Why We are the Experts at Flipping Land (they made us brag about it)
Jack Butala: Today, Jill and I talk about what makes us the experts at buying unwanted rural land and selling it for more, flipping land. In the small group of industry experts in our little niche, we have purchased and sold more property than all of them. Join us.
Jill, what’s going on in your acquisition world today? This is the highlight of my day, by the way, to talk to you, because you constantly one-up yourself on the amazing acquisitions that you come up with.
Jill DeWit: Thank you. I appreciate that. Here is what I have going on today. This is so awesome. I don’t know what to do with this right now. Okay. I got a call just a couple hours ago from a little old lady in Montana, something like that. I called her back. She was like, “Hey, this Mrs. Such-and-such. I have a piece of property. I have an old letter here from you. Please give me a call as soon as you can.” I give her a call back. Turns out … This is fantastic. Turns out … Yeah, Great Falls, Montana. It’s the coolest thing.
She and her husband have six acres in Pueblo, Colorado. She said, “We were going to build a house there, and he passed on years ago.” It’s clearly she just got another tax bill. She hadn’t even opened it. She said, “I have the tax thing here.” I said, “Okay, great.” Bless her heart, she opened it up, read me the APN off of it. I just popped it in and looked at it, and it’s fantastic. I’m serious. There’s a paved road really close. We’re talking it’s super easy access. There’s ranches in the area.
Here’s the best part. I thought, “All right.” I just went on LandWatch, and I’m looking it up to see what taxes are current, all that good stuff. It’s just in her name. All my boxes are checked. I’m like, “Okay, I’m trying not to get too excited.” I got to LandWatch. Guess what? I put in US. I put in Colorado. I put in Pueblo County. I put in four to ten acres, and I put in land. Guess how many pop up?
Jack Butala: Zero.
Jill DeWit: Close.
Jack Butala: Three.
Jill DeWit: Sixteen. That’s not that many.
Jack Butala: That’s great. Yeah.
Jill DeWit: No, yeah. Check it out. The next thing I do is I sort by price, low to high, just to see what this is worth. The cheapest there is five acres for fourteen nine. I’m like, “Wow.” I’m like, “Do you have any idea?” She goes, “I don’t even remember what we paid for it.” She’s just the sweetest thing. Check this out, too. I go look it up. It was bought back in 1985. You know what the seller name is? United States of America.
Jack Butala: How is that possible?
Jill DeWit: I don’t know. I’ve never seen that. I was going to ask you, have you ever seen that?
Jack Butala: No.
Jill DeWit: Right.
Jack Butala: No. No, I haven’t.
Jill DeWit: It’s a warranty deed. I can tell that. I’m like, “Did they have this land they were holding onto something, and they didn’t?” It’s the South Pueblo Soil Conversation District.
Jack Butala: Oh, okay. That makes sense.
Jill DeWit: Okay. What was that?
Jack Butala: It’s probably some government agency that decided to liquidate all kinds of stuff. I bet they rolled it into some kind of tax sale or some special thing. Yeah. If it’s something specific like that, that makes sense. If it just says USA, that would concern me a little.
Jill DeWit: Okay, yeah. That’s the township. I’m pretty darn excited, I got to tell you.
Jack Butala: Did you guys talk price at all?
Jill DeWit: Not yet. You know me. I don’t talk price on the first call. I never talk price on the first call.
Jack Butala: It comes into our topic today, what makes us the experts.
Jill DeWit: I like that.
Jack Butala: That’s a good tip. You don’t talk about money right upfront, like you have good manners at a cocktail party or something.
Jill DeWit: I do. That’s right. I don’t say, “Hey, what do you do? Hey, what’s your net worth so I know what to offer you? Oh, your husband passed, so you’re really set up, and you don’t really care about this asset?” Could you imagine?
Jack Butala: That’s the best way to never go anywhere in life.
Jill DeWit: Right? That would be hilarious. How much money are you looking to get out of that? A.k.a., how much do you need? No, that would be so darn funny. Oh my gosh. That would be a funny thing to do someday. We’ll just have all the things not to say.
Jack Butala: They’re running through my mind right now, so maybe we could do it right now [crosstalk 00:04:35].
Jill DeWit: Oh, yeah.
Jack Butala: It’s like going out on a date and asking really inappropriate stuff. You could do a whole Saturday Night Live skit on it.
Jill DeWit: Oh my gosh. You sure could. Yep, you’re right. That’s hilarious. How to tick off a seller [way 00:04:50]. You know it’s worth nothing, right?
Jack Butala: I bet that happens.
Jill DeWit: I bet. That’s so …
Jack Butala: Okay. Let me start from the beginning, just in case we have two or three new listeners.
Jill DeWit: Maybe two.
Jack Butala: We send a ton of mail out, direct mail out to people who own property. There’s a lot of ways to do it, so we can figure out whether or not they want it. Obviously, it’s been working for years and years and years. This is a perfect real-world example of somebody that responded to the offer. They called us. Jill answers the phone, or it gets to Jill’s desk however. She’s ready to sell it. Jill goes to work and talks about the property and walks her through the process.
Jill DeWit: Exactly.
Jack Butala: That’s one of the small reasons I guess we’re the experts.
Jill DeWit: Exactly. Yeah. I wanted to get back to that tip, because it’s a really valuable one, is I really don’t … If they have a figure in mind, I want to know what their figure is, but I don’t throw out there what I’m willing to pay yet, because even if I know what it’s worth in that area, I’m not going to throw out a number. I want them to sit and think, and let them know that I’m really doing my homework in deciding if it’s something I really want, which most of these letters, we’ve got to that point … Back to the experts. We’ll cover this here. Why we’re so good at what we do is we’re only sending letters to really the properties in the areas and the size and the things that we’ve already met all our criteria and that we know we’re going to want. When I get a call back, I’m probably going to want it. It’s just going to take a price.
Jack Butala: Well said. Yeah. Plus, we don’t send out just letters that say, “Hey, [are you 00:06:39] interested.” We send out actual offers. I can tell you with a pretty high degree of certainty how much that offer, the number in that offer was to this woman.
Jill DeWit: I’m going to guess back then … Let me guess. Let me guess. Six acres. I’m going to say back then you probably offered four or five.
Jack Butala: Here’s a hint. I know you’ve only been with us for about five years, or six years, or whatever it is.
Jill DeWit: Seven.
Jack Butala: Oh, is it seven now? Sorry.
Jill DeWit: Geez. I’ve only been with you for five minutes. Hello. You know what, Steven, but it feels like ten years underwater.
Jack Butala: Two minutes underwater.
Jill DeWit: That’s it. I couldn’t remember what the saying what. I couldn’t think. Oh, gosh. Okay, go ahead.
Jack Butala: Here’s the joke. “How long have you guys been together?” “Oh, we’ve been together fifteen years, but it feels like three minutes underwater.”
Jill DeWit: That’s awful. Oh, gosh. That’s good. Okay.
Jack Butala: Since we’ve been sending mail out for whatever, more than a decade, I bottom out at five hundred bucks. We never send an offer out for less than five hundred dollars, ever, regardless of size or anything. We’ll buy the slightest little tiny lot for five hundred dollars.
Jill DeWit: [Crosstalk 00:07:56].
Jack Butala: Unless you get a hold of them. That’s just the offer price. Then it generally goes up about a hundred dollars an acre from there. If this is six acres, which is a really strange size, by the way … Usually, it’s five or three.
Jill DeWit: Isn’t that funny? Yeah, it’s six on the nose.
Jack Butala: Let me put it this way. I’m extremely confident it’s less than a thousand dollars.
Jill DeWit: We’ll see. I don’t know. I’ve seen some interesting ones, depending on the area. This will be a good one. It’s awesome.
Jack Butala: Okay. This show is supposed to be about what makes you guys the experts.
Jill DeWit: Love it.
Jack Butala: I think we talked about this a couple days ago. The first thing that comes to my mind is our transaction experience. Isn’t it strange to talk about ourselves like this? It goes against my gut. I don’t want to brag about myself or talk about what we did in the past, but we got to let people know somehow.
Jill DeWit: It comes up.
Jack Butala: We’re surrounded by humor, you and I. We’ve done, what, almost sixteen thousand transactions now.
Jill DeWit: That’s what we’re going on. You’re right.
Jack Butala: Since 1999. I’d love to talk to somebody else who’s done that many deals. I haven’t talked to anybody yet.
Jill DeWit: [Crosstalk 00:09:08] anybody.
Jack Butala: We have a lot of people on this show, and no one’s even close.
Jill DeWit: Do you know what’s great about this, is those are really our transactions. You know what I mean? If I could roll in all of the transactions that we had a hand in or we coached and helped and mentored over the years, I can’t even imagine what that would be. This is just literally on our books, that we bought and sold.
Jack Butala: You’re right. I’ve taken members in the distant past to tax auctions, and they’ve purchased hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of properties. Yeah.
Jill DeWit: Bingo.
Jack Butala: I can’t even imagine.
Jill DeWit: That’s cool, I think. Not only just our transactions are astronomical, but the transactions that we’ve seen and coached and helped with. I don’t know about you, but when I hear that with somebody else, whatever it is that I’m looking at, if you’ve written thirty books and I want to write a book now, I’m going to pay attention, because you have thirty published books on the bookshelf, and you’ve been number one on X whatever time. You got my attention, kind of thing. I think that’s one of the things that I think people look at with us. “You’ve done that many? Oh, okay. I think you know about deeds.” “Yeah, I think I do.”
Jack Butala: Although the first thing we talked about right at the beginning of this was, and you stumped me with, the seller is the United States of America.
Jill DeWit: Hilarious.
Jack Butala: That just goes to show you, yeah, we’re experts, but we do learn new stuff all the time.
Jill DeWit: True. You know what? You got to be a pro to know how to handle some stuff, because … That’s a good point, Steven, because that’s one thing that I find myself mentoring our members, is they want to know it all. Some of them have to absorb everything they can before they take that first step. I have to coach them and help them along and to say, “No, no, no, no. You got it. You got the foundation. You can do this. You’ve got the gist of it. We’re right here. Our team’s right here. You’ve got the support. You can do it.” Yeah, because even now and then, there you go, we have things that I go, “That’s a new one.”
Jack Butala: You and I know this because we do this every day. There are so few things that can go wrong. I know this is going to bite me. I shouldn’t say it out loud, but there are so few things that can go wrong in these real estate deals. When you line it up against buying a house or buying any other type of more complicated real estate, we have a buyer and a seller and a notary, and that’s it. We don’t have all the other people that could be involved, like real estate agents, and title companies, and inspectors, and all that stuff, or investors that can kill the deal. That’s what I say to members when they’re really new and they’re freaking out about, “Oh my gosh, what happens when the phone rings? Because I know it’s going to ring.” I’m just like, “There’s no wrong way to do this. You get together on a price, and that’s it. It’s just a mechanical thing to buy and sell it.”
Jill DeWit: I completely agree. I love it. You know what I think another reason that we are so good at what we do is you have years in one talent, and I have years … I’m embarrassed to say how many years. Nobody ask me this [inaudible 00:12:41]. You’re always going to get a different answer, by the way … years in another forte, or whatever you want to call it. How do I say this? I’ve learned from you, and I think you’ve learned from me. It’s just made us both stronger, and better, and more successful. I know I wouldn’t be doing this without you, obviously.
Jack Butala: The truth is there are several people that had your job before you, including me. I was obviously the first one. I started this thing in the back condo, in the back bedroom of a condo in the ’90s. I was the acquisition guy. You made partner doing this very, very quickly, let me put it that way. You do that job way better than I ever did it. I learned a lot, actually, from … I still do. I still learn about how you’re doing this.
Jill DeWit: Thank you.
Jack Butala: Yeah. You bring that whole personality piece to real estate that I don’t think a lot of people have.
Jill DeWit: Thank you. I appreciate that very much. You’re the analytical one, I think. You make the phone ring. You know what I mean? The details that I can’t stand, you’re good at, and boy are you good. That’s really the thing. You and I joke about it. I hope I don’t, and you don’t, and our people don’t take you for granted, but man. Anyone in our office, we all call him the Excel. You have a doctorate in Excel, is really what I’m trying to say.
Jack Butala: I didn’t know you guys called me that. I thought it was something …
Jill DeWit: You’re the Excel master.
Jack Butala: … something way worse than that.
Jill DeWit: This is the stuff that you’re allowed to hear. There’s a few other names floating around that I’m not going to mention. I’m just kidding. No, but you are so good at that. I think that part of why we are the experts and are so good at what we do is we … What do I say? We contribute each other. We make a great team. I know, because I’ve heard our members say this, that they’re getting two for the price of one. Does that make sense?
Jack Butala: That’s excellent. That’s a great way to say that.
Jill DeWit: That’s something that I think is really valuable and really good that you and I …
Jack Butala: I asked a member recently, I said … They went through the whole initial, the Cash Flow From Land program. I said, “So what’d you think?” He said, “Just watching you work in Excel alone was pretty amazing.” He said a bunch of really nice stuff after that. When you’re really good at something, you take it for granted. It’s like, “Eh, I’m good at it. So what? Anybody can do it.”
Jill DeWit: Isn’t that funny? I’m with you. It’s good that you say that, because I had a couple calls last week, and that was one of the things that people would flat-out ask me about, “What makes you guys the experts? How are you different from so-and-so?” I’m like, “Well,” and that was one of the things. “Steven’s got this forte. I have this. You get both of us combined.” We are both involved in our program, very involved, in every little …
Jack Butala: Every day.
Jill DeWit: Right, not just our program-program, but when we mentor our students, like our weekly ambition calls and all that good stuff, we are together there. You do what you do best. I do what I do best. Everybody’s like … They breathe better, I think, just knowing that, “If I got a sales question or customer service question,” they have the expert. If they have a, “Gosh, I got hung up on this stupid mailer question,” they have you for that.
Jack Butala: Right. Yeah. We are the experts.
Jill DeWit: I know it’s weird saying that. The California in me comes out now and then.
Jack Butala: What I love about this, there’s a lot of parts to this, but I love the data piece the most, manipulating the data, choosing which properties that we’re going to send out offers on and mechanizing that whole thing. I love making your phone ring.
Jill DeWit: Yeah, you are so … I love it. It’s great. I love it. You give me eager sellers. That’s the thing I love about what you bring. It’s so easy for me to close these deals. It’s not even funny. Because again, like you just said, what naturally to you. That comes naturally to me. I love talking to people, and closing these deals is not hard at all.
Jack Butala: You’re pretty good at it. You gave a book example. That’s a great example. If you were looking for an expert to learn from on, I don’t know, I know I’m throwing some crazy stuff out at you, but how to learn how to bake, what kind of credentials should they have?
Jill DeWit: I would like them to be an established restaurant, or a bakery, or something like that. I would like to sample their goods, something like that. That’s a pretty good example. I like that. You know what’s great about that? I’m thinking about that with us. That’s probably what makes people … You know what? I know that. I know that when I have a seller calling me, because they’ve told me this, they’re looking me up, man. They’re making sure that we are legitimate, we have a website. They can see our track record. They can see stuff that we’ve bought, see what we’ve sold, all that good stuff. They can go to multiple places, by the way, on the internet, and just Google my name or your name, and they know who we are. There’s so much credibility right there.
Jack Butala: You know what I think pushes us over the edge is Success Plant. For anyone listening who doesn’t know what this is, we have a free program … it’s free right now to anybody who signs up … where you can go to successplant.com. It’s a membership site where anybody can ask anything, and everybody gets involved. No matter where you are in the program or in your investment strategy that we teach, you can get the answers to stuff from your colleagues and from us and monitors and things.
I think that would push me over the edge if I was looking at … I don’t know. Let’s say I was going to go flip houses, which you and I have done. It’s pretty underwhelming. If I was going to go flip houses, I wouldn’t seek somebody out … Let me put it this way. I wouldn’t learn how to flip houses from somebody on a midnight infomercial. I’m not naming names or knocking anybody’s stuff. We’re not here to do that at all. I would want to learn how to do that from somebody who’s flipped a ton of houses, ten, fifteen thousand houses, or some number. In that case, probably closer to five thousand. I want to see evidence that they’ve done it. You know what I’m saying.
Jill DeWit: Exactly. I totally do. I get it, yes. It’s so funny, because I heard something really funny today in Bigger Pockets, that they talked about flipping houses. They worded it so darn funny, about how what we do versus that … Oh, gosh. I’m trying to find it. I can’t remember. “For me, rehabbing a house would seem like a miserable punishment, while other people just love it.” It was really nice.
Jack Butala: I was just going to say that. I was going to say a different version of that.
Jill DeWit: I have to brag about this real quick, because this is one of our members. I stumbled across him … We’re so in it. All our paths cross all over the place in this world that we’re in. He was writing something in Bigger Pockets that just caught my eye. I’m like, “This is fantastic.” Okay. Here’s what he said. He said, “For me, rehabbing a house would seem like a miserable punishment, while other people love it. There are people who would find what I do with land to be boring or just plain ridiculous, but everyone has their own preference.” It was just such a good thing. He was talking about how beneficial and how much money he is making off this. It was awesome. He was also not putting down anybody else for their choice, which I appreciate.
Jack Butala: This is an existing member?
Jill DeWit: Here it is. Yeah, check this out. “You could easily get your feet wet … ” This is so cool. I’m totally quoting this guy today. It is hilarious. If he listens to this, he’s going to crack up. He knows who it is. “You could easily get your feet wet by buying and selling cheap land, as Jill suggests. I’m doing this, and it is easier and more lucrative than most people realize.”
Jack Butala: Great.
Jill DeWit: Isn’t that awesome? Yeah.
Jack Butala: It’s just such a good feeling that people are learning how to do this stuff from us and making some money.
Jill DeWit: They’re telling other people about it, too, because there’s plenty of land to go around. That’s really the whole point of this. I think the reason why we’re here is, what?
Jack Butala: I don’t know if I’m being prompted to finish your sentence.
Jill DeWit: No. No, you’re really not. That was a pause, sorry. Actually was a legitimate pause.
Jack Butala: Sounded like my mom was talking to me for a second. “Steven, the reason that you’re here is … ” I don’t know, Mom. I don’t know.
Jill DeWit: I hope I don’t answer wrong. I hope I don’t answer wrong.
Jack Butala: Yeah. Exactly. That’s what I thought that was.
Jill DeWit: To get good grades and be a good kid?
Jack Butala: I’m serious. It put me right back to being nine years old for a second.
Jill DeWit: Shucks. What would you have said, Steven?
Jack Butala: I would have said, “Help people learn, Mom.”
Jill DeWit: Oh my goodness. Wow. Oh, that’s funny. I didn’t mean to scare you like that. Sorry. That’s funny. That’s really good. Yeah. That’s it.
Jack Butala: You’re hilarious.
Jill DeWit: Thank you. That’s awesome. All right.
Jack Butala: What was the topic of today?
Jill DeWit: I don’t want to know. Just kidding.
Jack Butala: Oh, what makes us the experts.
Jill DeWit: Right, because it comes up. I think those are just some valuable things to share. I know there’s a lot more that we’re going to add on to that as we go on, but that’s a good place to start.
Jack Butala: Good. We should do a whole show on … This is what we should do, Jill. We should do a whole show on … Somebody asked me this recently, and it ties into the ending of this show. What can go wrong? You guys talk about how positive it is all the time. In fact, let’s make that our next show, all right?
Jill DeWit: For real?
Jack Butala: Yeah, we’ll call it something like, “What could go wrong? What could go wrong flipping land?”
Jill DeWit: What could go wrong? What could go wrong? I don’t have a lot. You know me.
Jack Butala: I know. I could tell some stories. It’s nothing. In the very few houses that you and I have flipped together, a lot of stuff went wrong. You know what? Think about that. The few houses that we have flipped [crosstalk 00:24:12] made some money, but think of just the thousands and thousands of pieces of land that we’ve flipped where it was like clockwork. It’s like punching on a car part or something.
Jill DeWit: Steven, you’re brilliant, in more ways than one. You really are. You are the expert. Here’s what I think. This is a good idea. What could go wrong? We’re going to compare our biggest … I’m writing this down, because I’m cracking up right now … our biggest land flub, or whatever you want to call it, versus our biggest flipping flub, because we’ve done both. That would be funny for you and I to sit and compare notes and to let everybody know, “This is what happened here, and this is what happened here. You guys, it’s like apples and oranges. You know what I mean? This is our biggest deal over here. Now do you get it?” I love it. Okay, let’s do that next time.
Jack Butala: Excellent. I’m sorry, go ahead.
Jill DeWit: No, I think you and I were going to say the same thing.
Jack Butala: You know it’s a tradition that we title the show at the end, not at the beginning.
Jill DeWit: I agree.
Jack Butala: Do you have anything written down? I don’t.
Jill DeWit: Oh. Steven’s mom. Don’t know if you want to put your mom in there.
Jack Butala: I don’t.
Jill DeWit: Scolded. Steven gets scolded about being why he’s … No, just kidding. No. How about … I don’t know.
Jack Butala: How about, “Turns out we are the experts at flipping land”?
Jill DeWit: I love it. Done. I’m writing that down.
Jack Butala: Excellent. In the next episode, Jill and I are going to talk about what could go wrong flipping land.
Jill DeWit: Perfect.
Jack Butala: Now let’s go buy some property.
Jack Butala: If you have a question about how to buy property super cheap and sell it for more, then let us know, at 888-735-5045. Jill and I’ll try to give you a message on the air. Every single month we give away a property for free. No strings. No funny business. It’s super simple to qualify. Two simple steps. Leave us your feedback for this podcast on iTunes and number two, get the free ebook at landacademy.com, you don’t have to read it. Now go buy some property.
If you enjoyed the podcast, please review it in iTunes . Reviews are incredibly important for rankings on iTunes. My staff and I read each and every one.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me directly at steve@LandAcademy.com. And don’t forget to check out LATV. This is dedicated to all things rural land.
I would like to think it’s entertaining and informative and in the end profitable.
And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes.