008: The Anatomy of a Land Deal (A Comprehensive Case Study)

If there's one request I've heard more than anything on this blog – it's from people who want me to put together a GIANT blog post about what my typical land deals looks like, sort of like an “Anatomy of a Land Deal”, so to speak.

It's a great idea, and for the longest time I've had every intention of doing this – but given how much time this kind of blog post would take (to closely follow AND document the entire lifecycle from start to finish), I kept pushing it down my list.

Of course, I do explain this process quite thoroughly in the land investing course that comes with a membership to the REtipster Club, but I also realize, there's nothing quite like seeing a comprehensive case study of a real world transaction.

So I've made up my mind – it's time to do this.

In this blog post, I'm going to give you an in-depth look at one of my recent land deals.

It basically took me a full year to write this blog post. Why? Because I didn't want to publish this until I had completed the ENTIRE buying and selling process.

Sometimes this process happens quickly (i.e. – within a few weeks), but in this particular deal I'm about to show you, the timeline stretched out a bit longer than normal… because that's just what happens with some deals.

In the end, this deal delivered a solid profit. There were a few bumps along the way, but overall, I think it went fairly smoothly.

As with every deal, new lessons were learned, old lessons were reinforced, and I walked away a little bit wiser about how to handle the future deals I do.

So let's dive in, shall we?

Choosing the County

It all started when I decided to do a blind offer direct mail campaign in New Mexico.

Prior to this, I had never done much work in New Mexico, but I wanted to give this market a good try. I had heard from several other land investors who had done well in the southwestern United States, and I wanted to see what (if anything) I had been missing all these years.

After carefully evaluating 17 different counties from several different angles, I zeroed in on a county that was situated about an hour from Albuquerque.

There were actually several counties in the state that would've been sufficient, but this county had a few good things going for it:

  • This county's database in AgentPro247 was up-to-date (just a few weeks old).
  • The county had a very good (and free) GIS mapping system online I could work with.
  • The popular in this county was well-under 100 people per square mile (which meant it was clearly a “rural” county). I was able to verify this through the U.S. Census data.
  • Most of New Mexico consists of desert (as did this county), but this one had a few desirable attributes, like mountains, some small towns, and a reasonably close proximity to a big city (so the area wasn't terribly difficult to get to).
  • To the extent I could find, there was no urban decay or obvious issues that would adversely affect the livability or desirability of this county.

Again, there were many counties in New Mexico that would've fit a similar profile – but these were the attributes that ultimately made me say, “Yes, let's do it.”

Getting the List

With this direct mail campaign, I decided to download a targeted list of land owners from AgentPro247 (instead of going with the county's delinquent tax list) and I sent out blind offers to each property owner.

Essentially, I followed the same basic process outlined in this video:

Now, in situations where I take the alternative approach of sending out open-ended postcards to a delinquent tax list, I usually need to send out at least 300+ postcards to get ANY notable response.

However, when sending out blind offers to a more general list of land owners, I usually have to send out at least 3x as many units of mail – because on average, these recipients don't have quite the same level of built-in motivation as a delinquent tax property owner.

On the same coin, even though blind offers tend to cost more, they also save A LOT of time, because they don't require the same amount of back-and-forth with each prospect prior to getting an acceptance (and at this point in my career, with more money at my disposal than time, I'd rather save more time than money).

It's also worth noting, blind offers reach BOTH delinquent tax owners and regular owners alike, so I'm not really missing anybody that needs to hear from me, I'm just hitting a lot of other people along the way – some of whom are highly motivated, and some who aren't.

This was the sorting criteria I used to pull my list…

Note: In most cases, I also like to include the criteria, “Improvements = 0” when filtering my list, but since this county's database kept coming back with zero results when I used this filtering option, I concluded that the data wasn't available, so I just omitted this criteria from this particular list.

Determining the Offer Price

One of the nice things about this part of the country is that land is relatively cheap (at least, compared to the other markets where I've worked). It's much easier to buy larger parcels of land (20+ acres) for a few thousand dollar a pop – so I decided to target properties in the size range of 10 – 30 acres.

After doing some research on both Zillow and LandWatch, it looked like roughly 80% of the properties in this size range were listed at prices from $750 – $2,500 per acre (with most of them on the lower end of that scale).

With this price range in mind, I decided to peg the “market value” at $1,000 per acre, and then I formulated all of my blind offers to be exactly 10% of each property's market value.

So for example, if a property was 10.44 acres in size – my equation would calculate this property to be worth $10,440, which meant my blind offer would be 10% of this value (or $100 per acre), putting the offer price at $1,044.

I made offers like this to 898 property owners.

Now, as usual, I like to err on the side of making offers that are too low, rather than too high – so arguably, I could have made offers around $200 per acre and still been within an acceptable range… but since I like to hedge my bets on the lower end, I went with the lower number (and probably lost a few opportunities as a result – but oh well).

Inbound Calls and Acceptances

Within the first couple of weeks after my offers hit mailboxes, I got 21 responses (mainly in the form of phone calls and emails).

Of all the responses that came in, roughly 1/3 of them were outright acceptances, 1/3 of them were people who had questions about my offer (but weren't really interested), and 1/3 of them were from people calling or emailing to say how much they hated me for sending such a low offer.

Luckily, one thing ended up working out in my favor…

In one section of this county, there was a massive subdivision that had been developed about a decade earlier. Most of the properties in this subdivision were about 20 acres in size, and they were intended for luxury homes ($1M and up). As a result, each lot had been sold to the original buyers at prices ranging from $60K – $80K per lot.

And remember, since each lot was around 20 acres, and my offers were $100 per acre, the contracts I sent out for these lots were around $2,000 per property.

With an acquisition price of around $3K (including closing costs) and a potential value north of $50K… that's a pretty good margin.

This subdivision was at an interesting point in its lifespan though.

Most of the property owners I talked to appeared to be wealthy individuals who lived out-of-state (places like California, Texas and Pennsylvania). They bought their lots a decade earlier when the subdivision was first developed, and it was sort of a “retirement dream”, with the idea that some day they would move out to New Mexico and build their luxury homes here.

But this subdivision had a couple of issues…

Issue #1

It was governed by a Home Owner's Association, and a fairly expensive one, at that.

Every property owner had to pay the following costs each year:

  • $795 – $900 HOA Fee
  • $500 for a Shared Well (plus quarterly charges)
  • $500(ish) for Property Taxes

…and this was if their property was VACANT. Once they actually built a house on their lot, then the costs would only go up from here.

Issue #2

The water supply available to these properties was extremely hard water, requiring a lot of treatment in order to be potable. It wasn't a deal-killer, but definitely a drawback to building a home here.

These issues (along with the fact that many of these property owners figured out they probably weren't actually going to move to New Mexico when they retired) are probably why I got six acceptances from this subdivision alone.

People were sick of holding onto their property, not doing anything with it, and paying so much money each year – so when they got my low-ball offer, time had already done the negotiation for me. They were ready to cash in and be done.

Of course, these higher holding costs made me a little nervous too.

Normally, when I learn that a property is under the jurisdiction of ANY kind of HOA, I run… because the holding costs can eat into my profit margin pretty quickly (and in some cases, it can make the property harder to sell on the back-end).

But then I considered a few things:

  • At one point, people were paying $60K – $80K for these lots
  • The lowest current listing price in the subdivision was $50K
  • I could get up to six of these lots for around $2K – $3K if I wanted them

The downside was – I'd have to cough up a lot more money for every year I owned these things, and if months turned into years, these opportunities could go sideways pretty quickly.

The upside was – if I could sell them in a year or less, it probably wouldn't be hard to make money (and potentially, a lot of money) on each one.

Property Research

Since I knew these properties were in a well-manager, high-end HOA, I was confident each lot was buildable, usable and livable. Furthermore, since these properties were in the desert, I didn't have to worry about things like flood zones, perc tests, wetlands and the like. This allowed me to focus more carefully on things like:

  • What were the HOA rules?
  • What were the annual holding costs?
  • What were similar properties listed for on the market?
  • Were any of the similar properties selling?
  • What utilities were available to this property?
  • Was anybody building in this subdivision?

The biggest questions were centered around things like costs, market value and the demand for these types of properties.

Ultimately, I wasn't able to get much certainty on how quickly these properties would sell (which was a major consideration for whether these deals would be profitable), but all the other questions were answered fairly easily with some quick phone calls and emails to the HOA and county office.

“Cherry Picking”

Since this was a brand new market to me, I didn't know how quickly these properties would sell.

As I noted earlier, I had gotten a total of six acceptances on properties that were in the same gated subdivision. All six of the properties were 20+ acres in size and, and since there were hundreds of similar-sized lots in the same neighborhood (with verified sales numbers within the past decade), it gave me some assurance of what they might be worth.

Also, with the presence of utilities, roads and infrastructure, it gave me confidence that they would all be sellable. However, since each lot came with some heavy holding costs, I decided I was only willing to “roll the dice” (so to speak) on a maximum of four lots (in case they all had some unforseen issues that would make them harder to sell, this would help me mitigate any potential risk, while also limiting the upside as well).

So I basically just picked the four I liked the best, and told the other two,

“Due to the higher-than-anticipated response rate and our limited funds, we are unable to proceed with purchasing your property at this time.”

Of all sellers I turned down, none of them responded to me negatively… so that was pretty easy.

Closing on the Purchase

Since each of these properties had a fairly good profit margin (that is, IF my market value estimates were even remotely accurate), I decided to use a title company to close.

To my surprise, the first title company I spoke with, told me they wouldn't work with me.

Why? Because they were familiar with this subdivision (and the high property values), and they thought something “fishy” was going on with my purchase agreements, simply because the purchase prices were so low.

On one hand, it was comforting to hear some verification that my purchase prices were indeed VERY low.

On the other hand, I was pretty annoyed that they would assume I was a shyster just because the prices were low. Seriously guys??

After stewing in anger for a few hours, I called a second title company and they agreed to close these deals for me… but ONLY IF I paid for title insurance that covered an amount that was closer to full market value (i.e. – even though I was buying each one for a couple thousand dollars, I had to insure each one for $20K or more).

It seemed rather petty, but luckily the cost was only about $311 per property, so it wasn't a deal-breaker, and it allowed me to move forward.

After waiting over a month to sign the documents and get through all the red tape from the HOA, we finally got all the properties into my possession – with two of them owned by my LLC, and two of them owned by my Self-Directed Roth IRA.

Selling

As I feared, these properties turned out to be surprisingly slow to sell.

After paying $800 to a professional photographer from Craigslist to get some great videos and images of each property for me, I put together some great listings and videos showcasing each lot.

Here's one of the videos I put together:

Note: This isn't the original video, I changed the property specifics in this version to be anonymous.

My Marketing Strategy

Since I now owned 4 very similar lots in the same subdivision – it would've been easy to list them all at once, at a very low price.

However, if I had flooded the market with cheap property like this, it would create a glut of vacant lots on the market, which could (arguably) have a negative impact on the perceived value of every property in the subdivision, including mine.

Instead, I decided to start by listing ONE property at a time. For this case study, I'll refer to this one as “Property A”.

At the time (April 2017), the lowest comparable property listing I could find on the market was listed at $50,000, so I started by listing mine at $49,000.

I posted it on Craigslist, Zillow, my selling website, LandWatch ($34.99), LandandFarm ($139.95), eBay (51.00), the local newspaper ($79.95), LandPin, a few local Facebook groups, and a six-month listing with Fizber ($349) (Note: Fizber is a site that connects you with a local realtor, and they list it under their name while providing no service other than forwarding you the emails that hit their inbox).

The only sites that got ANY traction were Craigslist and Zillow. Everything else generated absolutely nothing. No leads. No buyers. No tire-kickers. Nothing.

Now, I know plenty of people who DO get results from these kinds of paid sites, but my listing for “Property A” didn't garner anything in this market.

And it gets worse… even the small handful of calls and emails I got through my Craigslist and Zillow listings never developed past the initial contact. For the first couple of months, after a good hard marketing push, people were NOT pounding down my door to buy this property.

Having Patience

Now, I've been in this business long enough to know that EVERYTHING sells eventually, it's just a matter of…

  • How long you're willing to wait
  • How low you're willing to price it
  • What terms you're willing to offer
  • How hard you're willing to market

After six months of deafening silence to my marketing efforts, I was starting to wonder if I had made a mistake buying these properties (because remember – each one was going to cost me about $1,800 for every year I continued to own them).

It was around this time that I tried two things that were fairly new and unconventional (for me, at least).

HOA Listing Site

I discovered that this particular Home Owner's Association had a section on it's website that was easy to miss.

Essentially, all the property owners in this subdivision who were selling their property could notify the HOA, and then the HOA would link to their online listing, and display all of these links in a dedicated section of their site. This way, if anyone was looking to buy a property specifically in this subdivision, they could see ALL of the properties for sale in one easy place (rather than checking ten different websites and still not seeing everything).

When I figured this out, I sent them the link to my Zillow listing, where my property was listed for $49,000.

About two weeks later, I had an offer to purchase the property for $20,000.

Of course… this was WAY lower than my asking price (and far less than the original market values I was working with), but the beauty of this deal is – it was still 10x higher than my purchase price, and by closing this ONE deal, it would cover ALL of the money I had invested in all four properties AND put a nice profit in my pocket.

Calling Local Builders

I remembered hearing my friend Karl James talk about how he calls up local builders in his market, asks what they're looking for and makes connections with the properties in his inventory. Since many builders have an understandable need for land to build houses, oftentimes they are happy to buy, quick to close and easy to work with.

It seemed to work well for him, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I called up the President of my HOA and asked if he knew of any local builders. He gave me the names of two builders, both of whom were based in Albuquerque and had built more than a dozen homes in the neighborhood.

I told both builders they could buy any one of my properties for $10K, because I knew they were local, and would most likely be quick and easy for me to work with. I gave them a link to each listing on my buying website (where they were listed at prices ranging from $49K – $79K). Property A was listed publicly on all the major listing sites, but the other three lots in my inventory (Properties B, C and D) were only listed on my selling website, so I could show them selectively to the people I wanted to be aware of them.

The first builder said he agreed each property was a great value, but since the market was slower in that area, he wasn't interested in building any spec homes at the moment.

The second builder was still having some hesitancy – even at the $10K per lot price… but if you read to the end of this article, I'll tell you how that conversation panned out. 🙂

Closing on the Sale

Since there was only one title company I could find in the area that was willing to work with me, I decided to run this closing through the same office.

Similar to when I bought the property, the closing process took about a month, and required a lot of “jumping through hoops” to get to the finish line (luckily, they dealt with most of this so I didn't have to).

After all that, I walked away with a check for $19,616.51.

I forgot to take a picture of the check before I deposited it, but here's a quick scan I pulled from my bank account (thank you JPMorgan Chase).

When I tally up all the hours of “work” it took me to earn this pay check (signing documents, posting ads online, answering inquiries, etc), it probably comes out to 20 hours – at the most.

This deal actually required a lot more work than most, because it was a little harder to get sold. On average, I'd say most deals take somewhere in the range of 5 – 10 hours. This one was a little stubborn, but it still paid off very well in the end.

The Final Numbers

So with respect to this first property (Property A), let's take a look at the final numbers:

Purchase Price – $2,055

Closing Costs – 1,368.05

Taxes/Water/HOA – $61.02

TOTAL INVESTMENT – $3,484.07

Sale Price + $20,000

Closing Costs – $383.49

GROSS PROFIT = $19,616.51

$19,616.51 GROSS PROFIT – $3,484.07 TOTAL INVESTMENT – $654.89 MARKETING COSTS = $15,477.55 NET PROFIT

Kind of crazy how I used to work 40 hours a week for roughly 10% of this at my day job… just sayin'.

Biggest Lessons Learned (and Reinforced)

There were a few big lessons and reminders from this deal.

Lesson 1:

It's better to err on the side offering LESS, rather than MORE.

If this property was actually able to generate buyers in the $60K – $80K range, this would have been a deal for the ages… but that wasn't what happened. Instead, the properties generated a buyer in the $20K range, after waiting for the better part of a year.

If I had offered $200 per acre, my profit margin would still exist, but it would've been a lot thinner (and given how much smaller it already was compared to my expectations, I didn't need it to shrink any further).

Lesson 2:

There is BIG opportunity in trying things that are unconventional (hint: like picking up the phone).

If I hadn't been willing to make a few phone calls and put forth more effort than simply posting these properties on Craigslist, I would still own all of them today (and I'd probably feel even more helpless than I did after 6 months of sitting around, waiting for things to happen).

It's easy to click buttons and feel like you're making progress – but when the progress doesn't happen, it's important to be more aggressive. Don't wait for the results to happen, make the results happen.

Lesson 3:

HOA Fees and high holding costs often create big problems for land investors, but they aren't always a deal killer (but in any event, be careful).

Part of what made this property so much less appealing to me was the high holding costs. And since it DID take me longer than expected to sell them, it DID hurt my bottom line.

Granted, I still walked away with a profit of over $16K in the end – but given how much money and time I had tied up in this one deal, it could have been even better.

Lesson 4:

When it comes to marketing and getting your listings noticed – spending money for a paid listing isn't automatically the right answer.

Historically, I've been hesitant to spend money on my advertising, because I know it's usually not vital, and it can easily turn into a bottomless pit (especially when the paid listings aren't producing results).

This situation basically confirmed the issues I've always had with paid listings – because I gave them a whirl on this property and came up empty handed (while the free methods ultimately ended up making the sale).

Sometimes the things that get results are the things that require thought, creativity and effort, not just more money. Paying for listings could be the answer in some cases, but if they aren't generating results fairly quickly, it may make more sense to simply think outside the box instead of throwing money at the problem.

What do you think? Are there any hidden lessons in here I missed? Any ways I could have handled this deal differently? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

P.S. – Remember that second builder I told you about? She agreed to buy the remaining three properties I owned, and it was a relatively fast, trouble-free closing. Remember kids – it pays to pick up the phone!

About the author

Seth Williams

Seth Williams is a land investor and residential income property owner, with hundreds of closed transactions and nearly a decade of experience in the commercial real estate banking industry. He is also the Founder of REtipster.com - a real estate investing blog that offers real world guidance for part-time real estate investors.

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  • herohome says:

    Thank you for the information. This really Helps a Lot.

  • Dixie Lee says:

    OMG what an amazing elaborate post. Very informative. I have never even considered doing land deals. You got me thinking now!

  • Sven-Malte Störring says:

    Seth, great content. About postcard mailing vs. blind offer campaign you said even though blind offers tend to cost more, they also save A LOT of time, because they don’t require the same amount of back-and-forth with each prospect prior to getting an acceptance. Interesting, I thought the opposite is the case as blind offers take a lot of time for preliminary research and comps that you are doing for “cold” leads. Can you speak to that please?

    • Yeah, blind offers can take a fair amount of time for preliminary research, but I think it’s still a lot less time in the long run, when you consider how much time can be wasted in dealing with tons of potential sellers on the phone (many of whom won’t ultimately be willing to sell for pennies on the dollar).

  • Aaron Lau says:

    Excellent information, thank you Seth. Congratulation making a handsome profits for these 4 deals : )
    Question on Fizber. Does it work for all 50 states across US?
    I’m quite surprised you don’t get any leads even from the MLS. In future, will you still be using Fizber to advertise land for sell?
    Also, what do you think about owner financing? Do you think you could sell it for higher price if you do owner finance, Thanks!

    • Thanks Aaron! I’m not sure if Fizber works everywhere, but I’m fairly confident it works in most places.

      I know – I was surprised by the lack of response too… maybe it was just the market I was in(?). I probably won’t use it in the future going forward, as MLS listings generally haven’t produced a ton of results for me in other places either.

      I think owner financing can be a VERY effective way at getting buyers as well – I just wasn’t interested in doing that for this particular deal if I could avoid it (simply because my current strategy is to get cash rather than wait for my money).

  • Jessey says:

    Hey Seth – GREAT tutorial and breakdown of your experience.

    Unfortunately, I noticed that AgentPro247 no longer looks the same and has gone through some rigorous pricing changes. Even after the discount code (Big Thank You), prices are different and even the packages. (Have a look here: https://cl.ly/2a0g1v1s062d)

    Would you say this type of pricing is still worth it? Bronze package is no longer available unfortunately.

    • Hi Jessey – yeah, unfortunately, AP247 raised their prices substantially after I made that video. The prices are definitely much higher, but believe it or not, it’s still one of the least expensive subscription data services on the market right now (even after the changes).

      If you’re looking for something similar to the Bronze package, I would go with the Gold subscription that provides 1,000 leads per month. That will get you pretty close to the same thing (and if you need more leads, I believe you can pay for them as you need them).

      Of course, you can feel free to use other options like ListSource or RealQuest Pro, but you’ll be paying more than 2x the amount for what is pretty much the same thing.

  • Yashal says:

    Great work sir, truely appreciate your work….

  • Jason says:

    Thanks Seth for taking the time to do this. Really appreciate the look behind the curtain.

  • Josh T says:

    Seth,

    This article is the best one yet. It was so rich in details that I had to watch it twice. I have one follow up question for you. How did you complete the closing with the title company while being in another state? I know you said a closing attorney was not required by the state. I am interested in what was required. Were the documents mailed to you or sent electronically? Did you need a notary?

    -Josh

    • Hi Josh – thanks for reading and watching! I’m really glad you liked it, that’s great to hear.

      Yes, the title company emailed the documents to me, I printed them off, got them all sign (and the right ones notarized) and then mailed the originals back to their office, where they completed the rest of the process. Overall, it ran pretty smoothly.

  • Adam Fielder says:

    Seth – thanks for the details on this transaction. I do have one question.. Which post card do you recommend? I have the templates from you but I dont know how to pick which one would be the best for the land deals. Thanks so much for the education.

  • Elan says:

    Incredible! Thank you so much Seth!

  • Joe says:

    Hi Seth,

    Thanks for this sneak peak into one of your deals! I noticed that you decided to exclude trust owned properties in your data set. Could you explain why you decided to do this? Do you always exclude trust owned properties?

    • Hi Joe – that’s a good question. I’ve gone back and forth on this over the years. Whenever I intend to close deals myself, I exclude them because buying/closing with a trust involves a bit more documentation that can clutter up the process (and sometimes prevent closing altogether). It’s a similar thing when buying from LLCs and corporations (though I think the trust situation is a little bit trickier).

      Of course, in this case I ended up using a title company, so they would’ve handled all of this for me – but back when I pulled the list, I wasn’t sure what kinds of opportunities I’d encounter, so I just decided to keep these off the list from the outset. It’s possible I lost some opportunities as a result of doing it this way – but even if I did, it still ended up being a pretty successful campaign in the end.

  • Elan Benoni says:

    Hey Seth, this blog post did a tremendous job at outlining the entire process from beginning to end. It was also extremely motivating so I have saved the link to re-watch anytime I find myself stuck with a property. Thank you!

    You mentioned a small golden nugget in that you placed 2 of the properties in your Self-Directed Roth IRA. I think this would be a fantastic topic to cover one day and I would greatly appreciate it if you had any links or other information you could share to get people started in thinking down this path. Thanks again for all that you do in the community!

  • Todd Hoffman says:

    Second question, Seth. Will you be going back to the other 2 properties that you turned down to make offers on those again? Do you ever keep information on properties that you do not buy and go back later and make an offer on them? Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Todd – I’m not planning to go back to the table on the other two properties. There were a few aspects of these properties and market that I didn’t like as much (namely, the expensive HOA holding costs and red tape, how slow they were to sell, and how slow the county and title company were at doing their job). Overall, I’d give this area a B-. I’ve worked in plenty of other areas that were a lot easier and more profitable, and this market isn’t the kind of place where I need to bend over backwards to do every deal that presents itself.

      Sometimes I’ll keep information on some properties and go back to them later, but only if they’re truly exceptional deals that I know I would’ve pursued if I’d had the appetite. In this case, I think I made the right choice by hedging my bets and sticking with 4.

  • Joe McCall says:

    Seth, great post! I loved it. My question / comment has to do with why your asking price was so high to begin with? And did you get many requests for owner financing at that higher price? We always sell our cash deals at 50%-60% of the lowest listed price of competitors, and they go fast. Thanks for diving into the details on this deal.

    • Hey Joe! I set my initial asking price at $49K because every other listing on the market was priced anywhere from $50K – $90K – so at $49K, mine was the cheapest listing available. Not knowing how quickly it would sell at any given price, I didn’t want to assume too low of a market value and drive the property’s perceived value even lower (say, if some buyers would’ve been happy to pay more, I wouldn’t want to cut myself off at the knees from the outset).

      Sometimes this strategy pays off in a big way, other times it just takes longer to sell (like it did in this case). Glad you’ve found a pricing strategy that’s working for you!

  • Karl James says:

    Seth – Great, detailed, case study. I am always grateful for how detailed an educator you are. This one is especially cool because it provides us a peek at the emotions even a seasoned investor and teacher like your goes through (too) when it sometimes looks uncertain if a deal is really going to work out and how patience and creativity can pay big rewards. / Thanks

    • Thanks so much Karl! I’m glad you liked it, and I appreciate the insights you shared with me from your experience as well (it helped me out quite a bit with the properties in this subdivision).

  • Todd says:

    Seth, This sounds like a great deal. Thanks for sharing and congratulations! I was wondering if you have ever tried any facebook ads to sell your properties.
    Todd

    • Hi Todd – I actually tried a few FB ads for this deal (which I guess I forgot to mention). They didn’t go well. I tried some paid ads, and I tried posting in local groups, and neither resulted in a single contact from any interested parties… pretty discouraging.

      I’ve heard from others who have had great luck in the local FB groups, so I’m sure it’s a valid way to find buyers, I just didn’t have much luck when I tried it in this market.

  • Jeremy Frank says:

    Hey, Seth,
    I’m just now finding you and getting familiar with your site and the whole real estate investing game, so I apologize in advance for a potentially “rookie” question. How is a transaction like this taxed when it comes to income? I know this is just one of many transactions you’ll do throughout the year, but if you were to single out this transaction and use it as a proxy for the others, about how much of the net profit would be reduced by taxes? I know every situation is different and it would be impossible to account for every situation, so just a rough estimate either in dollars or % would be great. Thanks! Look forward to diving into your site and getting started!

    • Hi Jeremy – great question! Part of the answer depends on what tax bracket you fall into, and what the income tax rate is in the state where you’re working (because you’ll typically have to pay both state and federal taxes, not just where you live, but also state taxes in the state where you’re doing business). In New Mexico, the income tax rate I’ll have to pay is 4.90% (which means I’ll have to file a state tax return there, in addition to the state where I live). It’s an annoying extra step at tax time, so it’s definitely something to consider if you plan on working in a bunch of different states.

  • Great article Seth

    It’s interesting I’m reading this now. I have about 4 properties I am working on right now that are all in an HOA. All are being deeded to me. But I will be covering taxes and HOA fees. I paid $10 for of the properties. I think the thing I learned most from your article is reaching out to local builders and if you buy at such a low price you can drop your price drastically and still make a nice return.

  • Scott Taylor says:

    Great account, Seth, I enjoyed it. It left me wondering how you ended up getting 20K when the builder was only interested at 10K, or was it the 2nd builder who paid 20K per lot (or did I miss something)? The other thing on my mind was how much of the difficulty selling could be attributed to the HOA. When I have tried to to sell land in an HOA, 9 out of 10 buyers I talk to will pass on the grounds of the HOA restrictions alone (the fees are usually a smaller issue). In my experience, the desire for freedom is one of the primary motivations for land ownership, even though it is an illusion given county zoning restrictions in just about every county in America, including the most “anti-government” parts of the US (the whole of the rural Southwest).

    • Thanks Scott! This particular property wasn’t sold to either of the two builders, it was sold to a private, end-user who was happy to pay $20K. I just mentioned the builders because it was one of the alternative marketing approaches I used throughout the process and it DID result in a sale for the other 3 lots.

      As for the difficulty in selling, yes, I think the HOA did account for a significant amount of the difficulty I experienced. I did talk to a number of potential buyers who were turned off by this. However, on the same coin, an HOA is a huge benefit and selling point IF you’re able to find the right buyer (i.e. – the rare land buyer who actually wants to build their primary residence and live in an HOA).

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