Selling Little House on the Prairie Story (LI 699)
Steve Butala: Steve and Jill here.
Jill DeWitt: Hello.
Steve Butala: Welcome to the Land Investors show, Entertainment Land Investor Talk. I’m Steven Jack Butala.
Jill DeWitt: I am Jill DeWitt broadcasting from sunny southern California.
Steve Butala: Today, Jill and I talk about selling that Little House on the Prairie story. You know, if you’re really young you may not know about it. But there was a show on TV for a lot of years in the 70s and 80s called Little House on the Prairie based on a famous book series.
Jill DeWitt: Paw, Paw.
Steve Butala: Laura Ingers Wilder grew up-
Jill DeWitt: Michael Landon.
Steve Butala: … in a picture perfect little setting with a cabin and smoke coming out of the smokestack, and they had a homestead, and they never had any money but they were good people, and they lived off the land. That’s the story we sell.
Jill DeWitt: They never had any money.
Steve Butala: As a real estate owner … They never had any money. Did you notice that?
Jill DeWitt: It is kind of true. They had three dresses.
Steve Butala: But they were free, you know?
Jill DeWitt: That’s true.
Steve Butala: They were in control.
Jill DeWitt: They never wanted for anything. There was always food.
Steve Butala: They helped each other out. Yeah.
Jill DeWitt: Yeah, yeah. That’s true. That’s good.
Steve Butala: That’s the lifestyle we all want. None of us … We want that one time a year where the $300 property tax bill comes up. We want that to be our one bill.
Jill DeWitt: I know, right? And we hope it’s a $30 tax bill.
Steve Butala: Right?
Jill DeWitt: That’s awesome.
Steve Butala: That’s the story we’re selling, and you can, believe it or not, in an Internet posting for a 40 acre property somewhere really sell the heck out of that concept. That’s what people are looking for. That’s what I’m still looking for. I’m still looking for that, after 15,000 deals.
Jill DeWitt: Isn’t that interesting? Why is that?
Steve Butala: I still get on the Internet on the weekend and say, where could I buy a piece of property … Even [crosstalk 00:01:45]
Jill DeWitt: I don’t have that.
Steve Butala: I do.
Jill DeWitt: I don’t have that.
Steve Butala: It’s a guy thing maybe. I don’t know.
Jill DeWitt: Maybe it is.
Steve Butala: Before we get into it and probably start arguing about it, let’s take a question posted by one of our members on the LandInvestors.com online community. It’s free.
Jill DeWitt: Okay. Marilyn asks, “Has anyone seen this type of wording before? If so, am I correct in saying Seller A has full permission and authority to sell as noted in second paragraph before. So in quotes, ‘Grantor reserves a legal titled estate in the property for the remainder of the life of Seller A and the wife of Seller A.'”
Oh my gosh. How much did [crosstalk 00:02:29]
Steve Butala: I will explain this.
Jill DeWitt: “This is nuts. How should new deed be written? Should a quit claim deed be prepared adding sons as grantors? Seller A’s spouse has passed, and that would complicate this more.”
Oh my gosh. “Thanks in advance for your thoughts and direction.” Well, I’m lost.
Steve Butala: So, if you’ve ever taken a real estate class to become a real estate agent, you know what a life estate is. Or maybe you didn’t pay attention, like most people, but real estate examiners love to throw all this life estate-
Jill DeWitt: I hate this.
Steve Butala: I do, too. It has nothing to do with reality.
Jill DeWitt: It’s stupid.
Steve Butala: It’s along the lines of how you would set up a trust, irrevocable trust or revocable trust. It’s all in the name of limiting what your beneficiary or your heir-
Jill DeWitt: Can do.
Steve Butala: … can do with the property, or while they’re alive, and then it might change after they die.
Jill DeWitt: It’s just not nice.
Steve Butala: The life estate, if you look it up, it actually sounds a lot more complicated than it is. And I’m going to allow you to go do that. But in Marilyn’s case here-
Jill DeWitt: Moving on.
Steve Butala: The most boring crap there ever was. But let’s solve Marilyn’s problem here. So, she’s asking-
Jill DeWitt: Don’t buy it. Moving on.
Steve Butala: That’s what Jill would do. What the hell is this life estate?
Jill DeWitt: Well, I’m out.
Steve Butala: You know, we can make $10,000 on this, but I’m not going to spend 20 minutes figuring it out.
Jill DeWitt: No, I could do … These two over here, they’re easy. Make $5,000. That makes up for this one, and I’m done. That’s exactly how I roll.
Steve Butala: That is exactly why you and I are together. Because I completely agree, although I would work this out.
Jill DeWitt: Do I really need to spend all the time and energy on this? Nope.
Steve Butala: Right. But philosophically, actually I’m going to talk to our producer about the questions we’re choosing because this is not a question I would choose to discuss on this show.
Jill DeWitt: Okay.
Steve Butala: I like questions like does this really work, Steve?
Jill DeWitt: Right.
Steve Butala: Are you a liar? What do you lie about?
Jill DeWitt: My favorite questions are I now can handle 100 a month. How do I get to 500 a month?
Steve Butala: That’s the question I like.
Jill DeWitt: That’s exactly-
Steve Butala: I worked out all the kinks. Turns out [crosstalk 00:04:33]
Jill DeWitt: Where do I move all this cash?
Steve Butala: Turns out that you were right about this, this and this and super wrong about this thing.
Jill DeWitt: Right. I’m good with that, too?
Steve Butala: Then that’s how I learn.
Jill DeWitt: There we go.
Steve Butala: So, Marilyn’s got a life estate issue. It all has to do … First of all, if there’s any money in this deal at all, I would call a title agent. And if you’re in a lawyer state like New York-
Jill DeWitt: Ding, ding. That’s the answer.
Steve Butala: … I would get … This is almost lawyer worthy, even if you’re not in a lawyer state. So, that is my real advice. But since somebody wrote this life estate.
Jill DeWitt: Can I say something about what you just said about the lawyer? It’s like we could … Most of us do our own taxes, but do we want to do our own taxes? No. Why? It sure looks better in the eyes of the government if we have an unrelated third party, aka an accountant, doing your taxes. So, this might be something like this, too. Even if you’re a pro at this and you know exactly what to do, do you want to be the person that three transfers down the road, now a title agent’s involved and they do have some questions and they want to come back to you for it? I don’t want to be the “expert” and be called in. Thank you. I’m done.
Steve Butala: So, chances are the person who set this all up for the seller, there’s a lawyer involved or an estate attorney or something. That’s the person who can undo it. Whether or not people are alive and the signers and all that, it gets kind of complicated. The average title agent is not going to know what to do here. So, whoever set this up, they need to undo it when you buy it.
Jill DeWitt: That makes sense.
Steve Butala: There has to be more than $10,000 of immediate margin in this for you to even pursue it all. And all kidding aside, Jill’s right. The more I look at it and think about it, why do you want to undo this? Just move onto the next deal.
Jill DeWitt: This is one of those times where you just hang on a minute, more mail’s coming tomorrow. Let’s just sit tight. And if this is the only deal that you’re staring at right now, send out more mail.
Steve Butala: Oh my God, that’s brilliant.
Jill DeWitt: Thank you.
Steve Butala: It truly is.
Jill DeWitt: Thank you.
Steve Butala: I mean it. That’s perfect.
Jill DeWitt: Yeah. Well, because I’ve done that. Because I’ve sat there and gone wow. I just wasted three days trying to get to the bottom of this. I’ve called attorneys here. I talked to these people. I talked to these people. I did all this stuff, and I’m still nowhere closer to getting this deal done. And I’ve sat and gone, you know what? I could have just pushed it aside and spent three days on these over here and been so far ahead of the game. So, you do that once or twice, you won’t do it again.
Steve Butala: So, here’s what happens in reality. I’ll tell you exactly. If this deal came in today with us, this is what would happen. So, there’s already 200 or 300 deals in there that we are in some point of either buying or selling. Actually, the last time I looked there’s 380 I think. So, this deal comes in. It gets processed in our system, and then I see this life estate thing. Because I’m the one who approves the deals in all of our [inaudible 00:07:27] I approve the purchase price and the sale price. And then it just goes into the machine, and we turn it into cash. This would just continually get shelved to the bottom. And nobody would probably ever say no, it’s an awful deal. Just get it out of the system. It’s over. It would just continually get shelved to the bottom until it’s rotten, like vegetables in the back of refrigerator because there’s something better [crosstalk 00:07:49]
Jill DeWitt: And it’s just weighing on you. Get that off the sheet.
Steve Butala: Yup.
Jill DeWitt: Yup.
Steve Butala: That’s the real answer. That’s the real … That’s why you listen to the show.
Jill DeWitt: Thank you.
Steve Butala: To get a real, no BS answer.
Jill DeWitt: True.
Steve Butala: Today’s topic: Selling that Little House on the Prairie type story. That storybook, I want to live close to a little brook and be on my own and not report to my boss or my wife. This is the meat of the show.
Jill, I know you’ve been reading up on how to use storytelling in sales. Can you share with us a little bit about what that’s all about?
Jill DeWitt: Yeah. So, I got into this book called Storynomics, and it just came out last month. And I’m really liking it, and it’s really about advertising and all that stuff, getting your word out today. Because it’s a lot different. Commercials and things like that. It’s a whole different world than it was 5, 10, 15 years ago. And so to survive, we have to adapt, right? And to … I’m trying to figure out how to describe it. You’ve got to be able to tell a story and solve a problem. So, that’s the whole thing. The whole premise of this book is being a good storyteller, solving problems. You’re not hitting people over the head with an ad. You’re telling a story about why your product or why your service or whatever it is can help them. So, anyway, my point of that is you can look at this and apply this to selling property. Because at the end of the day we’re selling a dream. You’re solving a problem. Why would someone want to buy land?
Steve Butala: Let’s talk about that for a second. Why would somebody want to buy a piece of property? Let’s say they have a house in the suburbs somewhere and a job and a spouse and some kids. Or maybe they don’t. Maybe they’re younger or older. Why would they want to buy a piece of property? They want to to satisfy some version of what Jill’s talking about.
Jill DeWitt: There’s something going on.
Steve Butala: Yeah. There’s something going on.
Jill DeWitt: Sometimes it’s just a fact that they’ve never owner property. That’s one that I come across a lot. People have rented and done this stuff the whole lives, and the thought of actually owning a piece of property that they could stand on and do whatever they want with. That’s a dream. Just an unbelievable dream. Some people are like I need more room. They’re living in this crazy area and traffic, and the quality of life, the commute, the smog, the whatever it is. They’re like, God, I just want to get out of it. Even if only for a weekend.
Steve Butala: I mean, that’s why I look at real estate. That’s why I got into it.
Jill DeWitt: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s a lot of people.
Steve Butala: Freedom.
Jill DeWitt: Freedom. Yeah. Escaping it. Getting out and seeing blue sky.
Steve Butala: Clean air.
Jill DeWitt: Well, you know what, Jack, I think that’s why, too, why we have a boat. I think that’s why you like to get out.
Steve Butala: That’s exactly why.
Jill DeWitt: Because where we live, it’s not conducive to standing out and just going, ah. And just inhaling. Because we’re staring at that neighbor and that neighbor and that neighbor. You know what I mean? You just can’t do that.
Steve Butala: Why do we live here?
Jill DeWitt: Because I want to live at the beach.
Steve Butala: We could live anywhere. We could literally-
Jill DeWitt: You know what’s funny?
Steve Butala: Literally live anywhere.
Jill DeWitt: I know why.
Steve Butala: And do this job.
Jill DeWitt: This is a good point.
Steve Butala: And we choose to live-
Jill DeWitt: We could be on an island.
Steve Butala: … in maybe the second most expensive real estate market in North America.
Jill DeWitt: We don’t know why. Do you want me to explain why, or are you asking me why?
Steve Butala: I really I’m asking for me and the benefit of anyone listening.
Jill DeWitt: Because we chose a lifestyle. No, because I want to … Hold on a moment. I want the stuff to do. Not just the lifestyle. I shouldn’t say it like that. I didn’t mean to be a snob. No, but I want to have stuff to do. I want to be able to get on my bike and go to the pier and have fun and ride up and down the Strand and goof off, and hey look we can see Catalina today. For me, it’s a dream. You know what, but at the end of the day it’s a dream. I love the beach lifestyle. You hate sand in the bed. I think sand in the bed rocks.
Steve Butala: Sand in the bed. I don’t want sand in the bed and salt.
Jill DeWitt: It makes me happy.
Steve Butala: Right. Because I love you is why I’m going along with this, but it’s not going to go on forever.
Jill DeWitt: I know. I know the days are numbered.
Steve Butala: It’s not days. It’s years, but-
Jill DeWitt: I know. Because I got number three hooked in.
Steve Butala: I know. Yeah, and our number three kid, this is his dream.
Jill DeWitt: I know. Number one and two are like you guys are weird.
Steve Butala: They gang up on me.
Jill DeWitt: Yeah.
Steve Butala: You know what I want? Little House on the Prairie. I want a kick ass little A-frame that ground up we built with all the stuff that we want in it, a big garage full of ATVs. There’s probably going to be some firearms involved and a bunch of stuff like that. So, stuff to do. I gotta tell you. We can have stuff to do.
Jill DeWitt: That’s true.
Steve Butala: And you’re the most reckless, crazy ATV driver I’ve ever seen.
Jill DeWitt: That’s true. I do like that. But you know at the end of the day, I’m a social person. So, that’s my thing. I need to be close enough to people, because I like to go out and talk to people. I really do love that. You and I do a lot of nights where we’re out and meeting new people. For me it’s very fun. Where we live is where people vacation a lot, and it’s-
Steve Butala: This just sounds like a marriage counselor meeting.
Jill DeWitt: No, but seriously. It’s a blast for me to meet from people from other cities and states and go what brought you here? What do you think? It’s fun. I like it.
You do, too, I think.
Steve Butala: I can deal with it because there’s a boating aspect to our life on the ocean, which I have never experienced in my life until we moved here, and I’ll tell you. It’s pretty cool.
Jill DeWitt: You need that. You need to get out and have a little quiet time, I think.
Steve Butala: Yeah.
Jill DeWitt: And that’s where I think you go get on the boat, and you take off, and that’s your quiet time.
Steve Butala: There’s fish.
Jill DeWitt: And you can center yourself.
Steve Butala: Yeah. That’s what I tell myself.
Jill DeWitt: You go out and meditate.
Steve Butala: There’s a lot of islands around here and stuff, too. It’s fun.
Jill DeWitt: You go meditate and kill fish.
Steve Butala: That’s right. Fish murder. God, we just lost half of our listeners.
Jill DeWitt: Okay. Back to the show.
Steve Butala: But it all ties into this Little House on the Prairie story.
Jill DeWitt: It does.
Steve Butala: What Jill and I are talking about is her version of the story and my version of the story. And they’re not that far apart. We both kind of want the same thing. It’s just manifesting itself into a different way.
Jill DeWitt: Well, the point is whatever the property is, take a step back. Think about who would want to be there and why they’d want to be there. Get out of your own head, by the way.
Steve Butala: Yeah.
Jill DeWitt: Think about what they might be looking for, and describe the property that way. Tell the story. You know what’s interesting? I was listening to Sirius Radio the other day again. I’m not plugging that at all. We’re not on Sirius, obviously, but it’s new in my car. I finally have a car that has this. Anyway, and this guy was talking about living in San Francisco. And it was really funny because he was half blaming-
Steve Butala: My car has an AM radio in it. But go ahead.
Jill DeWitt: People are weird. Anyway, they were half blaming the city of San Francisco for allowing the rents to get that high.
Steve Butala: What?
Jill DeWitt: I’m not kidding. This was the weirdest rant possible.
Steve Butala: Like that’s the city’s problem?
Jill DeWitt: Right? And it was funny because the guy he was interviewing he said, “Well, you know there’s this thing called”-
Steve Butala: That’s atrocious, Jill.
Jill DeWitt: There’s a thing called supply and demand, and things like that. It was really, really funny. I’m like, oh, this is hilarious. They were going to get into a fistfight over it. Anyway, the point is-
Steve Butala: Wow.
Jill DeWitt: I know. That guy shouldn’t be there. He doesn’t see the value. He doesn’t like it. It’s not good for him. He would rather … And nothing is wrong. That was his viewpoint. He would be a person that I would be writing a beautiful description to buy this property maybe 45 minutes, even an hour away.
Steve Butala: East. Drive until you qualify.
Jill DeWitt: Right? But if you want land and you want space … You know you want less expensive. For him it was money. I don’t think it was necessarily-
Steve Butala: Well, he can’t afford it.
Jill DeWitt: Right?
Steve Butala: If you can’t afford San Francisco, don’t live there.
Jill DeWitt: Right? And don’t go bitching about it.
Steve Butala: That’s the end of the whole show. The city’s job is not to make it rent controllable for you.
Jill DeWitt: Right? I really want-
Steve Butala: We’re going to get so much email on this.
Jill DeWitt: Well, you know what he was so mad … Here’s what his complaints were. That more than, I don’t know, 70% I think he said of the city … Don’t quote me on the percentage, but he said has restrictions that you can’t build over three stories.
Steve Butala: Yeah. That is the city’s job, by the way.
Jill DeWitt: So, he’s blaming the city because we can’t go up and reduce rent. That’s making it even harder. And I’m like that’s your argument?
Steve Butala: That guy needs to be taken back out behind the shed.
Jill DeWitt: It was really funny.
Steve Butala: There’s density issues. Parking issues. You can’t put that many people in a small space.
Jill DeWitt: That’s true, too.
Steve Butala: There’s models about why that doesn’t work. Civil engineering models all over the world. Let’s have that guy on the show. String him up.
Jill DeWitt: But you know what? It’s perfect for some people. Like you and I have talked about that. There maybe a time in our … Even now, if I was living in San Francisco and didn’t have a car, I think that’d be awesome. I would use public transportation. I have no trouble with that.
Steve Butala: Me too.
Jill DeWitt: I have no trouble carrying my own groceries home. I have no trouble … Any of that. I think it’s cool. It’s the greatest thing. We don’t do that right now, but I have no trouble with it. Well, you know, we use public transportation a lot actually. By the way of Uber and Lyft. But anyway, you need to just kind of take a step back. Tell a story.
Steve Butala: You need to meet your seller from where they’re coming I think is what you’re saying. I mean meet your buyer from where they’re coming.
Jill DeWitt: Write a good story that appeals to a lot of people and not necessarily yourself. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. There’s always an attribute. You can always take a step back and write a story. Spend a few minutes on it. Don’t put 12 acres, Coconino County, APN XYZ. Motorcycle friendly.
Steve Butala: Yeah. 45 miles west of Flagstaff. Right. You’re exactly right, Jill. Jill and I have had people in the past who have worked for us, and we’ve attempted to employ them to write descriptions like we’re talking about. And it by and large has dismally failed because they have never in their life sat down on a piece of rural real estate and had this thought. Oh my gosh, I could live here. I could build a type of shack. I don’t have to have my job anymore. There’s a little stream over there. This is a dream I didn’t even know I had.
Jill DeWitt: But you know one of the reasons why I think that is, is I think that that job, because it’s two people … It’s almost like it takes two talents, or two different people to do it. One person’s got to be technical, doing the video, the flyovers. Follow me on this.
Steve Butala: I’m trying to.
Jill DeWitt: Okay. Wait, wait, wait. There’s a technical person.
Steve Butala: I have a dream.
Jill DeWitt: There’s a technical side. Hold on.
Steve Butala: You have to have a dream.
Jill DeWitt: Hold on a moment. Follow me here. There’s a technical person that’s got to get the photos right, get the facts straight, get it posted, get the photos looking the right way and facing the right direction. Come on. Let’s be honest here. Then there’s a creative storytelling person that has to come in and make it beautiful. Staging a house. There’s a good example.
Steve Butala: That’s a perfect, perfect parlay into this Little House on the Prairie, tell a story concept. When you stage a house versus selling it vacant or versus selling it with your own garbage all over the place because you’ve been living there for 20 years, you’re not doing yourself any favors. But when you stage a house and somebody walks through, they start to see themselves living there, and they’re playing that little thing out in their head. Well, I could see my stuff over there. Oh, that’s where I park my car.
Jill DeWitt: Oh, it does fit a dining room table that holds six people. That’s what they want to see.
Steve Butala: I can have Easter here.
Jill DeWitt: If it’s empty, they don’t get it.
Steve Butala: The Christmas tree is going to go over there. They see that story plays out in their head, and then you’ve done your job as a seller. Jill, that’s perfect.
Jill DeWitt: Thank you.
Steve Butala: I knew that after 20 minutes we would figure it out.
Jill DeWitt: Thanks a lot. You didn’t get it the whole time?
Steve Butala: Well, for guys. It’s a little different, you know? That Little House on the Prairie is always in the back of my head anyway. So, when I look at a piece of land, I didn’t realize it until just now. Honestly, it’s your credit. That that’s the story I’m playing out. And that’s why I buy it. When I’m going to buy a property and making decisions on which properties were buy, hundreds of them at a time, I see if that passes the Little House on the Prairie test.
Jill DeWitt: That’s so interesting, and that’s not what I look at. I’m actually-
Steve Butala: What do you look at? Just the money?
Jill DeWitt: Yeah.
Steve Butala: I mean I look at that first or else I wouldn’t even start to have that thought.
Jill DeWitt: Well, let me back up. Here’s why. It’s got to meet … You have me very well trained, and now I see assets that way. I do see them as a line item that you taught me to, and I don’t have any problem with that. Then I see how do I describe this one? I never put myself there anymore. I really don’t. I see okay, who’s going to want this? What’s going to appeal to them? Why would they like it? And that’s it. Maybe because I’ve been at this for how many years, too.
Steve Butala: Whatever we’re doing, it works.
Jill DeWitt: I can take a step back, and I don’t assume … I’ve learned, because you know why? Because I ate my words many times. I’ve learned to never assume what I want is going to be what somebody else is going to want.
Steve Butala: That’s for sure.
Jill DeWitt: I’ve done it wrong. So, there you go. I didn’t come by it naturally. I had to learn it.
Steve Butala: I think we’ve made our point.
Jill DeWitt: Thank you.
Steve Butala: And so do most of listeners.
Jill DeWitt: Oh, gosh, stop. Please stop.
Steve Butala: You’ve done it again. Spent another 22 minutes I guess this time listening to the Land Investors Show. Join us tomorrow for another interesting episode entitled the Land Investors Show Episode 700.
Jill DeWitt: Wow.
Steve Butala: I can’t believe it.
Jill DeWitt: Wow.
Steve Butala: 700 shows we’ve done.
Jill DeWitt: Wow. And we’re going to answer your questions. If you any, post them on our free online community found on LandInvestors.com.
Steve Butala: You are not alone in your real estate ambition.
Jill DeWitt: Did it not make sense?
Steve Butala: No, it made complete sense, and I know this show is lengthy, and maybe even honestly hard to listen to. I’m not sure. But we’ll see the numbers.
Jill DeWitt: It’s hard for me.
Steve Butala: In a couple weeks we’ll see the numbers. But, man, I actually learned a lot. Because there is so much to how you sell a house and why it sells so fast and how you sell land to the end user anyway.
Jill DeWitt: Right. Especially going that extra mile from staging homes. We’ve done that in the past. I’ve staged the homes that we have flipped.
Steve Butala: In the distant past. We don’t do that anymore.
Jill DeWitt: Yeah. Not anymore. But it was a while back. The point is going even a little extra, it sounds so silly but it makes a difference. Smelling cookies, seeing fresh flowers, having a doormat.
Steve Butala: I can say this because I’m a guy. The contractor type men are famous for taking the project 90% of the way and not doing that last finish, push it over the edge, oh my God thing.
Jill DeWitt: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And they don’t even that they missed it.
Steve Butala: They don’t even know enough to hire a designer or a stager to have to actually do it for them.
Jill DeWitt: They think it’s perfect. They think great, this is good.
Steve Butala: If you ask them they’ll say, oh, you should see the plumbing.
Jill DeWitt: Yeah. It’s awesome.
Steve Butala: That plumbing is-
Jill DeWitt: I turn the lights on.
Steve Butala: … artwork.
Jill DeWitt: They work.
Steve Butala: Yeah. Did you see that 18 car garage on this 1,200 square foot house?
Jill DeWitt: I can’t.
Steve Butala: That’s a total guy thing.
Jill DeWitt: Oh, my gosh. Share the fun by subscribing on iTunes or wherever you are listening. And while you’re at it, please rate us there.
Both: We are Steve and Jill.
Steve Butala: Information.
Jill DeWitt: And inspiration.
Steve Butala: To buy undervalued property.
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