From $500 to $20M-No One Believes Me (CFFL 0054)
Jack Butala: From $500 to $20M-No One Believes Me. Why We Can Afford to Give Land Away Every Month. Every single month we give away a property for free. 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 even have to read it. Thanks for listening.
Jack Butala: Hey. Jack Butala here for Land Academy. Welcome to our Cash Flow From Land Show. In this episode Jill and I talk about the very first day of my land career, and then we talk about today and everything in between. Jill, I look at the numbers and I can’t believe it. Ask me anything if you want. This is not going to be our highest rated show, and you know how I get about talking about myself and stuff, but somebody called in and asked about this.
Jill DeWit: I love this topic. I actually have a list of questions that I think everyone would love to hear the answers. This is a great topic. Let me go back and explain. Do you want to explain what we’re talking about. It’s really …
Jack Butala: I would love for you to do it.
Jill DeWit: Okay. This is really Steven started, no surprise and no secret, it’s in our e-book too, with five hundred dollars and his checkbook sitting at his kitchen table buying a piece of land off eBay and who knew it would turn into twenty point, I don’t know how many … It’s twenty-two. I don’t remember what the final number was, but over twenty million dollars in revenue from that in not a lot of time. It is amazing, and it’s all just buying and reselling rural land.
Jack Butala: Right.
Jill DeWit: That’s it. Question one. Susie from Omaha said … I’m just kidding.
Jack Butala: Jill is joking about that because we’re about to have callers on the show. We really are. We’re several episodes away from doing that.
Jill DeWit: Should I pretend, “Hi. My name is Susie”?
Jack Butala: Yeah. Let’s try it.
Jill DeWit: Hi, my name is Susie. I’m from Omaha. How are you?
Jack Butala: It’s kind of turning me on.
Jill DeWit: Long time listener. First time caller. Steven, your voice is just …
Jack Butala: Hello, Susie from Omaha. What are you wearing today?
Jill DeWit: Your voice is just dreamy. Especially now that I know what your balance sheet looks like.
Jack Butala: I’ve always wanted your balance sheet.
Jill DeWit: Why do you like him? Have you seen his balance sheet. You know what? Next time somebody asks me why we’re partners together or something I’ll just say … We’re out in … I going to say, “Have you seen his balance sheet?” Just kidding. Okay. Here is my question. When did you realize what was happening? When did you realize that you could actually make a living doing this?
Jack Butala: Yeah. That’s a good question. I bet people would be [or 00:03:03] like members are interested in this. I had a very delayed response, years. I went into this. I had a job. Like everybody, I had a job, and so I started flipping land on the internet long from the location that I was in. I was not in the same geography, so did a few deals, did a few off deals. Actually, we don’t teach this, but I bought some land on the internet and then resold it. That happened and I guess, I don’t know, I made a bunch of money. I just didn’t believe it. I figured, “Oh, that’s just a one-off thing.”
There was no education. I wasn’t following a manual like Land Academy has or anything. I was just buying and selling property. The cash that I had on hand at that month is what I spent and sold it for cash. There was no terms. When it really dawned on me is I did a deal. I sent out a bunch of faxes. I sent a fax out to all the real estate agents in Arizona overnight one time. We talk about this in the program. There’s an automated paperless way to do this. Back then the legalities were a little bit different than they are now, but one real estate agent got, in Northern Arizona, received the fax and we negotiated a deal.
I bought something like a hundred and eighty or a hundred and ninety properties, like an acre and a quarter. I packaged them up and sold them on the internet. I sold them on eBay, and I cleared like six hundred grand. This is while I’m working at my job. Doing the exact same thing we teach in Land Academy. I literally looked at my, like a few months into this, looked into my bank account and I’m like, “Maybe there’s something to this? Maybe this isn’t just a fluke?” I treated it as a fluke for probably two years.
Jill DeWit: Is that when you realized it? Was it a year in or months in?
Jack Butala: It was about two years.
Jill DeWit: Two years in.
Jack Butala: Ballpark.
Jill DeWit: Okay. Got it. When were you ready? When did you make the decision to leave your current career?
Jack Butala: That wasn’t enough. I didn’t …
Jill DeWit: You didn’t want to change anything.
Jack Butala: I still thought, “When is the next time I’m going to run into a deal like that?” That was always in the back of my head. I went to a tax auction is what happened, in Southern Arizona. Then I started looking into it. This is right at the beginning, very beginning stages of the internet, and I went to a tax auction in Southern Arizona and I brought like, I don’t know, I think twenty or thirty thousand dollars with me which is pretty small comp- … If I did that today I would bring half a million because I just made all that money and I know what I’m doing now.
I brought twenty or thirty thousand, and I did all the math and I look at that [inaudible 00:05:43] my completed sales and then other completed sales just like we teach in Land Academy, and realized that there was probably … I spent twenty. I was probably going to make probably a hundred and twenty thousand, which is ended up what … I ended up making a lot more. On eBay if I just put it into a system and started taking it seriously. I didn’t have a website or anything.
Jill DeWit: Okay. All right.
Jack Butala: That’s when I quit. The thought that I had that pushed me over the edge was, “What if I spent all my time trying to replicate these acquisitions?” Because there’s no issues with sales. There’s still no issues with sales, Jill.
Jill DeWit: Correct.
Jack Butala: It’s all about finding a cheap property. Then years went by and we ultimately developed this. This is a good show for everyone to listen to. Years went by of making mistakes and finally I came across where we get our data which we share with Land Academy members, and perfected a mailer, and now the auctions come to us. Literally every day in the mail and on the phone they call us and say, “Yes. I want to sell it.”
Jill DeWit: Uh-hmm. (affirmative) Thank you.
Jack Butala: Was that a long way to answer that?
Jill DeWit: No. That was great. Okay, so that was two years in. How many years in were you ready to leave your career? Was it four years later? [From the 00:06:56] beginning.
Jack Butala: The gap between that large deal in Northern Arizona from the agent and the land auction was pretty small, was about eight months. I was buying property. I never stopped making offers on property that was listed. You know what I’m saying I think.
Jill DeWit: Yes.
Jack Butala: For clarity’s sake I was still buying one-offs.
Jill DeWit: Right. That you would just find here and there.
Jack Butala: Yeah, or I’d make really low offers on stuff that was listed. Back then, just with the internet, it was very young. I can’t stress that enough. The internet is very developed now, and it makes it so much easier.
Jill DeWit: Just to say what were …
Jack Butala: If I started …
Jill DeWit: … some of the obstacles that you had back then that you don’t have now?
Jack Butala: Education. I’m going to list these. I’m going to list them. There was no education like we provide. If I had that. If I started with five hundred bucks right now I could generate this kind of money in one tenth of the time. We do it all the time now, but just by listening to what we’re doing here. There was no real sales venue at all except eBay and you know how much it costs to sell stuff on eBay. There was no real online credit card companies that accepted my product type. There was a lot of hurdles back then that we don’t have now.
Jill DeWit: That’s true.
Jack Butala: There was no way at all to do research on what you were buying, so you’re staring at an APN and it’s a super good price. Let’s say it’s five hundred bucks like we teach. Where am I going to get a map? There is no Google Earth. I literally bought fifty, those fifty atlases that we used to carry around in the car. All fifty states packaged from DeLorme or however you pronounce it.
Jill DeWit: Really?
Jack Butala: We would try to find property that way through range, township and we would look at largely based on the plat maps that we could get from the county and then there were a few like …
Jill DeWit: That you’d buy and order and they mail it to you.
Jack Butala: They mail it to you and you wait. There was no PayPal. An auction would end and the buyer would call. We would contact each other and they said, “Okay. I’m just putting a check in the mail today.” We’d get the check, wait for the check to clear, then do the deed. There’s a lot of trust. I look back on that, and if any of that happened today, everyone, there’s no way. It would take two months to [record 00:09:10] a property.
Jill DeWit: That’s true. You didn’t have a website that people could check you out. Nowadays one of the things I hear from our members, they asked me some questions about, “Is this person going to really trust me to do this?” I’m like, “Have you done what we taught you? Do you have a website? Do you have that presence? Are you showing that you’re doing business and you’re credible?” If you do all those steps then it’s a no-brainer. People can check you out and do their homework and they go, “Okay. It’s all legit. I’m buying this property or whatever it is.”
Jack Butala: There is very, very few obstacles that I can see now.
Jill DeWit: That’s great.
Jack Butala: There were lots back then.
Jill DeWit: I’m trying to imagine getting out of … I mean doing the township, [rangeship 00:09:54] and all of that. Okay, so you’ve got the plat map. Now you’ve got to transfer that to a real map and you’re sitting there trying to determine the exact …
Jack Butala: Yeah. In these maps, I don’t want to get all boring about this, but in these atlases that we have in our cars or we used to have in our cars you can get to the section. The thirty-six acres one mile section, and then we were making decisions based on that.
Jill DeWit: That’s crazy.
Jack Butala: There were some very crude software packages back then that you would buy the disks and install them. Because you couldn’t download software back then on the internet. If you could … Very few places you could. Our computers were plugged into the phone jacks. There’s no …
Jill DeWit: Wow. It’s a slow process back then too, but …
Jack Butala: You couldn’t run …
Jill DeWit: … I buy and sell now so fast.
Jack Butala: I still appreciate this because we’re sitting here staring at … My computer has four forty inch monitors on it. Back then I ran the whole thing from a back bedroom in my condo on a notebook computer and you could only have one application open at a time. There was no Windows. It was Windows 3.1.
Jill DeWit: Really?
Jack Butala: You’d post the posting on eBay and then you’d close that all down and log out, and then open up Microsoft Word and write some stuff. It was a long eight hour day.
Jill DeWit: Wow. That’s crazy. Okay. Next question. How did you explain this and what did your family think?
Jack Butala: Jeez. I did not mention a lot of what I did, because I had a job for most of it. I didn’t actually explain it to anybody.
Jill DeWit: You’re just all of a sudden nice gifts were showing up at Christmas time.
Jack Butala: Yeah. I have had this whole problem even now to this day. You know about this. People don’t believe us.
Jill DeWit: It’s kind of true.
Jack Butala: They don’t believe you can buy property for five hundred bucks.
Jill DeWit: It’s true.
Jack Butala: They don’t believe you can generate twenty million dollars. Listen, I’m not tooting my own horn but apparently this is what this episode is about. I never borrowed any money and I never took on a partner or an equity partner. Literally, I went from five hundred to a thousand, to four thousand, to nine thousand, and on, and on, and on, and on. Never changed my lifestyle. That’s part of it.
Jill DeWit: It’s true.
Jack Butala: We’re north of twenty million bucks now.
Jill DeWit: Exactly.
Jack Butala: In revenue generated.
Jill DeWit: Has it sunk in?
Jack Butala: No. That’s the thing. I don’t even feel like [inaudible 00:12:25]. I just wake up full charge, full steam ahead. No. I don’t. I don’t. Flipping property, you know this Jill, we’ve had these conversations. Flipping property is now not my primary focus. It has been for many many years and making money at that. When I look at our financial statements or our tax returns and how much money we’ve made flipping properties [and that, 00:12:47] now no longer it. I love teaching. I love Land Academy. People ask me all the time, “Why the hell are you doing this? You could be on a boat somewhere.” I don’t know. I tried that boat thing for a while. I love doing this.
Jill DeWit: That’s perfect because that ties into my next question which was now what?
Jack Butala: Yeah. I love teaching this.
Jill DeWit: Do you want to teach other things?
Jack Butala: I don’t know. Sure. If this is working out so far, yeah. You and I have kicked around the idea of helping kids decide what they want to do for a living or along these lines, yes. I do. It all comes back to … There’s probably a lot of people that have the exact same story as mine but completely different product types like software. There’s some people that are younger than me like Zuckerberg. I’m not anywhere in the league that those guys are but that, for whatever reason the software thing clicked to them or they caught the social media wave, like he did and a lot of people did with writing applications for phones is huge or was huge. There’s new waves of stuff coming all the time.
It’s always the same story. People who sit around and say, “Gosh. I’m rich.” You don’t want to hang out with a guy like that.
Jill DeWit: Right. That’s true. How do you handle …
Jack Butala: Let’s talk about you.
Jill DeWit: No. This is your show.
Jack Butala: [crosstalk 00:14:09] bunch of questions for you.
Jill DeWit: This is your show. How have you handled over the years the people that have figured out what you’re doing and have come to you and said, “I’ve got five million dollars I want to hand you.”
Jack Butala: I’ve never taken the money, and that happens all the time.
Jill DeWit: Why is that?
Jack Butala: I don’t know.
Jill DeWit: Okay. I was wondering why. I’m like, “Okay. What is the explanation?”
Jack Butala: That happens all the time, Jill. You know that.
Jill DeWit: I do.
Jack Butala: You’re just asking for the listeners.
Jill DeWit: That’s true.
Jack Butala: I’ll tell you how I would take money is if I identified, and I’m working on this right now. If I identified an apartment building and I’ve done this many many times actually with different product types and said, “All right. Here’s an equity … ” Somebody says, “I got five million dollars how would I use it?” Maybe buy apartments or something I don’t know.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me directly at steve@LandAcademy.com.
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