What to Do if You are Data Afraid (LA 815)
Steven Butala: Steve and Jill here.
Jill DeWit: Hi.
Steven Butala: Welcome to the Land Academy Show. Entertaining land investment talk. I’m Steven Jack Butala.
Jill DeWit: And I’m Jill DeWit, broadcasting from sunny Southern California.
Steven Butala: Today, Jill and I talk about what to do if you’re data afraid.
Jill DeWit: This is a good one and this comes up often. This is so important to what we do. So much-
Steven Butala: What’s your definition of being afraid of data?
Jill DeWit: Spreadsheets make you panic, and if it’s more than four columns and twenty lines, you’re like, “Oh no, that’s too much.”
Steven Butala: That’s too much to take.
Jill DeWit: I don’t know what to do with this. And we can help you.
Steven Butala: There’s stuff that I had that reaction to still.
Jill DeWit: Yeah. Like girls.
Steven Butala: There’s stuff that we all-
Jill DeWit: Like me.
Steven Butala: Yeah. Well, that’ll never stop. But, I mean there’s-
Jill DeWit: Thanks.
Steven Butala: … stuff in everybody’s life that you look at. It’s just like, “Oh my gosh.”
Jill DeWit: For some people, it’s opening the hood of a car.
Steven Butala: Yeah.
Jill DeWit: How about that? They go, “Huh.” But other people go, “Oh, all right. Got that, got that, got that, got that, done. Oh, see the problem.” It’s just like that with data, how’s that? Data is–
Steven Butala: Or anything.
Jill DeWit: –like opening the hood of a car.
Steven Butala: Or school.
Jill DeWit: So, thank you.
Steven Butala: Well said, Jill.
Jill DeWit: Thanks.
Steven Butala: Before we get into it, let’s take a question posted by one of the members, one of our members, on the Landinvestors.com online community. It’s free and I have to preface this.
Jill DeWit: Ready?
Steven Butala: This is a long question.
Jill DeWit: Thank you for telling me.
Steven Butala: And may I read the first part and then have you read the second part?
Jill DeWit: Sure.
Steven Butala: Michael says, or asks, “I have a deal consisting of seventy-five acres within the city limits, adjoining developments on three sides. And what I will sell–and what I will sell as the next piece of land in the path of Progress Prime for Development. When sending over the contract, the seller’s nephew is an out-of-state real estate agent, in true real estate agent form, was ready to jump in head-first and fill the contract out with [inaudible 00:02:06] and contingencies and terms.” Go ahead, Jill.
Jill DeWit: “Question, he wants to convey the property via quitclaim deed. When I asked why, he said it is typical that a seller will convey via quitclaim deed because this limits the seller’s liability. He also mentioned that I will get a marketable and insurable title. While it’s obvious the seller’s liability is minimized, can a quitclaim deed be conveyed with a title policy? I will not spend $80,000 on a property without getting the title examined, ensuring that I will have clear and marketable title. Is it common for a seller of land to minimize his liability through a quitclaim deed and possible for the buyer to purchase title insurance post transaction knowing the title is insurable via title examination pre-transaction?
If this is possible, sounds like the insurance company would be coming directly out of pocket if there ever was an issue once insured. I get where he’s coming from. But on all accounts, I want to make sure I purchase a marketable piece of land that can be developed once I sell. They don’t seem like they’re hiding anything, but this had raised a red flag. Interested to hear any and all input. Go.”
You’ve had time to think about this a little bit, haven’t you? Because you read it.
Steven Butala: This is a massive red flag for me, and I wouldn’t do the deal. We’re not talking out of both sides of our mouths, you’ve heard us say many, many times, “Don’t worry about quitclaim deed,” and that’s true for 4,000, 2,000, 1,000 dollar property. This property is clearly going to be developed and nobody will lend against it, no one. Whoever buys this from you is going to seek out some type of financing to develop it. At least you hope so because you can mark it up.
Jill DeWit: Right.
Steven Butala: It needs title insurance, and it needs to go through escrow and it needs to go through the absolute triple A proper channels and fact for developable piece of property. If this is in fact what this is, I would seek out a commercial real estate, a commercial title company. First American or any of the large companies have commercial divisions, that’s what this is for, cause they look for different stuff. This is not to be messed around with.
Jill DeWit: Why are they ramming it down your throat?
Steven Butala: A quitclaim deed generally has to do with one of two things: interrelated party transactions, like I sell a property or deed a property to Jill. Or, it has to do with property that was purchased in a tax auction or something like that, maybe two owners ago. And look, this deal is real. All the deals are real, this deal has the potential. I mean, seventy-five acres is a big piece of property in an urban area. I would do nothing but go through title and everything else.
And I’m guessing that the nephew is brand new and he’s fresh out of silly, little real estate school and he’s getting all academic about the different ways to title property.
Jill DeWit: That could be–
Steven Butala: What should happen is this: sellers agreed on this $80,000 price, you’re the buyer, theoretically have the eighty grand. There’s no debt. You’re not going to get a lender. You go straight to escrow, put $5,000 down as earnest money deposit, and the escrow agent takes it from there. And nobody talks about the type of deed that’s going to be conveyed.
Jill DeWit: Right.
Steven Butala: What comes out of the title plans–that’ll show how to convey the property, and trust me, it’s going to be a warranty deed. Or whatever state it’s in, that version of a warranty deed. You don’t take anything less for a development piece of property.
Jill DeWit: I agree.
Steven Butala: Can I be more clear?
Jill DeWit: Nope.
Steven Butala: Do I sound like I’m a little bit angry?
Jill DeWit: Yep.
Steven Butala: I am a little angry.
Jill DeWit: Good.
Steven Butala: Cause this is silly, little real estate agent crap.
Jill DeWit: Thank you.
Steven Butala: Today’s topic: what do you do if you’re data afraid? This is the meat of the show.
Jill DeWit: You want to hear my steps?
Steven Butala: I do. I would love to hear. I know you wrote a bunch of stuff down.
Jill DeWit: All right, so what do you do if your data afraid?
So you’re all excited you’re here, you get into RealQuest Pro, and you’re ready to do a mailer. You download, you pick a county, you did everything–you picked the zoning, you got the size, you got everything. And the computer virtually throws up. It looks like throw up to you–in a CSV file–and you’re like, “Oh no.”
Steven Butala: It looks like throw up to you?
Jill DeWit: It looks like throw up to you.
Steven Butala: It looks like dirty diapers.
Jill DeWit: And you’re like, “What is that? Because I did what I was supposed to do–I downloaded two-thousand records because I’m going to scrub it to fifteen hundred records, so I’ve two thousand lines down. Oh and wait? Now I have three hundred–” Wait, I’m going to go this way. “–three hundred lines over. Holy cow, I’m so happy I just got this. Now I’m at that what the heck?”
Here’s what we do:
Number one: Breathe. That’s really not number one, but what I want you to do first is take time, insert a column of–I’m going to get real technical here and make this real easy for everybody.
Steven Butala: Well, it’s a good break for me.
Jill DeWit: Okay, good. You just can just rest–rest your pretty little head over here.
Steven Butala: I’m going to get over my anger answering that–
Jill DeWit: Here, rest your pretty little head right here.
Steven Butala: That’s right and it clanks headphones.
Jill DeWit: Yeah, okay so here’s what I want you to do: I want you to insert–I know you have already two-thousand rows, I want one more row. Here’s what I want you to do, I want you to insert one row at the very top of your spreadsheet, please, and in that row I want you to calmly, and methodically, take the time to look up and understand what each column is and write it in your words. Like, “Oh!”
Steven Butala: That’s brilliant.
Jill DeWit: Thank you. So you’re going to go, “Oh, obviously that’s property owner’s last name.” Put that in there, last name–whatever that is. And then, I want you to go all the way down–and you might go, “What the heck is RU-4? RU-4, it’s been some time. Aw, shoot, that’s the zoning. I forgot about that.” All right, Rural-Undeveloped four…
Steven Butala: Rural Undeveloped Four Thousand Feet.
Jill DeWit: Right, thank you. Put that in there. See now–
Steven Butala: You have to have a four thousand square foot lot to put up a structure.
Jill DeWit: Thank you, thank you. And when you forget that much information, put that in there too, so you have it all. So you can cram all kinds of data in each of the cells above your thing and not muck up your sheet, so I want you to take your time to do all that stuff. As you’re going through this, you’re going to find duplicate columns. For different reasons, the way it’s pulled in, it might have the last name of the seller twice, it might have the address of the seller twice, it might have the property shown twice. So go ahead when you’re going through this–
Steven Butala: There’s duplicate data?
Jill DeWit: Sometimes there’s duplicate columns that might be in there twice. Like sometimes it will say–you’ll have owner last name, owner first name, and it’ll show owner record: last name and first name together. And then one more time it will show owner record and how they took title, like as joint tenants, so it might have it a couple different ways. You’ll learn when you go along, you’re going to go, “Oh, I remember this. When I’m doing my mail merge, I only need this version of the name. I don’t need the way they took the title, I don’t need this, so I could hide those columns.”
Steven Butala: She’s saying make the data manageable for how you need it.
Jill DeWit: Yes. Exactly. So all you do is pay attention to that and be ready to move those columns, hide those columns, maybe even delete those columns. What I always do, too, by the way. When you download this spreadsheet of all this data–this is like 101, you have to learn this stuff–save that untouched.
Steven Butala: Version one, version two, version three.
Jill DeWit: Exactly. Now start messing with it.
Steven Butala: In case you screw stuff up you can go back to the previous version.
Jill DeWit: Exactly. Like, “Oh no, I need to put that back in.” You can go move it back in. So he’s right, save your different things as you’re going along. Don’t have one and like, “Oh no, I needed that. Now I can’t get it back. What do I do?”
Make it easy on yourself.
All right, as you go along you’ll know after a couple times. You’re going to go, “I know I don’t need that column, I know I don’t need that column.”
Like one of the columns that–say you download for a bunch of land and it pulls up some attribute like swimming pool. You don’t need that, delete that column. Square footage of the property? They’re all blank? Delete that column. You’ll see that.
Then I want you to take all your columns and put them in sections, and put them in sections that make sense to you. This is all about the property. I’m going to put the legal next to the APN–it didn’t come that way, but I need in that format. And then, you also need to think about doing your mail merge. You need to be also looking at what you want your end product to look like, so you want to think about as you’re organizing the columns. First you define them–
Steven Butala: Well, hold on a second Jill, respectively. This isn’t how to do a mail merge, this is–
Jill DeWit: Just to understand data.
Steven Butala: What if the whole show is about–what if this just freaks you out?
Jill DeWit: Okay, let me back up. Don’t even think about the mail merge. This totally freaks you out. Well, one: look at your columns. Two: delete the duplicates, so you’re not looking at extra data you don’t need. Three: practice, practice, practice, practice, practice. And you really have to do that, and do it in chunks–maybe look at a hundred a time.
Steven Butala: May I?
Jill DeWit: Well, okay, can I throw my whole list in here?
Steven Butala: Go ahead, yeah.
Jill DeWit: All right, then my final thing is: if all else fails–because let’s be honest–
Steven Butala: I’d actually lead with that.
Jill DeWit: Okay. If all else fails, like I kind of alluded to at the beginning of the show, you open up the car hood and you’re like, “Oh, there’s no way.” And you went to mechanic school and you still open the hood going, “Oh, there’s no way.” You know what?
Steven Butala: Call a mechanic.
Jill DeWit: I’m clearly not going to do my own oil changes, ever. I’m going to close the hood, I’m driving to Jiffy Lube.
Steven Butala: Yeah.
Jill DeWit: “Sure, done.”
Steven Butala: If you’re afraid of data, take a couple steps back and ask yourself if it’s worth it. And I’m really serious about this because there’s– For instance, I will never learn to play the guitar. I’ll stare at a guitar, I go to a music store, I go to music stores–
Jill DeWit: You like to go look at them.
Steven Butala: I do because I’m enamored with people that can play the guitar and musical instruments and stuff. It’s just never going to happen for me.
Jill DeWit: Right.
Steven Butala: And it’s not in my wheelhouse, so if this is your guitar, just move on to something else. Why beat yourself up over it?
Jill DeWit: It’s true.
Steven Butala: Or find another way. Do [inaudible 00:13:26] or something. It won’t be as effective, and it’s not as technical, but maybe you can make it work. I don’t know. A lot of people do.
Jill DeWit: Yeah.
Steven Butala: We just don’t choose to do it that way, so my step one is take a couple of steps back and ask yourself if it’s truly worth it. What is this all about for you? If the answer is, “I’m still afraid of data, but I do see how this can be ridiculously valuable,” then you’re going to have to get–I’m the type of person that, when I went to school, I had to study twice as hard as everybody to get the same grades. And I wanted to do that. I wanted to get out of college and go do something, so I made it a priority, made the time, got organized, and got out a calendar as crazy as it sounds, and just stuck to it.
Jill DeWit: Put the time in.
Steven Butala: Which is still what I do. Yeah, time management. So don’t get so afraid–you have to decide if it’s lost cause. If it’s not, then get organized, because you can organize yourself out of just about anything. And I hate to say this cliché, but I’m going to say it: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. And so, she’s right. That’s what Jill is getting at. Take it column by column by column and use–please, I’m begging you–use YouTube. There are tremendous resources on YouTube about mail merges and how to use a spreadsheet and how to move stuff around and get really, really proficient at seeing the data differently. Just take off little baby steps and take little bites all the way through.
Jill DeWit: Tell you where I see people failing the most.
Steven Butala: Go ahead.
Jill DeWit: And it’s not that they’re afraid of it or anything, they just want to rush through it and get to the end.
Steven Butala: It’s a lack of organization and lack of planning. I totally agree.
Jill DeWit: I see people that go, “Oh, this just takes too much time. It’s just not going to work.” No, you’ve got to put the time in.
Steven Butala: Yep.
Jill DeWit: And once you get it–think about it–think of the example I just described. You download this huge dataset. And you’re tearing up because it’s just overwhelming, right? But after ten, you’re like, “I got this. Yes, no, no, yes. Move this here. Now I’m ready to do my thing.” That’s it. It’s like everything. Think about getting behind the wheel of a car. Do you remember? Like, my current car right now, which I still don’t understand what it all does, but let me tell you how funny this is. Or even flying a plane is another one, but my current car–when I first drove my car from the dealership, I only drove it forward. I never had to back up, so–this is funny.
Steven Butala: It’s a spaceship car you have.
Jill DeWit: Okay, so here’s my thing: the guy–either he drove me around and I’m like, this is great. Then I get in the driver’s seat and I’m only going forward. I decide to buy the car. We were there for how long, it’s dark out, I get in the car now and I’m getting ready to leave and the way they had parked it, I needed to back up. I did not know how to back up my car. So I’m going, “Uh oh.”
Steven Butala: I can’t say I condone this type of thing at all. Like, every car on the planet is very clear which gear you’re in and for whatever reason the manufacturer of this car decided they were going to change the rule on that.
Jill DeWit: Anyway, I love my car, but the point is: In the beginning of it, I didn’t know how to back up my car. Now I do, I just get in and voop! I know what I’m doing. I got this, it’s easy.
Steven Butala: So, now you’ve decided that data is worth it for you?
Jill DeWit: Yep.
Steven Butala: And maybe you’ve even gotten to the point–or you’ve got a partner like Jill said, like Jill did and said–and now you’re chugging along and you decided you don’t like it. That’s the kicker for me.
Jill DeWit: Oh, can I answer this one?
Steven Butala: Because some stuff, it’s just not worth it. Go ahead.
Jill DeWit: Well, here’s–
Steven Butala: There’s a million ways that Jill and I can make a lot of money together and we actively pick and choose the ones that we want to be involved in. Like teaching. This is not the most profitable thing Jill and I can do together. Not even close but we both like it. Go ahead.
Jill DeWit: That’s good. I was going to comment on your last data comment. Could I sit down without Steven–no offense–and do a good job and download some data? I could do the whole thing, yes. But you know what? Could I do it as fast as him? No. Could I do it as well as him? No. Why do I want to? That’s the thing. So maybe that’s the point you get to also. At some point you realize, “All right, I’ve gone as far as I can with this now. Do I want to keep doing it? Or do I want to have somebody else that’s even better at it than me?”
Steven Butala: Yep.
Jill DeWit: And that might happen.
Steven Butala: I have a really good friend who’s very good at buying, renovating, and selling manufacturing companies, and it’s crazy profitable. Crazy. I don’t want any part of that.
Jill DeWit: Right.
Steven Butala: It involves financing and hiring and letting people go and reorganizing and the EPA. And he gets rewarded for that times ninety financially, but I don’t want to spend one week on stuff like that.
Well, you’ve done it again. You’ve spent another twenty minutes or so this time listening to the Land Academy Show. Join us next time, where we cover another interesting acquisition topic.
Jill DeWit: And we answer your questions posted on our online community at landinvestors.com. It’s free.
Steven Butala: You are not alone in your real estate ambition.
Jill DeWit: Did I do a good job explaining how to breathe through that?
Steven Butala: Both of us.
Jill DeWit: I think so too. I wish I would have–
Steven Butala: Scary topic.
Jill DeWit: I kind of wish I would have–
Steven Butala: It’s not scary for you because you broke it all down. You broke it all down for the show.
Jill DeWit: That’s how I think.
Steven Butala: That’s how I think too.
Jill DeWit: There you go. Well, you’re pretty smart.
Steven Butala: What scares you? What freaks you out?
Jill DeWit: You. Just kidding. Kids, no. What freaks me out? I can’t think of one. Unknown, natural disaster. I can’t think of anything. What freaks you out?
Steven Butala: I don’t know. There’s a reason we have this show about data because that’s far from it. You know a schematic–like an engineering schematic of a doorknob–and it’s all different layers and how it all goes together? That’s how I see everything. So that kind of stuff doesn’t freak me out when there’s fifty-two steps to get to some end, I’m good with that.
The thing that freaks me out the most is a variable and people’s responses–just people–and dealing with people. It doesn’t freak me out, I just don’t like to do it.
Jill DeWit: Okay.
Steven Butala: So that’s why I have you, I guess.
Jill DeWit: That’s true. Share the fun by subscribing at iTunes and YouTube. While you’re at it, please rate us there.
We are Steve and Jill–
Steven Butala: We are Steve and Jill–
Jill DeWit: And inspiration…
Steven Butala: To buy under-valued property.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me directly at steven@BuWit.com.
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