Best Decisions You Can Make in Land Business (LA 1052)

Best Decisions You Can Make in Land Business (LA 1052)


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 Jill DeWitt, broadcasting from sunny Southern California.

Steven Butala:                   Today, Jill and I talk about the best decisions you can make in your land business. You were feverishly scribbling.

Jill DeWit:                            I do.

Steven Butala:                   Sometimes she scribbles before the show. Sometimes there’s just like eh.

Jill DeWit:                            There’s a lot of thought.

Steven Butala:                   It’s the Steve show.

Jill DeWit:                            Sometimes there’s no thought. Yep. And sometimes I just say, “Yeah, I’ll interview you.”

Steven Butala:                   Kidding aside, we’ve been doing this now almost 25 years. And I tell you, there’s two or three things that I… There’s some… I can save you a bunch of time, I think. And I’m interested. We never share each other’s opinions about what the show’s about. So let’s see if they’re the same.

Jill DeWit:                            Right. It’ll be fun. I have my ideas. You have yours, so we’ll see.

Steven Butala:                   Exactly. Before we get into it, though, let’s take a question posted by one of our members on the online community. It’s free.

Jill DeWit:                            Kevin shares, he’s one of our moderators. I went a whole year answering my own phone. You can do it, but you have to be available. People don’t like to leave voicemails. They want to talk to a person. The best decision I’ve made in this business-

Steven Butala:                   All right. Here we go.

Jill DeWit:                            … was getting an answering service. I don’t answer any calls. They all go through the answering service. Then I call back the ones I need to speak with. Huge time saver and this came from a… This was actually a response to a question that someone was putting in. They’re like, “Hey, how important is this kind of a thing?” And that was Kevin’s response, which of course, ties into our show today. I love it and I totally agree. And I know we’re on the same page on this. In the beginning, it’s good to get a feel for it. If you can answer your own calls, answer them all. If you have a missed call, call them back and call them back fast. If you have a day job and you can’t quite can’t do it, at all, then I would try to hire that out. Even if it’s somebody that you know, inexpensively, because it’s so important to get a voice on the other end when these people get your offers and they call back. After that, they might not take your call, lose interest, and you miss some stuff.

Steven Butala:                   It’s imperative. Excuse me, it’s imperative to answer your phone. What I love about Kevin’s statement here is that he did it for a year for himself. And then he made a decision because now he understands what goes on with these calls and the types of calls that come in and the concerns that the sellers have. So he spent a year collecting information, mentally, before he tasked himself to sub it out. And I think, even now, we just hired a new transaction coordinator, which was our original boots on the ground. He is in the process of answering these calls himself, which is tedious-

Jill DeWit:                            It’s eye-opening.

Steven Butala:                   Tedious. Eye-opening is a great way to describe it. Tedious and time consuming and, at first glance, it’s this is a waste of time but-

Jill DeWit:                            Valuable.

Steven Butala:                   It’s a real solid experience.

Jill DeWit:                            It is. You need to know where these guys are coming from. When I say these guys, the sellers.

Steven Butala:                   What you never want to do is let it go to voicemail.

Jill DeWit:                            Right.

Steven Butala:                   So even if you have a full time job and you don’t have the time to answer your phone during the day, then you then you need to get a… Correct me if I’m wrong here. Get somebody to answer your phone.

Jill DeWit:                            Right.

Steven Butala:                   Whether it’s a service or not.

Jill DeWit:                            The best voicemails are going to have missed calls. People are going to hang up. They’re not that interested. They don’t think you’re that interested. They may not even think that your business is that together, if you can’t answer your phone, number one. Number two, some of these sellers are not, they’re not savvy on the phone and they get turned off by voicemails. So that’s why it’s really important to come to those calls.

Steven Butala:                   Exactly. Today’s topic, the best decisions you can make in your land business. This is the meat of the show. Go ahead.

Jill DeWit:                            You want me to go first?

Steven Butala:                   Yeah, please.

Jill DeWit:                            Okay, so I put some time into this as I always do. And I thought of like three time savers that they’re not big. They’re not huge, the concepts, but they really do save you time. So number one, some of the decisions, get quality data. Spend the money. If you think you’re going to save some money in this business and buy a used list, or even worse yet, go to the county and spend six weeks trying to analyze it and scrub it and get it into a workable format yourself because you wanted to save $100 or $200, whatever it is, that’s not the best use. So one, a really good decision is spend a little money upfront. Get solid quality data to do this business.

Jill DeWit:                            My number two is what Kevin just talked about. Someone else answering the phones. Get a service when you can. You want it, like we were just talking about. You do want to get to know it and the answer the phone a bit in the beginning. Understand the sellers. It’ll help you to hire someone to fill that role. And/or even as you, if you hire a service, it’ll help you create a good script and a good checklist of questions. The information that you need to know as the calls come in. So when it gets to you, you’ll make a decision on who you want to call back and you’ll have everything that you need. So that’s why it’s valuable. Your time is valuable right there. And then number three, I would say one of the best decisions in your land business is figuring out quickly what are the simple and tedious tasks that you do. Let’s just say maybe something as a mail merge. That, or posting properties and sub it out and maybe it’s a VA. I think those are three great things that you could do. What about you?

Steven Butala:                   I have two big picture points to make. Whether you’re 20 years in this business or you’re just, this is the first time you’ve ever listened to this. This is the sentence you want to memorize and just say it to yourself over and over again until it’s a reality. Good acquisitions solve all problems.

Jill DeWit:                            That’s good.

Steven Butala:                   Jill and I do a lot of weekly consulting for our members. And the consulting seems to be either one, they’re just about ready to do a mailer and they want me to kind of look at it and price it and make sure the stuff, it’s going to work right. Or they’re trying to undo something. They’re having a problem.

Jill DeWit:                            Right.

Steven Butala:                   And I can, oh, I add this immediately what I say to myself and to them, “If you could go back and buy this property, would you buy it?” “Oh, no. Heck, no, I wouldn’t.” So good acquisitions solve all problems, whether it’s access or attribute or price. Usually it’s access or price that are causing slow sales.

Jill DeWit:                            Right.

Steven Butala:                   So especially in the beginning, you want to make sure that you’re buying the right property and you’re buying it super cheap. That’ll solve all the problems down the road.

Jill DeWit:                            So you’re saying make a good decision, right then.

Steven Butala:                   Yeah.

Jill DeWit:                            Okay.

Steven Butala:                   And then everybody that’s involved in your organization with you and if you’re brand new, it’s just you. But in my case, then sales gets stuck with property and they’re going to come back to you and all, like, “Why?” I would rather do half the properties that I think I should do, half the acquisitions that actually come in that I think we should do, I’d rather do that and not hear it from sales. And just make their life easier and just send more mail out.

Steven Butala:                   So that’s big picture number one. Good acquisitions solve all problems. Number two, the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my career, which we don’t make anymore at all, is underestimating the power of marketing. If you’re not marketing right now. I’ll tell you people, again with consulting, they call us and they say, “I just can’t sell this property.” And I swear, every single time I ask this question, “Well, where’s it posted?” “On Zillow.” “Well, where’s it posted?” “On Craigslist.” “Is that it?” Just put Craigslist? Just Zillow? “Yeah.” Well, if you posted it everywhere, would it sell tomorrow? Probably. So you don’t need to pay me for consulting to find out why property’s not selling. It’s either not posted everywhere or you paid too much for it. You’re asking too much. That’s it. It’s as simple as that. That’s the whole business right there.

Steven Butala:                   Those are the two things that are, say, the best decisions you can possibly make. Buy great properties, super cheap, number one. And when you do buy it, post it everywhere. I mean, like in 50 Facebook groups that have to do with whatever that property is. If it’s good prepper property, prepper groups. If it’s good rural vacant property in Arizona, there’s tons of groups for that. And you should be adding places to post properties in your operation on a weekly basis. We just started posting property probably way too late on OfferUp. We’re getting back heavily into eBay and utilizing email resources right now. And it’s proving to be incredibly successful. I don’t know what else I could add to that.

Jill DeWit:                            So, yeah, I was going to say, so you’re saying is posting it everywhere. So your two best decisions are, one, make a good decision on the buy side. Number one, if it’s not a good decision, don’t buy it. And number two, utilize marketing.

Steven Butala:                   Yeah.

Jill DeWit:                            And the thing I was going to add about marketing, which is so valuable is you should always be posting it on all your regular places, anywhere. And there should be like 20, let’s just say. At least 20 places.

Steven Butala:                   At least 20.

Jill DeWit:                            I could rattle them off right now. And then you have, I’d say, making it your goal to find like five to 10 extra. Those five to 10 extra places would be like your prepper group or your fishing group or your hunting group or the rock climbing group-

Steven Butala:                   Tiny house.

Jill DeWit:                            Or a RV group or the tiny house group or whatever it is that you see as a special niche-

Steven Butala:                   Yeah. Off the grid.

Jill DeWit:                            … for that particular property, it should be there. But in all your regular places, maybe MLS, depending on the cost, probably, but all of your eBay, your website, LandPin, all the social media, everything like that. OfferUp, Marketplace, YouTube. Everywhere should have it. I’m on Instagram, maybe even Snapchat. I don’t know. But nothing’s crazy.

Steven Butala:                   Nothing’s crazy.

Jill DeWit:                            Nothing’s crazy. You just got to reach these people and there’s always something new around the corner.

Steven Butala:                   I mean, just to put a cap on that, too, you’re going generate some response. Just like you plan for the response that you’re going to generate from a mailer on the acquisition side, well, you’re going to generate a ton of response. I failed at this, too. You’re going to generate substantial response from posting this everywhere from a marketing standpoint. And again, if you’re not standing there with the catcher’s mitt, dealing with these responses, and converting them to sales, you might as well not market. You have to be conversion minded. And it all starts with marketing. In 2000 and what is it, between nine and 11, Jill and I went through a terrible, terrible downturn in our sales and we lost a lot of staff and really had to reorganize our whole company. It didn’t sink the ship, but we were bailing water for a year and it was all based on marketing.

Jill DeWit:                            I was going to say that. Okay. I was going to turn around and go, here, let’s talk about some… We talked about the best decisions. Let’s talk about some of our worst decisions. Seriously.

Steven Butala:                   Yeah. That is the worst decision I’ve ever made.

Jill DeWit:                            I got one. One bad decision that we made was, oh, let’s hide behind the name of the company and ignore the social media thing. Like we weren’t really trying to promote anything. We put our property out there for sale the same way we had always been doing. We didn’t really roll with the times and get on board with social media and that cost us. So that was one not good decision that we made. We recovered and I know a lot of people that didn’t recover. That’s what’s kind of sad. There are a lot of people that are in our space.

Steven Butala:                   Way more did not recover than did.

Jill DeWit:                            Exactly. And that’s what’s so interesting. I think why we get so many calls from years ago, I mean, we’re the only ones that are still around and they saved our letters. So what’s another not good decision that you can think of?

Steven Butala:                   Buying an office building.

Jill DeWit:                            Oh.

Steven Butala:                   I didn’t have to think for that. It’s way beyond the scope of what we’re talking about here. But-

Jill DeWit:                            But it’s good.

Steven Butala:                   I spent $2 million on an office building that… It just ended in me writing a very large check.

Jill DeWit:                            Yeah.

Steven Butala:                   Two large checks. One on the acquisition and one on the sale. And you know what? The whole time, what did we do yesterday was called the rental trap?

Jill DeWit:                            Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Steven Butala:                   I was in the commercial rental trap.

Jill DeWit:                            Yeah. As a landlord.

Steven Butala:                   Yeah. As an owner with tenants and stuff.

Jill DeWit:                            Exactly.

Steven Butala:                   So that was a terrible decision. It was way beyond the scope of our core business, which was buying and selling real estate. All these other companies we have, this one included. Land Academy is really centered around our core effort. House Academy. Yeah. That makes sense. ParcelFact. Yep. Makes sense. Offers to Owners. Sure. Vertical integration. Office building. No.

Jill DeWit:                            That’s good. No, you’re right. Some people get distracted by that. I’m glad we’re having this conversation. Especially when you’re getting started, you’re focusing on one property type, you send out these offers. There’s always going to be one that comes back or people go, “I don’t want to sell that, but I want to sell this.” And it might be an office building and you get all excited thinking, hey, there’s an office building cheap. Maybe I should get on that. Don’t do that. You know, it’s true.

Steven Butala:                   Unless that’s your business. I mean, if you’re in the business of buying inexpensive office buildings, cleaning them up, and selling them or leasing them out or you’re in commercial-

Jill DeWit:                            That’s my point.

Steven Butala:                   Yeah.

Jill DeWit:                            My point is stick with what you’re trying to do. Don’t get distracted by something shiny. If you’re flipping a lot of large acreage farmland or whatever. You have a niche there and an office building comes along, please don’t get distracted by that. It could take away from your work, other business. Or vice versa. You’re doing office buildings, don’t get distracted by this pretty island. You know what I mean? That will slow your business down. So these are good. I love it.

Steven Butala:                   All of our companies, every single one, without exception, are data-driven or they solve some solution that Jill and I have had issues with that are maybe a bottleneck in our actual core business. So all the sites I just reeled off solve some of those problems. We’re going to launch a site before the end of the year called The Car Academy, where it could be construed like, well, why are you guys going to buy and sell cars? That’s not real estate. Well, what it is is it’s utilizing data like we utilize to buy real estate, just for a different product type. Fortunately for us, we have resources and the time and the money to bring in car experts to make sure that we’re not making bad decisions on the buy side and consequently on the sell side. But it’s all data-driven. It’s all sending blind offers to people that have a specific car that’s hot in that market. And doing all the RGY data analysis in that zip code to see what’s hot and what’s there and are there too many Corollas in this? It’s all data-driven, so it’s beautiful is what it is. I mean, I’m really, really excited, right?

Jill DeWit:                            I know you are. Hey, by the way, this is Land Academy Show.

Steven Butala:                   Oh, sorry. Here we go. This is what she pointed to. The Land Academy Show.

Jill DeWit:                            That’s right. Land Academy. It’s just this little reminder.

Steven Butala:                   You know I’m going to get more mugs now that say stupid stuff.

Jill DeWit:                            I’ll change them out.

Steven Butala:                   Hey, we know your time’s valuable. Thanks for spending some of it with us today. Join us next time for the episode called When to Negotiate with Land Sellers. Never.

Jill DeWit:                            Thank you. And we answer your questions posted on our online community found at It is free.

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

Jill DeWit:                            Boy, you’d never know you’re excited about that next venture that you’re working on. It’s hard to tell.

Steven Butala:                   It’s just like inside information.

Jill DeWit:                            I understand.

Steven Butala:                   That’s what I love about real estate.

Jill DeWit:                            I didn’t know there was more data. That’s just shocking to me, too.

Steven Butala:                   You can take a zip code-

Jill DeWit:                            More data for cars.

Steven Butala:                   Just like with houses in land, you can take a zip code, find out is there too much land? Is there not enough land? Are there too many houses? Not enough houses? Are they selling? Aren’t they selling. Just like cars. It’s the same thing, actually. In a lot of ways there’s more data.

Jill DeWit:                            That’s why I said. I didn’t know that, when you found that out, it’s amazing to me. Wherever you’re watching or wherever you are listening, please subscribe and rate us there.

Steve and Jill:                     We are Steve and Jill.

Steven Butala:                   Information.

Jill DeWit:                            And inspiration.

Steven Butala:                   To buy undervalued property.


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