission and I believe in giving them a good hourly salary. I don't know what motivates them. Money motivates me. I assume it motivates everybody, but I also try to treat them well and appreciate them, which I hope is obvious and they deserve. Pay them well, treat them well. I think that's a huge thing.
And I listen to them too. I suggest it, like tell me what you want, anything that I could do to make your job easier and more efficient, please let me know. They give me a lot of input and this is a team effort at this point, for sure.
Seth: Gotcha. Now, not to leave out your disposition sales, what's her title? What do you call her?
Jesse: Sales and marketing manager. They can have a name they want. Queen of sales. I don’t care.
Seth: My job title is “Harvester of sorrow.”
Seth: How do you guys get your property sold? Are you using an agent? Are you just listing it yourself on various websites? What's the key to making that work?
Jesse: It's a bit property-dependent again. I would say the majority of our sales come from land.com or come from agents and then probably our own listings. We've been cutting back on the MLS agent. Well, we use Brokerless, and it could be a little tricky sometimes.
Seth: What's a Brokerless?
Seth: Oh, I gotcha.
Jesse: We were using them. That works out. Sometimes it doesn't. We started just kind of cutting that out and seeing if we can get away with not using them. We've recently started Facebook again, which I absolutely despised, but I'm trying to use Justin Melquist approach, instead of selling it on Facebook, guiding them to our website and selling them there. We've been trying to incorporate that.
But we don't do Craigslist. We do Facebook, we do our own website. We have a buyers list. We have a few other random websites, but yeah, I think the majority of our stuff comes from land.com and agents, and Facebook has been kind of picking up.
Seth: How do you decide if and when to enlist the help of an agent to get these things sold? Is it like certain areas or markets or price ranges?
Jesse: I don't know if we really have an exact science for that. We weren't using them. And then we also post on Zillow, but then when Zillow changed their layout to hide for sale by owners, that's when we started bringing in the agent. And it's worked out to some extent, but sometimes you pay $150 or whatever it may be for an MLS listing. And it's just been getting a bit more complicated.
That's when we added power of attorney to our option, which I don't love because a power of attorney to a seller looks like I'm giving these people power of attorney. It's just been getting a little bit more complicated and not all agents want a list. For a while, we were sourcing our own agents, but they didn't want to do a non-exclusive contract, or we had one great guy, but then he went to a different broker, and then that broker wouldn't let him do his thing.
Seth: I wonder if there's a different way you could word “power of attorney.” I know just that term might freak some people out. Maybe there's a different way you could title that clause and basically say the same thing, so they're still giving you the same authority.
Jesse: We didn't actually come up with that document. The agent that at the time we were working with sent us that document. It's a simple document, honestly. It's one page. 75% of it is just your signature and it has to be notarized, which I didn't love. But I bolded the part that says per marketing purposes only.
Seth: Yes. Cool.
Jesse: And the thing about marketing, it's a forever-changing beast. You're constantly making adjustments. This works that one day, that doesn't work the next day.
Seth: How many deals do you think you lose as a result of pushing this option thing? Do you have any sense of how many people would've said yes if you had just made a cash offer? Even maybe a lower cash offer, but still, it's a purchase agreement.
Jesse: Right. Believe it or not, I don't think many. If they really come back to the idea, I’ll ask, “Okay, well, how much would you take for the property? Would you take a cash offer for the property?” There are some negotiation tactics in there. If we can get away with the option, then we get away with it. And it seems like we do, and I'm not above offering them cash, but that comes as a second conversation.
But a lot of the time, the option, obviously it is a higher offer than a cash offer. And if they hate that offer, they're not going to like the cash offer. If they don't want to deal with an option and they're not even considering it, then they're probably not going to consider a cash offer anyway. They probably wouldn't take it anyway.
Seth: Yeah. I think that's probably usually correct. Although sometimes, people are motivated by different things. Somebody might be like, “Hey, I got to get this thing sold in a month.” In that case, maybe. But yeah, I hear what you're saying. That's probably right on. Is seller financing something you ever do? Or are you just selling these all cash?
Jesse: I almost always offer owner financing. However, I do have to make the down payment adjustable.
Seth: How does that work for an option scenario?
Jesse: The down payment is usually going to cover the acquisition cost or the cost to the seller. If we have the money in the bank, I'll knock it down. But yeah, I always offer it because why not? But I only have two offers. Owner financing, sales right now. Because people just keep buying cash. And I was trying to build up my term’s portfolio, but it seems like everybody keeps buying cash. I don't want to turn the cash away.
Seth: Why do you think that is? Are you sort of changing the price based on seller financing versus cash? Or is it just that kind of a world right now where people have extra cash to throw around?
Jesse: I think it's a combination of things. I think that sometimes because our down payment is a little bit higher, they're like, “Well, for another, however much money out, just buy cash.” Our cash offer is 75% of the market value. And our owner financing amount principle, I guess, would be what we determined to be market value.
But I also think partially it's because as my business is growing, I keep going after more and more expensive deals, as long as the volume remains the same. And when you're selling properties for $30,000 - $40,000 -$50,000 - $60,000, I don't think as many people choose to go with owner financing in that case. I think if you're going to spend $50,000, you'll probably have $50,000. When I was doing more owner financing, before they got paid off, they were under like $15,000. I think that's part of it.
Seth: I know in passing you mentioned like DataTree, Rocket Print, Google Voice. Are there any other crucial software tools that have been instrumental in helping you do this kind of stuff? What is the stuff that you would die of if you didn't have access to it?
Jesse: Our CRM, I use LandSpeed. I started off with LandSpeed. It works really well for us. I think some people love it, some people don't. I have tweaked it and tailored it a little bit on my own to make it work for our workflow a little bit better, which I do like about that. Each section allows you to modify the template so I can add things and remove things at will, which is really nice. I'm mostly used to it and it works great for us. I know there are other great CRMs out there, but that one just works for everybody. I like its layout.
So yeah, the CRM, Google. I use a lot of Google tools because they connect pretty much across the board. We back up a lot of our stuff in Google Drive, share a lot of our documents. The team has access to our CRM, Rocket Print, DataTree. Those are our big ones. Our comps are normal from Zillow, no real secrets over here.
Seth: What is your day job? Just explain that so people can know.
Jesse: I'm a top boat engineer, which essentially means I maintain the engines and the overall repairs of the boat. I work for a company. They're out of Newark, New Jersey. We mainly work New York Harbor, a little bit of Connecticut up and down a little bit. I work for two weeks on, two weeks off. For two weeks, I'm on the boat, living on the boat, working on the boat. Then I come home and I'm home for two weeks. And then I'm back on the boat. Back and forth, back and forth.
Seth: That's really interesting because most people when they're getting into land or any kind of endeavor like this, they're working a job and they have to balance their activities throughout the day and when they do their work. But you sort of have it to an extreme. You probably don't even have a signal out there. Can you communicate at all? What are you able to do when you're out to sea versus back at home?
Jesse: The company I'm with now, because we're in New York Harbor, it's a lot better. I've been with this company for about two years. Prior to that, I worked on an offshore tug and yeah, we went up and down the coast. That was really difficult because there would be days without cell service or internet service. And then, depending on where we go, sometimes it was really spotty.
When you asked about treading water, I tread in water a lot because I only had so much time available to do this job and it is incredibly difficult to do on the boat. And also, the company I'm with now, I work 12 hours a day. I have 12 hours on 12 hours off, but I'm still there. But the company I work at before, and this tends to be the norm for that industry, you work six hours on, six hours off, six hours on, six hours off. And so sometimes your six hours off when you would have time to do something else, like land investing was midnight to 6:00 AM. So, how many calls can you make at 02:00 -03:00 o'clock in the morning?
Seth: I guess you could try. It's not going to work very well.
Jesse: Yeah. There were a lot of struggles with that. Then I got in this new company and I'm in the Harbor and I kind of make my own schedule a little bit. I have a bit more flexibility, but when I was on my own, I didn't have time to make my calls until six, seven o'clock at night, which worked to some extent because most of the property we were buying was a few hours behind us. But now that I have the team, I'm just answering emails and answering text messages and questions from the team throughout the day. It's really worked out.
And then I come home, and I just sit at the desk and do as much possible work as I can. It really is the hardest part. It’s like, when you're gone, you're gone. Then you come home, and you have a month's worth of work to do between land and family and personal in a two-week period.
Seth: If your job situation hadn't changed where you were in New York Harbor, did that have a huge contribution to your ability to sort of level up and get further? Or is it in hindsight, you probably could have done the same thing if you just knew how to manage your time and find the right help? What do you think about that?
Jesse: I think it would've happened a lot slower. Assuming if I had the team at that time, they would have to sometimes wait for me to get back to them. Sometimes it'd be days, which sucked.
Seth: Would you have any words of advice for a newer real estate investor or somebody who's eyeballing land like, “Maybe I should try that or maybe not?” Or maybe they've tried it a little bit, and things haven't really happened that quickly. Maybe they've done a deal or two, maybe none.
I feel like you've got just sort of a cool story because it's not super flashy for the first five years. It's maybe boring, for lack of a better word. And that was a lot of my story too. And I think when you do finally come across a huge deal that pumps a bunch of money in your bank account, things start to change a little bit because now you've got money.
I talk to people occasionally who have done their first mail campaign and it just flops. And by the way, I also appreciate you just mentioning that that happens to you sometimes. And we don't know why, and it's really frustrating and we want answers, but it happens to the best of us, and that's okay. And that doesn't mean the whole thing doesn't work. Do you have any advice for people like that or just thoughts you'd like to share?
Jesse: Yeah. After I went through the coaching and now that things have been really looking up for us, I started looking back like, wow, I've obviously come quite a ways since then. I didn't have a great course experience initially.
Seth: And you did not take our course, correct?
Jesse: No, absolutely not. I did not. I always recommend your course. I didn't take another course after that. If I were to take another course, it would be. I started thinking, if I could do this all over again, how would I do it? You have to look into it enough on your own to decide whether or not you want to spend the money on a course. Let's say a course is $1,500 bucks. Although I think yours is a little less than that. So, you get your course, you're committed, you're doing it. You spend a little bit of time getting some deals under your belt, getting some experience. And as soon as you feel confident, I think you should get a coach. A coach is a bit more expensive. Obviously, you're talking $5,000 - $6,000 - $7,000.
But if you get a coach to help you scale, then obviously, I think it's going to be different for everybody. But I started looking at it like this. You've got $1,500 into a course, and you've got $6,000 into a coaching program. Your invested education is less than $10,000. By the time you've gone through the coaching program, and things start scaling up, if you are committed to doing it and you have the time to put towards it, I see no reason you can't do $100,000 in gross sales.
I went into this year, like, “All right, we're going to try to hit $100,000.” In all honesty, we did that in the first five months and we're on track to do $325,000 or something gross sales this year. But I realized if you got a college education for $80,000 and you came out, be lucky if you were making that kind of money.
I think my formula at this point is to decide you want to do it, get the course. As soon as you get some experience and a few deals on your belt, get a coach to help you scale. Do that again, get some more experience, some more deals on your belt. And then coach again.
Each time you're building a foundation to another level, but I can't undervalue how important an education is at this point. I really think that's part of the reason I was treading water for so long. I felt bitter at the time about spending money on a course because it didn't pan out for me the first time.
And at this point, when I went through that coaching, everything just skyrocketed after that. And I'm hoping to get a coach again to get my company up to a million dollars in gross sales as soon as 2023, probably. Probably next year, I'll get another coach to help me build that foundation for the next level for a million-dollar company. You got to build your foundations. That's how you build an empire, right? One level out of time.
Seth: Yeah, totally. Yeah. It is interesting. Comparing coaches and courses and all this stuff. It's definitely not an apples-to-apples thing. Just to say, “I have a course or a coach,” sometimes that's a huge, instrumental, life-changing thing, and sometimes it's just a waste of money. It's frustrating because how does a person know that at the front end? How do you know? I know a lot and you know a lot because we've sort of seen a lot of stuff, but the average person on the outside, it's like, "I don't know." I wish it was a more transparent way for everybody to understand who are you best suited to go with and why?
Jesse: Well, I want to offer some advice on that because actually, right before this call, somebody was asking me. When I was looking for a coach and I was asked in the community, the best advice I got was to find a coach that's actively doing what you want to be doing. You don't want somebody who isn't walking the talk. You have to decide what you want and you have to find the coach that is actively doing that. And I think that's the best advice I can give anybody when you're trying to find, obviously, a course, but importantly, a coach.
Seth: Something that we do when we have time and you don't have to go and I don't have to go, so I'm going to do it, is ask three final questions just to ask our guest a little bit more. First question is, what is your biggest fear?
Jesse: Oh, I've thought about this. I think it's one of those things that changes as you age and mature. When I was younger, my biggest fear was being buried alive.
Seth: Logical. It could happen; you never know.
Jesse: Yeah, it's still a pretty big fear. These days honestly, failure is my biggest fear and I think a lot of people use failure to not do something. And at this point, I'm using the fear of failure to keep me from failing, if that makes any sense. I can't quit or back down at this point. One, I've come too far. And two, this is what I want to be doing. I don't really have much of a backup plan beyond this. I'm refusing to fail. The fear of quitting and failing, I have to use it to my benefit.
Seth: I think that is something that separates the men from the boys or the women from the girls or however you want to say it. It's almost sort of this no backup plan. It seems counterintuitive because, on the one hand, a backup plan is just wise to have, but on the other hand, it's like you give yourself an out when you have something else you can fall back on. And when you've really committed to something, it's like, this must work at all costs. It just seems much more likely that you actually are going to succeed at that because you don't have an easy out or even a difficult out. If there's no out, you have to stick to the track.
On failure, that's a tricky thing. I've heard many people say that when asking this question. Just this idea that failure is a really bad thing. When you say that, are you talking about failing at the land business and quitting, or do you mean failing at a direct mail campaign, for example? How do you define failure?
Jesse: I'm sure I'm going to fail at direct mail campaigns. It just keeps happening. It happens. I think failing at providing for my family. I actually had this conversation with my wife the other day. My wife and I come from different parts of walks of life. But one thing about us is we've always managed to get by. Even though I'm afraid to fail really at providing for my family, I've never not provided for my family. And my wife and I are not those people, even if I fail, we're always going to have food in our stomachs. I don't care what I got to do for it. Obviously, I want it to be legit.
It’s really that I have these goals in mind and a certain style that I want to live my life. And I think I'd be disappointed if I didn't get to that. But I know for a fact I'll always make sure my family is fed.
Seth: It almost seems like maybe the crux of the issue with failure is that ultimately what it boils down to is shame. If you fail to provide, you are a sorry excuse for a man or husband.
Jesse: Yeah, I don't want to say that necessarily.
Seth: I guess I'm putting words in your mouth, sorry. But when I look at myself, that is what's behind the fear of failure. It's shame. I understand the fear of that and wanting to get away from it, for sure. What's something that you are most proud of?
Jesse: This has kind of always been my go-to answer, but it's never really changed. My independence, honestly. Once I learned to provide for myself, it was a proud moment, and I still continue to do it. I've certainly gotten help along the way. Life is hard, man. I don't know how people get through it without any help. I'm not going to say I'm totally self-made. Nobody's handed me handfuls of money, but I have always found a way to survive on my own for the most part. And I'm happy with my life and my independence.
Seth: When you say independence, you mean financial independence, like from your parents?
Seth: Okay. Gotcha.
Jesse: Yeah, that's when I say it started. Once I was out on my own and away from my parents. I have had to borrow money from them occasionally. I can't say it hasn't been totally on my own every now and then; like I said, we need help, but for the most part, yeah, man, I'm making my way.
Seth: This is a question that I didn't tell you about ahead of time or anything, but I was asking my family about this over the weekend. It was really interesting. The question was, what was the moment at which you realized you were an adult and you were no longer a child? What was the light bulb moment?
Jesse: That's funny you asked that because I thought about this for a long time. I've always thought of myself as a child. And I was like, when I have a child of my own, that's when I'll be an adult. I don't know, man. I've had that kid for like six years, and I still feel like a 41-year-old boy. I don't know. I don't know when I'll feel like an adult. I'm doing all the adult things, but I feel like I'm still a kid. Maybe it's because there's just so much to learn, and there's so much more I still have to do. Maybe at my halfway point in life. So, there are long ways to go. I don't know.
Seth: Yeah. That's interesting. I know I hadn't heard that response from anybody. That's kind of interesting but in some ways, I kind of get that. I sort of see myself as a child too, in some respects. There are some things that I still feel incapable of doing and that I'm still afraid of. And in some ways, I'm still just childish at heart. I don't really take it too seriously.
But I think for me, the moment when I realized I was an adult, I think I was like 25 or 26. And I saw people in my workplace that I was really intimidated by because they were way better. In my mind, they were way above me and I was a lowly little peon and I started really paying attention to them. And eventually, I started noticing that they would do things that objectively were very minor league kindergarten level mistakes. That was a really dumb mistake. I didn't say that, but I thought that. I can't believe they just did that, or they don't know this, or they messed that up.
And it kind of clicked, like there are actually things that I'm better at than them and they're way above me. And it's not that I thought I was better than them or anything, but it just made me realize I deserve a spot at the table. I'm not this nobody. There are things that I can do better than anybody else here. And therefore, I'm an adult.
But other people in my family that I was asking, their answers usually came back to some sort of traumatic event in life. They experienced a big hardship, or it was a sudden realization that the world is cruel and nobody's going to hand things to you. You got to work hard. And just kind of an interesting trend I saw that usually it was tied to some kind of negative event or hurt or something like that. But I guess you haven't had that yet because you're still a kid, right?
Jesse: Yeah, pretty much. No, I've had. Obviously, I think we all have our trials and tribulations, but I don't know. I'm pretending, man. I'm just going to keep faking my way through life.
Seth: It seems to be working for you.
Seth: Final question. What is the most important lesson you have ever learned?
Jesse: I really struggled with this question. It's cliché to say, but the best I came up with was to start now. It made sense when I first heard it and I will hold to it. If you start now, and if it's something that you're really passionate about, you'll be further ahead tomorrow than anywhere the day before.
And I think the other thing is to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. I think that's why my team has been doing so great. It’s because I've put the smart people behind me. I've added the smartest people I could find to my team. We have a great bookkeeper. We have a great tax strategist company. We have great title companies. We have a great acquisitions manager, great marketing manager. These people are doing jobs that one, I don't want to do. Two, I don't want to learn. And three, I probably couldn't learn if I wanted to. Some people are naturally better at other things, and you might as well put the best people you can in those positions.
Seth: Actually, that brings another question up. Sorry, I guess that wasn't the last question. I've heard it said that even when you're not planning to do a job yourself, it's still important for you to do it at least once or just experience it because then you know how to hold that person accountable. But you make a point though, because my CPA, for example, I'm not going to become a CPA so I can hold him accountable.
I wonder where you draw that line between “I have to do this and experience it myself before I can outsource it” versus “I don't even want to know how it works. I'm just going to pay somebody and trust them?”
Jesse: I have a couple answers to that. I think it depends on what position you're trying to fill. Before I got the team on, obviously, I knew all aspects of my business and the company was at an entry-type level. I knew enough to teach my acquisitions manager the direction to go and say, “This is how we do things here, here, and here.” But as the company grew and as her position grew, she needed to learn things on her own and things I didn't have time for.
And there are often times where I'll find something like a new website or an article or a video, and I'll just be like, “Oh, this is something that she might be interested in. It might help her. I'm not going to learn it all from the teacher. Here's the information. Teach yourself.”
The other thing, I actually learned a while back when I saw a documentary or something about Steve Jobs. He didn't know how to build an iPhone, but he knew what the customer wanted and he knew who to go to, to give the customer what he wanted. He didn't understand every single aspect of his business, but he knew who did.
Then that's where I kind of look and say, “I don't need to know that part. I just need to know how to source that information from the right person.” It kind of comes along with that. It's like finding the smarter person and putting them in that position, even though you don't know anything or everything about that position, like the bookkeeping or the tax strategist. When I talk to those tax strategists and they're like, “Oh, we’ve been through the tax code.” Do you think I'm going to be doing that? Absolutely not, but they're passionate about it and I trust them.
And another thing is, when I hired the bookkeeper, I was like, “Look, I want to be completely handed off. I don't even want to do this stuff.” She's like, “You really have to learn some of this so you know that I'm doing a good job.” There are different aspects of that you should know some things so that you can make sure that those people are at least doing their job. It depends. There are three levels of it.
Seth: Yeah, for sure. Cool man. Well, Jesse, I really appreciate you coming to the show and talking with me. I've learned a ton. I'm sure there are a lot of people out there as well. If people want to get a hold of you, you don't have to share anything, but if you want to, do you have a website, or how would they do that?
Jesse: That's fine. I think the best way to reach me is either through Facebook messenger, Jesse Marchand on Facebook, although there are like five of me because of Facebook accounts and marketing and all that. And through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. That's our company Earthly Acres.
And I want to thank you, Seth, since I have you here. You definitely did pave the road for me, and I know you paved the road for a lot of people. I have always appreciated how much you put out there to the community. Not to raise you up or anything, but I do try to run my business that same way and be as generous as I can to other people.
Seth: That's awesome, man. I appreciate that very much.
Jesse: Because I love your passion for helping people out. And I want to add one more thing if you don't mind.
Jesse: I also really want to tell people how much I really love this community of land investors. If you're just coming into this industry, these people are amazing because the niche is small and we're able to spread our wings all across the country. There's no competition; there's some, but not really. And everybody is so generous and helpful. I really couldn't have gotten here without this community. I ask people questions all the time and they come to me and I just try to pay it forward because these people are amazing.
I don't think I've ever met somebody that hasn't been willing to answer some questions or help me out. We're all here picking butt together. We're all happy to help each other, man. I love it.
Seth: That's really great to hear, man.
Jesse: Thank you to you and the community.
Seth: Yeah, I appreciate the kind words. And I got to say the same thing about the community. Honestly, I think you're a big part of that, Jesse. People like you who are always willing to jump in and answer people's questions in an honest, truthful way with a heart that is to help. It's not a heart to elevate yourself and make yourself sound smarter or better, or turn somebody off from the business. There are other communities out there that are almost hostile in some ways. It's really weird.
Jesse: Yeah. That's part of the reason I didn't do the house flipping thing. It was pretty cutthroat.
Seth: Yeah, I know. I've noticed that same thing. It's weird. I don't get what's going on, but maybe it's just more competition or something.
Jesse: It's territorial, honestly.
Seth: Yeah. It's been a really cool thing. I remember when we started the Facebook group two or three years ago now. I meant to do it, but I never thought it'd be a serious thing. It's just like, okay, check this box. But people have just kind of flooded into it, and it's been awesome to see the real, genuine conversations that happen there. Yeah. I love it.
Jesse: It's a great resource, man. It really is. It's awesome. I love it.
Seth: Well, I'm going to have the show notes for this episode, a lot of links to this stuff we talked about at retipster.com/119. This is episode 119. But again, Jesse, thanks a lot for everything you do, for your contributions, for just being a good presence in the community, and for sharing so much today. We wish you all the best, and I'd love to talk to you again sometime. It’d be cool to hear when you do finally hire somebody who is horrible, what differentiates that from the great people you've hired.
Jesse: I hope I don't find out. Thank you, Seth.
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