How to Market and Sell Snow-Covered Land (LA 1115)
Steven Butala: Steve and Jill here.
Jill DeWit: Hello.
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 how to market and sell snow covered land. This has been a long standing kind of inside joke between Jill and I for a lot of years.
Jill DeWit: I’m happy to paint the picture.
Steven Butala: Yeah, I would … Tease us a little bit on the picture, then we’ll take the question and we’ll tell you what’s really going on.
Jill DeWit: All right. So here’s what happened. I’m from … Should I do it now or save it? I have a couple of minutes of things to say.
Steven Butala: Jill’s from California, I’m from a very snow covered area. A lot of you who are listening to this-
Jill DeWit: Know that.
Steven Butala: Don’t see the appeal to snow. There’s nothing magical or mystical about it. In fact, it’s just a huge dent in your whole day for about six or eight months back East.
Jill DeWit: Okay, so that’s your story. Tell me, then I’ll tell you mine.
Steven Butala: Jill sees it like out of a Christmas special.
Jill DeWit: I’m going to tell you, I thought it was cool. I grew up in sunny Southern California. I mean, not this close to the water obviously, but in a great community. And the first time I saw snow fall I was in middle school or high school, and I thought it was the coolest thing. So I grew up here near the ocean, looking at these snow-capped beautiful mountains. And every time I go up to the snow for the weekend it’s beautiful. It’s fun, it’s sunny and gorgeous and fresh, and the air smells so great. So I think it’s cool. So that’s my experience.
Steven Butala: So you can see the innate conflict here about snow covered land. Before we get into it, let’s take a question posted by one of our members on the landinvestors.com online community. It’s free.
Jill DeWit: Jenna asks, “I have a contract on a lot that has a mobile home on it: buying the lot only, not the mobile home. The owner said it’s not in livable condition and no one lives there. My photographer said there’s definitely someone living there and it looks like a meth house. He’s going to send me a picture if he can. It’s worth about $9,000 but not with the mobile home removal/eviction. Obviously I’m not going to agree to buy it for the $3,800 I offered. But what would you offer to make it worth it? I was thinking $500, self close, sell for $1,500 and the tenants and the mobile home would be the new owner’s problem.” Yikes. “Or should I even waste my time? No one would buy it.”
Steven Butala: What would you do?
Jill DeWit: Well first of all, I wouldn’t do the idea of kind of brushing it under the rug and pushing the problem onto the buyer because that never works. You don’t want to do that, because all they’re going to do is find out what’s going on, call you and they’re asking for a refund or something. You don’t like my idea?
Steven Butala: I just, I know we’re going to differ on this and I think it’s funny.
Jill DeWit: Oh, okay.
Steven Butala: And I’m not being satirical.
Jill DeWit: Okay, all right.
Steven Butala: And I have to say before you finish what you would do, I would veto … Every once in a while when Jill and I disagree on whether we should buy a property, one of us says veto and the other one just stops and walks away and they get their way. This is a veto thing for me. Go ahead.
Jill DeWit: Oh, I would try to solve it. I would either solve it or move on.
Steven Butala: I would buy this property.
Jill DeWit: Oh!
Steven Butala: Period, veto.
Jill DeWit: That’s why. So you’d buy it and brush it under the rug?
Steven Butala: Just go ahead. I want to hear what you say first.
Jill DeWit: Okay, because I have a lot of questions.
Steven Butala: No, never brush anything under the rug, but-
Jill DeWit: All right, but-
Steven Butala: All of these problems that she sees … are attributes.
Jill DeWit: Well, that’s my thing. I would try to fix it. And first of all, just because your photographer thinks it’s a meth house doesn’t mean they’re … It could be very nice family. Who knows? They don’t have a lot of money, they’re making their best. Maybe it’s a distant relative of the person. You’ve got to get to the bottom of this a little bit I think, but I do see it as an opportunity.
Steven Butala: I absolutely disagree with that plan also.
Jill DeWit: We know it’s livable, by the way. All right, you don’t like my idea? You go with your idea. Go.
Steven Butala: Number one, there’s so much drama these days about buying real estate within this group. I don’t know what … Something changed recently. Maybe it’s just how open our group is and how much access we have because of Land Investors, or maybe it’s the advent of House Academy. But there’s a lot of, “I’ve got this situation man and this thing’s going on over here and it’s got this thing over here.” And I’m not picking on this person at all, this just happens to be the question today.
Steven Butala: Back in the day, and probably even last week, I would’ve found out that there’s a mobile home on the property, I would’ve jumped up and down, probably celebrated and said something like, “Wow, so all the utilities are figured out.”
Jill DeWit: True.
Steven Butala: Then I would have sent the photographer out there. That photographer would have confirmed to me, “Oh yeah, there’s somebody living there for sure. I think they’re squatting, but they are. I got a lot of pictures.” That confirms to me, I don’t know, maybe the sanitation’s working, they figured out electricity or some version of it. So those are all positive things.
Jill DeWit: True.
Steven Butala: And then I would have said excellent. I would have called the owner and said, “You got a deal. Thanks for all the information.” And maybe I would’ve re-negotiated the price a little bit. Maybe not, but probably not because I don’t remember the exact numbers on this, but they sounded great. I don’t know what state it is, but five grand, I think for the whole thing? I don’t want to scroll back up. If it’s five grand with a livable mobile home, in very few places that’s not going to work. That’s a smoking deal. You’re going to be able to sell it for $15k in any condition.
Steven Butala: Here’s what happened and how it went sideways in my opinion. The photographer … And Jill’s famous for saying this. This is an original education, because the number one question that we get at a cocktail party about the business that we’re in after we describe it is, “Who the hell would want to do that? Who the hell would want to live out there? Do you know there’s a meth trailer out there?” And all I see is opportunity, and all this new person’s sees … And again, I’m not picking on her at all, is sees a problem, something she’s got to do, she’s got to fix it. So it’s just on how you see this stuff.
Jill DeWit: I agree.
Steven Butala: What?
Jill DeWit: No, I agree. I do. No, when you put it like that, I do. I forgot about the whole utilities and things, but I guess I would … I think I would’ve gotten to that point in the end anyway. That’s my do your homework and figure it out. Don’t dismiss it right away and don’t brush it under the rug. There’s some good stuff there.
Steven Butala: There’s people in rural markets, middle-aged guys usually, that specialize … They love this kind of stuff. Are you kidding? If I buy a property for three to $5,000 bucks and sell it to them for $15k it’s got what he would call an unpaying tenant in it. Regardless of their meth blood alcohol content, it’s maybe a livable structure on it so he’s got to spend some time and energy, maybe remove that tenant or get the tenants just to pay. They love that stuff.
Steven Butala: Sometimes they’re retired cops and stuff. They live to make money like that and then rent it forever. So these are all real positive things, but I can see how somebody, and maybe it was me at some point, would see this real negative. So I think you got a real good situation on your hands and hopefully this airs before you kill the deal or anything. If you don’t want to do the deal, call me. I’ll do this deal. I love these kind of deals.
Jill DeWit: Definitely. Call his directly. I’ll give you his cell later.
Steven Butala: I would close that fast and I wouldn’t do a self close on it, by the way. I would close with title because you know you’re going to … It’s because the person who buys it is going to make use of what’s there. The value in this property is not the land. The value is the fact that there’s already a mobile home there and you can either scrape it and put a new one or make do with what’s there somehow.
Jill DeWit: Right.
Steven Butala: Does that all make sense-
Jill DeWit: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Steven Butala: Or am I going a little nutty here on this?
Jill DeWit: No, it’s okay. You’re good.
Steven Butala: I get excited about that. Today’s topic, how to market and sell snow covered land. This is the meat of the show.
Jill DeWit: So here’s the backstory. So I told you my experience, snow is dreamy. So we get this piece of property, I’m looking for pictures and I come across some pictures. I’m rolling into the inventory, the picture of the area that are snow covered and I think is … And it did have blue sky, I will say this, but there’s definitely snow on the ground. It shows the gate going and it’s got a gated community. I think it’s dreamy and beautiful. So this is way back in the day. I’m making this posting, I’m putting these pictures in there and Steven comes along and says, “What are you doing?” And I’m like, “Isn’t this gorgeous? Look at the snow on the ground and that blue sky.” And that’s the thing. And he’s like, “Oh no, that’s not going to sell.” Please explain.
Steven Butala: This is a classic, marital, chuckle about it for months, if not years-
Jill DeWit: Years-
Steven Butala: Marital thing that … Especially with two people that come from different backgrounds. And so I grew up in Michigan where snow is just … Aside from that first day that it snows and everybody gets a little bit excited about it, it just becomes this massive nuisance. And everybody, if you live East of the Mississippi or in the mountains at all, anywhere, or even Pacific Northwest, weather’s a massive nuisance. This is the only place that I’ve ever lived right here in California, Southern California, that the weather isn’t a problem. And so especially back East you don’t want to buy anything snow-covered. You don’t want to think about snow.
Steven Butala: You want something that’s dry. First of all, snow’s wet. You want something dry and comfortable and easy to get to. And when there’s a lot of snow on the ground in a lot of places in this country, then that property, you just can’t get to it. And so snow sends to me the wrong message, and I don’t think I’m in the minority. And so when you’re in a relationship with somebody, the stuff that if someone else, a regular person did, you just want to kill them. It’s annoying as hell. It’s just cute with the person that you’re in a relationship with. So this snow thing has just been a longstanding joke between Jill and I.
Jill DeWit: Thank you. So what do you do? So here’s the whole thing. How do we market this? I bought it, it’s the middle of the winter, it’s snow covered. Well first of all, the people who are buying this property when you try to market it, I mean, they know. You don’t need to talk about the weather or the conditions, things like that. They know where the property is and they’re buying, they’re looking in that area by the way. I would do my best to get photos taken on the best possible day that you can, because you want to get it on the market quickly as possible. And if there’s snow on there, I would try to time it when there’s a melty period. Does that happen?
Steven Butala: A melty period?
Jill DeWit: Yes, based on your experience.
Steven Butala: You know, the line between marketing and lying, it’s a pretty big line, a big fat black line. And everybody knows it snows in Michigan, and I think in this case it was in the northern part of New Mexico if you already mentioned that, it doesn’t matter. And everybody knows that there’s fantastic beautiful days too. So I don’t think shooting a property on a fantastic beautiful day is by any stretch lying. It’s a good day.
Jill DeWit: Right.
Steven Butala: By saying it never snows, that’s a bad thing. So everybody knows that you’re buying snow property.
Jill DeWit: Right.
Steven Butala: And it shouldn’t really seasonally affect the price too much. My general opinion is, and I don’t think there’s any … This is one of those topics where there’s no good straight answer … I personally don’t think you should … All of us that look through the internet in June and seeing pictures of property that’s got snow on it and you’re like, “Ugh.” It takes all the wind out of my sails completely. Well first of all, it’s been on the market so long or they don’t care enough to get current pictures. Look, snow’s bad. I don’t care how you slice it.
Jill DeWit: But here’s what I want you to think about and here’s what I would do. Just because you acquire property right now and it’s in a great area, you know what’s possible in the summer, I don’t want you to not buy it because you can’t market it.
Steven Butala: Me too.
Jill DeWit: I still want you to get it out there. So buy the property. You might even get a better price for it by the way, because the guy who has it doesn’t see the value in it right now because it’s covered in snow. This could help. And I don’t want you to hang onto it and you just keep it in your inventory and not put it for sale in the spring. So what I would say is do your best. This is the whole point of the show here: you got to market the snow covered thing somehow. I don’t mean to sit on it until May.
Steven Butala: That I agree with, by the way.
Jill DeWit: Thank you. Well, thank you.
Steven Butala: Don’t let the snow stop your acquisitions, just maybe shoot it on a different day.
Jill DeWit: That’s it. Do your best and get the angle … You are famous at this one, Steven … if you have to, as close to the ground, shooting up high, showing the horizon, less of the snow and you’re still being accurate. Do things like that. Do the best that you can. And then when you have a good weather day, the snow is melting, get someone out there and then update your pictures if it’s not already sold, and hopefully it has.
Steven Butala: So if you’ve ever taken a photography class … That’s a really good point … a good photography professor, a good course, they’ll tell you this: when a camera’s at your face … We all put cameras up to our faces, that’s just what we do. We always spend a lot of time looking down because we’re walking or looking down and around ourselves. And that’s never, in my opinion, never the best view of anything.
Steven Butala: Regardless of the situation that you’re in, if you kind of look up even if you’re in a big city, you look up, it’s like “Wow.” Or especially out in the woods or anywhere, you look up a little bit, there’s a mountain view, it’s a lot more interesting in my opinion than looking down. So I’m famous for getting down on the ground and shooting up, and it’s a lot more interesting.
Jill DeWit: Trees-
Steven Butala: Try it sometime. Even try it in your house or try it in your yard. Even with your phone, get down and take a … I’m not saying shoot straight up in the air. I’m saying maybe 40 degree angle, 35 degree angle and just that perspective for real estate, even if there is snow on the ground, that’s really my point here. I don’t think it should seasonally change your acquisitions, I’m saying how you present this stuff on the internet can be improved.
Jill DeWit: Here’s what I’m envisioning. Here’s how I’m envisioning the prep going for this. I’m aimed up high and then I keep tilting, tilting, tilting, snow. There’s the shot.
Steven Butala: Or get a little snow on the bottom of it, but shoot the stuff, the attributes that are up.
Jill DeWit: The trees, exactly. That’s good.
Steven Butala: I have a lot to say about this, but-
Jill DeWit: But yeah, well the reason it’s coming up is because it’s coming up. People just got hit with snow. It just happened. There’s a lot of the East Coast right now that’s dealing with it. I’m sorry that you’re having to deal with that, and it’s funny because I know exactly what you’re saying. I watched my cousin put something on Facebook the other day with her son and, “Hey, it’s the first snow day of the year,” and she’s from Michigan. She’s from Michigan, went to the Bay Area and now is back in New York. So she’s like “It’s the first snow day.” Her son’s in kindergarten. It’s kind of cute right now and I know in about 90 days or less, maybe 30 days, it’s not going to be so cute anymore. So-
Steven Butala: It takes a lot less time than that. Well, the day that their car door’s frozen, then it goes down from there.
Jill DeWit: Exactly. We know your time is valuable. Thanks for spending it with us today. Join us here every Tuesday and Thursday for the House Academy Show. We said that wrong, excuse me. Join us here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the Land Academy Show. That’s what I’m trying to say. You need us five days a week? Don’t stress. On Tuesdays and Thursdays you can find us on the House Academy Show.
Steven Butala: Tomorrow the episode on the House Academy Show is tips from a major city zoning planner by Mike Marshall. You are not alone in your real estate ambition. You’re not alone at laughing at Jill and I trying to read the new-
Jill DeWit: Mumble-
Steven Butala: Words on the teleprompter.
Jill DeWit: Through our new schedule. We clearly don’t know our new schedule. But I do know this, whatever it is, we’re here five days a week and we remain commercial-free. So wherever you’re watching or wherever you are listening, please subscribe and rate us there.
Both: We are Steve and Jill.
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Jill DeWit: And inspiration-
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