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Today, I’m talking with one of the most enthusiastic and inspiring land investors I know in the REtipster community, Arturo Paturzo.
Arturo is an Italian Navy Officer living in Rome and running his land investing business in the US. He started this business because he was looking for real estate investment opportunities; luckily, the YouTube algorithm showed him the “land flipping life cycle” video from REtipster, and the rest is history.
Ever since Arturo joined the REtipster Community and enrolled in the Land Investing Masterclass, it has been fascinating and inspiring to watch him post in our forum and Facebook group as he tries to figure out the best ways to handle various situations and because of his inquisitive nature, he helps a lot of people figure stuff out, just by asking the questions that other people either don’t think to ask or are too scared to ask.
I’m also fascinated by how Art has been doing this from a long distance, in a different time zone, speaking a different language, while working full-time in the Italian Navy. This guy has a lot of natural challenges to work around… as many of us do, but they’re even more intense because of where he’s coming from.
Links and Resources
- Diendi Land Investments (Arturo's website)
- REtipster Facebook Group
- What Is Land Entitlement?
- Tony Durante
- James Baker CPA
- What Is the 1 % Rule?
- What Is BRRRR?
- VA Loans Explained
- A Crash Course in Tax Lien and Tax Deed Investing (And My Love/Hate Relationship With Both)
- The Land Flipping Lifecycle
- How to Close a Cash Land Transaction In-House
- Mercury Bank (REtipster Affiliate Link)
- How to Overcome Phone Anxiety and Speak With Confidence
- Who Not How by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy
- Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Alex Hormozi: This ONE Equation Will Make You Rich
- Supercharged Offers
- Decipher how land investing from a foreign standpoint works (particularly in Italy) and how it's different from land investing in the U.S.
- Learn how to divide your time and drive a land business to success while having a demanding full-time job.
- Analyze the privacy and accessibility concerns in Italy's property market and come out a winner with intelligent strategies.
- Learn how to leverage other people's money and identify the best sources to secure funding for future land deals.
Editor's note: This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Seth: Hey, everybody. How's it going? This is Seth Williams and you're listening to the REtipster podcast.
Today, I'm talking with one of the most enthusiastic and inspiring land investors I know in the REtipster community, Arturo, or Art for short. So Arturo is an Italian Navy officer living in Rome at the moment, and he's running his land investing business in the U.S.
So ever since Arturo joined the REtipster community and enrolled in the Land Investing Masterclass, it's been fascinating and inspiring to watch him post questions in our forum and share his experiences in the Facebook group as he tries to figure out the best ways to handle various situations. And because of his inquisitive nature, he really helps a lot of people figure stuff out just by asking the right questions that other people either don't think to ask or are too scared to ask. There's a lot of learning that comes from guys like Arturo who just put it out there and just aren't afraid to ask questions and figure out what to do.
And I'm just fascinated by how he has been doing this business from a long ways away, in another part of the world, in a very different time zone, speaking a very different language while working a very full-time job. This guy has a lot of natural challenges to work around, as many of us do, but they're even more intense for him, I think, because of where he's coming from. So we're going to talk with Art and find out how his business works, what his journey has looked like, and I think we're all going to learn something from this.
So, Art, welcome to the show. How are you doing?
Arturo: I'm doing very well, thanks. And it's a pleasure to be here. Thank you very much.
Seth: Yeah, absolutely. So let's start at the very beginning. So how did you first learn about land investing and what made you decide to give it a shot?
Arturo: Yeah, as you were mentioning, it was a few years ago, and I was looking for an investment opportunity. As many of us, you want to put your money to work. And I've always been kind of real estate geek. I run some rentals in Italy, but the truth is that Italy, which is a beautiful country, and everyone is invited and all the audience is invited—not all at once, just one at a time—but yeah, it's a beautiful country. It's not the best country, in my opinion, and probably I will get a lot of Italian enemies now, but it's not the best place to live and it's not the best place to invest, including (and probably especially) in real estate.
So I started to look at opportunities outside of Italy, and at that time, I came across the BiggerPockets Podcast, and I found out that in the U.S., when it comes to real estate, there are these incredible things like the 1% rule, VA loans, etc. And in Italy it's just wow, it's impossible. So I said I want to do that. Now, the problem is that to access the housing market, there is a fee. To access this market, you need to have some money, or you need to have connections, or you need to get a mortgage, something that I cannot have in the U.S. because I don't have a Social Security number.
So I tried alternative ways and at the same time I met a guy in Italy who was already doing tax liens and tax deeds in the U.S. And he helped me start my company in the U.S. And so I started with tax liens and tax deeds. But that was not my thing. It was not a good fit for me. I know that it's not a good fit for you. And at that same moment, because of probably the internet algorithm, I was suggested a video on YouTube that was the Land Flipping Lifecycle. That is 20 minutes of how land flipping works in a nutshell and is an amazing video. And I said this is what I must do. I mean, I am on the other side of the ocean. There are no tenants, there are no roofs to repair, no windows. Whatever hurricane or climate issues come, they aren't going to affect my business. So this is what I want to do.
And so I pivoted my business from tax liens and tax deeds to land flipping. And that was the moment when I contacted you and I started the Land Investing Masterclass. And before I finished it, I had already closed my first deal in Arizona, they were 15 infield lots, self-closed. Since then, it’s history.
Seth: Just out of curiosity, you mentioned that Italy wasn't the best place to live or invest in real estate. Why is that? What is it that Italy doesn't have that the U.S. does?
Arturo: Well, I talked with a lot, I still talk actually with a lot of investors all over the world, Alicia Jarrett in Australia, Jesse Kwong and others. And it's not only for Italy, but I just talk for Italy in this case. The thing is, in Italy, we say it's an elephant. It's like a very slow machine when it comes to bureaucracy. For example, and this is one thing. So what I can find about a parcel, for example, in ten minutes in front of my computer parcel in the U.S., would take probably two months, three months in Italy, because most of the time you need to go in person to the equivalent of the county office. And then they receive only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then they give you a template to fill in. So it's very complicated.
Things are slightly changing and probably the children of my son will see the light at the end of the tunnel. But now it is not a thing. Plus, there is also something in Italy—and you can like it or not, but in the U.S. it is not a real thing—which is privacy. So in Italy, to get information about the owner, does it have a mortgage, did it pay all the taxes? In Italy, that’s impossible. And so this is the reason why investing here is difficult.
There are also other aspects. For example, access to credit from banks is not as easy as it can be in the U.S. for someone who has the possibility to do it. Of course, to create a business in Italy is expensive. I mean, to have the equivalent of the LLC in Italy is called SRL, but it's the same thing essentially, is complicated. And also the taxation is not as good as it is in the U.S.
So there are many reasons why you don't want to invest in Italy. I have rentals here in my name, my name and my brother's name, some of them, you know that the 1% rule is not a thing. I mean, it's not that it's difficult, it's impossible. And also appreciation, unless you are in some areas, like you are in the center of Rome, center of Venice, center of Florence, otherwise, appreciation is not a real thing in Italy. I mean, talking about houses in this case. But yeah, this is the reason why it's difficult. I mean, the main reasons.
Seth: So does a 30-year mortgage even exist in Italy? Can you get that? Or do you just have to buy it cash or buy it with owner financing? How does that work?
Arturo: No, the mortgages, they exist. The problem is that the process to get approved for a mortgage is tough. Take me, for example. I have a mortgage on one of the houses that I own and I tried to negotiate the mortgage to get a lower interest and it was refused twice. Even if I have apartments, I have cash flow from my rentals, I have a job from the government. So every month I have money to put into the bank to cover the mortgage. But it was refused because for them the houses were not enough, because today you rent, tomorrow you don't. So it's not sure.
I don't say that it's impossible, it's just complicated and you can see it. Also, this is one of the reasons, I think this is why in the U.S. you have so many young people doing real estate. You have people that become millionaires at 25 doing real estate and they have 50 or 60 doors. And in Italy, a family might have difficulties to keep their own house because a person that is 20 years old will never get a credit. And those from the bank and those who can have a mortgage, it's difficult to reinvest in somewhere else. We don't have refinancing, for example. So you cannot refinance a house and get that 70% to 80% of the spread between the new price of the house. After that, you fix it.
And so there are many things in Italy that do not exist, that exist in the U.S. That makes us, I think, unique because as I was saying, I was talking also with other people, and this is pretty much something that is common in many states outside of the U.S.
Seth: Yeah, I know that. The lack of access to data and even the financing difficulty, that's not unique to Italy at all. I've heard this in many different countries where it makes it really hard to buy and sell real estate in general. And I don't know why. I mean, not that the U.S. has everything figured out, we certainly don't, but I don't know. I'm surprised more countries don't change something about that just to make it a little bit easier. Maybe it's like a systemic issue where it's like so many different industries would have to change so many things in order to make it as easy as it is here. I don't know. But yeah, it's kind of interesting. Maybe it'll change in the years to come.
Arturo: We'll have to wait and see, hopefully. I think it's resistance to change.
Seth: So you're in the navy, right? The Italian Navy Tell me about that. How long have you been in the navy? And is that like your main thing in addition to the land business?
Arturo: Yes, I joined the Naval Academy in Livorno, which is the equivalent of Annapolis, in 1993. So you do the math. It was 33 years ago. And now I'm in the rank of commander. And I've lived in many places around the world, recently in Egypt and Turkey. And I'm very thankful of what I've done so far in the navy because it allowed me to live experiences that are not for everyone, for sure, and probably also to shape my kind of mindset. So I am very committed in what I decide to do and I'm very focused and discipline is an asset for me.
So, yeah, my main job, I would say like my day job is in the military and when I finish my job, and normally this happens around 05:00 in the afternoon, I run home and I start to work in my land business. And the good thing is that the time zone is okay because when I come home at that time, let's say 06:00, I am at home, East Coast is lunchtime at twelve, and the West Coast is morning.
Seth: Works there pretty well.
Arturo: It's okay. The only struggle is that I have to work until late at night and then wake up in the morning. So I don't have a lot of social life, but this is a choice. I just like land. If I want to cut time for myself, sometimes I need it, I just do it. This is what I like, actually. When I tell someone, many people say, you live a sad life. I don't. I just choose to live the way that I live. And I do things and I can do things that many people cannot because of land and because of you. Because you made me know about land.
Seth: Thanks. Glad I could help out with that. Yeah.
Arturo: I don't know if you realize, but you have so many years because I met you, but I don't know how long you have done land, but you have affected the life of so many people, and this is heavy, but in a positive way. So this is a merit to you.
Seth: Yeah, I appreciate you saying that. And I kind of got a feel for that at the Land Unconference that we were both at a couple of months ago, because I get emails like that to that effect. I don't know, probably on a weekly basis from people, and it's always an amazing thing. But it was crazy going to that conference and everybody knew who I was, and a lot of people were saying stuff to that effect, and it was just like, man, this is amazing. I can't believe this. Many people care and have done cool things in their life. A lot of times I just don't hear about it. People do cool stuff and I don't really know. I'm none the wiser.
So I mean, it sounds sort of similar to a lot of people out there. I mean, myself, I was kind of a similar thing, different time zone issue, but it's very similar. In the early years of my land business, I would get home from my job and just go right to work right after dinner and just kind of work until bedtime and spend a lot of my weekends. I can totally see why a lot of people would have thought that was a depressing existence, but look where I'm at now and look where they're at and they're still kind of stuck, and I'm not stuck anymore. So I think it's just the toll a lot of us have to pay to get out of our state to get to the next thing.
But in terms of being in the navy, are you on the road a lot or do you come home to the same spot? Is it like every two years you have to go to a new location or how does that work in terms of travel and mobility?
Arturo: Yeah, let's say that now I am at a point where I am in Rome, and if I want to settle in Rome, it's easy that I will stay in Rome until I retire. Until a few years ago, mobility was a real thing. And it's not only about mobility. It's about the fact that many times these movements are unpredictable. So you plan, I don't know, a closing, and then they call you and you have to move, and you cannot do that. Didn't happen. Never happened. Thanks, God.
But there are things that sometimes you need to find a way to work around. Now it's easier for me to cut time for myself, for myself, for my business. If I decide to get out and come at home because I have to work normally, I do my job, and then I can come. And I also recently started to work with a crazy good VA. That is helping me a lot and taking a lot of stuff off my shoulders. And this is something that is helping me, definitely. And I understand that a VA is not a thing that you start a business and you get a VA, but you need one as soon as possible. That is money well- spent, for me, at least, if you have a day job.
Seth: I would think with your busy life, that would be a really important thing. Being a commander, is that like, one step beneath general or something? Where is that in the line of power?
Arturo: It's two steps. Two steps before admiral, which is the equivalent of general.
Arturo: Commander? Yes.
Arturo: Yes. It's not as close as it looks, but yeah, it's just two steps. And there is the rank of commander, and then the rank of captain, which is colonel in the army or the air force, and then the admiral, which is the equivalent of general.
Seth: Wow, man. Are you going to shoot for that, or are you going to focus more on land? Admiral or land investor?
Arturo: Land on my life.
Seth: That's got to tell you something. When you see the privileges of an admiral in the Italian Navy, you'd rather go towards land investing.
Arturo: Well, I might be both. Who knows?
Seth: Yeah, that's true.
Arturo: You could probably have both, I take it. Yeah, why not?
Seth: Yeah. In the U.S. military, I hear it's 20 years before you can retire with a pretty decent pension. I don't know all the exact rules for that, but I think, if I remember right, you were telling me in the Italian Navy, it's 40 years, is that correct?
Arturo: Yeah, it's 40 years. Yeah, it's a long time, and the pension is not even comparable to the U.S. one, but it's okay because also the cost of life here, of course, is less expensive than most of the places in the U.S. But yeah, 40 years. So I could retire in, like, let's say probably eight years, ten years, more or less, yeah. I'm considering a few options for my future, but yeah, normally I could retire 8 to 10 years from now.
Seth: So are you, like, traveling around on a boat on a regular basis or how does that work? Are you in an office somewhere?
Arturo: No, not anymore. I was doing it until the rank of major, it’s Lieutenant Commander in our organization, but in the navy, but let's say until probably—we are in 2023—until 13 years ago. So I was onboard ships. I was doing stuff onboard ships. I was chief of operation of a destroyer and other things. But since then, when you start to work in the staff, in the headquarters and to provide your expertise to the Chief of the Navy or the Chief of Operations of the Navy, you completely change. You go and work on a desk.
And then I started to work for international organizations. I had this chance and I loved it. In 2012 the first time. And I started to go and travel, but not on a ship, just to stay abroad and do other stuff abroad. Okay, but that was exciting and I liked it. And now it's two years since I'm back in Rome, actually, I don't know if I will go abroad again. We will see.
Seth: So, just so people kind of understand the context of what your business looks like, sounds like you started in 2020, is that right?
Arturo: Late, early 2021.
Seth: So with the time that you have and your part-time hours to do this, how many deals would you say you're doing per year? Like, what's a typical deal size? Just so people can understand, like, you know, what we're working with.
Arturo: At the beginning I was working on, like many of us, I started just with low price land. As I was mentioning, my first deal was 15 infill lots from one person is the portfolio takedown, but I didn't know that it was called that way. I just bought them and I bought them for 300 more or less each. And they sold after a few weeks, 2200 each. And part of them I sold to a big investor also. And he sold at a way higher price. But it's okay. I knew it. I just needed the proof of concept and I was super happy with the profit that I had.
But that was the kind of deal that I started with self-closing. I self-closed the first probably five deals. And then I decided that I didn't want to do it anymore because there is too much risk associated, too much work and having a day job and not having yet a VA, it was not worth my time. And so I decided to move towards higher price land. Since then, I started to consider the minimum profit that I want to put in my pocket is $10,000, which means that if I use an equity partner, normally I try to profit $20,000 because there is a 50% split, right? I mean, the biggest deal at today has been a double close that I made in Pennsylvania that I put under contract for 100 and I sold for 160.
Arturo: But I did a few others very close to it. And now I am working with two partners on one seven-figure deal. It is an entitlement thing. So things are going pretty well. And I have another one like this in my pipeline that is going to start soon. I don't want to say that I'm pivoting towards entitlements because my main business, if not the only one for me, is flipping but if there is the opportunity to do it, why not?
And one of my partners actually in this endeavor is a guy that is 35 years experienced land planner and civil engineer. So he's done this all his life and he is actually doing all the job. We brought the deal—I say we because me and the other partner of mine, we brought the deal to him and he's doing all the job and he's great actually and his name is David Hansen. So if you can find him on Facebook, he's huge.
Seth: So how many of your deals involve partners at this point?
Arturo: As a volume? Consider that probably I am now on more or less 25 or 30 deals per year. Okay, so this is more or less the volume. I'm trying to increase it, so I'm trying to increase the volume of my marketing efforts so possibly there will be more in the next future.
About your question on how many? I use funders as many times as possible. I want to keep the money that I have on my business bank account for marketing essentially and for all the operational expenses and use other people money to buy. Now it can be like an equity partner, so joint venture, it can be like someone who is available to give me a loan at 1.52%. And as a lot of times I hear you and other people talking about if you have a good deal it's almost impossible not to find someone that is willing to invest with you. So it's easy.
Seth: Yeah. There was an interesting video I saw from Alex Hormozi not long ago where I even screenshotted what he put on the screen because it was just like it was so obvious the way he explained it. But for some reason it fails to click with me sometimes. But he just says when you're looking for outside investors or outside partners the bottom line is everyone can afford it if they believe the value is there. I mean, if you really get somebody to believe that legitimately not making stuff out but if somebody truly trusts you and believes that the value is there in that investment, they would be dumb not to find the money from somewhere and contribute to the cause.
It's just that question of the doubt. What are the risks, what are the unknowns? And if you can minimize those unknowns and explain why you know what you're doing then you can usually put something together pretty easily.
Arturo: Yeah, I agree.
Seth: Take us back to when you first did your first direct mail campaign or when you started looking for deals and you found these 15 in Arizona. So what were some of the biggest challenges? I kind of understand what my challenges were working from within the U.S., but I'm sure there are new wrinkles that come into the picture when you're doing this from Italy. So what was particularly difficult about this, if anything, was it the time difference? Was it like opening up a U.S bank account? Was it, I don't know, help us understand what the challenges are of doing this internationally.
Arturo: Yeah, so let's say to do this from Italy many times there is this concept, that it's in our mind, and you think U.S, Italy, they are so far apart, it's impossible. But I think that we live in a time where the concepts of distance and time are not physical anymore. I mean, I am talking with you real time and we are one click of the mouse away from each other. So this is the distance that we have.
You can apply this to the business as well. I was lucky enough to meet two guys actually. One is the guy that taught me also about tax liens and tax deeds is Emmanuel, who has a company, my user service that I used, he was already working in the U.S. So I used his service to open my company and he works pretty well. And then I pivoted and now I use another guy to manage my company who is Tony Durante, at tonydurante.net. And Tony is my manager and he lives in the U.S. So we are now also friends and he is the guy that actually does the magic in the sense that he is the one that…
And this is very important for everyone who is investing from outside of the U.S. Many times I hear people saying well, you take a virtual mailbox, for example, but a virtual mailbox allows you to receive the mailers in PDF that they receive and you can read them. But what if you need to go to the bank? What if you need to go to the post office? You don't have that possibility. If you use a virtual mailbox, a physical presence in the U.S., possibly well-connected with the local bank, with a post office, that can do you a favor and go somewhere and do something for you or you pay him, it's a game-changer. And this is what Tony, my manager, is doing today.
Not that it's really needed, but it happened to me a couple of times that the title company wanted a wet signature on the deed and Tony in my operating agreement is allowed to sign on behalf of the company. So he is the manager of my company and I know that he is also with other people, I am friends with him, as I was saying. But if someone doesn't know Tony and he does also with power of attorney so there are ways, and I don't know who said that probably Ron has said if you want to find a solution, you find a way, otherwise you find an excuse. And this is totally true. I mean, it's just about stay there and think how can I overcome these difficulties? But the solutions are there and you just need to find the right people and to kind of duplicate yourself in the U.S.
And in this way I was able to close that first deal, but also all the following ones pretty easily. The biggest concern at that time, my first deal actually was a little bit probably the language. Okay, I speak English, but it's different when you have to talk with someone that probably assumes that you are American and starts to ask you questions and you don't know what questions are going to be asked of you and probably are going to ask you things. Probably he knows his land or land in general more than you do. He could ask something that you don't have this huge knowledge at the beginning. So my concern is what if I look like dumb on the phone?
But it was just also that in my mind, that's not the case. Once you jump on the phone, you talk and you realize that most of the time, sellers and people who are not actively involved in land, they know way less than you, even if you are a beginner, because at least you started before you do your first deal.
Seth: Yeah. Wow. So you hit on a couple of really interesting things there. So Tony Durante. Is that his name?
Seth: Dot net?
Arturo: Yes, Tony Durante.
Seth: So he basically acts as your boots on the ground in the U.S. If you're somewhere else when it comes to things like wet signatures, notary signatures, opening up a bank account, he's literally a part of your company. And does he charge a monthly fee for this or something or a fee per service or how does that work?
Arturo: No. Okay. To keep the company up and running. I don't know if I'm right, so don't quote me on that. I think it's around $400 or $500 per year, but I'm not sure about it. And then every service, like for example, yesterday I had to send a check to Roxboro, North Carolina for one HOA that I had to pay became due. And so I sent an email to Tony. And so he had already gone to the bank. So he has the check in my office in Florida. And he took the check. He wrote the check as I said him to write the check. I prepared the COVID letter to attach to the check. And I said to him, you need to send this to this address. And he did.
And this is one of the thousand things that you can do very easily with someone that is on the ground when you have to take a cashier’s check. He also actually is very well-connected with CPAs and bookkeepers. So that's also important. I met a very cool guy, James Baker. He's a CPA, actually. He was also a land investor with LandGeek. But I think that he's not investing in land anymore. But this guy is huge. He also has a YouTube channel and his main job is to facilitate people to start companies in the U.S from a CPA perspective. So he knows a lot about it. So he's not my CPA yet, but I think that he will be starting next year. The real asset of my business is Tony Durante. That guy is legit and is great, does a great job.
Seth: Yeah, I mean I had a bunch of different questions for you. How did you open up a bank account? How do you get notary signatures? But it sounds like he basically solves all those, right?
Arturo: Yeah, he went to the bank and he's very well-connected with the bank. Today in the U.S I have four bank accounts because I have two companies. So I have two bank accounts, Truist with one company and with another company, Mercury. I opened it myself. It's super easy and everyone can do what you or someone in the audience read like Profit First for real estate.
Mercury is one of the banks that is suggested by the author and works very well, it's very easy to use. And Truist is the bank where before I had Bank of America and then I changed to Truist and in that case Tony had to go to the bank, explain to the manager. I went also when I came to the U.S, I wanted to know the bank manager and so he knew me in person and I also opened a savings account and other things. But yeah, I work with Tony but I'm sure that there are similar solutions outside that if someone is available and wants to lose a little bit of time on the internet, probably can find alternatives.
Seth: So how many times have you been to the U.S since you started this land business and how necessary were those trips? Like were those just for fun or did you really need to be here in order to get something done?
Arturo: No, I came for fun. But when I go around as I see a piece of land, the first thing that I think is I should buy this, let me see. And so I go on my right land ID, I try to see who is the owner. So it's always fun, but it's never fun. I came I think three times. The last one was for the conference but it was never like, just work. Most of the time was to have fun, do some work. Probably I had to meet someone that was just some investor, some funder, and keep good relations with everyone.
But for me, as long as it's land for me I like it so much that I don't feel like it’s work. For me, if I want to have fun, I go on my computer and I do market analysis and other things that are related to my land business. So it's absolutely a pleasure for me to do land. I'm passionate about what I do. The fact that it's profitable is just a plus. As I say to you, a lot of people every time that I meet them say that even if it was not profitable—and it is—I would probably do it in any case. I like it.
Seth: Yeah, that's really a gift to find any kind of profession that you love so much that you do it for fun and it also makes good money. I mean that's like the Holy Grail right there. So I'm glad you're able to find that.
So how do you speak English so well? Is it normal for people in Italy to know English as well as you do or I don't know, I'm always curious like I wouldn't expect that but the fact that you like did you try really hard or get educated or you just watch American-made movies and learn that way or what's your secret?
Arturo: I am flattered. I don't think that my English is too good. I think it's enough to be able to run my business. I was lucky enough to work for a long time. Every time that I was abroad I was working mainly with native English speakers. In Egypt they were Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, and Americans.
Now talking about the last places where I lived. When I was in Turkey, I was working in NATO so of course I was hanging around with a lot of U.S. guys and met other people of other nationalities but we were still talking in English. So it has become natural to the point that today most of the time when I dream, I dream in English. So it's a natural language.
And also when I watch—I don't have television—but I watch Netflix from time to time or when I see things on YouTube it's always in English. I cannot see things in Italian, I cannot watch or listen to things in Italian. I try to absorb as much knowledge as I can from podcasts, audiobooks, and YouTube videos and everything is in English and normally it's related to real estate to land and doing this in the U.S. All the things are in English. So that is my first language today. I would say that today I speak more English than Italian on a daily basis.
Seth: Wow. Do you feel like your English has improved since you started this business or has it just kind of always been there?
Arturo: Probably yes, probably has improved a little bit. I don't know how much the business is a part of. It could be like watching films in English or talking to friends that are Americans and people that are Americans living here in Rome that I hang out with. So probably it's a combination of all the above but sure, the business which is the thing that absorbs most of my time has a big part in it. But do I speak good English? Are you serious? I don't think that I speak such good English.
Seth: Well, the thing you mentioned about, I mean, I don't know if you said this, but it sounded like you had some anxiety early on about getting on the phone with people and what if they ask questions you don't know and that kind of thing. That's a very normal thing that many people deal with. I remember I had that a lot and it sounds like you were able to get over it relatively soon. Like it didn't cripple you or anything.
Do you think it was just by repetition? Like just by doing it? Just leaning into the discomfort and exposure therapy they call it, where whatever the thing is you're afraid to do just do it and then do it again and then do it again until it becomes so common it's not a problem anymore. Is that how you did it?
Arturo: Exactly. The more you do something and you kind of overcome your fears, the more you become good at that. And I'm seeing it now also. I don't have that problem now. When I talk to sellers, when I talk to people trying to buy their land or talk to agents or I talk to title companies, attorneys and blah, blah, blah, I don’t have that problem anymore. The thing that I am struggling with a little bit, and this is something that is one of the things that I need to work on, is my closing skills. So at the moment, as I said, I have a VA but the one making the offer to the seller, it's me. And it's not about being afraid of what they can say, it's about closing skills. That is like the next level, right? It's about how to make the conversation in a way that doesn't seem too salesy or to sell the offer to the seller.
But I also realized that since I started to do it more and more and more, and also some books that I read like Chris Voss’ Never Split the Difference, and Dale Carnegie and others, actually, they have some things that you’d say, let me try this. And when you try this, you realize that it puts the other person in a mood that probably makes the conversation easier. But yeah, it's always due to repetition and knowledge and don't be afraid to make mistakes.
It's the same as when I speak English with my son, for example, when he comes with me abroad, we travel together sometimes. I will come back to the U.S in August and he will come with me for his birthday. And when we are out, I say to him okay, order something. And for example, we are at the restaurant. I said no dad, you do it. You do it. Why you don't do it? And he is kind of scared of the reaction of the other people. I said, you don't have to. It's not a problem. I mean, the worst-case scenario, they don't understand, and I can jump in, or you try to explain them in another way. And this is more or less the same when you have to talk on the phone with some client or other person that is involved in our businesses.
Seth: Yeah, it's really interesting. It almost sounds like a shyness issue because I know my six year old son and my eight year old daughter. My eight year old is not that shy. She's pretty good socially, but my son is very shy, which I was very shy, and I still am kind of shy. Like, the other day, we were walking through our neighborhood, and I noticed some new people were moving into the house down the street. I was like, Come on, Luke, you want to go say hi to those people? And he's just like, no, what if they're mean to me? I'm just like, Why would they be mean to you?
But I totally understood where he was coming from. It's uncomfortable for us shy people to get out of our shell and take the first step and make the first move. But, yeah, I think it has a lot to do with your beliefs a little bit in yourself. Why would you believe they're going to be mean to you? Why does your brain go there, of all places? And I don't really know the magic bullet for how to fix your thinking.
But I think that is where the issue is, being confident in yourself and believing that I have a right to be at this table. I can make this offer, and if they get mad, it doesn't make me the bad guy. It means we just don't see eye to eye. There's all kinds of different narratives that we can tell ourselves that will either make this process easier or harder. And some of us just have natural narratives that aren't helpful. We think things that are destructive in nature, and it's important to identify that and consciously try to think differently when you can.
So you mentioned your son there. So how do you balance your job in the military with the land business, with your family, with everything else going on? Is that a difficult thing? Like, how do you stay on top of that and make sure something's not getting neglected?
Arturo: Well, no, it's not difficult because my son is 23 years old, so he lives by himself in another town. He studies at university, and we just like to, of course, spend time together. But he's super busy. He is in a medical school in a town in the very northern part of Italy. I am in Rome, which is in the center part of Italy, so it's not easy to see each other. He is super busy. I am super busy. But we talk often and sometimes we can do something nice together like some trips. And he came to visit me in Turkey and in Egypt and other places where he could come and visit. So that's not a problem. I mean, with my son, it’s not a big deal.
The thing is, the biggest struggle, is… The most effective days, like today for example, I didn't go to work (and probably is just something that was supposed to happen even if I was going to work) but this is not the first time that it happens which make me think and I come to the point today I was able to put two properties under contract in one day and I was not going to work. Every time that I'm not going to work, I can do so many things and so well and also find time for myself, go to the gym, and try to get a little bit of time to just recover my mental sanity. I want to just watch a little bit of Netflix or go to the gym or do something that is not just land work. I can do it.
So my obligations with my military job that I like and again it allowed me to do a lot of things that I'm doing now, but it is the fact that there are always 24 hours for everyone. So I have to put the remaining hours from 06:00 in the afternoon until 06:00 in the morning when I wake up. I need to use them in the best way, which for me many times, means to sleep like 4 hours per night because I have to work. And you do this for three days, can be okay. If you do this for 15 days, it starts to be tough. But again there is this nice book that is, I think Dan Sullivan who wrote Who Not How and that book was quite life-changing for me and it's nice because almost at the beginning he says I didn't write this book. This other guy, Benjamin, I don't remember the name he wrote for me, Benjamin Hardy, actually it's about finding people that are better than you at doing what you do. And my VA actually is way better than me in doing what she does. She was already coming from a real estate environment so I'm happy that I found her.
Seth: Yeah, it's funny you say that. Just this morning I was working on this project, not land-related, it was with my self-storage facility where I was trying to put together these parking posts that indicate the number of each parking spot throughout our RV and boat parking area. And in my mind there was a very specific way that we were going to put these posts together and put the signs on each post and drill them into the ground. And I kind of had this idea that I kind of felt like I was the only person that could do it. Anybody else I would hire would just be incompetent and they would screw it up and make it look bad.
But my business partner, he had some people that he hired to come in and do it, and they were doing it way better than I was. It looked better, they were faster at it. And it was like, you know, maybe I'm not this genius. Like, maybe a lot of other people could do this a lot better than me. I just need to actually try. Or I don't know, maybe it takes more scrutiny than what I normally put on people, but there's definitely talent out there that can make your life way easier. And you're kind of like a disservice to yourself to not explore that and just try to handle it all in-house because there's only so much you can do and only so much that you're good at on your own.
Arturo: And this is actually if you think also we were talking before, about Tony. Tony is another example. I mean, without him, I wouldn't be able to do what I do, how I do it. I could do it because there are people doing it right, but it would be way more difficult because the reason that I was mentioning before, you cannot go to the postal office, the bank and all this kind of stuff. So to replicate yourself is the best thing that you can do for your business, I think.
Seth: Yeah, for sure. One question. Earlier you were talking about these books you read by Chris Voss and how when you have the right words to say to the people, it makes them more receptive or something like that to your offers. So what is some of that stuff? Like, what have you been saying that makes it work better for the person on the other end of the call?
Arturo: It's more about some techniques that it teaches. Like, for example, there is this mirroring thing that repeats the last words of the person that is talking to you.
Seth: Repeat the last words of the person talking to you?
Seth: You see what I did there? I just mirrored with you.
Arturo: Yeah. And then you put it like, Are you doing this? And he creates this kind of empathy. But this is just an example. There are other techniques that he explains. There are practical things that you can apply to the way that you speak. I mean, that book was actually I knew about it because Howard Zonder, he was talking about it, and I said it was a moment that I just finished a call with a seller that was quite frustrating. It was one of those frustrating calls where you said, I messed up everything. I said, I need to do something. And I said, let's have a look at this book. And it was really illuminating for me.
So yeah, it's like a bunch of techniques that he explained. There is also Carnegie and what is the name? How to influence people and win friends. Something like that.
Seth: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
Arturo: Yeah, exactly. That is also another one and I still have to finish it, but that is great. I read a lot and I consume a lot of books and education online. Most of it is for free. And actually I think that to someone that is starting today, I always suggest, okay, enroll in a course, but do not stop there. First of all, you have to apply what you learn. So you learn something and you apply it in your business. Don't wait to finish the course to do it. I bought my first deal when I didn't even know how to sell them. And it doesn't matter. Do it and you will find a way. Once you have them, you have to sell them, you will learn.
But other than that, once you've done the course, do not stop there. Education, especially if it's free, but even if you pay for a course, is such a small amount of money, almost or zero money that you put down and the return on your investment is infinite. Right? Because you can really change your life just with following someone like Alex or other people that are there, and they explain about business or about land. Listen to podcasts. It can really change your life, the life of your children, the life of your grandkids, and cost you almost zero. So education and application of the education is the best thing that you can do for yourself.
Seth: I think I know part of the answer to this next question, but I'm curious to hear what you have to say about it. So when you consider the different things that you are good at, naturally, as a person with your personality and just the way you're wired, what would you say is your unique unfair advantage? Like what personality traits have helped you get to where you are?
Arturo: I try not to take myself too seriously. So even if there is something very important when I have to talk to someone and this is also the reason why it is easier for me to speak in English if I was having an Italian business would be more difficult because in Italy we have this way to talk completely different, to change the pronouns and the verbs. When you talk to someone in a formal way or in an informal way. Well, in the U.S. you always have you ,right. And you can write it to a lawyer and say hey Larry, this is Art, and blah, blah, blah, and it's totally fine. And you create this kind of nice bubble and you make him feel comfortable and like, yeah, we are working, you're going to be paid, but let's talk about it in an amicable way. I have this thing that my superpower kind of is that I can make people feel comfortable when I talk with them and normally they try to open up to me and that comes pretty easy to me.
Seth: How do you make people so comfortable? Like what is it you're doing that makes them open up?
Arturo: I think it's just me being, you know, putting on a smile and making, I don't want to say a joke. For example, I was talking with this lady, Kim, and this is the second entitlement that we are working on. It just started like a couple of days ago actually. We are still waiting for confirmation of our offer but it should be accepted. And she was saying to me, yeah, we had this piece of land, it's 25 acres in Pennsylvania and we were thinking of subdividing but my kids decided—and she's from a very little, sad village in Pennsylvania—to move to Seattle and to Miami, the two kids. So we changed our plans and I said, “Well, how do we blame them?” And this made her smile and this made all the things that we talked after that easier to talk about because it put the person in a mood.
That is not always true. You can also find the person that wants to keep it super formal and then in that case you are screwed. But most of the time, according to my experience, people are willing to talk, and are willing to have a nice conversation with other people. It's not that all people is grumpy, on the contrary actually. So if you create the right environment just by talking, the words that you use, kind of be nice with people, don't be too formal and you can get the things done even if you are not.
Which is probably a little bit in contrast with my military thing because there is hierarchy and other things. But it is what it is. I am this way and it works well with my business and I think it depends on the kind of look that you want to give to your business. I want to look super professional, though. I'm coming here with the tie and the jacket and just talking very or you come here and you don't have problem to talk about everything and you are happy to talk about land and making some jokes from time to time. So it depends how you approach the business actually.
Seth: Has there ever been any low points for you in the land business? Have you encountered anything that was like wow, that was hard or that deal went bad or that campaign bombed. Was there a point where you felt like you were going to give up or have you just been kind of in good spirits since you started this and things have always gone well?
Arturo: Yes, actually there was a moment where when I came back from Turkey for several reasons I was having a very bad time, a very bad moment of my life and I didn't close a deal for months. And I said, this is not working. So I was so near quitting, but then I said, well, if I quit, I quit, it's fine. But what if I try and then I decide to quit? Which is at the end you quit in both cases, but in one case you say, at least I tried. And I knew that I couldn't make it. So it's true that I couldn't make it. It's proof that I couldn't make it. In the other case, it's just I think I cannot make it. So I quit.
And fortunately I decided to go with the first one. So I said, okay, you know that they say the last rep is never the last rep. So I tried to push a little harder and wait a little more and do the work. Because at the end it's always about doing the same boring work for long enough until you succeed. And actually I had already succeeded and so it was just about our business this way. Especially when you don't have big volumes and you don't send out thousands, tens of thousands of mailers out. You can have months that you don't close on anything and it's fine. Now I know it.
And it happened again that I had like two, three months. I was not able to close on anything. But it's okay, I just have my emergency funds. Let's say I have enough money to say, okay, even if I don't close on anything, I'm fine. And I keep doing mailers because sooner or later they will respond. And then what happens is that you send out 10,000 mailers or text messages and nobody answers. And then all of a sudden, like it happened yesterday, for example, to me, two people accept your offers and the risk is that you quit and the next person that was going to call you was the deal that you were going to close. So that is not acceptable.
Seth: Yeah, it's simple yet profound. This whole idea of you could either quit or you could try and then quit, that's actually kind of kind of a big deal just to realize that there's those two Paturzos. Because I feel like the easy thing to do is just to know and that's the end of the story and you never had to try or take any risks.
There's an author, Brene Brown, I heard her doing a speech one time and she closed with that whole idea of I mean, it's way better to try things and get hurt than to get to the end of your life on your deathbed. And you're just asking yourself, man, what could have been? Like, what if I had gone out of the limb and done that thing? How much different or better could my life have been if I'd tried that and it worked out? And even if you try and it fails at least you answered that question. You didn't just leave a giant question mark there. And it almost kind of gives you some peace of mind. If you gave it one last try and it still didn't work, at least you can officially put that to bed. Doesn't mean it's guaranteed to work and that everything's going to be peachy, but at least you gave it a shot.
Arturo: Yeah, definitely.
Seth: So do you have any long-term plan where you want this to go? Like, where do you see yourself in five years or ten years? Are you still going to be doing land investing? Are you going to pivot and do something else or what are your thoughts on that?
Arturo: So I don't see myself always doing land investing as the first thing. I have a number in my mind that I want to reach, after which I will probably start to investigate other opportunities, like multifamily commercial or something else, but probably developments. At the moment, I am very focused on land, so it will be not land forever, but at the moment it's land. I mean, there is not a reason why it shouldn't be. It's simple. And I'm still on this side of the ocean, so it's easy because it’s the same reason: no roof, no tenants, and I know how to do it, and I know people who can help me and funders, other investors. Actually, there is not a reason why I shouldn't do it, but in five years or ten years from now, probably five years from now, I will have started to do something else. Most likely.
Seth: Last few questions here before we get to the final round here, and these are probably the most important questions I'm going to ask. So who makes better pizza, America or Italy?
Arturo: Yeah, American of course. No, no. Just kidding.
Arturo: No, no. You see, this is the biggest struggle. I mean, America is a great country, and I am really blessed that it exists and there are so many opportunities there, but every time that I come to the U.S., to eat is a struggle. I'm Italian, so I like good food. It's always a struggle.
Seth: I'm curious because I've never been to Italy. I've never had, like, outside of the Olive Garden, I've never had real authentic Italian food. So when you come here and you're disappointed in our food, what is it you're trying that you're disappointed in? What am I missing out on that I need to go to Italy to try?
Arturo: The worst thing is to go to the U.S looking for Italian food. You don't have to go to the U.S. I'm sure that there are good Italian restaurants. I just didn't find them. So what is a typical dish in the U.S? Don't tell me the turkey at Thanksgiving. What is a typical dish? You mentioned pizza for Italians, and I could say I know, there are others that I know, for example, in the Ukraine, but what is a typical dish in America? Hamburger?
Seth: Yeah, good question. Kind of depends on who you talk to and what they like to eat. I know we borrow from a lot of other cultures and basically screw it up and call it the best thing ever. Mean, there's like hamburgers, which are from Germany, and there's spaghetti and there's hot dogs and there's grilled chicken, you know, stuff like that.
Arturo: Can you say that grilled chicken is American?
Seth: I don't know. Does that originate from someplace else? I don't even know about that one.
Arturo: I don't think so.
Seth: Yeah, and I know, like Chinese food, sushi, stuff like that. A lot of people like that here. I don't even know if there is any actual American food because when you think about everybody not everybody, but many people here came from somewhere else and took their culture with them. So I don't know.
Arturo: Yeah, I can tell you, I don't think that there is. And probably when people see this, they will comment on it and will say, no, there is this thing and I would like to try it. But hamburger, I find hamburgers in Italy. And pizza, I find that pizza is food is the only thing that I don't like in the U.S.
Seth: Well, who do you think makes a better sports car, italy or America?
Arturo: I mean, we want to talk about sports car. I'm still in Italy. And if you think about Ferrari or Lamborghini.
Seth: It's kind of hard to argue with that. I would agree. I don't even know what we… I mean, we've got Corvette, we've got the Camaro, we've got the Dodge Challenger, but none of those really compare to a Ferrari or Lambo. I mean, they're just a different class of car. What kind of car do you drive again? Don't you have a nice car?
Arturo: Yeah, I have a convertible Mercedes AMG E 300. Convertible Mercedes. I like it. I mean, Mercedes is great. It's not Italian, but it's great.
Seth: So, final three questions, for real this time. And I actually haven't done this in a while. I feel like a lot of other interviews, I've just been too busy to get to these. But at the end of some of our shows, we like to go one step further, learn a little bit more about our guests and understand how they tick. So, question number one: what is your biggest fear?
Arturo: My biggest fear is something that you mentioned before, the day that I die, if I will be in my bed. And for me it's a kind of hell. My idea of hell is to look back at my life and not being happy with how I lived it, to say I could have done this, why I didn't, and do not have an answer. So that is my biggest fear.
Seth: Totally understand that. What are you most proud of?
Arturo: I am most proud of the difficulties that I overcame in life. I am most proud of, and this is especially as a father and also as a businessman, I'm well aware that I created something that is nice business-wise. The thing is that, and I think I'm working on it, but I'm not too good at that, is that when I think of something good that I did in my business or in my life, even if I'm proud, I tend to say, okay, I've been good, but how can I do it better? So I've been good is very short and I'm more focused on how can I be better?
So the joy is present, but it's just, okay, I've been good. Pat on my back. It's a never-ending cycle. It's always trying to improve things, which means probably I don't enjoy the moment enough. But I am proud of the things that I did business-wise and as a father.
Seth: Is there anything you can think of where it's like, I did that well enough? Like there's nothing else I could have done. Job well done, end of story. Or is it always like, oh, no, but I could have done this and I could have done that and I could do this in the future. It almost seems kind of like self-torture if you're never there.
Arturo: Yeah, it is. Like, for example, you close a great deal and you say, yeah, good, I had this $50,000 cash in my bank account, but I could have had 60. You had 50?
Arturo: But still, of course I'm happy, but I struggle a little bit, so how can I have 60 next time? And I try to improve, which is good for my business, but I ask a lot of myself in everything that I do.
Seth: Yeah, I think that's maybe the curse of an ambitious person is like never quite being there and always demanding more from yourself, which, in a lot of ways, that's super admirable. I guess it's good to hear that you still do experience joy in the moment. It's not like it's just constantly cracking the whip on, “Is there's something there?”
Arturo: I am now in the podcast with you, right? I am now in the podcast and I'm already thinking, when is Joe Rogan going to call me? Right?
Seth: Next week, probably after he hears this.
Arturo: Very happy to be.
Seth: So let's pretend for a moment that you just got $100 million wired to your bank account and you're not allowed to continue investing in land and you're not allowed to stay in the navy. You have to completely change what you're doing, but you can do anything else you want for the rest of your life and money is no issue here. So what would you do?
Arturo: I think that I am very much a giver, so I like to give to people, and I've seen many situations around the world, very horrible situations, and kids dying on the road. And so I think that if I cannot use it for my… and even if I can use it for my business, actually I want to help people that are not as fortunate as I am. So probably I would try to give as much as possible.
Besides, I truly believe that the more you give, the more you get back. And this is true. I was reading it and I was not believing it, but I can tell it's true. And I think it's because something happened and you kind of attract some positive energy. I don't know what it is about, but it happened to me. And you don't have to do it because you are getting back something. But this is a nice plus. This is how I would use most of my money if I couldn't use it in land I was not in the navy.
Seth: Is there anything specific you would do? Like a certain cause or charity or I don't know.
Arturo: This is the thing that I would do. I would probably take the money that I have and I would go where there are kids because to see kids dying on the road is bad. To see kids with a rifle, it's bad. This cannot happen. And if I had the possibility, I would be happy to do my part and I do it now as I can.
Seth: So you don't have to share this, you're not obligated to. But if people want to get a hold of you or learn anything more or connect in any way, is there a way they should do that? Like a website or social media or anything like that?
Arturo: Well, they can find me. The easiest way probably is Facebook. Arturo Paturzo, P-A-T-U-R-Z-O. And I am in all the main groups talking about land. I'm always available to talk and I always have to learn from people who know a lot more than I do. And also I learn a lot from people who know less than I do because they went through a different experience, probably, that I didn't go through. So many times I engage with people that started probably six months ago, but they say I faced this, I didn't know that.
And so Facebook is probably the easiest way. Otherwise, through email is firstname.lastname@example.org, which is the name of my company. But I would say Facebook is the easier way.
Seth: He's very active on our Facebook group in our forum. He asks tons of awesome questions. He'll address issues that most of us have, but most people just kind of figure it out on their own or they don't think to actually ask the community. He just does a great job of elevating those issues and bringing them up. And yeah, it's good to have voices like him in the room.
Arturo: Thank you.
Seth: Art, thank you again for talking with me. It's been awesome to get to know you better and hear your story and learn from the lessons that you've learned in your land investing career. And I hope we'll talk again soon. It was really cool seeing you at the Land Unconference and hopefully we will cross paths again in the not-too-distant future.
Arturo: I'm sure we will. Thank you very much, Seth, it's been a pleasure.
Seth: Absolutely. Thanks.
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