1000 would be better. And it would be much better to send offer letters in my opinion.
Top 4 Newbie Questions
Over the last week I've taken 3 land investing courses and have a few beginner questions I hope someone can answer.
1 - If you're starting from scratch with $50k, what steps would you take to start/scale faster? (ex. software, services, RE agent, higher priced lots, etc.)
2 - Besides poor pricing, what is the most common pitfall for new land investors?
3 - Would you buy a few cheap properties (~$500) from landwatch to get your feet wet before dealing with real sellers?
4 - Using RE agents to sell: would you start this way or do a few manual first?
@jason-pratt wow, three courses at once? That's intense!
Here are my two cents on your questions.
1. Having money is great (that's a lot more money than most beginners have to start with), but it's still not a substitute for experience. Even when you've got more cash to play with, I would still go through all the same motions that beginners do. Get the lists, send out the mail, make offers, do the due diligence and understand how a deal is done. I think it's usually a good idea to start with a few smaller properties, because in the beginning, the objective isn't to strike it rich within 90 days (although if that happens, it's a nice added bonus), the objective is to figure out what you're doing, what makes a good deal, what the common pitfalls and gotchas are. Once you have a firm grasp on what it takes to bring a deal all the way through the lifecycle, then you can start going after bigger ones and putting more money on the line (or possibly even partnering with other land investors in some capacity).
2. Due diligence. It's very easy to overlook certain aspects of a deal by moving too fast or just getting lazy. Even experienced land investors (including myself) have been known to do this on occasion, but the devil is always in the details. It's not common for land investors to lose money on a deal, but when they do, it's almost always a direct result of failing to do adequate research on the property before they bought it.
3. I wouldn't bother with this, because when you find "deals" on a website like LandWatch, you're skipping the most important component of the business model: knowing how to find and buy off-market deals from motivated sellers. I'm not saying there are no deals to be found this way, but you're also putting a BIG unnecessary limitation on yourself by only looking at the small fraction of deals that are publicly listed.
4. If you can find a good one that specializes in land, it might not be a bad idea to at least have some conversations and see how they can help you. On the same coin, there is a big benefit to going through the whole process yourself, so you know what it takes to sell a property as the direct owner. This will give you the perspective to know when a land agent is doing their job well, so you can hold them accountable if they aren't cutting it.
Seth Williams amazing insight. Thanks Seth.
1 - just addressing one dimension of your first question: my mentor taught me to start with the minimum subscription tech stack necessary and let pain tell you when it's time to invest money in more technology---that's been good advice so far to limiting costs to only those items that bring a ROI through more deals and more efficiency. you can pretty much do everything for free when you start out this land investing journey---soon as you start making deals, the pain ratchets up, telling you where to upgrade next.
2 - i'd put my money on not taking action as the most common pitfall
3 - recommend do the wholesale deals once you have a chunk of properties under your belt. You need confidence on the process, due diligence, and pricing, as well as having your systems established, before you can confidently make deals with other investors. You could easily tie up lots of capital on marginal deals if you skip the training wheels phase. On the other hand, if acquisition is just too slow through your direct mail efforts, there is something to be said for dipping your toe in with wholesale deals just to get the buy/sell experience---caveat emptor is all.
4 - no i wouldn't---concur with Seth's comment---do some small deals yourself, follow and learn the processes, ask for help from other investors (feel free to ask me). you'll undoubtedly make some mistakes---if you are not, then you are making the biggest mistake of all, which is avoiding making yourself uncomfortable. Use realtors later on if you'd like once you have the experience to make an informed decision on ROI and efficiency and can properly screen for a good agent.
@sean-callahan Excellent, thanks Sean.
I am a newbie in land investing/ flipping. I am so new that I just became a member of the forum last night!
I’m wondering if you could give me some insight on the courses that you took as I am searching for one. It’s probably a question that Seth can answer as well. Based on my research he offers training through RETipster. Looking to fast track.
Thanks in advance,
Jeff Verreault i took the RETIPSTER course and was very happy with it. Almost two years into the business, I use what I learned there every day. A-Z of the land business, lays the foundation. Still taking other courses, but one like Seth's is the foundation for the rest
@sean-callahan thanks for the feedback. Which one of REtipster courses did you take? I believe there are two and the master class is the more advanced.
Jeff Verreault it would have been the predecessor to the land investors master class. I know Seth and Jaren did a major revamp of the course i took, which was already solid stuff. I've browsed a bit in the masterclass course---definite improvements on an already good course. if you are serious, the investment in the course is well worth it. Worst case is that, even if you figure out land investing is not for you. , you'll pick up great info on starting a business, marketing, leads, etc etc that you can apply to any business start up....unless you are already well versed in those skills and processes, which i was not.
@jason-pratt Which courses did you take?
@sean-callahan thank you again for the feedback. I have been a part-time real estate investor (flips and buy and hold residential) for about 15 years. Not quite as knowledgeable on the land side and this land flip model. I’ll check it out.
To build on what has been already said (on confirm it)...
- The fastest way to scale is with more email - but I'd get experience before scale - as suggested by Seth and others.
2 Pitfalls - Not recognizing not all taxes and assessments show up on the county website or tax statement:
Be aware of counties where the county collector for the county where property does not collect the school taxes. Example might include school districts that cross more than one county (or situated on a county line - In the Houston suburb of Katy, TX the Katy ISD has school sin three counties (i.e. imagine three counties whose boundaries meet at a "Y" shaped junction and the school district being an oval that overlays that three-county junction ). All of that school district's taxes are collected by one of those county's tax offices. If you are buying a property in one of the other two counties served by the school district that county's tax statement will not reflect the school district taxes. So - look for school district, ISD. etc. on the tax statement. School taxes are usually by far the largest taxing entity.
Be aware of school district that have their own tax office; i.e. they directly collect their own taxes - their taxes won't show up on the usual county tax statement.
If I don't explicitly see a school district taxing entity on the tax statement for the property from the count I do these things: a) Google search to try to determine the school district by looking for school closest to the property or calling the realtor for listed property located nearby and asking them what school district the listed property is in and asking if that school district pretty much serves all district within a couple miles around the lsited property, and is is a good district are their nearby districts I should look for or look out for (really more than I usually nee3d to know). b) call the county tax office and ask if they collect taxes for the determined school district, and if they do not, who does. Then when I locate who collects the taxes, I inquire about taxes owed on the property.
Be aware of properties that have back taxes which may already be in the process of a tax foreclosure by the taxing entity (county, state, etc.) If you are buying a property that has past due taxes, ask the tax office if the property is by chance subject to a tax foreclosure of suit. If it is ask how you find out the total payoff for the property if you were buying it and wanted to be sure you cleared up all taxes, court costs and legal costs against it related to the tax foreclosure suit. In most cases, you can call the law office the county uses to handle their tax foreclosure process and they can give you the pay off.
Be aware whether or not a property is in an HOA. If it is not evident by way of reading the deeds in the chain of title or by way of a searching for CCR for the name of the subdivision, etc. - then find the name of a neighboring property with a house on it and Google search /skip trace to find their phone number and call them tell them you are considering buying property in the area and ask if they know if their property or others nearby are in an HOA . POA. If that isn't possible / doesn't work, check real estate listing for for property listed in the area and read the detail of the listing to see if any HOA / POA name or annual fees are disclosed in the nearby listing - or call a realtor and ask. (If you're calling a realtor, ask them if they can give you a marker value assessment for the property you are considering buying, or at last a price per acre for property like it in the area - "two birds.. one stone'). Then search for the contact info for the HOA and call them and ask about any back dues or assessment's. While on the phone find out what the annual assessments are and ask if they can send / point you to a copy of their current covenants / restrictions (CCRs).
Check for flood zones (use FEMA site)
3 - No.
- What Seth and Sean said. (I never use a realtor on the buy side unless the seller is represented already. Typically if a seller is represented by a realtor - you aren't going to get a well-below-market deal) But, if / once you do a deal that has sufficient profit possibilities and decide to use a realtor sell (or if you are buying from seller who is represented) consider using one of the realtors that was especially helpful when you were bugging them school district or HOA information or was otherwise helpful.
jawollbrink Jason Wollbrink last edited by
Great question and some great answers so far!
I will chime in as well. .
1.50k is a solid start but can run out quickly once the deals start moving. I think the most common mistake is to not spend money on things that actually make you money; buying and selling property. Mailing and marketing. If you do those right the deals will flow and you will need wither more money or some investment partners.
2 - New land investors either buy properties they don't research and price well enough, or the get lost in the pressure of keeping up with all the needed "tech" and supposed subscriptions. You should keep it simple starting out and use the basics. I sold several properties without a selling website when starting. I used google sheets for the first 50 properties! Cross each bridge when you get there, or as Sean said, when the pain factor builds up.
3 - I would send mail and buy yourself 10 or more cheap properties directly to learn your processes and systems and build confidence if needed. Don't buy anything retail. ALL THE MONEY made in any real estate transaction is made in the BUY.
4 - If your price point is below 20-40k on the sale of the property then market yourself. Above that point it depends. Land brokers can really earn their money quickly on the bigger deals.
A final thought; I would invest in a mentoring or coaching relationship from other active investors (Not Guru programs) and also join any mastermind groups and forums like this. Be present and vocal and ask questions. People have a wealth of knowledge!
Karl James Good advice! Tomball, TX has the same issue. School taxes are separate and can be overlooked if not careful.