Land Investing – No Hacks Tricks or Secrets
Recording Location: LAT (i.e. 33.838781) (LONG i.e. -118.391261)
Jack Butala: Jack Butala and Jill DeWitt.
Jill DeWit: Hey there.
Jack Butala: Welcome to our show today. In this episode, Jill and I talk about land investing. Land investing? There’s no hacks, or no tricks, and there’s no secrets to this. We will tell you exactly what we think it takes.
Jill DeWit: All the secrets and the hacks. We’re going to share them here.
Jack Butala: Yeah, yeah. All the secrets and all the hacks.
Jill DeWit: And the secret counties.
Jack Butala: Secret everything.
Jill DeWit: Yeah.
Jack Butala: Secret personality types.
Before wee disclose this wealth of secret information.
Jill DeWit: Oh, my gosh. That’s right.
Jack Butala: Let’s take a question posted by one of our members on the landacademy.com website. It’s a community, and it’s free, and spoiler alert/boredom alert-
Jill DeWit: Boredom alert.
Jack Butala: This question is lengthy for a reason.
Jill DeWit: Okay. I was wondering here. All right. Brian Moore asked, “So, I’m working on my first mailer, and it will be with Letter Stream.” Great idea. Our people. “When you use the template that is included in the learning materials, you get a message that your mail to and return addresses are not where they need to be for the window envelope to show them, and you need a cover sheet.”
Jack Butala: Right.
Jill DeWit: No big deal, right?
Jack Butala: This is part PSA, by the way. Public service announcement.
Jill DeWit: Oh, okay thank you. “Turns out the cover sheet is 12 cents a page. You’re only paying 49 cents per mailer. That’s a 25% surcharge for poor formatting.”
Jack Butala: Poor formatting.
Jill DeWit: “Do yourself a favor-”
Jack Butala: Poor formatting dot com.
Jill DeWit: “Do yourself a favor-”
Jack Butala: We got a call from the owner of Letter Stream on this. That’s why.
Jill DeWit: Oh, that’s why we’re doing this?
Jack Butala: Yeah.
Jill DeWit: Oh. Oops. Okay, “do yourself a favor and upload a one page sample PDF just to see where the windows align and change your letter accordingly. And, save that money.”
Jack Butala: Thank you, Brian.
Jill DeWit: “Jack and Jill did a lot behind the scenes …” Thank you … “to get this fantastic deal for us, I’m sure. Don’t blow it on formatting. I can upload my template where it fits, if that helps anyone, but basically make your company name the letterhead, and move customer service to the line reference number is on, and then move the reference number to go below the address.”
What a nice-
Jack Butala: Good reading, Jill.
Jill DeWit: Thank you for fixing this. “Enjoy the savings. Mail more people with the change. Profit.”
Jack Butala: Mail more people.
Jill DeWit: Yeah. So, Brian outlined the problem. Correct me if I’m wrong. Then he gives a solution for everybody.
Jack Butala: That’s why I choose to have our people copy and paste this question. Right out of success plan. That’s how our people roll. And you know what? Collective 70%, I’m proud of you. 70% of the people in our group are killing it. It’s because of this attitude. He’s sharing information with us. He doesn’t look at it like a competition situation. He provided the solution.
Jill DeWit: Exactly.
Jack Butala: He wants, uh-
Jill DeWit: Help everybody.
Jack Butala: ‘Cause he wants partners too.
Jill DeWit: Exactly. This comes back to our template mailer was how many printers ago that we’ve evolved to now? We keep finding better ways to do this, and better companies, or faster and cheaper. So, yeah it makes sense that it would evolve.
Jack Butala: Letter Stream. There is no higher tech bulk mail company that we’ve found. We’ve looked everywhere.
Jill DeWit: Yeah.
Jack Butala: For the price. There’s higher tech places that’ll charge $1.50 a unit.
Jill DeWit: We don’t want to do that.
Jack Butala: We’re in this for the price of a stamp. All you have to do is have a little bit of patience. Work with their online tools. We’re actually developing our landacademy apps, land investor are, our own tools to tie it through an API, make it even easier.
While this was a lengthy question it’s not as hard as it sounds, is my point. Especially for you really smart people that are with us.
Jill DeWit: Do you want me to re-read it?
Jack Butala: No, because I think that you can go back.
Jill DeWit: Go look at Brian’s posting.
Jack Butala: You can hit the rewind button. What do the kids call it these days?
Jill DeWit: Oh, my gosh.
Jack Butala: The back button?
Jill DeWit: I think so.
Jack Butala: When we we’re kids you hit the rewind button, ’cause the tape would go back.
Jill DeWit: Rewind.
Jack Butala: And, when we were really little kids there was just records. You had to pick the needle up.
Jill DeWit: It would skip, and you had to put a dime on it. Remember that?
Jack Butala: A dime?
Jill DeWit: Or pennies. You ever put money on it to keep it from skipping and hold it down? Nevermind!
Jack Butala: Oh, right on the needle itself? No.
Jill DeWit: Remember technics? Technics used to be like top- Is that company even still around? I’m really dating.
Jack Butala: We could do a whole show on the stupid stuff we did. We were forced to do. At the time we thought it was the best tech- Like cassettes. This is the greatest improvement over records.
Jill DeWit: My custom cassettes was awesome.
Jack Butala: God I’m glad I was born at this time in history. They had, cassettes! Do you ever say that to yourself?
Jill DeWit: No!
Jack Butala: Man, then you get phone in your room.
Jill DeWit: Yes!
Jack Butala: You had a phone in your room, but it’s still tied to your parent’s phone. It’s not your own phone number.
Jill DeWit: My phone in my room, well I had my own phone number, but it had a 50 foot long chord so I could take it throughout the house. Heaven forbid you miss a call!
Jack Butala: I wish I had a video of some of this crap.
Jill DeWit: That’s so good.
Jack Butala: If you have a question, or you want to be in this show, reach out. Yes, we are going to do a show today. Reach out to either one of us on landacademy.com.
Today’s topic, land investing. There’s no hacks, or tricks, or secrets to this thing.
Jill DeWit: What?
Jack Butala: It’s just reality.
Jill DeWit: Oh, come on! There’s got to be a secret county!
Jack Butala: It’s like every other business. Only, you make a lot more money.
Jill DeWit: Isn’t there a list somewhere? This one list I can get from somebody really cheap, and just run with that.
I’m being sarcastic.
Jack Butala: Here’s where you get all the secrets. Were not going to- Unless you give us $150,000 we’re not going to tell you the secrets. If want to get it cheaper than that, go over to the land geek. He does it for-
Jill DeWit: You’re silly. I was going to say though there’s no hacks, tricks, or secrets it’s you have to work at this, by the way.
Jack Butala: Yeah. You have to be organized, relatively intelligent. You have to know what excel is.
Jill DeWit: You have to not be afraid of trial and error.
Jack Butala: Yep. You’re going to fail at this.
Jill DeWit: Yeah.
Jack Butala: Now’s the time to tell that story.
Jill DeWit: Which story?
Jack Butala: The neighbor girl.
Jill DeWit: The car?
Jack Butala: Yeah. You want to tell it?
Jill DeWit: No, you start.
Jack Butala: Jill, and I went to a dinner party last week, or maybe two weeks ago, it doesn’t matter. Where we live in California it’s all tight. It’s a party where we all walked to it. It was that close. One of our neighbor’s kids came over and said … We were talking about driving and getting our license, because she’s just about ready to get her license, and I said, “All of our kids, inside of two months, got into a good car accident.”
Jill DeWit: Wrecked something.
Jack Butala: Yeah.
Jill DeWit: Everybody’s okay. But, just wrecking cars.
Jack Butala: No one got hurt. Because that’s what you do, you know. Now everybody’s listening to us, and I said, “Please raise your hand if you wrecked your first car, or your second car.” Everybody raised their hand, and went back to what they were doing, and she was horrified.
Jill DeWit: Yeah.
Jack Butala: I said, “You will wreck a car. So, make it count. Get a big car. The first one you get, get a big safe car, put your seatbelt on. Do all the crap that my Dad told you I did, that I never did. You be smarter than me.”
Jill DeWit: Be ready for it.
Jack Butala: So, what I took away with this is this, you’re going to fail.
Jill DeWit: You are going to make a mistake.
Jack Butala: I told her, you are going to fail, you’re going to get into a huge car accident. She was almost in tears.
It’s silly to walk around and say it’s all beautiful, and the sun shines out of your behind.
Jill DeWit: That’s true. For you it does.
Jack Butala: Did you get a good look at that sometime?
Jill DeWit: I meant right now. From this angle, in this sun, it looks like it’s reflecting off your ass.
Jack Butala: Oh, my God Jill! I’m going to have to put a PG rating on this thing.
Jill DeWit: I couldn’t help it.
Jack Butala: You can’t say that.
Jill DeWit: Okay, sorry.
Jack Butala: If this is going to be this kind of episode, I can stay stuff too then.
Jill DeWit: Ooops, sorry. I just had to say that.
Jack Butala: Here’s a hack. I don’t even know that that is. I think it’s so funny, the kids say hacks.
Jill DeWit: Do they?
Jack Butala: Yeah!
Jill DeWit: Is that not a 50’s term?
Jack Butala: No, hack is a past the millennium term.
Jill DeWit: Okay.
Jack Butala: Here’s the REI hacks. Real estate investor hacks.
Jill DeWit: Oh, that’s true. Seth’s younger than us and he says hacks.
Jack Butala: It’s a trick. Kids Seth William’s age, they say it.
Jill DeWit: Okay, there we go.
Jack Butala: We had Seth on the show, if you want to watch it, for the public on our call by the way, listener/viewer. It will air this weekend.
Jill DeWit: Our weekly member call?
Jack Butala: Yeah. It’s all video and audio. It’s all in the public. It’s already processed and everything.
Jill DeWit: What video?
Jack Butala: What video?
Jill DeWit: There was video of that call?
Jack Butala: Yeah. Screenshots.
Jill DeWit: Oh, okay. Thank you.
Jack Butala: Anyway, my whole point to this is that, you want to know some tricks? Here’s the trick, learn how to process data. It’s not … I don’t want to sound like your father. It’s not all about buying and selling land. Like in the “Karate Kid”, it’s wax on, wax off for a while and then eventually you get to the karate. When your head’s right? That’s what this is.
Jill DeWit: Oh, that’s good.
Jack Butala: Learn about data, and how to process data, and APN schemes, and learn to scrub data. Learn how to utilize mail and mail merge, and all of it. There’s no other place that you’re going to go that’s going to be easier. The learning curve’s going to be shorter, and smaller with this.
Like Jill says sometimes though, you still should learn how to drive a stick shift, but you don’t have to buy a car with a stick. But, you should learn how to drive one. You just should.
That’s a hack/trick/secret. It’s all about this data. It’s not about the real estate itself.
Jill DeWit: It is!
Jack Butala: I did a blog one time, and picture this, there’s three row houses next to each other. I don’t care if it’s East Coast, West Coast. One is falling down. It looks like the roof is half burned out. The next one looks like it’s never been updated at all. Probably some old people live there. They probably paid cash for it, or bought it for thirty grand, it’s worth three million now. The third one is completely renovated and awesome. It’s turn key, ready to move in, your favorite song’s playing on the stereo inside. Which one would you rather buy? Which one do you think is cheaper? This is a shell game.
This is like the shell game. I betcha, you have an equal chance of any of those three being the cheapest. But, you will never know unless you send all three of them an offer. Because, they’re not going to decide to sell to you because it’s falling down, or because it’s not updated, or because it’s totally renovated. They’re going to decide to sell it to you because they have a really urgent need for money.
So mail everybody. That’s a secret and a hack. That’s the trick.
Jill DeWit: That’s a good one.
Jack Butala: There’s no tricks, or secrets. It’s just common sense. What you’re looking for is a circumstance. Mail everybody.
Jill DeWit: Well yeah, it’s interesting. Maybe that’s part of it. Maybe people think that, it can’t be that easy, there’s got to be some secret that I’m missing.
No, it really can be this easy.
Jack Butala: Well, all right. Thank you so much for bringing that up. That’s a great point. It is that easy, but you can’t send a letter to everybody. You’re going to go broke.
Jill DeWit: That’s true.
Jack Butala: You have to learn how to scrub data, and really look for the signs within the assessor’s database, through Real Quest. We’re licensed providers. Look for the signs that are screaming, “We might want to sell this property.” What are those signs?
Jill DeWit: And, it fits your criteria that you’re looking for. Your acquisition criteria.
Jack Butala: A big huge glaring sign to me, is that there’s no debt on the property at all. If they do need some money, and they need it fast, they are unlike a property that’s really highly leveraged with a mortgage. They’re able to make that decision, and the banks not making the decision for them.
What a red flag is to me, about what not to mail, and Jill’s going to tell you why in a second, are back tax properties with a lot of back taxes on them. Back taxes, and liens, and stuff. Those are problems. Do you want problems? Or, do you want turn key property?
Jill DeWit: There’s a reason why they’re sitting there sometimes. I painted this picture to someone recently. You know that house that’s all boarded up at the end of the street that’s been looking that way for two years?
Jack Butala: The one that you found when you were driving for callers.
Jill DeWit: Yeah. Trust me, you’re not the first one that’s come across that property and tried to reach out and do something with it. There’s a reason why. It’s all tied up in some legal thing, or no one can afford to take it on right now. There’s some problem. You don’t want to do that. Pick all the easy ones.
Jack Butala: What’ll happen is a person will call you back. You send a letter out that says, I’ll buy your house, or your land for X, Y, Z. Again, using these three houses. The one that’s falling down, they’re going to call you back and say, “You’re my angel! Thank you for flying down and getting me out of this thing. Here’s all these problems. I’m going to hand over all these problems to you because I don’t want to deal with them anymore.” They come with the property. The back taxes come with the property, all the liens come with the property.
Jill DeWit: By the way, the roof has fallen in.
Jack Butala: You want that?
Or, do you want the middle one, or the one on the end? That’s done, or the people are just retired, and they’re moving in to a smaller place. Or, the land, they just realized they’re not going to use it any longer.
That’s the trick, and the hack to real estate. I was a commercial real estate Vice President of Acquisition, in one format or another in my early career. I learned all this stuff the hard way.
If you go to LinkedIn and see what my, if you care at all, if you’re very bored and lonely, go look at my LinkedIn thing.
Jill DeWit: There we go.
Jack Butala: Actually, go to Jill’s. It’s way more interesting. Then, when you’re sufficiently happy go over to mine.
Jill DeWit: Silly.
Jack Butala: You’ll see all the silly commercial/accounting stuff that’s gone on in the past where I derived all these coo-coo theories. They’re not theories.
Jill DeWit: Because you clearly had too much time on your hands.
Jack Butala: Well, I was just tired of failing. I was tired of talking to people who said-
Jill DeWit: You know what?
Jack Butala: I’m going to tell a story in a second. Go ahead.
Jill DeWit: Okay. I would say Jack, it really is brilliant of you. When you really sit and think about it, I don’t compliment you enough but, the fact that you sat there and figured out that there’s got to be a better way to reach the people. And, you just really came up with this whole cockamamie, there’s a 50’s term for you, scheme to fax them back then, and shake out who might be motivated and then reach out to them. That was really smart. Thank you for saving us all.
Jack Butala: We didn’t have the quality of data that we have now. I literally typed in, like a phone book size database of facilities all over the country. Then we had asbestos to deal with and stuff.
Jill DeWit: Crazy.
Jack Butala: Anyway, that’s a whole different topic for a different show.
Jill DeWit: Do you want to tell us your story?
Jack Butala: Very, very early in my career, this was in the very early 90’s, I was a commercial real estate broker. You know, full commission, Detroit. There’s no worse place to be a commercial broker, by the way. Except maybe, Beirut. Anyway, we had a client. It was an extremely large insurance company. You would recognize their name if I said it right now. Huge insurance companies invest in commercial real estate because they have so much money. They’re collecting all these insurance premiums every month from you and me. They have so much money because they don’t have any expense offsets, because we get nothing for insurance, but nevermind. They go buy commercial real estate, and they buy it in portfolios, because that’s how much money they have and they want to diversify their risk, and the whole thing.
We were a property manager, and we took on a bunch of properties with asbestos and all kinds of stuff. We were selling those buildings. These are huge buildings. Million square feet, with asbestos, for $5,000. So, on the onset of it, it looks like, “Oh, my Gosh! I’m going to do fantastic.” No. There’s no way. The asbestos abatement on that project would cost way more than you would ever potentially get. So, there’s 50 things wrong.
I know it’s a silly story, but that property on the end that’s falling down, you just don’t want a problem property.
Jill DeWit: Exactly.
Jack Butala: That had it all. It had circumstance. The insurance company didn’t need money, they just don’t want the headache.
So, there is an example/analogy somewhere in the silly story I just said. Find a circumstance through the direct mail, and leave the problems to somebody else. You’re better than that. You don’t have to take the garbage.
Jill DeWit: I like that.
Jack Butala: It’s an inspirational thing.
Jill DeWit: Wow! We should change our ending here.
Jack Butala: All right, you change it.
Jill DeWit: I’m going to do it! Join us in another episode, where Jack & Jill discuss how to use information, that’s me-
Jack Butala: And inspiration, that’s me.
Jill DeWit: To get just about anything you want.
Jack Butala: We use it every day, to buy property for half of what it’s worth, and sell it immediately.
Jill DeWit: You are not alone in your real estate inspirational ambition.
Jack Butala: And your asbestos abatement.
Jill DeWit: That’s hilarious.
Jack Butala: God, how boring was that?
Jill DeWit: No, it was good.
Jack Butala: Was it okay?
Jill DeWit: Yeah. That was lots of-
Jack Butala: I just get done with these things … Here’s what happens, we get done with these shows and I’m like, you know this is the end of our podcast probably. The whole show.
Jill DeWit: That last one.
Jack Butala: They’re so bad. So then I go to produce it. After it’s all produced, and I listen to it, spot check it just to make sure it’s okay. I’m like, you know what? That actually is okay.
Jill DeWit: Well, you know I keep getting comments that people really like the more informational ones now and then. So, that’s not a bad thing. I always think, “Oh, that was dry and serious.” But then I get comments like, “Oh, thank you because I really needed that information.”
Jack Butala: You know the best shows, I looked at the numbers recently, are the ones where we interview our members. Not the interviews where everyone is like- Because we have a bunch of interviews scheduled. I know all the people that we’re going to speak with, and interview, I know they listen to the show. The ones that do the best are when they tell the truth. “Oh yeah, I screwed up that mailing. Then the next one I fixed it, and it’s awesome.” Instead of, “You guys are so cool.”
We know we’re cool.
Jill DeWit: Thank you.
Jack Butala: We want to hear the information too.
Jill DeWit: You’re so silly.
Jack Butala: We know Jill’s cool.
Jill DeWit: Thank you. You’re silly. You’re awesome.
Jack Butala: Information and inspiration to buy undervalued property.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me directly at jack@LandAcademy.com.
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.