How Market Data Removes Risk in Real Estate Acquisitions (LI 702)

How Market Data Removes Risk in Real Estate Acquisitions (LI 702) 


Steven Butala:                   Steve and Jill here.

Jill DeWit:                            Hello.

Steven Butala:                   Welcome to The Land Investors Show, entertaining land investment talk. I’m Steven Jack Butala.

Jill DeWit:                            I’m Jill DeWit, broadcasting from sunny southern California.

Steven Butala:                   Today, Jill and I talk about how market data removes the risk from real estate acquisitions. It’s one of my favorite topics. As you may or may not know, this is Data Week here at the Land Investors Show.

Jill DeWit:                            I’m sorry. I love the Data Week. I’m going to walk in and make sure everybody around knows, “Data Week. Data Week. Data Week.” Every week is Data Week, Jack. Why is this week different?

Steven Butala:                   We just talk about it a lot more, which makes me really happy this week. But, you’re right. Our whole life is packed full of data.

Jill DeWit:                            Everything we do is data.

Steven Butala:                   That’s why these are easy-

Jill DeWit:                            You stand in a grocery store, and you … You know what? Let me share this about you, will you please?

Steven Butala:                   Oh, no.

Jill DeWit:                            You stand in the grocery store and analyze the costs of meat prices based on comps, and if we should buy the meat there.

Steven Butala:                   It has a price per unit, like per ounce or per pound, or however they have it in there.

Jill DeWit:                            We were at the gas station, and you were telling me what gas to put in my car and where to go, based on data.

Steven Butala:                   Until recently, I thought everybody did that.

Jill DeWit:                            No, they don’t.

Steven Butala:                   Every once in a while there’s a guy in a grocery store, and he’s doing the same thing. We look at each other and kind of laugh, like, “Yep. You have the same problem.”

Jill DeWit:                            Yep. Know what the good news is? There’s a few places like Costco Jewelry, that it already passes your test. That’s really good.

Steven Butala:                   That’s true.

Jill DeWit:                            The other day, I said, “Meet me at the jewelry counter.”

Steven Butala:                   You don’t buy jewelry for a price unit, you buy it all on emotion.

Jill DeWit:                            Yeah, but it’s a good price there, though.

Steven Butala:                   You know why I don’t feel bad about that?

Jill DeWit:                            You were happy with that.

Steven Butala:                   I don’t feel bad about that at all. I don’t even look at the price if there’s something that you want when it comes to jewelry, because everything else in my life, it’s already locked down.

Jill DeWit:                            Oh, thank you.

Steven Butala:                   Splurging on that, and it makes you happy, the dividends pay huge.

Jill DeWit:                            Thank you. Can we please go shopping after the show?

Steven Butala:                   We’ll see how the show goes.

Jill DeWit:                            Okay.

Steven Butala:                   Before we get in to the topic today, let’s take a question posted by one of our members on online community. It’s free.

Jill DeWit:                            Okay. Neil asks, “How does one tactfully back out of signed return offers on properties you do not wish to buy? Should I call them speak …” This is so good. “Call them speaking in a foreign language and hope they hang up? Send them a Starbucks gift card?”

Steven Butala:                   Starbucks card. I would not do that.

Jill DeWit:                            “Convince them they’ll make more money if they sell it Craigslist themselves? Thank you.” Oh, Neil, this is awesome.

Steven Butala:                   Jill is an expert at this. Good question.

Jill DeWit:                            This is so awesome. You know what’s really interesting about this question is I’m about to do it right now. I think I might do it on a house, because we sent out an offer. I’m going to share some numbers.

Steven Butala:                   Sure.

Jill DeWit:                            Our offer price was $356,000. It came in yesterday. I’m getting excited. The guy is happy with the offer. It was my first indication … You probably found this, too, Neil. That sometimes if your offer is really good and a lot of people call you right back, you might think, “Did I overprice this batch?” Because, that happens. Especially when you’re new.

                                                Anyway, this offer came back. I’m getting excited, but then afterwards, I’m pulling up some numbers, I’m talking to you. I talk to one of our buyers that I often pass deals to. This is how we do it, too, now. We’re at the point where a lot of our deals don’t hit the MLS. They don’t hit anywhere. We just pass them on to the next guy. We quietly buy them, and quietly resell them.

                                                Anyway, the price that I’m looking at now, is like $50,000 less than what we originally offered. That ties in to what you might be going on with here. Like, “I don’t want to offer it. Maybe I don’t even want to buy it.” There some things that happen. Sometimes, Neil, you look them up, and you don’t even want to buy it.

Steven Butala:                   With land, we have a whole different show about houses.

Jill DeWit:                            Right.

Steven Butala:                   I don’t know if you know that.

Jill DeWit:                            Right.

Steven Butala:                   So, we could talk about land and why this happens.

Jill DeWit:                            Okay.

Steven Butala:                   Just teasing you. It’s a good story, actually.

Jill DeWit:                            Okay. Anyway-

Steven Butala:                   The problem with that house, specifically, is that it’s on a major road. There’s no way that I don’t know about yet, removing mailers that are for property that’s on a major road.

Jill DeWit:                            Right. There’s one little factor there that you can’t scrub out. Anyway, I was using that as an example to come back with land. Because, say you did this Neil thing. Whatever it is, he maybe offered too much, or maybe he can’t get to it, maybe it doesn’t have all the four As.

Steven Butala:                   Yeah. You looked up the property … The offer came back signed. You looked the property up. You’re probably using Parcel Fact or a lot of the due diligence tools that are out there, and it wasn’t what you thought.

Jill DeWit:                            Maybe you look up the back taxes, and the back taxes owed are more than what’s on it.

Steven Butala:                   Perfect example.

Jill DeWit:                            There’s all kinds of things like that.

Steven Butala:                   For whatever reason you don’t want to buy the property, usually for us, it’s we can’t double our money for land.

Jill DeWit:                            Exactly.

Steven Butala:                   For whatever reason, we’re not going to be able to immediately double our money, so one of two things happens. We don’t actually get out. What ends up happening is what Jill’s going to do with house here, today. Probably in the next hour. Is call them back and say, “I don’t know if you were aware of this, but there’s a major highway going through your front yard. And, it’s much, much harder to sell your property, which is probably why you’re talking to us in the first place, or one of the reasons. So, I’m happy to buy it for about $50,000 less than what we sent the offer for.” Now, we’re not tactfully getting it out, we’re just tactfully … Go ahead, Jill … adjusting the price.

Jill DeWit:                            Exactly.

Steven Butala:                   Then you win.

Jill DeWit:                            Exactly.

Steven Butala:                   Then it wasn’t for waste.

Jill DeWit:                            That’s usually the end conversation, Neil. Instead of saying, “Oops, sorry. Shred it. Good-bye,” and hang up fast. You don’t want to tick everybody off. But, there’s a reason why it doesn’t appeal to you now. I would call them up and honestly tell them the reason why it doesn’t appeal to you. If it’s the location and you can do nothing with it at that price … usually, you can do something with everything, but at what price? That’s the thing. That’s what Jack was alluding to. I would call them back and just say, “Look, I know I offered …” Let’s just say, I offered $5,000 for this property, right? They’re excited, and they want to sell it. It’s 20 acres, who knows where.

Steven Butala:                   They’re excited to talk to somebody who’s nice on the other end of the phone. I’m telling you.

Jill DeWit:                            Or, just someone who made an offer.

Steven Butala:                   You overlook this all the time, Jill. You’re very pleasant and fun to talk to. All the other people that call them or notify them that they want to buy their land, and they’re very far and few in between.

Jill DeWit:                            Yeah, they’re probably phony.

Steven Butala:                   Yeah. Or, they don’t follow through, or they call them once and then never call them back. All of that. There’s no follow through at all.

Jill DeWit:                            Exactly.

Steven Butala:                   Make friends with them, because price will become, after the second or third, maybe, conversation, secondary. Getting the deal done with you, because they like you will become their primary goal.

Jill DeWit:                            I would, at this point, usually there is some number … You know what? Usually there is some number, but let me back up and say sometimes there is no number. Sometimes, you could call them up and go, “Look, I know I offered you $5,000. I looked at it again, and because of A, B, and C, there’s no way I can work with that. I apologize. Here’s what I could do. If you want, I’ll take it off your hands for $1,000. I’ll roll it in to my inventory and see what happens. At $1,000, something might come of it. Either way, I’m okay,” kind of thing. Let them make the decision.

                                                The other thing you can do, and I’ve had to do this. There’s just some areas now, that we had sent out mailers years and years ago, that there’s still calls that will come in for these smaller subdivisions that we were really excited about back in the day. But, we’re not anymore. I have a list of properties in certain areas that my team knows that, no matter what, we’re not even going to buy it. I feel bad, because those people are sometimes calling us, they’re like, “I’ll give it to you,” and I don’t even want it. Because, the time and the energy that would go in to doing it, is not even worth it.

Steven Butala:                   It’s not worth the work.

Jill DeWit:                            Even if it only costs $100 to transfer the property, put it in our name, all that good stuff. I need that time and those resources spent on other properties. That’s it. I have to really even politely say, “No. I’m so sorry, but no.” Sometimes, you just have to do that.

Steven Butala:                   The single biggest reason that we are in the situation and we do say, “You know what? At any price, we can’t buy this property,” it’s because it’s too small. We need to make $10,000 per deal, or we just don’t do the deal anymore.

Jill DeWit:                            Right.

Steven Butala:                   Net, net, net.

Jill DeWit:                            Exactly.

Steven Butala:                   We still get, from early 2000s and on … we’ve been sending mailers out since the early 2000s. We get a lot of calls.

Jill DeWit:                            Right. I had one. I’m going to tell you one right now. A piece of land that I looked at yesterday, that we are going to buy. It was that church phone call that you heard us talking about. The team was asking me like, “Hey, this church just wants to give it to us.” I’m like, “Okay.” I said, “The first thing is, what’s it even worth?” I had my team, I said, “Send me it back with this information,” and they did. I said, “You know what? All right.” With the comps out there, we’ll do it. We’ll take it off their hands. It’s worth at least a couple thousand dollars. It’s not $10,000, but a couple thousand dollars.

Steven Butala:                   So, we’re breaking our own rules, and I don’t know about it.

Jill DeWit:                            No, you don’t on that one. It was enough on that one-

Steven Butala:                   She brings this up on the show, so I can’t get mad.

Jill DeWit:                            It’s totally fine. I said, “Hey. All right. Tell them we’ll do the …” You know what I was even asking, too? I’m like, “How much are the recording fees in that county? Okay, then we will do it.” It’s really going to be that small of a transaction, like, “Fine.” You know what?

Steven Butala:                   Is it a piece of dirt, then?

Jill DeWit:                            Well, here’s what I was going to do. Follow me on this. My first thought was, “I hate to put it in my name, just to put it into somebody else’s name again, turn around and … I kind of want to give it to somebody, but I don’t know who to give it to right now.” That was my thought. But, since it’s not that much to record, I said, “Fine. Put it in our name. I’ll quickly turn around and give it …” I’m going to use it for something. It’s all good.

Steven Butala:                   I can get my head around that, then.

Jill DeWit:                            Thank you. It’s going to be something good.

Steven Butala:                   From donator to donator.

Jill DeWit:                            Yeah. Totally.

Steven Butala:                   Today’s topic is how market data removes the risk in a real estate acquisition. I’ve been buying and selling real estate for, I’ll tell you, since 1994, really. Maybe even earlier. I started out in commercial real estate with long-term care facilities, nursing homes and assisted living properties. I’ll tell you what, the data set for those properties, even back then, because most of them at the time were Medicare and Medicaid funded, government funded. There’s all kinds of data that needed to be collected, a lot like census data, around these facilities. After trying and failing in apartments, I gravitated towards this, because I’m such a data person. These data sets were prevalent.

                                                I didn’t know it at the time, but what I was doing is removing the risk from actually completing a deal. I would talk to somebody who owns a bunch of buildings, or a bunch or properties, or operates them in, let’s say the state of Wisconsin. I’m just throwing it out there. They would invariably be four or five people that always want to buy new properties and add them to their operations. They would put in their order. It’s not very different from what happens now, Jill.

                                                I would contact, via mail and via fax back then, this is before email, the owners of these facilities, because I had that data set, unlike apartments back then. They would say, “Yes,” or, “No,” or, “Maybe.” It removed the risk. It stopped me from the shotgun approach, where you just throw it up on the wall and see what sticks.

                                                It’s pushed me back in to a rifle approach. I could literally go through a state, like Wisconsin, and talk to everybody, and put it in a CRM, or database, and say, “This person doesn’t want to sell. This person does. I talked to them on this date. I’ll circle back around maybe a year from now, and see if anything’s changed.”

                                                That is exactly what we do. It removed the risk. Now, fast forward to 2018 her, now, in what Jill and I do. We take a look at a data set, like any given county, let’s say, or let’s take a zip code, because it’s a smaller data set. We can see everything in data form. Whether there’s a mortgage. Whether there’s back taxes. If it’s owned in an LLC. All these are little clues, and we scrub our data set down based on experience. We look at that end data set, and we say, “All right. Now, I’m going to send them an offer, these property owners, and offer for a price that I know, based on my analysis, I’m sure I can sell it for more.” We do it with very, very, very predictable results.

                                                Every two or 300 offers we send out for land, we buy one. We immediately resell it. We don’t buy it unless we triple check to make sure we can sell it for at least twice for what we paid, usually a lot more. For houses, let’s just say every 3,000 letters, same thing. We at least make $25,000 on it. That is the closest thing to actually printing money in your basement that I can think of.

                                                It always moves. Data always changes. Data, in general, gets better. The quality of the data, and I’m talking about assessor data. If you listened to yesterday’s show, we talked about our sources of data. We’re actually licensed providers, now, of the best data in the country.

                                                That’s how the actual market data, couple with assessor data, and you use those together, for us, anyway, and the way that we teach it in our programs, removes virtually all the risk from making a real estate decision. Versus the old way, which is, “Hey, let’s buy a house off of the MLS.” I’ve done this. “Clean it all up. Not sure how much it’s going to cost to clean it you, but I think I know. I’m not sure how much we can get for it, but I think I know. I’m not sure. Let’s just see what happens. Let’s throw a few fishing lines in the water and see what happens.”

                                                I’m a pretty experienced fisherman, and I’ll tell you what I don’t do. Throw a few lines in the water and see what happens. There’s electronics involved, and dive suits, and spear guns. If we’re going out fishing, we’re bringing some fish [crosstalk 00:14:35]

Jill DeWit:                            You’ve been watching what people have been pulling in for the weeks before. You know what area to go.

Steven Butala:                   There’s all kinds of data on the internet about where to fish.

Jill DeWit:                            That’s true.

Steven Butala:                   We don’t leave a lot to chance.

Jill DeWit:                            That’s true.

Steven Butala:                   In fact, every single time I’ve been fishing, well, in the last 12 months, it’s … We come in, because we say, “You know what? We have enough fish. We’ve got to stop doing this.”

Jill DeWit:                            Got it.

Steven Butala:                   This is enough for at least a month to eat.

Jill DeWit:                            I love it.

Steven Butala:                   I hope that was clear. Was it clear, Jill?

Jill DeWit:                            Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think so. You know what? It’s pretty easy to look up the numbers and see. If your asset is 50% or more less than everything else, you’re going to do just fine. That’s my …

Steven Butala:                   The beauty for rural vacant land, not so much infill lots, but rural vacant land, is that there’s almost never any mortgage on it, or a lending situation. You run in to it once in a while with [inaudible 00:15:41] trusts, and things like that, but it’s real easy to save for that. But, for houses, it says right there, “50%, 40%, 20%, 80%, 100%.” 100% is no mortgage.

Jill DeWit:                            Exactly.

Steven Butala:                   Once you get to learn how to use the data, and that’s the whole key here. I’m skipping along the top and telling you what’s possible. It doesn’t happen in a weekend. You have to learn how to use this data, even if you are a data person. You have to really dive into it, get your hands real dirty and learn.

Jill DeWit:                            You know what? That’s a good point to make, because a lot of our really, really, really smart successful people, members in our group, they are data people, and even they had to sit down and spend some time on this. If you’re not a strong data person, please add another couple weeks on top of that to really understand this. Because, you’re looking at something totally different.

Steven Butala:                   I got an email from somebody recently, and they said, “What’s the single biggest reason …” They prefaced it by saying, “Look, you obviously have a collection of extremely intelligent real estate investors in your group. What’s the big reason that people …” This is somebody that’s not in our group. They’re thinking about getting in. “What’s the reason that they don’t do it after they pass all the tests and everything?”

                                                I said, “It’s because their life, and their kids, and their wife, and their job, and the whole thing just takes over.” It’s not because they don’t know how to do it, or the data sets are bad, or the system doesn’t work. If you have any question whether or not this works, by the way, go on to and ask something like this, “Is this a [palimalarchy 00:17:15]? Is it sounds too good to be true? Because, I am a data person. I am an engineer or an accountant, and I love this kind of stuff. But, it just still seems like there’s … What’s the catch?”

Jill DeWit:                            “Are you guys consistently one of my …”

Steven Butala:                   “Is the market saturated?”

Jill DeWit:                            “Are you all consistently buying this property so cheap?” The answer is, “You’ll feel fine. Ask them.”

Steven Butala:                   Don’t take our word for it.

Jill DeWit:                            Exactly.

Steven Butala:                   Everybody will jump in, because they were all in the same situation you’re in, if you’re thinking about doing this, even if you just want to buy a house.

Jill DeWit:                            Right.

Steven Butala:                   You want to save a bunch of money on your next house.

Jill DeWit:                            Right.

Steven Butala:                   Or, learn how to sell the one that you have.

Jill DeWit:                            Or, cabin lots, or something that you want to do. There’s a lot of people in our group that do that, too, you’re right.

Steven Butala:                   If you, as a listener, have a better way to buy real estate that’s cheaper, and faster, and easier, I would love to hear it. I would love to have you send me an email. I had a conversation with a very extremely experienced tech person, who developed a zip code based portal that draws … Listen to this. I’m sure that we have listeners that know all about this. They set up a landing page that draws … If you go in to Google in a certain zip code, and say, “Sell my house fast,” or, “Sell for cash,” or anything like that.

                                                This works. They log in, and they say, “Heck, yes. I want to sell my house for cash,” by the ton, by the way. Great. Let’s say for an argument, you snap your fingers, and now you’re standing there looking at a 100, air quotes “leads,” of people that want to sell their house in a zip code. What do you have to do? You have to get online and look up those 100 properties, determine a value, and send them whether it’s email or however, call them back. Probably call them back would be best.

                                                Now, what did you do? You generated a tremendous of efficient interest, hats off to you. Check. And, created a ton of work for yourself and your staff. A certain number of people are going to sell their house, but almost all of them are going to have mortgages or some extenuating circumstance where they don’t even know it, but they can’t sell their house … they don’t have any money in their house or in their … because, this is not so much land. While that I think that’s a … we’re toying with that. I think it’s a viable option and it will become, in the future, better, and better, and better as time goes on.

Jill DeWit:                            I know you’ll find a way to automate that.

Steven Butala:                   I will, because they won’t get through. What we’re working on is they won’t get through if, once they type their APN in or their address, it’ll go through a database and see if it’s even a viable deal at all. It’ll autogenerate something back to them that says, “No.” We are working on that. But, for the time being, sending out the mail. I have the highest risk threshold when it comes to money of any person I know, and this passes all my tests.

Jill DeWit:                            Cheers.

Steven Butala:                   Jill [inaudible 00:20:13] fall asleep. Well, you’ve done it again. You’ve spent another 20 minutes with us listening to The Land Investors Show. Join us tomorrow for another interesting episode of our show: Mailer Pricing with Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, and DataTree Algorithms. I’ll tell about it all.

Jill DeWit:                            Oh, that sounds so exciting.

Steven Butala:                   She’s just happy about that.

Jill DeWit:                            I am. And, we answer your questions. Should you have one, post it on our online community, Go there. It’s free.

Steven Butala:                   You are not alone in your real estate ambition.

                                                Was it really that bad?

Jill DeWit:                            Did you?

Steven Butala:                   What?

Jill DeWit:                            You never yawned, did you? I was yawning in my head.

Steven Butala:                   Yeah, I was yawning in my head. I used to practice that in high school.

Jill DeWit:                            Oh, my gosh. That was great, informative. I really can’t add anything to it.

Steven Butala:                   Believe it or not, some people find us on the internet and listen to this show to learn stuff. They don’t do it just to hear about our relationship.

Jill DeWit:                            Yes.

Steven Butala:                   That’s what Data Week is here.

Jill DeWit:                            I get that. This is Data Week, AKA Steven Jack week. Got it.

Steven Butala:                   That’s true.

Jill DeWit:                            Thank you. Hey, share the fun by subscribing on iTunes, or wherever you’re listening. While you’re at us, please rate us there. We are Steve and Jill.

Steven Butala:                   We are Steve and Jill. Information-

Jill DeWit:                            … and inspiration.

Steven Butala:                   To buy undervalued 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

The BuWit Family of Companies include:

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.