Profile of Land Academy Members with Sr Manager Erin Spence (LA 1081)
Steven Butala: Steve Butala here. Welcome to the Land Academy show, entertaining land investment talk. I’m Steven Jack Butala, broadcasting from sunny Southern California. Today, I talk with our senior manager for Land Academy, Erin Spence, and catch up with what matters to our current Land Academy members. Hello, Erin.
Erin Spence: Hi.
Steven Butala: Do you have any good stories? I have to tell you this funny story first.
Erin Spence: I’m excited.
Steven Butala: If you go on to YouTube, right at the top is our Land Academy show. Like I always do every week, I just go in there and see what’s going on, see if our numbers are good. They are, but it struck me as funny because look, it’s Jill and me, Jill and me, Jill and me, me and strange blonde girl.
Erin Spence: That’s awesome. I love it. Maybe that’s why it got so many views.
Steven Butala: Yeah, because it was really kind of a smash hit of last week. That could be why.
Erin Spence: That’s really funny. I love it.
Steven Butala: Do you have a good story or a really bad story about what’s gone on this week? What’s the kind of flavor of what’s happening?
Erin Spence: I’ve been talking a lot to members this week. I’ve been working a lot on the live event this week, but I want it to tell you first, I was opening our mail this morning in the office, and we got a neighbor letter from one of our members. It was actually really cool to see. I’ve never actually seen one of our neighbor letters. They put a little pen in it. It was kind of nice, but I feel like it was a testament to what we were talking about last week, that it really is all about timing.
Steven Butala: Yeah.
Erin Spence: We mailed this place … I looked it up. We mailed them years and years ago, and the owners of the property that they were advertising owned the property then, so they didn’t want to sell it to us then. Whatever it was about this person, it was finally time.
Steven Butala: It’s not saturated out there at all. If you think it’s too late to get in, it’s not at all.
Erin Spence: Absolutely.
Steven Butala: What a neighbor letter is about by definition is …T his works like magic. If you own a piece of property, you buy a piece of property well, this is what the show is all about, and you post it for sale, one of the things that you should be doing consistently is taking a look at who owns property around that property and sending them a letter saying, “Hey, here’s an off market deal. You’re obviously interested in the area. You own these properties or you own a property. Take a look at this one. I bet you have for sure. It’s cheaper than what you paid for yours.”
Steven Butala: Those neighbor letters are incredibly successful, so successful that our members have asked us to create a way to automate this on ParcelFact, where you can just kind of draw a mile radius around a property that you own in the center, download all the data and send it right to OTO and automatically send a letter of interest in.
Steven Butala: We’ll probably release that in November-ish of 2019, possibly December. But I looked at the prototypes already. This is the late October, and it’s amazing. It takes a lot to impress me from a tech standpoint, especially the stuff that we develop. It’ll be an amazing tool. It’ll take the headaches out of doing neighbor letters.
Erin Spence: Definitely. I have to say with our mailer, we were looking at a property that just came in, and it looked … It doesn’t have direct access. We’re still going to move forward on it, but I was in TitlePro clicking around and sure enough … Or ParcelFact. Every single person around is the same person, the same trust. There’s our sellers or buyers.
Steven Butala: That’s awesome. You mean like a property that you’re buying actually?
Erin Spence: Yep.
Steven Butala: For you listeners, Erin has, as we encourage all of our people to have, a side business buying and selling land. She’s doing great. She’s doing so well that Jill and I have decided to fund all the property that she wants from a deal funding standpoint. It’s a win-win.
Erin Spence: It’s awesome. Very excited.
Steven Butala: You don’t have to put any of your own money in. That’s the coolest part.
Erin Spence: That’s very helpful. Definitely awesome.
Steven Butala: What else is going on with Land Academy members this week? What are they concerned about? Is it just more of the same, or is anything new?
Erin Spence: It’s kind of a little different. We have an influx of new members who are really experienced in this business, which isn’t new, but I feel like a lot of the calls I’ve been on lately, and then just our new members in general, are very in real estate in some way, mostly with rentals. A lot of the people that we’ve been talking to can kind of come in and tell us areas we can improve on, which is really cool.
Erin Spence: I already have notes all from this week about people needing to make chapters more clear, maybe have guides to chapters, different cheat sheets, things like that. It’s really cool to have these people come in who maybe had been through other programs, too, and can give us kind of advice on it.
Steven Butala: That’s great.
Erin Spence: Yeah, definitely.
Steven Butala: Does anything come to mind? Actual comments?
Erin Spence: Making a chapter cheat sheet was a big one because I know what’s in every single chapter, we all do, I can tell you exactly where to go for X topic, but I definitely understand, especially when people are trying to re-watch and go review, that it’s hard. You don’t want to go through every chapter to try to figure that out.
Steven Butala: That’s a great idea. Cheat sheet or notes you mean?
Erin Spence: Kind of.
Steven Butala: Like chapter notes?
Erin Spence: Yeah, like what’s covered in each chapter, just kind of the topics.
Steven Butala: That’s easy.
Erin Spence: Yeah, totally. I’m sure any of us could just rattle it off. Then, other things are data pool cheat sheets, which I actually made one last year, but we never really did anything with it. We’re definitely going to put that in and just kind of quick reference things. That would definitely be helpful.
Erin Spence: I feel like I pushed back a little on that for awhile and kind of being, “Just re-watch the program. It’s all in there.” But I feel like I’m trying to be more empathetic. I do understand that it is a lot of information, and there are some little things we can do that can definitely make it more user-friendly.
Steven Butala: Does it help that you’re kind of in the business now?
Erin Spence: Yeah, definitely.
Steven Butala: Different perspective?
Erin Spence: Definitely does. Yeah. Even I’ve had to look back on a few little things. It would definitely be helpful to have those items.
Steven Butala: We’ve got this live event coming up. I’m not sure when this show is going to actually air. It possibly will air after the live event’s done, but we have it coming up. Have we sold all the seats? Is it sold out?
Erin Spence: We actually have one left.
Steven Butala: One seat?
Erin Spence: Yeah, one seat left. I’m pretty sure Jill sold it. We’re waiting for the guy to check out today.
Steven Butala: What’s been the … This is our second annual Land Academy live event here in Hermosa Beach. The second time’s always easier. What’s been different, or is it harder? I don’t know.
Erin Spence: I have to say that I’m very glad I’m in this business and not in event planning. This year, I handled more of overseeing the venue and that kind of a thing, which I didn’t do as much last year. Last year, I did more of just the content and things. I miss that a lot. Handling all of the venue and food and everything is kind of awful, but it’s fun, too.
Erin Spence: We have templates for everything already, and we kind of know what we’re doing. We figured out guest speakers pretty early on and things like that, which has been really helpful.
Steven Butala: Yeah. My biggest concern about the second … We learned so much from the first one. First of all, we had two the first year, beginner and like a intermediate/advanced. We did away with that entirely. It’s just one event, and we took our most successful advanced members and asked them to speak. All of them said yes immediately. That was my concern.
Erin Spence: I was, too. Yeah.
Steven Butala: It takes a ton of pressure off of Jill and I. It puts us in an MC situation versus a college professor situation. I’m half attendee and half MC now because I learn from these guys, too. You probably will, too.
Erin Spence: Absolutely. Oh, they bring so much to the table. Even listening in our advanced calls, I learn things every week from these people. They all come up with new ways to do things, and it’s great.
Steven Butala: Give us a profile of some of the properties that you’re buying and what you expect to sell them for and things like that.
Erin Spence: Yeah, we targeted five to 20 acre parcels. Should I say what we priced them at?
Steven Butala: Yeah, I wouldn’t actually –
Erin Spence: I won’t do location.
Steven Butala: I would just leave the location out.
Erin Spence: Okay. We priced them at $125 an acre. Right now, Jill is actually running to the bank to grab a truck for one that their deal funding. But we expect to sell that one for … I think that my brother priced them, but I think he priced it at 13,000.
Steven Butala: Excellent. You guys are pricing on the South side, too. What’d you pay for it?
Erin Spence: $1300.
Steven Butala: So, 10 times.
Erin Spence: That’s conservative pricing for sure –
Steven Butala: That’s wholesale.
Erin Spence: Yeah, definitely. Even that, we’re going to revisit it because I think we could even go higher at wholesale based on that county.
Steven Butala: Because you’ve worked here for so long and we have all kinds of history, you were kind of here from the beginning with Land Academy, and in some ways Land Stay. I’ve been really watching how you guys are doing this, and I think you’ve got, in this first mailer, between 50 and 80,000 bucks a profit. I think you can do it all over again the second time.
Erin Spence: Definitely. We want to hit the same kind of … We talked about before. Hit the same county. Just up the acreage –
Steven Butala: Different sizes.
Erin Spence: Yep.
Steven Butala: I would even go so far as, and I’m happy to help you … Because this is what we do. When you have a successful scenario like this, you just hit all their surrounding counties and really just pull the stops out. How big was the first mailer?
Erin Spence: It was 9,000 units.
Steven Butala: And you’ve got 11 properties?
Erin Spence: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Steven Butala: Is it kind of over, or do you expect more?
Erin Spence: We’re still kind of having some things roll in, and we have a couple of people who are now contacting us with bigger deals. My brother just got a call this morning about a big deal that I haven’t talked to you about. It’s definitely still happening, which is really sweet.
Steven Butala: It’s a perfect use of our time. Jill and I, we obviously have our own operation, and it does very well both, both houses and land, but it’s so much easier for us to leverage our money and just a small amount of time and invest in other people, in our members or whomever.
Steven Butala: In this case, it’s employee member. It’s a lot easier for us to write checks and then collect half than it is for us to do all the work, write the check and do all the work. That’s the whole idea behind deal funding ,and it’s working okay.
Erin Spence: It really is. I think that I’ve talked about it before, but it’s definitely helped our members get so far ahead, too. I’ve seen new members that send out more mail that they never would’ve been able to. It’s awesome to see just from my standpoint of I’ll have a sales call with someone, and then three weeks later, I see them doing deal funding. It’s incredible.
Steven Butala: Right. That’s the whole premise of housetank.com and landtank.com, too. I was shocked at how many houses got picked up.
Erin Spence: I was, too. I was not ready for that, too.
Steven Butala: One of the big barriers … It’s not a barrier, and it’s totally over-comeable, is how much more capital intensive houses are to flip, turn a wholesale out, than land. housetank.com, we set up a site so that investors can throw a bunch of capital at it if you’ve got a great deal and flip the house and everybody makes some money. I was shocked when we launched it. I think 10 or 15 properties immediately got picked up.
Erin Spence: People came out of the woodwork for it, too. We always talk about the members who work in the background, and that’s who it was, people I haven’t heard from in a year or two. Now they’re funding.
Steven Butala: What else is on the minds of Land Academy members that’s hitting the customer service? We use Help Scout. It’s a customer service organization/knowledge base. I love HelpScout, do you?
Erin Spence: I do. It’s incredible. It’s streamlined everything the way we can pass it off. I love it.
Steven Butala: And it’s a whole total history. Let’s say somebody calls in or a sends an email, it tracks their whole history of all the comments since they were a member or even before that. It really keeps you organized. But anyway, is there anything new this week?
Erin Spence: I’ve seen a lot of people who are running out of land, which has been kind of interesting, and messaging us to buy wholesale from us and things like that. Yeah, we’ve had number of members who were saying, “I can’t keep inventory on the shelf,” which I feel like it’s always a cycle, but all the members are cycling through it together right now, which is awesome to see.
Steven Butala: I think we’re coming off … Jill’s theory is everything surrounds child education, so kids are back in school. I just think everybody’s making decisions and stuff. I laughed about that for years, but she’s right.
Erin Spence: I agree. Yeah, I never used to think about summer being slow and things like that, too. But no, it’s accurate.
Steven Butala: What do you tell somebody? First of all, have we been selling land then? I saw that hump day special/ platinum buyer’s club thing go out yesterday. Do you know if any properties sold on that?
Erin Spence: I believe that we should have three. There are three that he’s working on selling today. Yeah, no, it’s really great. We are selling land, and we have a lot more people interested. But having the the platinum buyers club list has been really helpful. We just send it out to all of our wholesale people, all of our buyers lists. The people I’ve been talking to now, I’ve been having them sign up for it. They’re ready.
Steven Butala: If you want to opt in, listener or watcher, to our platinum seller’s club, which essentially, it’s a weekly email that goes out on Wednesday that … It’s a spreadsheet, a spreadsheet attachment of the location of the property, the size, the state, the county, the APN. It assumes that you’re in the business, so you know how to look that stuff up. Saves us a lot of time because we don’t have to do a big, huge posting. Then, you can just click through. In a lot of cases, not all cases, click through and check yourself out with your credit card.
Steven Butala: It’s super cheap. I was looking at it. There’s properties in there for $500. There’s also some incredible agriculture property in there for 13 or 14 grand. It’s pretty funny because it came full circle because we used to do it right in the beginning in 2015. It was really, really successful. For some reason, we stopped doing it. I think it was me. I think I said, “We need to beef these listings up and make it a little bit better.” It turns out everybody just wants a list, and they want to click through it.
Steven Butala: If you want to opt in, and go to landstay.com, and you’ll see it right away. Just to get notices on the platinum buyers club or the hump day special. I guess they’re the same thing now.
Erin Spence: Yeah, we’re taking a break on the hump day special to kind of focus on the platinum seller’s club list. But in general, it’ll be in the same email. With the hump day special, we’ll just kind of highlight one of the properties on the list.
Steven Butala: Awesome. Anything you need to announce to our members or anything like that before we say goodbye?
Erin Spence: I don’t right now. Other than live event, it’s been pretty chill, which has been nice.
Steven Butala: Awesome, Erin. Thank you as always.
Erin Spence: Yeah, thank you.
Steven Butala: Join us next time for another interesting episode. We answer your question, post it on the online community, landinvestors.com. It’s free. You are not alone in your real estate ambition. Thanks, Erin.
Erin Spence: Yeah, thank you.
Steven Butala: We’ll see you next week.
Erin Spence: Definitely.
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