County Land Use Plans Useless or Useful
Jack Butala: Jack Butala with Jill DeWit.
Jill DeWit: I’m so happy to be here. Hi.
Jack Butala: Welcome to our new studio. I hope you can hear the difference because it wasn’t cheap. In this episode, Jill and I talk about whether county land use plans are useful or useless. Before we get into it though, let’s take a question posted by one of our members on the landinvestors.com online community. It’s free.
Jill DeWit: Thank you. You know what’s funny? I’m really happy with this question. We told our staff when they put our scripts together, they go into our online community obviously and they pull out these questions and I’m like, “Come on. I want some little more meaty ones.” Some of the ones are kind of … Not that there’s not a place for the detailed and different ones but this is a meaty one, and I’m looking forward to this. Luke asked, “Could I sell … ” He wants to know whether buying land helps … Here we go. Luke wants to know whether buying land helps foreigners get visas. So, the question is, “Could I sell deals in portfolios to internationals wanting to come to the U.S. and need this to fill their visa requirement bills?”
Jack Butala: Boy, I’m not an international attorney, but I don’t see why not.
Jill DeWit: What an interesting market to target.
Jack Butala: I mean, Jill and I just help people to sell property to people from other countries all the time.
Jill DeWit: All the time. They might be doing this and we wouldn’t know it.
Jack Butala: If you ever scrub data too in RealQuest or anywhere else, you always notice that there’s some addresses of property that are international, because they don’t fit properly. The international addresses don’t fit properly in the database.
Jill DeWit: Well, you know what? This brings up a whole nother topic because I have met people who, especially here in LA, who have visa … Or their passports. They’re nationals of other countries, but they live here. They have been told incorrectly that you cannot property here unless you’re a U.S. citizen. We’re here to tell you that’s not true. Every time I let them know that they’re like, “Really? I can buy some property?” I’m like, “Heck yeah. You can absolutely own property in the United States and not be a U.S. citizen.” Many people don’t know that.
Jack Butala: Right.
Jill DeWit: So, this is a great question and a good … I’m curious. I’m not going to get into checking what the visa requirements and if this counts as what they need.
Jack Butala: That’s way beyond the scope of what we can actually answer, quite honestly. I mean, don’t take our word for it on this. Please check around before you make a career out of it.
Jill DeWit: Exactly. This would be get an attorney involved and find out, but … International visa attorney, whatever, but boy, what an interesting thing. If it does solve that problem, that would be really cool. You could start pulling your land all over Africa. I don’t know. Dream it up.
Jack Butala: There’s a website that helps people who own real estate in America, advertise their properties in China. It’s been on my radar for quite some time because we all forget about it, because China’s thriving economically, but they’re technically a communist country and they have a lot of rules about the internet. We have a lot more freedom about stuff. Websites don’t reach China.
Jill DeWit: Really.
Jack Butala: This is designed. It’s a Chinese website run by Chinese people …
Jill DeWit: Nice.
Jack Butala: … to make available American property.
Jill DeWit: U.S. plan. That’s awesome.
Jack Butala: All property. Houses and stuff too. It’s very, very popular and very expensive. So, I’ve spoken with the guy that runes a site a couple of times, a sales person there. I’m trying to get a rate for LandPin specifically to get access.
Jill DeWit: Share our properties on that.
Jack Butala: They can do it. It’s just expensive as heck, but we will get there.
Jill DeWit: That’s fantastic.
Jack Butala: If you have a question you wanted in the show, reach out to either one of us at landinvestors.com. Today’s topic, I bet you didn’t know, that just about every county has a county land use plan. Well, is it beneficial to us or not? What do you think, Jill?
Jill DeWit: I think it’s awesome. Will you first tell me exactly what it is?
Jack Butala: Sure.
Jill DeWit: Okay.
Jack Butala: I just looked up before the show, Los Angeles County’s land use plan. It says, “County land use plan of Los Angeles for 2023.” What?
Jill DeWit: That’s awesome.
Jack Butala: So, every county, or just about every county, every county that I’ve ever looked up has a long-term county land use plan. Imagine a map of a county, any county, the county that you’re in right now where the new house is going to be developed. Are there freeways going to go … What if we want to do a heavy industrial park or let’s say an airport? That’s what the county land use plan addresses. So, can you take it to the bank that an airport’s going to go there in three years? No, but it’s a fantastic version of a lightweight crystal ball.
Jill DeWit: Mm-hmm (affirmative). You know what they’re going for. You know where they’re planning. You know where they’re planning on growing the communities and schools and all of that good stuff.
Jack Butala: A great example of this is Phoenix in Tucson. So, between Phoenix and Tucson, Phoenix is north of Tucson, it’s the vast majority of the land is Native American reservation. Well, there’s a pocket in between that like private owners like us can invest in. It’s rapidly getting filled up and it will get filled up completely. I think it’s in Pinal County and it’s called …
Jill DeWit: It’s like near Eloy and all that stuff?
Jack Butala: Yeah. It is Eloy.
Jill DeWit: Oh okay.
Jack Butala: Exactly.
Jill DeWit: I’ve landed there. I know where that is.
Jack Butala: As a pilot?
Jill DeWit: Yeah. When I was getting my license, I had to do my cross-country. They make you go to the airports and go find it, have fun. Seriously, you [crosstalk 00:05:43] …
Jack Butala: Without a GPS?
Jill DeWit: Yeah. That’s exactly right. Without a GPS, you have to old school find it. You have to go to two different stops and you have to get gas in one place and bring back the receipt to prove you were there. Seriously, because some of these airports, there’s no one you can check in with. There’s like no tower and stuff like that.
Jack Butala: Do you sneak your iPhone in?
Jill DeWit: I didn’t have my iPhone back … Wait. Did I have my iPhone back? No, I didn’t. I didn’t use GPS at all. I use it the old school way, with a ruler and my watch. I’m not kidding.
Jack Butala: Wow.
Jill DeWit: I had a clipboard. You think it’s funny. I had my clipboard on my lap with everything I’m looking for and my watch and a pencil.
Jack Butala: Make the number three kid says, “You’re a tomboy.”
Jill DeWit: Aw, thank you.
Jack Butala: “Thank you,” she says.
Jill DeWit: I do think that’s a compliment.
Jack Butala: I would take it that way too.
Jill DeWit: I can figure stuff out. Let me at it. I’m not just a prissy … I don’t want to mess up my nails.
Jack Butala: [inaudible 00:06:37] actually changing light bulbs today. It was pretty funny.
Jill DeWit: Thank you.
Jack Butala: It’s not your job technically, but if you want to do it …
Jill DeWit: Thank you. It just needed to be done. What were we talking about?
Jack Butala: County land …
Jill DeWit: Oh okay, got it. You know what’s funny about this? Because couple things, one property that I bought couple years ago was from a guy here in LA County and it was the original … He bought it back in, I don’t know, ’60s and held onto it this long. It was the original location when they were trying to decide where to LAX. It was really going to be the location and then they changed it. So, he was going that plan. He really purposely … It could’ve panned out for him. You never know, but bought that property and hung onto it because he thought it was going to be [anex 00:07:22] at the airport. And then, years later, we bought it and sold it and it wasn’t worth as much as he was hoping, but it’s funny.
Jack Butala: Right.
Jill DeWit: So, what I think is interesting too is, by the time … Well, you have to dig the stuff up, but it’s worth your while like you just said, Jack. Often by the time it reaches the general public, it’s getting closer now. The developers, like here where we are, one of the peers is looking at doing a massive overhaul. And of course, everybody around it, now they know it’s coming. Had they been paying attention five years ago, that probably would’ve been better. Now there’s developers involved and plans are drawn and blueprints and models. Now the community knows about it. Now they’re all in an uproar because they don’t want the traffic that it would bring or looking at movie theaters coming and all those good … It’s going to bring a lot of money and good stuff to the area, the locals don’t want it.
Jack Butala: It’ll pass.
Jill DeWit: Well, it failed now. It failed the first, but I don’t know what they’re going to do about it.
Jack Butala: They’re going to improve the plan and give everybody what they want. I mean I …
Jill DeWit: It’s going to be interesting.
Jack Butala: People say a lot of things about California in general. Southern California is very pro real estate development.
Jill DeWit: As a whole.
Jack Butala: As a whole.
Jill DeWit: Do you know what’s funny?
Jack Butala: A lot of people wouldn’t …
Jill DeWit: They are until it’s in their backyard. Go [live 00:08:45] over there by that guy.
Jack Butala: People here like to think they’re political activists and stuff, but the fact is real estate drives an economy.
Jill DeWit: I know. Jack and I …
Jack Butala: It’s not in response to economy. It drives the economy.
Jill DeWit: Jack and I … Well, here’s a good example. I think everyone … Anyone in our business, you drive around and you see new construction, you’re like, “Oh, that’s awesome.”
Jack Butala: I love you, construction.
Jill DeWit: It makes you feel so good. I think it’s the greatest thing / however, do I want to live next door to a [heric 00:09:15] for three years? No. That’s really not my thing, but I get it.
Jack Butala: You’re a crackup, Jill.
Jill DeWit: Thank you.
Jack Butala: You’re very honest.
Jill DeWit: Thank you. Well, you know what? Even looking around where we live right now, there’s a few buildings around us that could easily be teardowns, but I don’t think it’s coming yet.
Jack Butala: Right. We can speed it along if you like, I’m from Detroit.
Jill DeWit: You’re going to kill … What are you going to do?
Jack Butala: We’ll buy a sledgehammer.
Jill DeWit: Oh my gosh. That’s hilarious.
Jack Butala: And set my alarm for 2:00 in the morning.
Jill DeWit: Oh no.
Jack Butala: That’s terrible.
Jill DeWit: That’s so funny. I love it.
Jack Butala: I think that’s vandalism and it’s probably a felony.
Jill DeWit: I think so, but you’re from Detroit.
Jack Butala: Hey, anyway, county use plans, look them up. So, there’s a adage about we’re all about selling real estate fast here, buying it and selling it and churning it. But there are some people in our group, and rightfully so, that love to buy property in the growth path, so the speak, or the path of growth. That’s how this all came up. How I came up with this topic because I was talking to somebody about, “Yeah, we just wanna buy a property and kind of hold onto it and have it appreciate, but we wanna make sure that it’s like as close to the growth path as possible.” So, we started looking up [inaudible 00:10:28] plans. That’ll tell you exactly where the growth will be.
Jill DeWit: Got it.
Jack Butala: The other thing that you want to check since we’re on the topic is entitlements. I’m not sure how it works back east, but when a subdivider or developer … Let’s say a master plan community wants to develop property, they buy property and they file for with the county what’s called entitlements. It’s a master plan with streets and all the whole thing is [subdefy 00:10:54] the property. That’s all public information. No one talks about that either.
Jill DeWit: That’s true.
Jack Butala: We can find out where the growth path is very easily by looking at following and tracking entitlements. I know it’s a little off topic, but another thing that entitlements are really good for is gauging when the economy’s going to turn it back down or up. When the number of entitlements that are filed over than [formor 00:11:19] month … Let’s say the number is 400 and last month it was 380. Now it’s 400. Now it’s 420. If it dramatically drops, that’s a [release 00:11:30] indicator. If it goes to 200, let’s say and then 100, that’s an indicator that …
Jill DeWit: Dump your land and get out?
Jack Butala: Yeah. Well, not that dramatic, but again we’re trying to predict the future as intelligently as possible. So, entitlements and county use plans are a fantasy way to do that.
Jill DeWit: You know what for me the big picture is here? It’s very wise to spend some time and really get to know the county that you’re working with.
Jack Butala: That’s right.
Jill DeWit: Then once you’re kind of a pro in that area and you really know what’s going on and you got that in a system, maybe now move onto another area and do the same thing because you want to spread it out for sales and things like that. It’s good to spread it out and have a variety of properties in different areas, but get to know your county, not just the people there but what the plans are.
Jack Butala: Somebody told me a long time ago that more education is always better, always.
Jill DeWit: Was that me? Because I say it all the time.
Jack Butala: Do you?
Jill DeWit: I do. I say that …
Jack Butala: [00:13:00] it was long before you.
Jill DeWit: … all the time. Okay, I got it. It was before me, but I say it all … Couple times a week, I’m telling people that.
Jack Butala: In an hour horsing around the internet you can find out exactly what’s going on in your county with a tremendous amount of information.
Jill DeWit: You know what? Pick up the phone and call them.
Jack Butala: Yeah, I mean, you know how I feel about talking to people on the phone.
Jill DeWit: How funny is that? That’s how it goes. You’re right. Jack’s like, “No, I’m just gonna search online.” I’m like, “Pick up the phone and cut to the chase.”
Jack Butala: Join us on another episode where Jack and Jill discuss how to use information, that’s me.
Jill DeWit: And inspiration, that’s me.
Jack Butala: To get just about anything you want.
Jill DeWit: We use it every day to buy a property for half of what it’s worth it and sell it immediately.
Jack Butala: Thank you for helping us break in our new audio studio in Los Angeles.
Jill DeWit: Yay.
Jack Butala: We love your real estate ambition. I love this new studio.
Jill DeWit: I know.
Jack Butala: I love it, love it.
Jill DeWit: I know. This is nice.
Jack Butala: We’re like grown-up.
Jill DeWit: Well, it took us how long?
Jack Butala: This is show number 471. It took us 500 shows.
Jill DeWit: Right.
Jack Butala: That’s not good.
Jill DeWit: I know. Well, we tested all kinds of things. It’s kind of like … I don’t even want to … I was going to compare it to divorce and that’s really not a good example. It’s like you’re trying to hang in there and we’re going to different counselors and trying to make it work.
Jack Butala: Jesus, Jill.
Jill DeWit: No, I know. Sorry. I didn’t know where it came from, but anyway. We hung in there and we got … I think we got it figured out now.
Jack Butala: Information and inspiration to help Jill [sais 00:14:14] inappropriate stuff on our show.
Jill DeWit: Oh no.
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.