Creating Access for Land (LA 784)

Creating Access for Land (LA 784)


Steven Butala:                   Steve and Jill here.

Jill DeWit:                            Hi.

Steven Butala:                   Welcome to the Land Academy Show, entertaining land investment talk. When I can talk.

Jill DeWit:                            When you can talk.

Steven Butala:                   I’m Steven Jack Butala.

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

Steven Butala:                   Today Jill and I talk about creating access for your land. Access, access, access.

Jill DeWit:                            Last time I checked-

Steven Butala:                   Can you think of other topic that causes more confusion and more discussion than access?

Jill DeWit:                            I was gonna. I was gonna, think I was going in a different direction. Can I, if I think of anything more important?

Steven Butala:                   No, I can’t.

Jill DeWit:                            Access of all the four As, which we should talk about here in a moment, I think that’s probably one of them. I mean, for me that might be number one.

Steven Butala:                   It is number one for me.

Jill DeWit:                            Okay, thank you.

Steven Butala:                   It’s the first thing I look at on every single deal, including really serious urban properties. A lot of times there’s no access to urban properties.

Jill DeWit:                            Sure, I don’t care how gorgeous it is, but if you can’t get there, it doesn’t do you any good.

Steven Butala:                   So we’ll talk about it in a second here. Before that though, let’s take a question posted by one of our members on the online community. It’s free.

Jill DeWit:                            Brandon asks, I have a larger parcel that I’m buying, and on Google earth it looks like there’s really old dirt road to the property. It looks like it is overgrown-

Steven Butala:                   Oh, this is perfect.

Jill DeWit:                            And would be hard to drive on.

Steven Butala:                   Perfect for the topic.

Jill DeWit:                            I’m wondering if it would be worth the money to pay someone a few hundred bucks. I’m not sure how much it costs, to clear off the road and make it more accessible. The overgrown road does connect to a county road, so I think it would be pretty easy to do. Just not sure if it’s worth the money to have someone do it before I try to sell it. Would this add value and has anyone ever done this?

Steven Butala:                   This is a great question.

Jill DeWit:                            Love it.

Steven Butala:                   And it’s perfectly timed for this-

Jill DeWit:                            Episode.

Steven Butala:                   Yeah. This topic, so I’ve done this. I have bladed, it’s called blading roads in. You know, those big huge Caterpillars with the blades on the bottom. That’s what they use these for, grading. So in this case, if you have determined that, here’s the problem with looking at Google Earth and seeing that there’s a road there. That’s really good news, that’s actually passes my first test. Can you use the property?

Jill DeWit:                            Right.

Steven Butala:                   The second thing is if it’s a valuable piece of property, I check the plat map to see if there’s little dotted lines which are platted easements, so everybody can drive through that section of the property. There a section of someone else’s property, technically we all look at it like it’s a road, but it’s not. It’s the section, a portion of someone else’s property. It’s called a platted easement.

Jill DeWit:                            So you’re saying making sure with the plat map that it’s a legitimate road, before you go out and put a lot of money into it. Not just something someone just made on their own. Make sure it’s legit.

Steven Butala:                   If that’s the case and that nine times out of 10, eight times out of 10, that’s the case, that the road’s in the right place and you’re not going to upset anybody.

Jill DeWit:                            Right.

Steven Butala:                   Blade away. It’s really cheap. I’ve had it, get this. I’ve had it cost a dollar a mile.

Jill DeWit:                            Wow. Well that’s better than when I was going to say. We were joking about one of our members one time said he was going to just haul a log behind a pickup truck, as he’s going out to take pictures or asks, kind of thing. For a dollar a mile, it’s a lot cheaper.

Steven Butala:                   That’s what we are blading roads into a massive property. You’re creating thousands and thousands of acres. We’re creating 40 acre properties. So they had a lot of work.

Jill DeWit:                            That rate might not be applicable anymore, is what you’re saying.

Steven Butala:                   Well if you’re gonna blade thousands of miles of road or whatever it ends up being. Hundreds and hundreds of miles of roads, it works out okay.

Jill DeWit:                            Got it.

Steven Butala:                   And then we actually paid the guy who is local to manage it, manage the property so that somebody wanted to go take a look at it, that he would take them out there and stuff. So we paid them to do a lot of stuff. It was all part of the deal. In this case, you could probably expect to pay under a thousand dollars for a local company to go in there and grade the heck out of it. There’s so much more to it than that.

Here’s the problem. Here’s the problem with improving property. You think it’s just as simple as what you just said. Who are you going to upset? Probably everybody who can hear this thing firing. This guy is going to fire it up at four in the morning. These people live out in the middle of nowhere for a reason. You’re going to upset everybody. He’s going to meet, when they get upset, they start calling the county. Well, it’s three inches on my property. So it’s never the real estate that’s the problem. It’s the people. It’s the people at the county. It’s the people who buy it, the people who sell it.

Jill DeWit:                            Why does there have to be a problem? Why do we go to there’s a problem? I just have to ask.

Steven Butala:                   Here’s what’s almost never a problem.

Jill DeWit:                            Why are you assuming there’s a problem.

Steven Butala:                   Buying a piece of real estate and then selling it for more and that’s it. It’s almost problem free. Almost every single deal we do. Totally problem-free.

Jill DeWit:                            Why you assume there’s going to be a problem? I’ll fix it. That’s my job. You know what, do you know how many problems don’t make it to you?

Steven Butala:                   I know.

Jill DeWit:                            I got this, it’s okay.

Steven Butala:                   I can’t thank you enough for that.

Jill DeWit:                            Okay. You’re welcome.

Steven Butala:                   Do you how many deals get to you that would not probably get to you?

Jill DeWit:                            And I appreciate that too. You get the awful properties out and I take care of the problems.

Steven Butala:                   All right, so go blade your road and expect problems, and hopefully there’s someone in your life like Jill that can make sure they go away.

Jill DeWit:                            It’s okay.

Steven Butala:                   Today’s topic. That was today’s topic. Today’s topic, creating access for your land. That was perfect, this is the meat of the show. That was a perfect example of creating access for your land.

Jill DeWit:                            Can I see what the four As are real quick?

Steven Butala:                   Yeah, sure.

Jill DeWit:                            Okay, so-

Steven Butala:                   Good memory.

Jill DeWit:                            Thank you.

Steven Butala:                   Can you remember what they are? I don’t.

Jill DeWit:                            Okay, so here’s the deal. Many, many, many years ago, this one, Steven, came up with this whole concept and I know, you didn’t, I missed, it was before me. You came up with this. I can just imagine you having this brainstorm like look, before we pull the trigger on properties, we got to make sure it passes these four tests and you know what its four As. That’s what it is. So before you buy a property, you want to make sure you want to check these four things. Then you know if it’s a good deal or not, and then you know how to proceed. So number one, access like today, can you get there? Can you not get there? You need to know, does it have access? And if it does, that’s great.

Steven Butala:                   That’s true.

Jill DeWit:                            That’s the perfect thing.

Number two, acreage, how big is it? Usually the larger the better.

Steven Butala:                   Bigger is better.

Jill DeWit:                            Info, usually, talking info a lot, still you want bigger than better kind of thing, but it’s a whole different ballgame depending on what you’re buying. So we have access, we have acreage, we have affordability. That’s a no brainer.

Steven Butala:                   Cheaper is better.

Jill DeWit:                            Exactly. We want to make sure it’s affordable, for not only you as the buyer but think about who’s buying from you. Think about the seller and where you’re going with this property.

And the last one, which sounds like it’s a fluff one, but it’s not, it’s just as important, attribute. Think about what we talked about yesterday on making your property stand out. Throwing it, hauling an RV or hauling something on it. Now that’s an attribute. That’s something unique about it. Other attributes that we cover are, are there trees?

Steven Butala:                   Mountain view. Close to the Grand Canyon?

Jill DeWit:                            Is it closest to something cool? Close to Vegas. Who knows?

Steven Butala:                   Is it on a beach?

Jill DeWit:                            Is it on a beach? Wherever it is, by a ski resort, by a lake, on a lake, on an island.

Steven Butala:                   Next to your mother-in-law. We can imagine.

Jill DeWit:                            Hello.

Steven Butala:                   Can you imagine if we lived next to your Mom?

Jill DeWit:                            That would be interesting. It would be fine.

Steven Butala:                   Or my Dad?

Jill DeWit:                            Or your Dad. So everything’s perfect right now. So anyway, those are the four As.

Steven Butala:                   Can you imagined if your Mom-

Jill DeWit:                            Oh gosh.

Steven Butala:                   Struck up a relationship with my Dad. I just thought of that.

Jill DeWit:                            Where did you go? Where did this come from?

Steven Butala:                   How awful for us. And them.

Jill DeWit:                            Why are you even thinking about that?

Steven Butala:                   Your mom would chew my Dad up and spit him out. It’s too much woman for him.

Jill DeWit:                            Oh my goodness. Where are you going? Okay. Anyway, not about my Mom or your Dad.

Steven Butala:                   Don’t move next to your mother.

Jill DeWit:                            Move on. So access. Okay. I just described the four As. Steven, will you please share more about access with us?

Steven Butala:                   So there’s two types of access.

Jill DeWit:                            And create access.

Steven Butala:                   Number one, physical access, just like the person who asked the question today. Looked on Google Earth, that’s the first thing you do. The first thing I do is go on a Parcel Fact of ACT, which is a company we own and it’s free and just find the property, because finding property without a physical address, a mailing address, is tough. So we created this whole website that locates it just with the APN. State county APN, assessor’s parcel number. You find it and you’ve got a good shot of Google Earth, a very good shot, right in Parcel Fact itself. Then I’d usually take the GPS coordinates that are in Parcel Fact and go on the Google Earth Pro and really get in there and take a look at a three dimensional view and look at the grade and whatever else can happen and usually at that point you can really see, unless there’s heavy tree cover, if you can get to it or not.

Jill DeWit:                            That’s true.

Steven Butala:                   Within reasons. So that’s kind of task one that. If you get that far, that’s a really good sign. The chances are, and you don’t even look at any of this stuff unless the price is right.

Then the second type of access you look for is legal access, which is what we referred to with the question. Is it has it been platted. So in a lot of rural areas, it’s never been platted in. You have to cross someone else’s land to get to.

Jill DeWit:                            So that dirt road you’re saying someone made a long time ago and 80 people have been using it this whole time and it doesn’t mean it’s real. So you have to make sure.

Steven Butala:                   Again, most of these issues, even if it’s not illegal and the whole thing, you can get around it.

Jill DeWit:                            Right.

Steven Butala:                   What you don’t want to do, and this is really the takeaway from this, and Jill and I made a conscious decision a long time ago. There’s properties out west, not so much east but west that are a square in the middle of a county and there’s no chance in hell you’re going to get there.

Jill DeWit:                            Right.

Steven Butala:                   Now that said, there’s a huge group of people out there that want that property. They want to not be found for whatever reason, and we were, used to be a long time ago we would buy anything. This is way before Jill. We need access now for a lot of reasons. We’re a lot more public now and we just made a conscious decision to not make those kinds of deals, but we have people in our group who seek that out. They seek out rock bottom price property, and then they go create access like we’re talking about.

Jill DeWit:                            Right.

Steven Butala:                   So we could do a whole podcast actually on access. You know, there’s a way you could access, the easiest way is to talk to-

Jill DeWit:                            Oh, you mean a whole show?

Steven Butala:                   No, I mean a whole podcast about getting access.

Jill DeWit:                            Right, right. Okay. That’s all you talk about?

Steven Butala:                   This a whole show, this is a whole episode.

Jill DeWit:                            What are you talking about, not just an episode. A daily show about access.

Steven Butala:                   Yeah. So really quickly access, the best way to do it is to call your neighbor, find out who owns the property that you need to go through to get to yours. Ask him if it’s okay.

Jill DeWit:                            We have all that too.

Steven Butala:                   And if they’re a cool person, they’ll say, yeah, sure. As long as it doesn’t cost me anything and I’m only giving up the 38 feet of the west half. Or pay me five grand and we fine. That’s the absolute right legal way to do it, but I’m telling you, you’re gonna spend a year doing this.

Jill DeWit:                            I also want to say don’t put any money into it until you know, like make sure that you’re not, last thing, what would break my heart the most is if you go out there, you hire someone and you have it perfect this road, without doing your homework yet to make sure and then someone says, no, you can’t do that, and you’re like, great, I just wasted $1,500.

Steven Butala:                   Here’s the other thing. When you start digging around like this and you get straight answers from the county and from everyone else and you find out the property doesn’t have any access, legal access, you have to disclose that. You are bound by real estate laws to disclose what you know.

Jill DeWit:                            Even though you’re not an agent.

Steven Butala:                   If you never ask any questions and you simply post the property, 20 seconds after you buy it for 20 grand more and you say down there, I have not researched the access, I don’t know if this property has access. You’re not lying. You’re not doing anything wrong. Please check on access before you buy this property. The value and the price of the property is reflected here.

Jill DeWit:                            Right.

Steven Butala:                   And by the way, I don’t know anything else about it. I just know what I saw on Google Earth and it’s just all true. It’s all true. I don’t want to lie, ever.

Jill DeWit:                            Exactly.

Steven Butala:                   Or you don’t want to buy it, clearly, access-less property, which is what Jill and I, that’s a rule we have. It’s hard.

Jill DeWit:                            It is.

Steven Butala:                   We had 180 acre piece of property that’s 20 minutes outside of Las Vegas. It doesn’t have access and you can buy it for four grand.

Jill DeWit:                            Right.

Steven Butala:                   188, this is true. This stuff happens to us all the time. We don’t buy it.

Jill DeWit:                            Yeah, because I don’t want to hang onto it that long, or to find the right person or go through the work and all of that stuff. It’s going to need something.

Steven Butala:                   It’s such a stigma. Access-less property is, to anybody who’s in the business in any capacity, from the Toll Brothers all the way down to a used car, real estate agent level person, right? Everybody hates lack of access. We just had dinner with some people, inadvertently in Santa Barbara and there is a huge thing. They buy houses and they clean them all up and there’s a huge thing going on right now because none of the driveways, or so the county and the city say, are platted in correctly, they’re all encroaching on other people’s property and they’re two or three inches too far over so they have to tear the whole thing out, regrade it and make it right. And a lot of times you can’t do it. The properties are so small, so you have to ask yourself, is this the kind of career you want?

Jill DeWit:                            Right.

Steven Butala:                   You want to deal with problems like this? Do you want to be a contractor? I don’t.

Jill DeWit:                            Exactly.

Steven Butala:                   You know what I want to do, buy a piece of property in [inaudible 00:14:27].

Jill DeWit:                            You know what I want to do? Go hang out on the beach.

Steven Butala:                   I want to do that too actually.

Jill DeWit:                            Okay, thank you. Since we’re all talking about what we really want to do.

Steven Butala:                   More of a hang out at the library kind of person, but yeah, I understand the hanging out part of it.

Jill DeWit:                            Thank you.

Steven Butala:                   We all want to do what we want to do. We don’t want to do stuff that we don’t want to do.

Jill DeWit:                            Isn’t that why we’re all here?

Steven Butala:                   It’s simple as that.

Jill DeWit:                            Yeah. So think about this. I’m going to end on this. You may have 10 more minutes in you.

Steven Butala:                   No I don’t.

Jill DeWit:                            My end on thing is, think about why we’re in this business and think about why we chose land. We chose something by design that we could buy and easily, quickly sell, doesn’t need work. I don’t have to stand there. I don’t even have to put a lockbox on the door. I just have to make sure it’s a good property, right? Transfer correctly, make sure my pictures are awesome and then sit back and let the money flow in so I can be on the beach.

Steven Butala:                   Exactly.

Jill DeWit:                            Thank you.

Steven Butala:                   Well said.

Jill DeWit:                            Thank you. That’s it for me.

Steven Butala:                   Well, you’ve done it again. You spend another 15 minutes or so listening to the Land Academy show. Join us tomorrow, where we talk about leaving your land alone. Finally.

Jill DeWit:                            And answer your questions posted on It is our own online community. It’s all about land and it’s free.

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

Jill DeWit:                            Are you going to go with me on the beach?

Steven Butala:                   Go where?

Jill DeWit:                            Oh, you don’t want to go sit on the beach.

Steven Butala:                   I’ll go sit on the beach. Absolutely with you.

Jill DeWit:                            Okay, cool.

Steven Butala:                   I absolutely would be happy to go sit on the beach. Maybe have some food, drink a couple glasses of wine. I think it’d be fun.

Jill DeWit:                            I like that. We might have dinner on the beach tonight.

Steven Butala:                   That sounds perfect.

Jill DeWit:                            Thank you. Share the fun by subscribing on iTunes or wherever you are listening and while you’re at it, 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.