This past month, I met Casey Inman at the Real Estate Wealth Builders Conference.
As I got to talking with him, I discovered something very interesting about his approach to the land investing business. This guy doesn’t rely on direct mail at all. It literally plays no part whatsoever in his process of finding deals.
I found this fascinating and it struck me that we need to get this guy on the podcast to learn more about what he’s doing.
Why is this important? Because a lot of us land flippers look at direct mail like it’s the lifeblood of our business and THE ONLY real way to get deals. But Casey is tangible proof that there are plenty of other ways to find deals and keep them coming in the door.
Links and Resources
- LandisHome.com (Casey’s Website)
- What Is an Appraisal?
- My Experience at a Tax Deed Auction: Is There Any Opportunity Here?
- What Every Land Investor Should Know About Mineral Rights
- 072: Is It Heroic or Idiotic to “Burn the Ships”
- 097: What It Really Takes to Succeed at a Tax Deed Auction: Interview w/ David Krulac
- The Death Business: How Cemeteries Make Money
- REtipster Facebook Community
- REtipster Certified Coaches
Seth: Hey, everybody. How's it going? This is Seth Williams and Jaren Barnes, and you're listening to the REtipster podcast. Today we're talking with a guy I met recently at the Real Estate Wealth Builders Conference. His name is Casey Inman. And for those of you who are active in our Facebook group, you might recognize the name of Casey's mom, Hannah Lower Inman, who's also very active there.
As I got to talking with Casey, I discovered something pretty interesting about his approach to the land investing business. This guy doesn't rely on direct mail at all. It literally plays no part in his process of finding deals. He mentioned a few of the ways that he does get deals. And it just kind of struck me at that moment that we need to get this guy on the podcast and figure out what he's doing.
He's been in the land business for quite a while. I won't get too much into his story. I'm going to let him answer that. But I think this is important just to recognize that there are other ways to do things. And a lot of land flippers look at direct mail as the lifeblood of our business and the only way to make anything happen and get deals. And Casey is tangible proof that this is not the case, and there are other ways to go about it. So, I wanted to dive more into Casey's business and just get his history and his story and figure out how he's making this work. So, Casey, welcome to the show. How are you doing?
Casey Inman: Good, good. Great.
Seth: Yeah. Thanks for being here.
Casey Inman: How are you guys today?
Jaren: Doing good. Yeah. Excited to have you on the show.
Casey Inman: All right. Yeah, I'm excited.
Seth: My understanding—and I guess you can just spell this out for me— but my understanding is that you work in your land business, is it with your mother or do you guys have businesses that work alongside each other? Or how do you guys work together?
Casey Inman: Right. We're 50/50. It works out for us like a partnership. I do 50% of the work. She does the other 50%, and it works for us. It might not be for everybody, but she does more of the legal paperwork stuff and I'm more of like the research website stuff.
Seth: Something I was really curious about. A lot of land flippers out there, the whole reason we heard about this and are aware of it and got into this business is that we heard about it either from a guru or a podcast episode or people talking about it online or maybe even from a friend. But it sounds like you've been doing this for a while and I'm guessing you probably did not get into it through those mediums. Maybe you can tell us. What is your origin story? How did you learn about it? What made you decide to get into land? How did you get into this business?
Casey Inman: Well, it was very organic for me. I had been in real estate. My family's been in real estate. So, we just happened to come across it, because my mother bought a piece of land from a land flipper and it was interesting. So, we bought another piece and then we sold it, and it just grew organically one, two for over 10 years. We've been doing this for like 10 years now. We read books or whatnot, but it was very organic and we only bought stuff that we wouldn't mind keeping anyway. So, it was a win-win.
Jaren: I think the pressing issue for me, Casey, is what do you do to get deals? Are you buying from other wholesalers or land investors? Because you mentioned that's how you guys got started is that your mom picked up a property from another land investor. But is that your primary strategy? I feel like everybody from the intro is on the edge of their seat. Like what is this guy doing where he's getting deals without direct mail. And we haven't even addressed that. So, what are you doing? What's the secret, man?
Casey Inman: I know there are a lot of questions. I never do direct mail. I've never emailed blast, never any of that. It's just when I started as an appraiser, I'm looking at values. I just found a deal. I know, “Oh, that's a great deal. I would buy that.” And then with the values always going up, it's like you can't lose and you put it for sale and it sells. It's just very organic and easy. I don't like bugging people with mail and emails and phone calls all day anyways. So, they like to deal with me, but that's different than other people. Everybody has their own strategies or whatever.
Jaren: But how are you getting deals, typically?
Casey Inman: Basically, wholesalers will come to me or I will buy from anywhere, eBay, Facebook, tax sales, liens, anywhere I can get land. There's somebody selling land. They might need money. They might not know that they have value there. You're just constantly looking. And then people hear that you have a lot for sale and then they want to buy that because you give them a good deal and you're very fair. And so, for me, it's just organic and I'm doing business the way I wish how other people would do business. And that goes very far. So that's worth it.
Jaren: When you say wholesaler, are you talking about other land investors that are wholesaling land, or are you talking about house wholesalers?
Casey Inman: Basically both. Because sometimes the house guys end up with a piece of land they can't sell, or the land guys work on land and they flip and all that. And I talk to them too. There could be deals anywhere. I might turn down a lot of deals, but if you just keep talking to people and they bring you deals, you're going to find a deal. You're going to find out, “Oh, that was worth it.” You're not always going to make a lot of money, but if you keep working the deals and finding little areas, there are always ways to make money.
Seth: I think for me, one of the questions is, since you're going about this just very differently than the standard land flipping model that a lot of people know and love. What do you consider a deal? Are you trying to get a property for 25% of its market value or half? Or you're not even looking at the percentage. It's just like, “Hey, if I think there's any potential for this, whether I make this improvement or if I can just get it cheap.” What is your angle, and what kind of discount are you trying to get a property at?
Casey Inman: Right. Well, I know I'm very general, but there are areas that are worth a lot of money, like near water, near mountains with great views. Those are going to be higher up. But you can find deals almost anywhere and you kind of get an idea through Zillow or all these websites. Usually, it's kind of a general thing and you'll see trends. I like to look at the trends. Everything's going up in this neighborhood.
So, I do a lot of research in the area, but I'm not by percentage. Like it has to be 30% because you can also market property at a different price than what other people have for sale. It just depends on many factors, but there are ways to make money. And if not, you just hold onto it for a little bit and the prices usually go up.
Either way, if I like it and I don't mind holding onto it, I'll just think, “Oh, it's worth it to buy that. I could probably sell it probably, make some money. But if I don't rush into it, I can make some money down the road either way.” Mainly what this property has to have is something, near the water or something interesting. Or you find something good about a property or a neighborhood or whatever.
Seth: Yeah. You mentioned that you were an appraiser before you got into this. So how much does that play into your ability to evaluate properties and just understand the worth? Because I know land is a difficult thing to appraise in the first place. Do you have any tricks or anything that gives you a competitive edge on that front?
Casey Inman: Yeah. I think appraisers are a huge deal. It's different than maybe realtor or broker or what have you or an average Joe, because you're looking at values and you understand values from the buyer's perspective, from every perspective. And I think it's worth the time to even not just take the class, but maybe get some books on it. Just understand how values come about in land, housing, anything; it all helps. Education is huge. And especially the more deals you do, you start figuring it out. It takes a while, it's a slow game. It took me a long time to get up there.
Seth: Yeah. And it sounds like, based on what I hear you saying, do you just pick a few select markets and learn those markets really, really well. So, you really understand “I know this will be worth that” or “This development's coming out of town. So, if I do this, this will happen.” Is that a pretty critical thing? You don't just randomly spin the globe and pick a market. You kind of have areas that you know really well. Is that accurate?
Casey Inman: Right. Usually, I've found a deal before over there or usually I look outside of a metropolis, you know it's growing, and so it's going to hit that area. So, it's definitely going to go up, or it's near, like I said, a resource, water or maybe minerals. Because I do mineral rights, islands, and roads. Does it have access? All these factors, once it starts piling up, you're like, “Oh, this is going to be…” You could see it. Growth is always going out.
Jaren: Hey, Casey, do me a favor, email@example.com. Put me on your buyer's list for islands. It's one of my dreams to own an island and Airbnb it.
Casey Inman: Everybody's dream is an island. I bought and sold a few islands.
Jaren: It's very impractical in a lot of ways, but man, I literally have my VAs put any island that comes up on a separate tab so that I can do an island-exclusive direct mail campaign in the future. So, you dive into, generally, you'll focus on areas that you have prior experience in or what have you, but what if you're in growth mode and you're trying to do more, how do you pick a new market?
Casey Inman: Yeah. Well, if you're just starting out, you pick somewhere maybe near you, but then where would I go? People in the south usually like to go to the north with the weather. So, okay. I like Minnesota; I used to go there as a kid. Then you start there and then you talk to people or see on the news, “Oh, this is a great place to go to.” Anywhere that inspires you. You just start looking around, the next town over.
But there are so many places that people don't even know about. In the United States, it's huge, and everywhere is growing, and everywhere has great things. Cool little towns, cool little ski towns, cool things by lakes. Just look where you would like to buy and own and be like, "Man, I don't mind if I sell that. I'd keep that forever." That's the kind of mentality I have. But that's different. A lot of people want to buy and sell and flip and do this and that. I'm kind of different, I guess, which works for me. But that's how I feel.
Seth: I'm trying to get just more of a clarified look at what a typical deal looks like. Could you maybe take us through a deal or two that you've done? Where did you find it? How did you know it was a good deal? What was the buy and sell price? Did you do something to the property while you held this? Just to really understand how this works with you.
Casey Inman: Usually, tax sales are really good, liens, things like that. There are certain markets where there are a lot of properties for sale and you'll be like, “Why are there so many properties for sale?” Maybe there's an economic turn. You look at jobs, whatever. But once you start doing deals, you find places, like everybody wants to go to California. So, I got to do some deals in California. And then Texas, you see on the news, “Oh, it's booming. Okay. I'm going to try to find a deal over there.”
A lot of it is just stuff you come across. Florida's huge. I like to look at job growth, population. I like to look at, “Is the population growing or shrinking?” That could help. Any source you can get information from, you're going to use that and just keep building on top of that, and anybody can do this. I mean, it's so easy. You could find deals across the street.
Seth: Yeah. Maybe if we talk about, when I ask what's the best deal you've ever done, is there a deal that comes to mind for you?
Casey Inman: The islands make a lot of money.
Seth: So how did you find that island deal?
Casey Inman: I was searching through tax sales, something like that. Basically, there's like a giant list of properties, and people aren't going to go through all of them. And sometimes, they're hard with the personal numbers to figure out on the little county websites. So, that's an advantage. You could find deals there because it's so much quantity. You'll find something in there. And I just found an island for sale there, owned by the county. I bought it and sold it and made money on it. And things like that are pretty cool. And then researching it, "Oh, man, that's a cool deal." I like that.
Seth: So, for that island property, I assume you probably came up with like, this is the maximum amount I'm willing to bid on this property. How did you decide what that was? How did you establish, “I think it's worth this and I'm not going to go any higher than that?” Was there some rationale you used?
Casey Inman: Yeah, basically, I think I paid $10,000, something like that, for the island. I know I would keep that forever and I'll put it for sale for more money. And anybody would like an island. You look for those properties that are like, somebody would want that. And it seems like a great deal. $10,000. I'm sure I can make some money on it. And then, before you buy it, maybe you go check out other islands. There are like, island websites. Oh, they're all for sale for crazy money. So simple, easy math on that one. But it's not always that easy. But those kinds of deals can happen.
Seth: What did that island end up selling for?
Casey Inman: I think it was like, maybe $70,000, something like that. I don't know what it was, but it's still going up. They even got a good deal on it. Islands are huge. Anything by water, in the middle of a lake. There's a lot of weird stuff out there.
Seth: Yeah. So, it sounds like tax sales, I've heard you mention that a few times. Now, that's a pretty important source of deals. And I know in my limited experience with them, I just found them way too competitive to find anything. And I'm wondering, does that depend on the county where you work, or how do you get these elusive opportunities like that? I never was able to find anything like that. Everything was bid way over the value.
Casey Inman: Those are hard to come by. Basically, you want to look where there's a volume. Let's say there are 200, 300 properties on that tax sale. If you go through the middle of that, not the beginning or end of it, you just go through it and take the time and search, you'll end up finding something. But obviously, you're going to spend a lot of time. In some of these tax sales, it's all junk. But if you just keep going and you go to another county. The bigger the volume, the better the deals are in there, because there are not that many people who can buy all those deals. So that's a huge thing.
Jaren: Do you do anything with over-the-counter properties? I know that when I was looking into buying that tax auction, I guess they're properties that are like, left over from auction that didn't sell, And you can actually just go to the county directly and they'll actually have a web page that you either log in or they give you a specific URL and you can literally just buy directly from the county.
Again, to Seth's point, when I was looking into it, they were too expensive for me to buy. Because I typically go to the heart of market growth and I'm in pretty aggressive counties, and what have you. But have you had any success with over-the-counter properties?
Casey Inman: Yeah, those ones are good too. I found some. The only thing is, there's so many counties out there and usually, everybody hits the same areas. And in Texas alone, there's over 250 counties. So, if you go through places that are unpopular or maybe look at other land guys, oh, they don't even hit this area or I'll check back. You got to keep checking too. You have to come back, call them maybe. “Oh, it's going to happen in August.” Okay. Then I remembered that. But keeping track of all of them, it's impossible. But once you're in, keep grinding and keep skipping over counties, and eventually, you'll find deals. It takes a while. It's not easy, but it's doable for anybody.
Seth: Now, if you had to rank them in the order of, “I find most of my deals from this source and then this source and then this source,” how would you rank that? Are tax sales? Is that the number one way? Or is it eBay, or networking, or other wholesalers?
Casey Inman: For me, it's everything. But obviously, I started with the easier parts, like tax sales, leans, things like that. But then once you know people and reach out to people, yeah, it starts becoming easier. And you have to just keep looking. I know it sounds cliche, but there could be a deal all over the place and you don't have to do mail-ins. Maybe I could do more deals if I do that. But for me, it works not doing the mailing. But when you start, yeah, it’s probably tax sales, and you subscribe to these lists or whatever. I've seen people do that, but then you can grow beyond that.
Seth: What lists are you referring to?
Casey Inman: Sometimes, there are websites or people that will generate the list and send it to you automatically. So, you don't have to go search for all these things. I don't do that, but I've seen people do that. Now I have a lot of the counties go to me directly now. Because I've dealt with them over time and they know that I'm serious and I always pay the taxes and make sure everything's legit. But it takes time to build all those relationships up and people know you. But you can start at any level and do this easy. It just takes time. It's not overnight.
Seth: Got you. So, I'm hearing tax sales are the number one source. What would be the number two source?
Casey Inman: Social media. I do a lot of deals on Facebook, actually.
Jaren: Like Facebook marketplace or networking within like buy, sell, trade groups and that kind of stuff?
Casey Inman: Probably both. Yeah. Marketplace, groups. Then you start adding these people as your friend. It's kind of like business now. I don't even really go on Facebook for too much fun. It's just fun to see the deals like, “Oh, that's a great deal. I could probably make some money on that. Let's talk.” And if it doesn't work out, I meet that person and that person has deals all the time. So, Facebook has been a huge thing. I don't know about other Instagram and all that. Not really yet for me, but for Facebook, eBay, things like that. You start following these people, and then you automatically get messages saying, “Hey, they got a new thing for sale.” That's a huge thing.
Jaren: Do you do anything on bidforassets.com by chance?
Casey Inman: Yeah. It's pretty rare because a lot of them are retail price. There are deals to be had because sometimes those counties have a lot of investors. So, you could still find a deal there and some people need money, so they'll get rid of it there. But you're not going to get a lot of meat on the bones sometimes, most of the time.
Jaren: Makes sense.
Casey Inman: But that guy's cool. He is a land flipper too, I think. He does that a little bit. The guy who owns that place.
Seth: Oh, cool. I didn't even know that. On Facebook, just to clarify, you're going into Facebook Marketplace or buy, sell, trade groups and just looking for the stuff that people are posting for sale. You're not posting big announcements. Like, "Hey, I'm a land investor. Send me your deals." It's more of you just keeping an eye for what's out there. And you look at each one and decide, “That might be a good deal. I'll reach out.” That kind of thing?
Casey Inman: I'm just constantly digging. And then the algorithm, once you keep looking for land, it just keeps sending you land. So, it's like a win-win and I'm not paying for anything. These deals are just coming across me and you could tell sometimes that they put it a little too high. Sometimes you could see that they'll put on there, "I need it gone ASAP. - Okay. Hello." There are some deals that are firm price. So right there, you're already weeding through a lot of stuff. It's like really easy.
Seth: The algorithm sends you? Is that why I'm getting so many notifications about beanie babies for sale? It's really weird. That's constantly.
Casey Inman: Yeah. Facebook is all algorithms, supposedly. So, once you start liking or seeing things, it'll keep sending you that stuff to keep you engaged with the platform.
Seth: Yeah. So, it sounds like you're not really looking for off-market deals per se. It's always people who are actively trying to sell, because that's the only way you would see it, right? If they posted somewhere.
Casey Inman: Right. If they posted for sale or I met that person and I know they always have deals. Usually that's a good one too, because they might not know all their land's value exactly. So, I'll go through all their deals and I'll find a deal in there. Just depends. But Facebook is huge. Facebook is one of those; it's a good tool.
Jaren: This makes a lot of sense for people who are out of country. Like I would imagine that if you are like a Canadian investor, your approach, if you wanted to get land in Canada, would be a much more advantageous way to go about it. A lot of countries, they just don't give out. There's no tool like DataTree, where there are tons and tons of owner, demographic information, and property information to pull a list.
Seth: You've done deals in Canada, right, Casey?
Casey Inman: Yeah. Canada, I do almost every state in Canada. I’m trying to expand beyond that, but I sell to people in other countries already. So, I understand those markets, but everybody wants to buy in the United States. So, I focus there, but I'm looking at Europe and other places, Australia, things to get a deal in. But Canada's good.
Seth: In these other countries, is Facebook how you're finding them in these other countries? What are the differences, I guess?
Casey Inman: It's pretty similar. Facebook is huge. You could sell something to some guy in China on Facebook. There's eBay in Canada. So, you look for deals through eBay in Canada. Then they have their own Craigslist. Craigslist is huge too. I do Craigslist and they have it in other countries. It's different. So, there are many tools, and yeah, it's growing more globally now. People are talking to more people in other countries. So that's great.
Seth: I'm hearing tax sale lists, Facebook, social media, Craigslist. I think I heard you say eBay when we were talking about the conference. Is eBay a big deal or not really?
Casey Inman: Yeah. You can find deals there. It's just not as much as Facebook and Craigslist. Craigslist has a lot of deals. Some places, not everywhere, are popular on Craigslist. Just depends on the market.
Jaren: When it comes to your weekly workflow, or even daily workflow, what percentage of your day are you spending on Facebook versus canvassing through Craigslist, or through eBay, or through other sites? I actually wrote a blog post for BiggerPockets a long time ago using something called If This, Then That.
And then using that as a way to send new postings on Craigslist to an email. So, I could process all the leads within that email inbox. And I know you can do some stuff like that, at least on Craigslist, but I'm not sure about Facebook and other platforms. Are you having everything just come to you, or are you like, “Okay, I'm going to spend two hours on Facebook, two hours on eBay?” How does it break down?
Casey Inman: I don't try to do a set amount of time on anything, but I try to get to a little bit of everything in the day. So, if my phone's going crazy, I'm going to handle that, emails. But then yeah, I try to funnel everything toward me. So, I have people message me directly like, “Okay, get to me or I'll sign up for your list at the county or I'll sign up for whatever.” But I don't pay for any of those programs or anything.
But the hunt is in searching stuff too, because in the middle of North Dakota, there are deals to be had and people don't know about it. And a lot of these places are still getting online. A lot of paperwork is still done on paper, and they're getting the systems on the computer. So new stuff's coming up all the time and it's cool to find the hunt in the deal. But I try to split up my day throughout everything. So, if I feel like I'm not buying a lot of properties, I'll focus on that. If I have a large inventory, I'm going to work on selling more. You follow what you need to do.
Seth: Yeah. There was one thing that struck me when we were talking at REWBCON, I think I even said this. There's this hunter mentality and the farmer mentality. And personally, I'm more of a farmer. I'm fine just doing monotonous stuff for years and taking forever. But then when it finally comes, it's pretty reliable and it's good. Whereas the hunter is more like the thrill of the chase, get big paychecks, and run after it. It sounds like this approach is really good for the hunter mentality because that's what you're doing all the time. I mean, it’s the constant search as opposed to just sending out mail, waiting for stuff to maybe come back to you.
Casey Inman: Right. And I'm doing this full-time now. So, I've been doing it full time for like 10 years, but I like the hunt and going after it and getting a deal and researching the little town. Oh, it's cool. I can make some money and try to work on the business by making it more automatic, making it smoother, transitions, and giving a lot of information to people for free. I think that's huge because people need help in real estate.
Real estate is very difficult. But it can be very easy if you just work on doing what you do. Let's say you do minerals rights, you do islands, you do land, and don't overwhelm yourself. Don't try to go too crazy. You could bust really easily, but if you just do one at a time, grow, learn about the business, anybody could do it, it just takes time.
Seth: And I'm wondering what percentage of the time are you doing something to these properties before you resell them? Whether it's something with mineral rights or subdividing or changing the zoning or whatever? Is that a normal thing, or is that more the exception rather than the rule?
Casey Inman: A lot of people do stuff to the land and then sell it. I try not to. I try to make it easy for me where I can buy it and just sell it with little work. If it needs work, I'll pay somebody to go mow the lawn or something. But you want to try to keep it easy. That's how I'm trying to keep my business. It’s like buy this, it looks great. I like it. I don't mind selling it if you want to buy it. There are no problems. There are no liens, no back taxes. I just tried to act like I was the customer. What would I want? And I want it easy. I don't want it to be difficult. Some people put a cabin on a big piece of land and they sell it for more money. That's cool. But that's some work. I don't do that. I just buy and sell.
Seth: Yeah. So, it sounds like, given that approach, it's pretty important to get that thing at a discount so that no matter what, it's worth more the minute you buy it.
Casey Inman: Right.
Seth: What is a typical discount percent that you would pay based on what you think it's worth? Are you looking to buy for half of the market value, or is there a goal that you're aiming at with it?
Casey Inman: There's not a goal, but it's definitely numbers. You could tell if something's not marketed right. Or I can market that for more money. After time you could just see the deal, especially if you've done stuff in that market before, or you live near there, or you know somebody. Markets are always trending up also. But I make sure that there is good meat on the bone when I buy something for sure. But if I really like it, I will take less meat on the bone.
Seth: Yeah. Have you ever lost money on a deal? Does that ever happen?
Casey Inman: Never lost money on a deal. It's been tight.
Seth: Yeah. So, it doesn't sound like it's really any riskier per se. It's just about being equally as smart on the buy-side when you figure out what to offer for it.
Casey Inman: In time, some people need to get money quickly. So, they're looking for a quick buck to flip tomorrow. I'm like, I don't mind holding it for a month or a year, whatever. Or I'll put the price higher if I don't mind holding onto it for a little bit, and you test those markets. So, you could drop it low if you want to get rid of it, but you still got meat on the bone. You still know you're making a buck. Okay. And then you put it really on the higher end if you don't mind holding onto it for a little bit, especially if it's low taxes. Because land, most of the time in the middle of the United States, it's cheap taxes. Especially if it's out away from a metropolis. So, I don't mind. I'll take the risk. I don't mind holding it for that.
Jaren: Do you happen to sell anything on terms, or do you primarily do cash stuff?
Casey Inman: I do mostly terms. I do probably 25% cash. I do trades too. Trades are great. But trade land for land, real estate for real estate. But mostly terms, because I want to make it easy for anybody to get into real estate. So, I'll sell it on terms and then I don't do interests. That's huge. I try to make it very good for the customer and I try to be very fair, answer a lot of questions. I make sure everything's transparent because everybody's scared of real estate. Because they get burned by a lot of people. A lot of people don't know what they're doing. If you just treat somebody and you have a lot of information, and you know everything's transparent, they are going to love to do business with you and they'll buy more off of you. So, then you build a relationship.
Seth: Yeah. It's interesting what you're talking about. Some people just don't really know how to market a property or it's obvious, maybe they've got terrible pictures, or no pictures, or they're just awful at it. Which I don't say most people are, because selling land is a little bit of a specialty.
Would it be accurate to say that to do well with your strategy, it is imperative to be just really good at marketing your properties? Like getting the best pictures, understanding the value and the seller financing thing. Like 0% interest. Even though, in the end, you can adjust the numbers however you want and make the money you want to make. But just being able to say that 0% interest thing, I can see why that would be appealing to a lot of people.
In what ways do you really spruce up your listings and just make a property look way better than it would be if somebody was listing it and didn't know what they were doing?
Casey Inman: Right. Marketing is huge. You want to have great pictures. You want to get some information. Even Wikipedia will show demographics, population growth over time. That's free information for everybody and you can see where the jobs are going to, “Oh, they just opened a plant out there in Austin. That's going to be huge.” You get as much information as you put in your listing, make it look appealing, and give reasons why you should buy this property. Because over time, you're going to make money. It's a low-cost investment. It's cheap taxes. Zero interest.
You got to make it very irresistible to them. And then you get excited, though, because you're like, “Wow, I want to keep this property.” So, you put it a little higher up, but they have all the information that you got to put some time into marketing properties for sure.
Seth: And where are you listing your properties for sale? Are you using agents? What does your selling process look like?
Casey Inman: No, I do everything directly. My mother is a broker appraiser contractor. I was an appraiser. So, we do all our own paperwork. We don't charge you any doc fees. We do everything directly and there are no VAs. We're direct. So, we know all the information like that. And people want to speak to the owner of the property. They, a lot of times, don't want to deal with the middle guy or whatever. So that's a huge thing, and you want to be as direct as possible and answer all the questions. People are very nervous about real estate. So yeah, that's a big thing.
Jaren: One of the questions that I have for you, Casey, how many deals are you doing on average per year?
Casey Inman: It basically has gone up with the pandemic because of the fear, or COVID, or the money. I buy and sell close to every day a property, maybe every other day, a piece of land. And that seems like I can manage that, and that's flowing in and out of inventory. And that seems to be working right now.
Jaren: What do you typically do in terms of terms deals when you sell? Are you asking like, is it kind of all over the map, or do you have a standard like $250 down, $250 a month?
Casey Inman: Yeah. I try to keep it a standard so people feel comfortable. So, everything's $50 down and it's at least $50 a month. It's more going up because the prices are getting bigger. So, $100, $150 a month, no interest. Make it clean and simple for people. If you're going to sell properties, you want people to just be like, “Wow, that's amazing.”
Seth: Yeah. That's pretty good volume considering there's no direct mail and you're always on the lookout and there's lifting required for every single deal to buy and to sell. I mean, there's always lifting, but it feels like there would be more lifting if you're having to seek out every individual thing. All these properties you're buying, do they all kind of come from a handful of key people who are selling or is it like a totally new person every single time and you got to teach them the ropes? “This is how we close. This is how we're going to do this.”
Casey Inman: A lot of times, you've already dealt with these people in buying and selling. Over time you just get customers and places you buy and sell and it just grows organically. You get a lot of new people or a lot of new sources to buy also and where to sell. But over time, you get people that really like what you do. The customers are going to be happy. They're going to tell their family. They're going to tell. And that helps out a lot too. You got to be really genuine with people and the deal and everything. And people go far with that.
Seth: Yeah. And I don't know if you said, what are your favorite places to list these things for sale? If you're not using an agent, what are the number one, two, and three listing websites that you use?
Casey Inman: Yeah. I don't list on any other people's websites. I have my own website, so I try to drive people there. That's where you want everything to happen, but obviously, it'll be slow. So, I do social media. It's rare if I pay for any advertisement. And I don't want to bombard people, so you just make it easy for them and if they want to buy it, it’s there. Social media and you want to drive people. Maybe Craigslist ads, just simple stuff. And once they learn about your website and you do overtime, you show that, then they'll trust you and then they'll keep coming. Takes time to build that.
Seth: What is your website again?
Casey Inman: Landishome.com. I just talked to the BBB the other day. They called and said, "You're doing amazing." I'm not accredited. I don't pay them anything, but they're telling me that I'm doing really good as a business person. So that's great to hear. You want to have people trust in what you do and you know everything or you know what you know, and you're not trying to rip people off and you're just upfront transparent.
Seth: Yeah. What are your strategies for getting people to go to your website if that's what you want the home to be? Because I got to admit, if you can get that to work and not have to mess around with all these third-party websites, that's pretty convenient and pretty powerful. How have you gotten people to go there over the years? What are your tricks for that?
Casey Inman: Right. It takes time. So, you could start maybe on another land website and you build a brand, let's say my name or my business or whatever. And you maybe focus on a niche like mineral rights or islands or junk land or farmland, whatever. And then once you start building that up, you try to switch that to your website and you maybe just start a website, just get started at least. And even put three properties on there. No big deal.
People like to look at new things all the time. And eventually, once you start doing deals, you want to get everything to your own brand. You don't want to have to pay people. You want to try to have everybody come to you, make it easier also for you and you want to be the go-to guy. So that's what I strive to do.
Seth: Yeah. It definitely sounds like a long-haul thing. And it's not like you're going to do this within a few months. It's like years and years of trying to make this work.
Jaren: I wanted to circle back to a couple of other questions about your selling process. You're typically asking for a minimum of $50 down and roughly around $50 a month. What are your typical term lengths looking like in terms of how long is the loan for? And then you're buying roughly one property a day, but how much are you selling?
Casey Inman: Yeah, I buy and sell roughly one every day or every other day. So, I try to keep it 50/50. And yeah, I try to keep it at 10 years or less. I don't want it to be too ridiculous. Like you're paying forever because that would suck. And then a lot of people won't do that anyways. You want to make it like, “Oh, okay. 8, 10 years, it's $5,000, maybe. $50 to $100 dollars a month. Keep it very easy for people. And if they pay me more ahead of time, I won't charge them any fees for that. So that's nice for them too. You want to keep it affordable and that anybody can get into it. That's what I want to do.
Jaren: Yeah. It makes sense.
Seth: I was just thinking, going back to the acquisition process. Suppose I'm on eBay or something, or Facebook marketplace, or one of these places where you're looking for deals. What exactly am I looking for? Am I trying to figure out the price-to-acreage ratio? What are the flags I'm looking for to be like, “Oh, boom, there's an opportunity.” Because there are tons of stuff there. You could spend all the time in the world just talking to people. But how do you cut to the chase and get to the stuff that's really worth pursuing? Are there keywords you're looking for? How do you whittle that down?
Casey Inman: Yeah. You could just go through real estate. You just put land in there or something like that. And just look through all that. Sometimes there's nothing, sometimes there's a bunch. And you could talk to those people and say, “Hey, you're not selling that. Maybe you want to give it to me for a little bit less and I'll pay you cash right now.” Or sometimes, you can get owner financing. I'll do owner financing even today. Because I will be buying it, but I always wait till I get the deed and then I'll sell it. But you could do owner financing and resell it. That's huge too. Because you're leveraging. So, you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket, all your money on the table, but you could get a good deal that way.
And depending on your price range or maybe you like this particular area, I kind of like to go wherever I'm feeling it today. Like, “Okay, I want to get some California land.” I don't have any California land right now. Maybe. So, I just go with the flow and deals may pop up on eBay. “Okay, let's start there. Oh, that deal's not going to work. Maybe I can go to the county. Maybe I can talk to Facebook people.” Just go with the flow. Over time you learn what's going to work. Just talking to people, you find deals later on. There's lots of relationships in that.
Seth: Do you have any automation tools in place? I keep thinking about this. It's like, man, you can spend so much time talking and having conversations that go nowhere. Is there any software that funnels certain things to the front of your desk so you can see that?
Casey Inman: Yeah, you can get on these email lists that are free. You just sign up with people and you might get a lot of junk, but I don't mind it. I like going through there. Because a lot of people won't go through there.
Seth: What email lists are they? When you say that, are you talking about the tax sale lists, or is there a certain wholesaler you're referring to?
Casey Inman: There are wholesalers, there are tax sales. There are counties. Any list you can get on for real estate, they're all over the place and they're always trying to sign you up, and you're like, “Ah, get me out of there.” Sometimes I stick around for a while because you will get a deal a lot of times, or you can negotiate. “Hey, I like that piece. Listen and negotiate. If it's not going to work, okay, I'm moving on.” I have the patience to dig those deals out, but then I might miss another deal.
Seth: It sounds like in order to develop this sense for scanning through a bunch of stuff and you can pick up, “Oh, that's a deal there.” You have to be really familiar with that market. To just go in blind to a place you've never been before and figure it out. That seems almost impossible. You'd have to have experience knowing this kind of property in this area usually sells at this price. Because once you know that, then you can sort of whittle down to what does a deal look like?
Casey Inman: Right. It just depends. Yeah. Over time I learned that. But obviously, if you're beginning, you're going to start “Okay. I like this county because I live there.” Let's start with step one. It's always by steps. Let's try this place. Oh, it doesn't work out.
I know it's going to take some time. But if you put in the time, it'll be worth it. Or you could sign up and automate everything. You can sign up for the list. You could hire VAs to help you figure that out. It's all different. I like to do everything personally because I like to see the deals and then I'll go “Oh, okay. This looks like a deal. Let me research it before I buy it.” You could do that. Check it out. See if there are any liens. Is the town cool? Just take your time.
Seth: Is this safe to say that you're always giving people a lower offer than what they're asking for? Or are there ever times when you're just like, “Yeah, I'll pay what you want?”
Casey Inman: Yeah. Sometimes I pay what they're asking for. Sometimes I ask for a deal. Sometimes they don't know they could get a little more if they put a little marketing into it, like we said, so I'll pay them for that property and put it for sale for more. And usually, that could work, but it's not always. You have to see, “Is that a good deal? Let me research it up.” Start looking around and you'll find, “Oh, yeah. I would buy that for that price.” I even go through Craigslist to see what's for sale and on Zillow you see prices. Okay. I'm getting an idea. It's a little rural town in the middle of nowhere. Okay. People would pay this for that. There's free information everywhere.
Seth: Yeah. I know a lot of land investors have noticed response rates or acceptance rates or the amount that they have to offer to get a deal accepted is going up. Basically, just things that are trending more in the direction of this is getting a little bit harder in 2022, even last year. Have you noticed that with this approach, or have things gotten maybe even easier for you? How have things changed, if at all, over the past year or so?
Casey Inman: Right. Inflation's definitely a key and things are going up. So, you're going to ask for more money when you sell the property. And when you're buying the property, you're going to have to pay it up a little bit more and that's overtime, that's going to happen. Even the tax sales, there's a lot of sales where I don't get anything and it's like, okay, I’m moving on. But not everybody can get in every little market and niche. So, you just move on. No worries.
And then you're going to trend up. People are getting paid more, unemployment is at an all-time low. We're getting money from the government at times. And with the war, people are scared. So, they're buying real estate. Inflation. They're trying to hedge against inflation. So, they put money in real estate. But you could still make money, and with the deals going up so quickly, it's even a better time to find deals.
Seth: Yeah. I guess the question is, has it gotten harder to find deals?
Casey Inman: It has gotten harder, yes. But still, I do plenty of deals.
Seth: Cool. Harder in the sense that you're just having to offer more or pay more than you used to, or are they literally fewer deals for sale? What specifically is harder about it?
Casey Inman: There are actually more deals, I think, but your prices are going up, so you have to be more comfortable with higher prices. But you could sell for more. So, you just have to bake that in. You have to prepare for that. So, you start at a lower point if you can't afford it, and you work your way up.
Jaren: I wanted to ask about something that I keep hearing highlighted in our conversation today. You have to have an ungodly amount of patience for your strategy, because even from the little that I've dabbled with buying from county list and county auctions, and what have you, to go through 300 properties in order to find the needle on the haystack. I mean, my hat is off to you, my friend.
But I wanted to hone in on that before we finish our conversation today and kind of just ask what your tips and tricks are because you just nonchalantly were like, “Oh yeah, if I do an auction and I don't get a deal, it's okay.” Most people won’t respond that way. Especially if I was being like 200, 300 properties in, I'd be pretty upset if I didn't get a deal.
How do you not get discouraged? Because I know even a lot of people who might be attracted to your business model, starting off as new land investors, they're going to get discouraged because they're like, “Man, I want a deal. I want a deal.” What are your tips to not get discouraged after doing all this work for an auction and then not getting a deal?
Casey Inman: Yeah. I know that's huge, right? There are a lot of markets and niches and areas to make money out there. So don't be discouraged, but don't also follow the trends. Everybody's going to Florida. Well, if everybody's going to Florida, where are they coming from? Oh, great. I'm going to look there because they're all leaving. You got to look maybe the other way around. Where are all the real estate investors going? Texas. A lot of people were leaving New York to go to other places. So, you go look there.
You just got to just think about where is another step up? Where else can I go? And there are markets everywhere. People are moving all the time. People are in trouble selling properties, but networking is the hugest thing. You have to network with all these people in real estate. If you want to be in real estate, try to network with these people, but don't bug them. You're going to talk with them, follow them. They might send you a deal, or you might work with them. So that would be cool. And then you grow organically. It takes time.
Jaren: But what do you do with the actual disappointment? How do you not get upset and just keep going? Because honestly, I think that is what makes or breaks people who end up being successful and anything in life, but especially the land business. It's like, how do you keep going and face the disappointment.
Casey Inman: Yeah. Disappointment, it happens quite a bit. It's hard to just tell you, just move on. Stuff like that happens all the time, but the great deal is worth it. Buying an island and selling it for a big percentage or just even a regular piece of land or a house or whatever. Those deals can be had. And you're going to have some pitfalls, you're going to learn that, and you try to avoid that. But at first, you're doing it maybe part-time. But once you dive in full, you already know I'm going to make this work. I'm going to figure out how to make this work.
It's going to take one step at a time. If you have something not going through, just try to maybe put on some music or go outside, take a walk, get your mind out of it. And just think about the next deal and you'll get over it. Maybe it wasn't meant to be, that's okay. It's hard to tell people that. Yeah, I understand. But you can do this. Anybody can do this.
Seth: On that, your comment about where are people leaving and going to get deals there? Wouldn't that mean that that's like a shrinking market, maybe? Wouldn't that imply that? And if so, is that problematic at all? Or you just make the offers even lower so that you can hold it for longer?
Casey Inman: Well, we've had booms and busts all the time. If you look at the Midwest, it comes and goes. California. A lot of people are leaving California right now. But then there are a lot of investors coming in. And Texas, the same thing. Everywhere has this back and forth. The big metropolis, they shrink and grow over time. Those little towns are getting bigger, but over time, these little towns are growing and we have a bigger population, and prices are going up.
Real estate, you can't lose with real estate. In the long run, over time, you're going to make money. It's just a numbers game. You can't lose. It might take you a while to sell that property, but trends change, populations change. Everybody's moving, now everybody's online. So, they're going to little towns and paying half in rent and they're working online. That's because of COVID, and then there's war, and there's always something going on, and headquarters are changing states. And so, anywhere there could be a deal.
Jaren: Makes sense.
Seth: Yeah. What would be an average hold time for these properties that you're buying? It sounds like you have no problem if you just have to hang on for a long time. What would you consider to be long or normal?
Casey Inman: For me, I don't mind holding onto stuff for a while. Especially if I know this property might sell for more money if I hold it. I'm not in a rush. That's my strategy. If you need to get rid of stuff fast, you could tell and you can get a deal on that. Usually, if it's a great property, I'll sell it in a day or two. A lot of times it'll be maybe a month, a year at the most, but you want to definitely get stuff that you feel like you could sell some quick ones. Maybe you get some quick ones and then you get ones you don't mind holding onto, or you could make a price adjustment as time goes by. It depends on if you need cash or not. So, you have to manage your cash and your flow.
Seth: At what point would you come to the conclusion that I've made a mistake? Maybe I bought a bad property, or paid too much, or something's wrong? How long of a hold time would tell you something's off?
Casey Inman: Yeah. If it's like a year or six months or something like that. If I feel like, “I lowered the price enough, why is this property not selling?” That's kind of a concern. Then I will look at what's going on. I'll re-look at the prices in the area. “Oh, it looks like things have dropped.” So, I might have to drop some. I'm going to lose some money on that deal, but you could see with the trends, the population's leaving, something happened in that town. So, you have to just move on, you sell that property. Maybe don't buy there for a while.
Seth: Is there any other kind of real estate that you invest in, or is it strictly land? Do you have any long-term plans to transition into anything else?
Casey Inman: Yeah. I personally do not like homes, or apartments, condos, anything like that. Structures. I mainly like land, anything attached to land, like mineral rights, water wells, oil royalties. Anything with land, cemeteries, islands, roads, landlocked. I feel like that's a great investment in the long run. Because if you have a house, you're going to have high property taxes, somebody can mess it up. There are a lot of problems with houses for me personally.
I feel like land, you can't lose. Because even mineral rights are cheap in taxes, water wells you could hold onto it. There's less fresh water in the world. There's more population. People are fighting over water. People were fighting over rare earth minerals. So mineral rights are huge. It's going to be big in the future. You just see these trends.
Seth: Let's talk about that a little bit. When you say mineral rights, do you mean buying land with mineral rights or just buying the mineral rights?
Casey Inman: I do both. I will buy just the mineral rights.
Seth: And do you make money from that somehow, or?
Casey Inman: Yeah, I'll sell those, or I'll hold on to them. I don't mind the mineral rights that take a lot of work and money. You could rent them, lease them to companies to do that. Or they give you a paycheck for how much they pull out. I don't like to do that, but I would sell to them or to a person who wants to own mineral rights because they want to own mineral rights. Certain areas have different minerals. So, they realize they're going to need that in the future. Technology changes, lithium right now, nickel, things like that for batteries, for car batteries, electric vehicles are huge.
And obviously with fighting with Russia and China and they're hoarding minerals and things like that and water. They import water to China. Those things are here, and they're cheap, and they're readily available. And I would invest in them because I feel like it's worth it in the long run. And I sell them.
Jaren: I love that. I just made a note as you were talking, I'm going to look into mineral rights. Go sign a course. Seth, there's our idea for our next REtipster course - How to invest in mineral rights.
Seth: We have to have some idea of what we're talking about first. So, it's going to take about five years.
Seth: That's really interesting. I hear about mineral rights all the time, but I don't really know anything about it. Conceptually I understand that if you have a property with mineral rights, you can lease out those mineral rights to an oil company or whoever, and they can get under there, and you can maybe earn royalties or something. But just like the buying and selling of mineral rights, how do you appraise that? How do you figure out what it's worth? You just contact random property owners and say, "Hey, I don't want your property. I want your mineral rights. Do you want to sell them?" It's a very different world. I don't fully understand it.
Casey Inman: Right. It's kind of out there in the niches, but basically, there are areas, mineral rights are very common. People buy and sell them or they own them. And they do a lot of oil pumping in this basin, in this area like South Illinois or the Midwest. And that's a normal thing. And we don't think about that because we don't do it.
But oil, mineral rights, water, basically, you have the right to get the minerals underneath that piece of land. Usually, it's like 12 feet and below. So, there can be a house there or something, but you have to work with the landowner on top, the surface right owner, and you work with them and you could pump water out of there or oil or whatever. You can dig for gold. A lot of times it's liquid.
Jaren: I just get blown away at how much there's more room to grow in land. It's just ridiculous. I've been doing this business for about four and a half, five years and I'm still learning. This is the first real conversation that I think I've had where I've considered, “Huh? I should probably learn about mineral rights and go after that stuff.” Because that's huge. I'm not going to name names, but I know of a family who grew up, my friend grew up poor and really struggling. And they just found oil on a property that they owned in Texas. And now they're not struggling anymore. I'll just put it that way.
Casey Inman: Mineral rights is just one little niche in land too. You have all these different things. Cemeteries, islands. There are people who use land that put windmills on there. There are cattle farmers. There are tons of things you could do with land. Land is awesome and there's unlimited potential for the deals or what you can do with it. Changing technologies. Land is huge. It's the number one investment, I feel, better than all those other houses.
Seth: Yeah, I was talking to a 1031 exchange specialist at REWBCON and he was telling me—don't take my word for it, not financial advice. I don't know what I'm talking about—but he was telling me that you can 1031 exchange land for not only any other type of real estate, but you could also do it with mineral rights or with air rights. These things are considered real estate in terms of being a light kind of exchange, which I had no idea that that qualified. But it might be worth looking at.
Jaren: Air rights is a whole 'nother world too. That's a whole 'nother world.
Casey Inman: I don't deal with air rights. That's the one I don't deal with. That's a whole new ballgame.
Seth: Is that like, so I can fly my drone over it. If I don't have the air rights, I can't fly my drone. Is that what that means?
Casey Inman: No. It's like, let's say you have a house on the hill. Usually, it's a rich neighborhood and they don't want you to build your house in front of their view.
Seth: Oh, that's what air rights is?
Casey Inman: Or maybe a huge skyscraper. They want to limit how high you build your skyscraper. And so, if you want to add more or build a bigger building, they're going to make you buy the air rights, or you could buy the air rights of this guy. And so, he can't go any higher. So, you got that view for sure forever.
Seth: Wow, man.
Jaren: There's just so much opportunity. It's ridiculous.
Seth: Add that to my list of things that I want to learn about, but probably never will learn about.
Jaren: Future REtipster blog posts. Seth wants to geek out on something.
Seth: Yeah. Cool.
Casey Inman: But there are so many niches. You don't have to just stick to where you could put a house next to a house. That kind of land. There are so many things. Yeah. They're digging up dinosaur bones in Wyoming. So, guys dig up dinosaur bones and make crazy money.
Jaren: That's awesome.
Casey Inman: People drill for oil in Texas, and put windmill or solar panels in the middle of the desert.
Seth: What if somebody else owns mineral rights to my property, but when they're not looking, I dig a hole, and I like steal the minerals out of there. Are they going to sue me or something? Do they literally have grounds to do that? Because I took what was theirs?
Casey Inman: Well, technically, I guess, but it would have to be worth it for them to sue you. So, if you had huge mineral rights and you had dump trucks coming out of there and they'd be like…
Seth: That's the plan.
Casey Inman: Yeah. But if you're digging in a shovel and you find a nugget, it's usually 12 feet or below also. So, you won't even get that deep usually. But if you hit oil and you become rich, that could be a problem.
Seth: Yeah. Got you. I know having not done direct mail, it's probably hard for you to really know objectively. I think I kind of understand some of the pros and cons of doing this versus the direct mail approach. But when you think about everything you do in your business, what are the biggest hassles for you? What problems keep you up at night? What do you just hate about what you do here? Maybe we can crystallize what the hardest parts are about this versus an alternative approach.
Casey Inman: I don't really hate anything about it. I do it the way I like it. I might have to work a little harder, but I don't like people to blast my name all over the place and then the deals don't even happen. It's a lot of waste of time to mail all those mailers. It costs a lot of money. I think it's a waste actually for me personally.
But if you do things the way you want them to be done, like everybody comes to you or you build your website for it to all go there. The only thing is getting it there. It takes time, and yeah, you have failures and that's unfortunate, and it sucks sometimes. But you try to do everything the way you would want it to be done. So, it takes time. That's the only thing.
Jaren: I'm still really blown away by how things just don't seem to faze you. I don't know how to get that to translate to me from you. But my goodness, man, you are the most chill person ever. Because both me and my wife work in the land business. And I promise you, when things go south, we're all mad, like throwing attention tantrums, but you're like super chill. You're just like, “Bad things happen and it's okay. There are deals, just keep going. It's going to be alright.” I just want to have that mentality, man.
Casey Inman: I think if you're optimistic and you're good with people and you're happy and you know it's going to work out more times, that helps the deal happen. The buyer, the seller, you're happy. You're like, man, this is a great deal. If you're sad or not feeling good, you maybe shouldn't do that deal. You got to be excited. Real estate is amazing. And you got to be excited about it to get in it and you're going to make money. Try to be excited every time you do a deal. I know it's hard. You have bad days, but there's always a good deal around the corner. You just got to open your eyes.
Jaren: And I think you can tell that to Seth's point earlier about you being a hunter, because you can tell that just by you talking about it, the minute you get a deal, there's an excitement to it. There's a high.
Casey Inman: It's like a high, it's like a drug. It's like, “Oh I want to do that again. That was amazing.” And when you treat them happy and everybody's happy and it's a win-win, it's like, “Wow, I'm helping people and I'm making money. This is amazing.” So that's what I strive for every day. And more times I have good days than bad days, but I did have bad days in the beginning. But you got to keep your positivity up.
This also helps me too. A notebook. Write it down. I'm going to get a deal today. Maybe tomorrow. Step one, step three. This is huge. Just the notebook. Writing down your thoughts. Let's do something today. We're going to do this. Okay. We're going to look at that. One step at a time. Don't overwhelm yourself at any level.
Seth: I think part of what's going on in my brain, it feels like a lot of wasted time going after stuff that doesn't going to happen. But when I look at direct mail, every time I send out a campaign, I'm wasting a ton of resources. That's like guaranteed flushing money down the toilet every time because most people will not respond or do anything.
There's going to be a waste somewhere. I guess it's either money or time, especially if you can figure out ways of scale or tricks on how to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, and just find specific things that are more likely to work out. I could see how Casey’s approach potentially would be less wasteful, depending on how you look at it.
Jaren: Well, and I think it boils down to the network.
Casey Inman: Network.
Jaren: Because his business model is very similar to a traditional realtor. When you're first getting started, you don't have people sending you deals. But after a few years in the business, after doing deals and getting out there and being aggressive there, you hit this tipping point where all of a sudden, things start chasing you. It sounds like that's where Casey's at. It's that, at first, there are a lot of hassles involved and a lot of getting your name out there.
But then once you have a steady flow of counties that work with you, agents that work with you, sellers, land investors that want to assign contracts or whatever, once you get that network built, then it seems to be pretty chill. But it's like getting over the hump that I'm like, man, my hat's off to you, my friend.
Casey Inman: Thank you. Yeah. You can imagine how many mailers I get. I have a lot of properties. I have almost 300 for sale right now and I have a lot on payments. I might talk to this guy, "Hey, you got some deals?” So it could work out with the mailers, but I don't work a lot like every day, all day. But I do work every day for a good amount of time, but I got to dial it down now. But yeah, the hustle was in the beginning.
But don't overwhelm yourself. You could do it one day at a time. If you work eight hours a day at McDonald's, you're making money, but you're not working on yourself, your business, your image, your whatever. If you're working eight hours a day on yourself, you could do a lot in anything.
But obviously, you're going to be part-time at first. And then you're going to make that switch. You got to believe in yourself. And this is the best time ever with the COVID and all this craziness, you got to believe in yourself. Because if you put in that money and time and education and all that into yourself, you're going to win no matter what. You just got to do it. You could do it.
Jaren: Yeah. I love it.
Seth: Do you have any sense of how many deals you have done in the 10 years you've been doing this?
Casey Inman: I have purchased over 2,000 properties. I know it's over 2,000 because you have parcel numbers with more than one property. So, I'm in the thousands. I'm over 2,000 properties purchased. I've sold, not all of those, but a lot of them. Over 10 years, that's a long time. But now I'm doing more frequent and bigger deals over time.
But you could do one deal at a time when you're part-time and grow it. Get two. That's how I started. Very organically. One deal at a time, maybe two. Okay. I'll trade you for three. You don't want those? Okay. But I can turn that into four. It's kind of land banking/investors/selling land. But if I like the stuff, I don't mind whole paying $5 in taxes a year on, and I might make a lot of money. That's worth an investment for me.
Seth: Yeah. Is there an average profit per deal or like a range of profits? What would be a low-end versus a high-end deal that you would do?
Casey Inman: A lot of times, it's small deals. Because I look at volume. You want to look at where's the most of my buyers. Probably just starting or low income or even an average income, they want to do small deals. I just try to do a lot of small deals, maybe more big deals now. But when you're starting, what are my buyers? A lot of people would like to own land in general at any level of income. And so, if you have a lower starting point, you might not make as much. I understand these people want to make a lot of money in real estate, but your volume might be in those lower numbers.
Jaren: Man, you're giving me so many ideas. I'm like just taking notes over here, left and right.
Casey Inman: That's land. It's beautiful.
Seth: It's interesting you say the land banking thing because I actually had my first ever long-form podcast new conversation with another land banker in the last episode. Jaren, you weren't there for it, but it was interesting because I had never really understood it. I know what land banking is, but how do you buy a property knowing it's going to go up, no question about that. And it has a lot to do with understanding the market and understanding what's coming and understanding, are you in a growing area? And doing some due diligence that you might not normally think too much about if you're just flipping stuff quickly. But with land banking, you can buy stuff at full market value as long as you're going into it totally aware of what's happening and what's likely to happen.
Jaren: Yeah. I mean, it seems interesting because I know, Okeechobee County, Florida is a market that since I moved my operation to be primarily focused in Florida, the values have gone up perpetually like $5,000 to $10,000 every single year. Probably closer to $5,000 consistently per acre. It's been awesome. And I'm sure if you were to just hold a property in Okeechobee County, you're going to do great. Or Brevard County is another one because they're developing a space force and they're calling that the space coast. And if you were to just buy there and hold it for 15 years, 20 years… I mean, obviously, there's no crystal ball.
The major issue is we're at the top of the market cycle. So, if you buy now even at a discount, if the market has a major correction, are you going to have to hold at a loss for five years or something? You know how in 2008 there were a bunch of properties that got underwater because they owed more on the mortgage than the property was actually worth. I worry about some of that stuff in premium fast-growing markets when there's going to be a market shift.
Seth: Like you overpay them?
Jaren: Yeah. Or even if you're not overpaying, if we'd take a snapshot of today and I buy at today's value and all of the metrics are suggesting that it's going to go up in value over time, but then something shifts drastically, how do you hedge against that dip? And I guess it's just to buy cheap enough. And when you sell on terms, that's another safety net I think as well, because I'm only doing cash. And so, I got to be very fixated. I know I can list it at this, 100%. I cannot make a mistake on that. No matter what.
Casey Inman: Well, the thing about the future. Yeah. Everything's growing. I was buying real estate in 2008. The housing was going down, but the land was actually not bad. Land is solid. It's like gold. Housing goes up and down much more but land is very stable. It's like a commodity. It's like something people don't mind holding onto. And yeah, it goes up over time all the time. Almost all the time.
Seth: I think it might depend a little bit on the construction activity and that kind of stuff. Because I know in Michigan, it definitely did go down, but Michigan was the worst place to be of all time in the whole country. But I'm sure if you're in a place like California where things are always generally pretty valuable and things are happening, it's probably a very different story.
Jaren: I think about that a lot about California, because I know it has ridiculously high taxes and it's at a population decline right now, but there's such intrinsic value in the land. And there are so many, specifically Southern California, there are so many other driving factors like Hollywood being based there and generational celebrities living there. There's a generational book of wealth in Southern California. Are they really all going to up and move? All of them? I don't know. I think maybe a big dip is going to happen, but people have to re-invest there at some point because it has intrinsic value.
It's kind of like Florida land in that way. When you go to palm trees and sunny places, there's intrinsic value right there. Regardless of who is running the country, regardless of all that, there's going to be some kind of value in that kind of land. That's why I shy away from desert land personally because I don't see the intrinsic value.
Casey Inman: There is value in almost anything. You just have to look at it from that perspective, but there's almost value everywhere.
Seth: Awesome. Well, Casey, it's been fascinating. I appreciate you coming on the podcast and schooling us on how your business works. I learned a lot of new stuff. So, if people want to learn more about you, I guess landishome.com. Is there any other way?
Casey Inman: Yeah, they could reach out, it's Casey Inman anywhere. Landishome. If you have questions or want to look at land or have something to sell or buy or just look me up. And REtipster is amazing.
Seth: Thanks, man. I appreciate that.
Casey Inman: Add that to your resources and get your resources going.
Jaren: I was just going to ask you, I'm actually on your website right now. If I want to get on your buyer's list, is it your investor's club? Because there's one to join your newsletter. Is that where I go to?
Casey Inman: You just so send me an email, “I'm looking for this. This is my price range. This is my county,” whatever, and I'll put you on my list. I don't blast people until like, “Oh, this is for sure for him. Okay.”
Jaren: Sweet. I've been trying to get people to add me to their buyers list, man. And they say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” And then they never reach out to me. It's really funny. I will make sure to reach out to you and make sure to get on your list.
Casey Inman: Cool. All right.
Seth: Do you have employees or VAs or anything like that, Casey?
Casey Inman: No, just me and my mother. We're busy, but could streamline it. You just get to those people and it's possible. You don't have to have VAs because then there's a lag in communication. I like everything to be straightforward.
Jaren: Makes sense to me.
Seth: Sounds good. Well, thanks again, Casey. We'll have to stay in touch. Again, good to talk to you at the conference and talk to you soon.
Casey Inman: All right. See you guys.
Seth: Alright, folks. That was our conversation with Casey. That was pretty fascinating. I knew it would be the first time I heard about this whole no direct mail thing. I just knew there were so many questions that were going to be answered, that were going to be very enlightening and some of it, it’s common sense. But I think where I was most curious to get the information on was how exactly are you making this work? Because it seems inherently very time-consuming. And it sounds like it sort of is, but he doesn't seem like he cares. It sounds like that's fun for him. So maybe that's part of the prerequisite. You should find that kind of thing fun. Because if you don't, you're probably going to go nuts. Would you agree? What do you think, Jaren?
Jaren: Yeah, I think that you should probably do some personality tests and figure out if you actually are somebody who would just find searching for the deal that much fun. Because I think that's really what drives him is that he really is a textbook example of a hunter mentality. He just loves the hunt and if you love the hunt, then you don't care if you don't "metaphorically" get a deer or whatever that day. You don't care if you get a kill because you love the game and you want to do it again the next day and the next day and the next day. And I think that's super important.
Seth: It sort of begs the question as well, do you love talking to motivated sellers and spending thousands of dollars on direct mail that doesn't result in anything? A lot of us don't love that, but we do it. So, I don't know.
Jaren: I was going to say something in a similar vein. It boils down to what do you want to waste: time or money? For me, I'd rather waste money and save time, but that's not the same for everybody. Man, once you get to his level, you've been in it for 5, 10 years, your network is going to be built enough where it's not going to be that much effort. It's really probably the first two years.
Funny enough, in coaching, I stole something that Seth Williams taught me. I've dubbed it the 24-month rule where you approach any kind of business, especially land. Go in it with a two-year commitment because your first six months or your first year, you might hit a wall and it feels like you're getting nowhere. But I think you said at the 18-month mark, REtipster really started taking off and turned it into something.
But every waking hour and spare moment you had, you were working on REtipster for the first 18 months and then it started taking off. And so, I think that there's a really good principle there, “Hey, the first two years might be a grind, but after you get that established, the next move of once you have a network and you have things in place, it could become pretty seamless.”
Seth: Yeah. And interestingly, it was around that 18-month mark when I started having thoughts about quitting. It was right at that tipping point where I hadn't gotten there yet and I had put tons of everything into it and nothing was really firing yet. And I think a lot of land investors can probably relate to that. It's a tough thing when you're doing this stuff, you're putting the time and the money and the effort and the education into it. And where are the results? Any normal person can only do that for so long before they're like, "Nope, I'm out."
But it's just a good reminder. It's good to just say no matter what, I decided on good fundamentals that this was a good idea and I'm going to see that through. And if I pull out and stop, it's not going to be because I didn't really give it everything I had for the time that it needed. And that's our thing because it's going to cost you something. If you do it for two years or however long, and it doesn't pan out, that costs you two years and that's a big price to pay. But I don't know that you can really give it a fair shake and know for sure that it works or not if you don't really put that kind of thing into it.
Jaren: Yeah. I'm with you, man. One thing I feel was a major takeaway for me in this interview that I think is worth mentioning before we're going to dive into one of our card questions here in a minute. But one of the things that I wanted to highlight was for my paradigm, I would call it like spiritual principles, but I don't even know if that's really the right word. It would be spiritual with a lowercase “s.” But he talked a lot about the major importance of being ultra-positive in your mindset. He talked a lot about just being a good person, and a lot of these similar principles repeat themselves in different areas of success, whether it's sport or business or what have you.
I don't know. It's just very interesting to me how it's not just pure skill. A big piece to success is this kind of in the ether, in the weird emotional, psychological, spiritual space, that's where a lot of these principles come into place that actually matter. And it's really hard to even articulate that because you can't quantify it. And I felt like a lot of our conversation, you and me were both really trying to hone in on like, “Okay, practically, is it 20%?” We were very much trying to get to the bottom, but with him, he didn't operate from that place. He was just like, “Hey man, I just am keeping it really simple. And I just try to stay positive and try to stay focused on getting after it and putting good into the world,” and that kind of stuff.
Seth: I want a formula.
Jaren: Yeah, I do too.
Seth: I want a predictable, repeatable, like you do this, and this comes out. And it sounds like it's just not that clear-cut, maybe.
Jaren: Yeah. I have a running list. I call them success principles and I hope one day with my kids when they're like 12 or something, I want to do like a school of life at least on Saturdays. I have like a few hours with them and go through a bunch of principles. It's weird because those principles aren't very practical. They're not concrete. They're not one plus one equals two. They're these weird touchy-feely kinds of things. But they work. And most people who are ultra-successful prescribe to them like crazy.
One that comes to mind is giving. Giving to your charitable donation of whether it's church or what have you. That makes no logical sense whatsoever. I'm going to give, let's say 10%. That's a pretty common threshold of what people give. I'm going to give away 10% of my income and somehow that's going to come back to me and make me more prosperous, but it works. It works. And I've seen it time and time again where me and my wife have tied and we were short financially and random checks came in the mail and provision was there. The principle works, whether you're religious or not about it, the thing works. It's weird that those things exist.
Seth: I don't think there's ever been a case where I've given away something and it has hurt me. I might not become wealthier all the time or ever really, but sometimes you do. And it definitely doesn't ever bite me. Like, “Oh man, I wish I hadn't done that.” That just doesn't work like that.
But I think my biggest takeaway from the conversation was just hope. Just knowing there's other stuff out there. Because I know that's a thought that has occurred to me over the years. I've heard other people randomly say, what if the post office goes away? What if direct mail doesn't work anymore? Or what if there's some weird law where you can't flip land anymore? But just that idea that there is a plan B and plan C and D and E, and F. You don't have to stick to this established norm that we all know.
And even when you consider the implication of that, working in any other country in the world where you're allowed to own land as a foreigner, that's a huge deal. If you understand those fundamentals of where and how to spot opportunities, the only thing keeping a lot of people in the U.S. is this whole issue of property data. That's what it boils down to.
Jaren: Yeah. It's hard to direct mail in other places.
Seth: Yeah. If you're able to get over that obstacle in one way or another and find deals without direct mail, that's a huge game-changer. So, I thought that was really cool.
Jaren: So, onto our cards.
Seth: Yeah. We haven't done this in a while, but the interesting question for today is… I guess it's not a question, it's more of a statement. But describe a time when you sabotaged your own success.
Jaren: This came pretty recently for me. I had a bit of a falling out with a private money investor. We've now made peace and we've made up and stuff. But what happened was, in hindsight, there was a cultural clash. And I didn't realize this, but at least in my experience, there are two dominant business cultures. One is more, “Hey, I'm going to give you a handshake and we might do some kind of an agreement just as a formality, but it's super loose and really the foundation of the relationship and the partnership is a handshake.” It's like, “Hey, I'm giving you my word. I'm going to stick by you. And it's all based on trust and relationship.”
Whereas there's another business world where everything is done on paper. Talking with this particular money partner, after we were working through what had happened, he actually mentioned that whenever he and his own mother do any kind of business things together, they get two different sets of attorneys and they put legal docs together. And this is his mom. I was like, “Oh, snap.”
Where I'm coming from, I’m coming more from the handshake world. When I see people getting attorneys involved and getting super fixated on contracts, and then there are things in the contracts that seem very jarring or are weird, my response was somebody's trying to pull the wool over my eyes. Somebody's trying to hurt me. And I reacted that way. What is this guy doing? We've done deals before. This was never a part of this stuff. And I reacted out of a way where I automatically assumed that he had ill intent.
Seth: Wait, so you're saying you did deals without any contracts involved, no paperwork?
Jaren: We had a loose contract, but nothing to the degree of this particular deal, because it was a pretty expensive deal. He took the initiative to bring in attorneys and really do some stuff that was very uncomfortable for me. And again, it was more of a cultural clash. If we think of farmers, a lot of farming, more rural type of business stuff takes place more with a handshake. And again, I had a formal contract in place, obviously, but it wasn't to the same degree, and his attorneys were advising him on his best interest and they were advising me to get my own set of attorneys to combat and fight back and forth for the most optimal agreement, which totally rubbed me the wrong way from a business perspective.
I was like, “Why does this guy not have my best interest in mind? And why doesn't he realize that I have his best interest in mind? Where is this coming from?” And there's a lot of people, other investors that I work with, who have the same mindset that I do. “Hey, I'm giving you my word. I'm basing this on our relationship and our trust.” And yeah, there's risk there because when things go south, it can get ugly. There's not a formal contract to fall back on. I think a lot of the people and more of a commercial world are people who come from money. It's just part of the core to do a bunch of contracts. But that was very foreign to me. So, I ended up sabotaging… Not really sabotaging. I think we'll probably still end up doing deals and stuff in the future, but for a minute there, the relationship got very strained to put it lightly.
I ultimately was the source of sabotaging a great relationship and a great source of funding for the land business because I misread certain actions based on a particular cultural lens that said, “Hey, contracts and getting attorneys involved means that you have something that you're trying to hide. It means that you have ill intent to some degree.” Whereas this particular person was coming from, it wasn't like that at all. He was just literally like, "Hey, to be legit, this is what legit business looks like."
And so, that was really the entire motivation. I want this to be all the Ts to be crossed and all the Is to be dotted. And this is what the big guys do. This is what's normal. So, it was a very interesting lesson to learn and to recognize that there are two different cultures at play in the business world. I guess the big takeaway is don't jump to conclusions about people's intent until you fully know and confirm that they had ill intent in mind.
Seth: Interesting. Yeah, I guess, maybe I'm oblivious to this. I thought contracts and stuff were the norm. Maybe the contract was worded a certain way or something. Or if it was like a thousand pages long, I'd be like, “Whoa, what is this all about?” But it might have something to do with the level of sophistication of the person you're dealing with. If you're talking to somebody who comes from money or the commercial world, that is absolutely the standard. There's no question about it, but if you're talking to somebody who maybe doesn't have a whole lot of money or they don't have that background in a super heavy finance industry or something like that, maybe there's just less awareness that that's normal. I think there are both crowds out there. I've seen them both.
Jaren: It's very helpful to be aware of because not everybody places the same level of importance and significance and importance on relationships that I do. If I'm in a relationship with you, I'm running with you. We're almost like gang culture. Like this is my family, we're running together. But other people don't have that. And they will be happy to, I don't know if screw you over is the right word, or they're more inclined to have some kind of major protection in place in case the relationship goes south. And so, they prefer to elevate the contract over the relationship. I'm not like that at all.
It's definitely a big point of liability. I could get really burned and I could have some really important relationships turned south, and that could be bad, but just where I come from, if I asked my mom to get a contract together, if she was like funding deals for me, she'd get offended. That's just the world that I come from. So, it's just interesting.
Seth: I totally believe you knowing what I know of you for years now. I totally believe that, when you're with somebody, your word is your bond. But most people don't know you. But maybe it's like 50/50, for some people that really means something, for other people it doesn't mean anything. So, if you don't know a person, then you have nothing else to go by and that's where the contracts become essential, but I can see what you mean. Between a family member or something, even then I can see it being a good practice, but I can see it becoming less common just because people inherently know each other better, but you sort of are leaving yourself open to getting issues and that kind of thing, just in case it ever does come down.
Jaren: I've thought a lot about this and I actually prefer to have that liability in place because it reinforces the level of importance and placing on the trust in the relationship. If there's no cost to it, then I feel like there are no stakes.
Seth: Well, it forces it for you, though. If the other person doesn't really care, then the liability is on you and not really on them, because they don't care, but you do.
Jaren: There are some issues there, but that's why I just think that you should be really cautious who you work with. There's a guy that comes to mind who's from Iowa that I think grew up as a farmer and he's very much handshake. He's moved very slow to protect this relational thing because he says once we get some traction and I trust you, then we can scale into oblivion. But I want to move at a slower pace so that we can build relationships and build trust. And so, I default more to that culture. It's good to be aware of.
And that's why I wanted to share it with the podcast because it's unfortunate that I misread where he was coming from, this particular investor that I had the falling out with. But man, it was a huge lesson to learn because especially if I'm doing bigger deals, I need to be aware that there's a huge, massive business culture, at least in the United States, that is very contract-focused and contract-heavy.
And talking to this individual, he actually is wanting to do contracts from a very good place because he is like, “I still value the relationship with my mom, but if things go south, I want to have a very clear contingency plan of what to do so that the relationship stays in place and people don't get bitter and get whatever.”
And so, it's interesting because both intents come from the same place of having a relationship be the top priority, but it's just very different approaches. And so, it's just good to be aware of.
Seth: I don't know this from experience, but I think what you're talking about, the handshake culture is a much bigger thing in Amish communities, and that kind of thing. I knew a few bankers back in my banking days who would lend money to Amish people. And it was always kind of a challenge to do that because you can't really pull a credit report on them because there's no credit history because they don't have credit cards. They're not part of that system. So, the way that you qualify that borrower, it has a lot more to do with their character. And character is an important part of qualifying a borrower anyway. But with Amish people, it's like everything, because that's all you have to go by.
But I guess with Amish people, it's everything. If somebody can't pay their debt back, it's a huge mark of shame. People disowned them and it gets to the point where, again, this is hearsay, I don't know this from experience, but apparently, if somebody is in trouble, the whole community will come together and help pay that person's debt. It's not just like, “Well, you're on your own, good luck.” But because of that, it makes Amish people like a much safer type of customer for a bank.
Seth: Borrower. Yeah. There you go. Sorry. Yeah. It's interesting. I can see how that cultural thing has a lot to do with it.
Jaren: What's yours? Now that I'm all exposed to all the people that listen to the podcast.
Seth: When I think of sabotaging my own success, I feel like it's like the story of my life. When have I not done that? There have been so many opportunities. Maybe what I'm thinking most about real estate deals or even job opportunities back in those days because I would just talk myself out of it or just doubt myself or so many things that I think I just have thought too small, and maybe it's like based on a fear mentality, maybe that's where it's coming from.
But just always asking, “What if, though? And what if this happens and what if this blows up on your face? What if this fails?” Instead of thinking, “What if this does work out? What if this is amazing? What if this changes your life?” Just almost looking at it as this glass-half-empty kind of mentality, which I'm really not proud of, but it's hurt me a lot.
There are so many opportunities I've walked away from that in hindsight, like, “Oh my word,” it's hard to even think about it because there's just so much of it. I think just in general, there've been many, many times when wonderful opportunities were right in front of me and instead of being excited about it and jumping for it, like you would do, Jaren, I sort of recoil and do the opposite. I try to pick it apart and find all the problems and why it's not going to work. And as a result, when I do deals, they always go really well and I get stuff for super cheap, because I'm super conservative. But man, there's a lot you walk away from when you limit yourself to only that tiny little box and I've certainly walked away from a lot.
Jaren: But you've also been pretty successful too. So, it's worked for you.
Seth: Yeah. I think it's come about in just a different way. It's maybe a backwards way but most hero stories don't look like that. For most people it's like super high stakes and high risk and everything could go wrong, but then it works out. That's not my story. It's pretty, pretty slow and boring and monotonous, but it's turned a newer thing over time. So, I guess it's cool to know that you can win both ways.
Jaren: But I will say, every single person that I personally know who has bridged the gap of a side hustle to making their side hustle their full-time thing has looked like you. I think we actually have a podcast about this. The boats kind of conversation. I think that for the millionaire next door, most people, your average Joe out there, if they're going to be successful, it's going to look a lot closer to your journey compared to the stakes being high or backs against the wall. And you're like, “Ah, I got to make it.” Because I think most people in that circumstance don't actually make it. That's why you don't hear about them. And then the few that do, it's super inspiring.
But there's a lot that is left to chance in that situation. I think it's way smarter to have a contingency plan and have savings and build your side hustle to replace your day job income. It's not sexy. It doesn't sound good from a motivational stage, but it's what actually seems to work for most people. So, for what it is, I would rather people do what you do.
Seth: Yeah. The interesting thing about sabotaging your success, it seems like for me anyway, it's not evident that you're doing that before it happens. It's evident after it happens when it's too late and you have the benefit of hindsight to look back, “Oh, this could have gone this way instead.” Before it happens, it's just being prudent in why isn't smart, protecting yourself or whatever you want to call it.
I'm sure there probably has been, but I can't think of a whole lot of times when I've knowingly sabotaged my success, literally put the gun to my foot and just pulled the trigger and blew my foot off. It's never that. I always think I'm being really smart or cautious or protecting myself. And it's one of those hindsight things, I guess.
Jaren: Very interesting. I love these topic things.
Seth: It's cool. Cool conversation. It's almost like a podcast within a podcast.
Jaren: Yeah, it was a good one.
Seth: Cool. Well, again, if you guys want to check out the show notes for this episode, it's retipster.com/128 for episode 128. Thanks again to Casey for donating his time to talk to us about how his business works. If you guys have your phones on hand, feel free to text the word “FREE” to the number 33777, and you can stay up to date on everything happening with REtipster. Thanks again for listening. And we will talk to you again in the next episode.
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