Interview with Member Laurie Phillips (LA 1271)

Interview with Member Laurie Phillips (LA 1271)

Steven Butala:
Steven 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 interview Member Laurie Phillips. Laurie, welcome.

Laurie Phillips:
Thank you.

Steven Butala:
Give us just a little introduction and then we’ll take this question. Tell us where you are and whether or not you’re happy to be here at all.

Laurie Phillips:
All right. Well, I live in Richmond, Virginia and I’ve been here for a while. I’m happy to be here. I know that we’ve talked before. Some of the things I’m doing in my business, which is not very old, there are a little different than what some other people did. Might be interesting to hear what you think about it.

Steven Butala:
I can’t wait to hear. Everybody who’s different in this group seems to do extremely well. You take the basic stuff that we offer-

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Steven Butala:
In the environment and then make it your own.

Jill DeWit:
You make it you’re own.

Steven Butala:
Yeah, exactly. Hey, before we get into it though let’s take a question posted by one of our members on the landinvestors.com online community. It’s free.

Jill DeWit:
Brandon asked, I’m a new member based in Atlanta, Georgia. Three weeks old and I’m trying to choose a market and ultimately do my first mailer in Alabama. I’m considering the following counties, low population density but near a city, low population density and days on market, less than 100 days. I’ve searched the forum… They’ve searched and the forum doesn’t seem to have much conversation or topics about Alabama. Can anyone speak to their experience working Alabama or any of these counties?

Steven Butala:
Laurie, I chose this question because you actually answered it in the forum. I think better than I ever would have answered it. Do you remember this question?

Laurie Phillips:
I don’t. Yeah.

Steven Butala:
That’s great. You want to take a shot at it?

Laurie Phillips:
Why don’t you go ahead and read what I wrote? I answer a lot of questions in the forum. I really enjoyed it and they make me think. I don’t recall this one.

Steven Butala:
Go for it. What you said was Steve spends a lot of time addressing this topic and maybe you should listen to him. I’m paraphrasing. I’ll find the question though.

Jill DeWit:
That’s awesome. That’s hilarious. Trying to find it here.

Steven Butala:
Here it is. You got it.

Jill DeWit:
There we go.

Steven Butala:
Do I read it, Jill?

Jill DeWit:
Will read. This is good. Hi Brandon and welcome. I’m pretty new to… This was months ago. After a lot of overthinking, should I mail to this particular vacation county? Even though it’s five hours from a population area, et cetera. I went back to Land Academy 1.0 and followed Steve’s instructions exactly for picking a new County. I decided being new wasn’t the right time to be creative. His process didn’t involve minute analysis.

Jill DeWit:
Just pick a county, follow the process, have some data to support your choices and mail. That’s what I did but you may have more knowledge of the areas or REI in general. Take what I say above with your experience in mind. Let me keep going.

Steven Butala:
No-

Jill DeWit:
Okay.

Steven Butala:
She goes on to say-

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Steven Butala:
The real clear message is here and I can concur exactly. Get the education under your belt. Get that mailer too under your belt and adjust and do the research. But you got to get it out the door, right? The truth is, I have to get a mailer out the door and I’m two days late on it.

Jill DeWit:
Yes, he is.

Steven Butala:
This is just-

Jill DeWit:
That’s true.

Steven Butala:
It happens to everybody. Today’s topic interview with member Laurie Phillips. This is the meat of the show. All right. I can’t wait to hear it. Laurie what’s… When did you join? What’s your experience been? Then, how did you veer off into your own direction?

Laurie Phillips:
All right. Well, I joined in beginning of October of last year, 2019. I went through the education programs and I thought about things way too long. I didn’t get my first mailer out until about five weeks after I started. But one of the things I did was in the very first video that you did, you said, “Open an account on Craigslist and put up this listing.”

Laurie Phillips:
I did exactly that. Because I’d already decided, I’m not in this to try it out, I’m in this because I really want to do this. I’m going to commit as much as it takes to make that happen. I went ahead, I opened a Craigslist account, stuck the ad up there, exactly the way you wrote it, bought three properties profit. I mean, I bought three properties, I think before I had even listened twice to the Jill’s inbound caller script. I had no idea what I was doing.

Laurie Phillips:
Fortunately, the people that I bought them from were so nice and motivated. It just went from there. I got my first couple of mailers out and they were small. Now, I go look at it and say, “They weren’t very significant.” But I did buy a couple pieces of property from them. In one case, I bought a five acre piece of land and a 10 acre piece of land from a woman for $5,000. They sold together for 161,000.

Steven Butala:
Oh my God.

Laurie Phillips:
I didn’t figure out the rate of return on that one but I think it’s good enough.

Jill DeWit:
I think that’ll work.

Steven Butala:
Yeah. Well, it’s in the thousands of-

Jill DeWit:
That’s hilarious.

Laurie Phillips:
Yeah. It was an area I knew it would take a little while because it was such highly valued property. But there weren’t many properties in that area on the market. One mistake I made with that mailer is I mailed to the county before I checked to see what county data was available online. Now, I don’t mail anywhere where I can’t get the county GIS, county taxes and deeds available online. It just makes life so much easier.

Laurie Phillips:
What I had to do there was, I spent a lot of time on the phone with the people in the county and they were wonderful. They ran foundings, they email them to me, they charged me 110 bucks per document to send them to me. I figured out that from now on, I wanted those things readily available. But another thing I did was I went to a title company to talk to them about these properties. They went through, I don’t know, probably 14 or 15 emails to me, educating me on how to deal with properties that are joint tenants where one tenant or one person dies.

Laurie Phillips:
Properties that it’s unclear who the heir’s supposed to be for it. Even though they never got the deal to close the property with us, they were just wonderful to deal with. I’m hugely in favor. You’ll see me write about this all the time, pick up the phone and call the experts. Many people waste so much time looking for the answer online and all you have to do is pick up the phone and call the county.

Laurie Phillips:
You’re not interrupting their day. That’s why they’re there. That’s it. There were people that I called when I was new who were just experts in real estate and different areas. They love to talk and love to educate me on different areas. That’s been really helpful too.

Jill DeWit:
It’s true.

Steven Butala:
You have that aptitude and the attitude and the adapt and overcome, just the way that you’re going about this, that all the members in our advanced group have. We usually choose advanced group members based on how much mail they’ve sent and their contribution and all that. But I’m going to go off… I got preapproval to invite you to the advanced group today, if you’d like to join us.

Laurie Phillips:
Well, thank you. Did Jill give you the approval?

Jill DeWit:
No, it wasn’t me.

Steven Butala:
Oh no. It’s-

Jill DeWit:
I didn’t have an idea.

Steven Butala:
Oh no. Jill and I have no idea what goes on in any of the companies we own at all. I had to ask like, [crosstalk 00:08:47]. I’ll tell you, the truth is, I was trying to explain this to somebody recently. We have two companies that Jill and I are… We work in day in and day out. It’s the land. There are two land companies.

Jill DeWit:
Right.

Steven Butala:
The ones where we buy to sell the land. Jill and I still just do that, the roots of it. But as far as Land Academy goes and all of that, we have a lot of other people handling most of that.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Steven Butala:
Not all of it. We have a couple of meetings a week and that’s it. I got at a very appreciative and positive approval to invite you to the group.

Laurie Phillips:
No, that’s great.

Jill DeWit:
It’s not that I must agree at all, Laurie. It’s just like, it’s not my decision.

Steven Butala:
But the one thing-

Laurie Phillips:
Okay, thank you.

Steven Butala:
The one characteristic that, had you just confirmed it I didn’t know. But you confirmed it is that the people in the advanced group that are doing a lot of deals, have a background in talking. There’s some version of business owners already. They have a sales background, they get on the phone. This is why Jill makes us so successful. She gets on the phone and just talks with people. She just gets what she wants. It’s not a preplanned. It’s just, that’s just who she is. You obviously have it too. So congratulations.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah. It’s funny, Laurie. I can not understand too. You get them talking sometimes and then you can’t get off the phone. I’m like, “Okay, this is great.” It’s almost like, I didn’t want to know that much about the area. Telling me about the new churches that are coming or whatever’s going on in the area or the new crops. Who knows what’s coming in? The Amazon called or whatever. I That’s really great. It’s so funny. Sometimes they talk and talk and talk.

Steven Butala:
You know I’m going to ask you this question next. What’s different about you? What advice would you give to somebody who’s starting out? What’s different about you? How can you buy a $5,000 deal and turn it into 160,000?

Laurie Phillips:
Luck, in that case. Because I’ve yet to have that repaid. But I spent a lot of time reading the forum when I was new. Someone wrote in the forum at one point that they had skipped the whole desert square phase and gone right to buying more expensive property. I skipped the desert square phase and went right to. I think, the cheapest property I had had made an offer on at the time was about probably $2,500. I was able to turn a profit of three times that, easily.

Laurie Phillips:
Since then, I’ve bought some smaller properties. Mainly because I’ve found through some of my research that people sell smaller properties at a higher volume than they sell larger properties. It’s easier to find sellers of smaller properties. But I buy them if I can turn them over for about four times of what I paid them.

Steven Butala:
Amazing. We’ll buy for 30 and sell for 90, right now.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Steven Butala:
In general, that’s the target that we’re going for? The mailer that I’m going to complete today is about maybe 12 counties total. Jill and I are in the middle of a contest to see who can make the most money.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Steven Butala:
And-

Jill DeWit:
That’s the mailer I’m waiting on.

Steven Butala:
That’s the template. Which is strange. Because I’m going to do her mailer and I’m going to go do my own mailer.

Jill DeWit:
Exactly.

Steven Butala:
It’s just, the opportunity for me to win this contest over Jill is enormous.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah. We’re agreed to picking our own areas for different reasons.

Steven Butala:
I hope you win. Because I win in the end.

Laurie Phillips:
Who’s going to price Jill’s deals?

Jill DeWit:
He is. He is-

Laurie Phillips:
She’s going to approve it though.

Jill DeWit:
But I’m going bless it at the end. But I went in and told him that… The area that I told him exact counties that I wanted, I told him the sizes that I wanted and pretty much how I want to go at it. He’s just doing that busy work for me.

Steven Butala:
I’m spending, what? Turned out now to be days, pricing.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Steven Butala:
Because there’s a lot of different counties. Well, how much time do you spend on pricing?

Laurie Phillips:
I used to spend a lot of time on pricing. But I have the tremendous fortune, this summer, of having a bunch of interns working for me. What happened was, as you know, a lot of jobs fell apart that people had expected to have for whatever duration. A lot of college kids were left without internships. This happened a little bit after I started looking for one intern and ended up finding kids with just incredible resumes. Couldn’t decide between one and two so hired them both. Then started getting hundreds of responses to ads that I put out there even after I’d hired people. Ended up hiring nine.

Jill DeWit:
Wow.

Laurie Phillips:
They are doing a ton of research for us right now. They’re researching everything from our past performance in, what made a successful mailer? What made successful, profitable properties that we bought? That’s, everyone who’s ever sent a mailer has that information. I mean, you have, how many rows of RealQuest data that you get that, if you go back and look at what’s in common across them, you can find areas and where you want to target more properties with those certain characteristics and owners with those certain characteristics.

Laurie Phillips:
They’re even taking it as far as… Jill, don’t listen to this. It’s going to bore you. They’re taking it as far as looking at the economies of the places where the owners live to see how they respond to offers as well. So-

Steven Butala:
It needs a census track data or local last week economy last week?

Laurie Phillips:
Last week.

Steven Butala:
Amazing.

Laurie Phillips:
Detailed and local.

Jill DeWit:
I have to say, “Thank you, Laurie. I appreciate that.” It’s funny. I was on a webinar yesterday, all about this. It was put on by Bisnow and I’m hearing that in those email groups and things and the stuff they put out. Anyway, it was a whole discussion on predictability. They’re coming up with this data product as one company, which is, basically most likely to sell. That’s what you’re looking at too based on past property experience, demographics and then other triggers that they… I am interested.

Steven Butala:
I mean, that brings up this point, the amount of data. We are all swimming in assessor data and manipulating it and using it very successfully. Specifically, people in the group and many, many, many other people that are just listeners. The types of data sets, the metadata that we’re collecting that will become available and you’re obviously paving a way here to make these decisions easier and more prevalent, are just amazing. What were you telling me? There are some data sets that were being discussed on that webinar that were surprising me.

Jill DeWit:
Right.

Steven Butala:
Like Local economy data, local current economy data.

Jill DeWit:
Right. We know, one of the things too, it was really funny I took away from that was their data, the top two that they use is CoreLogic. I’m like… Then that it was funny, the facilitator of the call said, “Hey, you guys, one of the things I run into in my business, it’s all real estate, is a contact information.” She wouldn’t divulge that. I’m like, “Well, that’s hilarious.”

Steven Butala:
You mean like neighbors too?

Jill DeWit:
Yes.

Steven Butala:
Wow.

Jill DeWit:
She wouldn’t, how they’re getting and I’m sitting there going, “Wow.” I’m sure it’s not really as good as what we have. With our, what we put together to have the property address, owner address, phone numbers and all this stuff.

Steven Butala:
I grew up in an environment, from the Midwest, where no one talks about anything and all I was ever taught professionally and socially was don’t talk to anybody, keep offers to your vest-

Jill DeWit:
That’s what we’re doing.

Steven Butala:
Don’t share any data, mind your own business, make your own decisions. I came out here and it was exactly the opposite, in early 90s, in Arizona. I like this way better. I think the more stuff that we share, I just think it creates more business.

Jill DeWit:
Where it’s funny it’s, I think it’s an East Coast company that one that had analysts, was in New Jersey. They’re not sharing anything. I’m like, we have all that.

Steven Butala:
The .com model is free first. Then if you’re really into it, then pay. I love that.

Jill DeWit:
Exactly.

Steven Butala:
I have to ask you, Laurie, can you share some of the similar statistics about properties or mailers that worked?

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Laurie Phillips:
Well, like I said before, the smaller properties really two to $6,000 offers are the ones most likely to be accepted. Obviously, economies that are hurting are Detroit all the time. Now that you left, Steve, there’s no income there, right?

Steven Butala:
No, I didn’t have income when I was there either. [crosstalk 00:18:36].

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Laurie Phillips:
Where owners live where the economy is harsh, that’s another area where it’s good to mail. They don’t have to be bankrupt. They don’t have to be in foreclosure. Don’t have to be tax deficient. They just need to be living in an area where they feel some threat to their financial stability. That’s a good target as well. In addition, I mean, having insurance, I don’t think is unique.

Laurie Phillips:
But one of the things we do is we focus on, I’ll call it, the emerging technologies and the effect that’s going to have on land use and people’s ability to spread out. We go look at things like where Hyperloop is most likely to affect things and Gigafactory and the effect that’s had on the economy. Lilium, with flying cars and graphene, which is, formerly very, very expensive compound that allowed… Jill stopped listening. This is going to bore you to death.

Jill DeWit:
It’s okay.

Laurie Phillips:
It makes solar incredibly efficient. As solar becomes more efficient, it drives the cost of energy down. When the cost of energy goes down, where do you want to live? Well, anywhere you can get solar, right? With zero cost of energy. All of these things together, they’re not just coming but they’re here. They’re here on small volumes. As that volume increases, all of a sudden people will realize that they can live in DC. If they need to be in LA, they can be in LA in a few hours without getting on a plane.

Laurie Phillips:
A lot of the things that have come up recently with people wanting to work at home, wanting to be distant from other people will be enabled by these technologies. What’s that have to do with land? Having those things lets people spread out and live wherever they want to be. That’s number one. Number two is it takes away a lot of the inconvenience of living remotely. Where you don’t have utilities now, where it’s hard to get groceries. All of those things are factors

Laurie Phillips:
Some people it’s, having a weekend place two hours away is wonderful but six hours away is just not doable, right? You’re going to have to change your program to get rid of the one hour from a city thing. Because as these technologies really develop, you can live anywhere. People will want to. It’s all already obvious that they’re happy to get out of Dodge when they can.

Jill DeWit:
I love that.

Steven Butala:
I’m trying to think, back in my career, if I’ve ever had to explain the benefit of rural lifestyle to anybody who’s ever bought land from us ever.

Jill DeWit:
Right.

Steven Butala:
You’re saying all this stuff and I’m wondering if you utilize that in your posting when you go to sell the property. Do you educate potential buyers in all this?

Laurie Phillips:
One of the things we do is we go look for buyers who both understand this and want to buy the land as an investment. We want people to look at it the same way we do. Wherever Tesla’s built a Gigafactory, there’s been enormous [inaudible 00:22:02], collateral benefit to them having that factory. They may go look at it as an investment saying, yeah, I want to own that land in advance of that being the place where they put their next one or in advance of the place where a Hyperloop station is going to be located.

Steven Butala:
Yup.

Laurie Phillips:
But also for people, don’t care about that at all. But they want to live remotely and they don’t want to have to drive three hours to Walmart. Those technologies that are coming will make it easier for them to not have to do it. There’s a video on a website that describes and demonstrates how these technologies affect people that live remotely including things like 3D houses that are built by 3D printers. You can get those today. As long as you can get the printer to the location to build it, they’re pretty cool.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Steven Butala:
Well, I’ve seen videos on that too. It’s amazing to watch. Amazing to see layers of a house being built in a huge frame.

Laurie Phillips:
Yep.

Steven Butala:
You’re a marketer. You’ve chosen a niche, a pretty serious niche, I think. You’re marketing toward that group that understands that stuff.

Jill DeWit:
The smart people with money.

Steven Butala:
Yeah, with dough.

Laurie Phillips:
With smart people with money. Yeah. We both provide funding to other people, other investors and we have other investors provide us money to operate. The people that we provide funding to, we do it differently. From what I’ve been told, no one else does it the way we’re doing it. We take on all the data work. We do all the downloads, scrubbing, putting the letters in the mail. Our partners do all the buying and selling, all the interaction with the customer. They come back to us with a signed contract that’s going to title.

Laurie Phillips:
Then reverse same thing on the back end. What that does is it gives us both skin in the game on where we mail and the deals, the sizes of deals. It’s very much a partnership and we have a sliding scale of percentage profits split that are based on how quickly the property sells. But we don’t do it for everybody. We’re very selective about who we’ll work with.

Laurie Phillips:
We want investors who are experienced who we know to some degree and we know what they like to buy and we know their personalities. Because you know how this works, success is based on your attitude.

Steven Butala:
Absolutely.

Laurie Phillips:
If you’re half heartedly committed or you’re not really yet committed, you’re not you’re not going to do nearly as well as someone who knows what this can do and really wants to make it happen.

Steven Butala:
Very, very unique approach. [crosstalk 00:25:06].

Jill DeWit:
I would say, once again, I am blown away-

Steven Butala:
Yeah.

Jill DeWit:
By what our little thing… We are right, I have to check the date, Laurie, but we’re somewhere right around now is exactly five years of the launch of Land Academy. Maybe, Steve and I, we looked it up. I think it’s like that, it’s 20 something, But I’m just like, I can’t believe in five years where this has gone and what people like you are doing with this. I’m just so happy.

Steven Butala:
How do you see this? I mean, you obviously are looking, I think, maybe 10 to 20 years in the future. How do you see it changing? Are you constantly looking for new technologies that can add to this concept that you have about where you choose to send a mail?

Laurie Phillips:
We are looking for new technologies and some of them are pretty esoteric. Like the whole idea of graphene changing the ability of solar. Even as the oil pipelines dry up because of the price of oil crash, sorry Jill, price of oil crash-

Jill DeWit:
Hold on a bit there. Just say it like, maybe whistle when I should come back in. This topic is-

Laurie Phillips:
I’ve listened to so many of your podcasts. I’ve listened to them in the kitchen. I listened to them in the car, in the gym. I’ve learned so much. I know so many people have said the same thing so I hope you keep doing it.

Jill DeWit:
Thank you.

Laurie Phillips:
But-

Steven Butala:
But are you going to listen to this one?

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Laurie Phillips:
Probably not.

Steven Butala:
I can’t listen to myself either. Even to this day, I just can’t.

Laurie Phillips:
It’s okay. Yeah.

Steven Butala:
Unless it’s short editing but I can’t listen to it all the way throughout the [inaudible 00:26:48].

Laurie Phillips:
Yeah. I know it’s always out there. If I have a day when I’m really bored, I can listen to it. But anyway, as the oil pipelines dry up, we’ll be able to use them for water. I mean, we wouldn’t use the same pipe, but the same fundamental infrastructure could be used for water. Think about where that can take water where it isn’t right now. Yeah.

Laurie Phillips:
We’re looking at it long-term and we’re both buying property that we’re going to hold for the long-term. And buying property that appeals to people with the same sense that we do as well as people who just say, get me out of here and want to buy something right now.

Steven Butala:
Fascinating.

Jill DeWit:
You’re in this for, obviously, the long haul. What did you do? Well, I don’t think you shared your background before this. What were you doing before the whole investment?

Steven Butala:
I don’t think you were homeless.

Laurie Phillips:
Yeah. I think, this is my 11th company that I’ve started over the years.

Steven Butala:
Oh.

Laurie Phillips:
They’ve ranged from technology consulting to software development to interior painting to selling stuff on eBay to a nonprofit I started for veterans. It’s a long list and they’re buried. My father had always invested in land. I was interested in and I kept saying, “I’ll get around to it.” It’s something I know I want to do. One day I was shopping for land and looking for some land out in Colorado. I find these listings on this website called LandPin. There was a guy who had five different properties, all the same size and all in the same area. It was in the area I knew.

Laurie Phillips:
I called him and said, “What’s the difference between these?” I’m looking at them. I’m thinking about buying something but I can’t figure out how they’re different. I started talking to him and said, “How did you end up with these properties?” He said, “Well, I’m a member of Land Academy and this is what Land Academy does”. The short version is, he didn’t get the sale but you did.

Jill DeWit:
Heck yes.

Steven Butala:
Wow.

Jill DeWit:
That’s cool.

Steven Butala:
There’s a compliment in there somewhere. I appreciate that.

Jill DeWit:
Thank you. It’s obviously assigned to you. You’re obviously a data person. It’s amazing what you’re working on. I want to read your reports now.

Steven Butala:
Yeah. I’m going to go and check it all up too.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Laurie Phillips:
But yeah. Before that, I had a brief stint in where I was employee, actually a partner in a Big four consulting firm which didn’t suit my personality that much. I was always the best boss they’d ever had. Finding myself in that environment, it just didn’t work that well for me. But the great thing is a number of the companies that I’ve had and the position I had in that firm was evaluating startups.

Laurie Phillips:
When it came to due diligence for this, the process to me is probably more grueling than it is for most people. The investors I work with have learned how to deal with that and what I want from them before they bring me a property-

Jill DeWit:
The harder way.

Laurie Phillips:
But the nice thing is-

Jill DeWit:
[crosstalk 00:30:29] really mad.

Laurie Phillips:
They never make me mad. They make me very happy as a matter of fact. But when I send something, the title, I’m not worried about it anymore. I know what I’m getting. Yeah. That’s great.

Steven Butala:
How does this business that you have now, obviously it’s some version of successful, how does it line up from an efficiency standpoint to all the other ones that you were involved in, in the past?

Laurie Phillips:
I’ve always found that the more people are involved in a business, the more efficient it is and the more effective it is. Two brains together is worth three as opposed to just two. I’ve learned over the years to listen more. That’s been really important. Like I say, “Get on the phone and call people.” But also, find people you can team up with. I’m part of an accountability group that you’re familiar with.

Laurie Phillips:
I think there’s more than six of us but there’s only six of us that are regulars. We meet once a week for an hour and we go through and share what we’ve done that week. But we have also started, in the last month, to have each person pick a topic that’s their specialty and do a presentation for the group on that topic for the hour. We’re putting together, as we call it, a book of secrets for being successful.

Laurie Phillips:
For instance, I did the data side, how to find stuff in RealQuest when you think you can’t really find it and the fast way to scrub data. I can take, I don’t know, probably 5,000 records and scrub it in two hours tops and it’s done. Price it in another half hour and it’s done and that’s working at the zip code level, which is, typically where I price it. I want to get better at it, at doing it based on the PLSS map. But that’s something that I’ll look forward to.

Steven Butala:
That’s great.

Laurie Phillips:
I did that part and then someone else did the, how to interact with sellers and someone else did, working with the title companies, title clause and self clause. Altogether, I mean, the group is just tremendously valuable. Really adds onto what Land Academy has done.

Jill DeWit:
That’s awesome.

Steven Butala:
That’s great. That’s what’s supposed to happen.

Jill DeWit:
Exactly.

Steven Butala:
That makes me want… If we’re to get off this call and hug each other.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Steven Butala:
That’s what our goal was. Our whole goal was to just give back and help people. It was a real funny, in a funny way, a struggle for us to, the first year of Land Academy to communicate that this works. I mean, every day we would put up with some stuff about that, that’s the most ludicrous idea I’ve ever heard-

Jill DeWit:
Yeah. This numbers can’t be real.

Steven Butala:
Sent out lying mailers to people for less than their property’s worth? It was something that was so natural to me. I’ve been doing it since the early 90s.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Steven Butala:
It’s just, it’s funny where it’s gotten. The numbers on the show will be… You’re confirming what my point is. You’re confirming in a huge way what I knew this could be. Thank you.

Laurie Phillips:
I’ve got to tell you a lot of the posts that more experienced members have put on the forums and on Facebook. Where they say, here’s my experience. I was almost broke but I almost spent all the money I’d allocated for mailers. Then these things started happening. If you do it the way you say to do it, it works. It just works. I mean, we found that in our research that the offers most likely to be accepted were priced between 18.9% and 31% of retail.

Jill DeWit:
Perfect.

Laurie Phillips:
That’s the range. The majority of that data is recent. The 18 to 22% is a good target.

Steven Butala:
Well, I have to ask you now, how do you determine retail value in a very rural area?

Laurie Phillips:
Well, usually go by, we take a combination of Realtor, Redfin, Zillow and zone.

Steven Butala:
Excellent.

Jill DeWit:
That is interesting. Yeah.

Laurie Phillips:
Throw that together, come up with the lowest and then we’ll do a percentage of that. The tricky part is always sorting out which listings are wholesalers, people flipping land.

Jill DeWit:
Right.

Laurie Phillips:
But after a while, that’s not very hard to figure out.

Steven Butala:
Sure.

Jill DeWit:
You can figure it out-

Steven Butala:
I mean, there’s, I just remove the bottom 10% and usually the top 10% or some version of that. I look at it like a bell curve and just make the curve a little tighter.

Laurie Phillips:
Yeah.

Jill DeWit:
Interesting.

Steven Butala:
It’s super interesting.

Jill DeWit:
I’m so happy we did this.

Steven Butala:
Yeah.

Jill DeWit:
Thank you. This has been awesome. Anything you want to ask us or? I don’t know.

Laurie Phillips:
I was figuring out today, when I look at my mailers, if people say, well, how many letters do you mail a month? That kind of thing. Well, this month we’ll probably set up about 14 or 15,000 letters. Because in addition to doing research, our interns are also doing mailers and social media and website and we’ve got a couple being just assistance. I don’t really count letters. I like to look at the total dollar value of offers.

Steven Butala:
Wow.

Laurie Phillips:
First shot I figured out, okay, we’ve made more than $1 billion worth of offers. Then I thought about it and said, “I wonder what Steve and Jill had done.” How many dollars worth of offers? Could you cover the national deficit with your offers?

Steven Butala:
Maybe a couple of years ago. But not now.

Jill DeWit:
Wow. But just, in the lifetime it feels… Wow. I’m curious what that number is.

Steven Butala:
How I do mailers now is very different than how I did them in 2002 and even before that. Because RealQuest is really different. I think, it’d be possible to go back and really add them up-

Jill DeWit:
That’s really cool.

Steven Butala:
[crosstalk 00:37:21] that data’s all over the place. It’s a lot.

Jill DeWit:
We should do that.

Steven Butala:
You probably sent out 20 million offers.

Jill DeWit:
I’m going to check it. I think it’s too easy to go back to look real quick. We’ve got, like in fall, we did 17,000 unit, LA County. Multi-tenant possible mailer. There’s a chunk of change in those offers.

Steven Butala:
Those are $1 million to $2 million offer price-

Jill DeWit:
Each.

Steven Butala:
In there-

Jill DeWit:
It was 17,000, I think, units.

Steven Butala:
There are two runs on that. I bet that hit a billion.

Laurie Phillips:
Yeah.

Jill DeWit:
That’s pretty fun, Laurie. I want to look at that right now.

Laurie Phillips:
I know.

Jill DeWit:
Just, the thoughts of total at the bottom that I’m offering.

Laurie Phillips:
I always look at that number and look at the average offer, I thought at first, billion dollars, that sounds like a lot until I figured out that we’re mailing about 220 to $230 million worth of offers a month. I’ll hit probably another $3 billion with the mailers this year.

Jill DeWit:
That’s cool.

Steven Butala:
What’s you’re [crosstalk 00:38:35].

Laurie Phillips:
Isn’t that fun?

Steven Butala:
Yeah.

Laurie Phillips:
I got that [crosstalk 00:38:39]. Cool I like that.

Steven Butala:
All right. Now I got to ask, what do you think you spent acquisition… Well, you probably know the exact number. What have you spent acquisition wise since you started and then how much have you sold? If you’re comfortable sharing those numbers, if you’re not I’ll totally understand.

Laurie Phillips:
I actually don’t know those numbers.

Jill DeWit:
Awe, I’m sorry. Your bank account’s just getting too big to keep track of.

Laurie Phillips:
No, it’s not that so much. I mean, I know we’ve done 55 deals. Those really started in November of last year, so in seven months. It came out to be about 1.65 million in gross profit in that time.

Steven Butala:
Excellent.

Laurie Phillips:
But we’ve been running about 30% overhead and probably a little higher right now as we’re putting more infrastructure into place. Because for a long time, I was winging it and I did my own website. I was doing everything. I’ve realized, over time, that spending some money, there’s the penny wise and pound foolish thing and spending some money where it gives me time back, makes sense. I got a call service involved and got help for doing some admin stuff and that offloaded it. But then this move to bringing in interns that can take just days worth of work and get it done in 24 hours is perfect.

Steven Butala:
What’s the training curve on interns for you?

Laurie Phillips:
Well, they started on Tuesday after Memorial Day. That Friday, they sent out their first round of mailers.

Jill DeWit:
That’s great.

Steven Butala:
Wow. That’s impressive. It’s getting me thinking about our own operation.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Steven Butala:
I can see you found some bright kids.

Laurie Phillips:
Very. Very, very bright kids. Yeah. Hard workers and they get it… The great thing is they’ve learned a skill that they’re doing for us. They can join Land Academy when they leave us and do it while they’re in school.

Jill DeWit:
Exactly.

Steven Butala:
I mean, that’s just it. I’m sure, hopefully, you’ve experienced that earlier in your life. I know I have. Having these irreplaceable experiences in commercial real estate environment that I brought to this. I brought those big commercial real estate. I worked for two huge commercial real estate companies that had, at that time, seemingly endless resources.

Steven Butala:
I got to try a lot of new stuff. I actually brought the data concept to them and then we were sending faxes out. Faxed offers at the time, this was before email. Man, you’re paying it forward. I respect that. I like to think a lot of people would say, well, I’m not going to share these secrets with anybody.

Jill DeWit:
Right.

Steven Butala:
That’s good.

Laurie Phillips:
They’re not really secrets. I mean, everyone has the data and you’d probably find out the same things from looking at it. The hard part is finding the time to do it. I don’t know about you. But my to do list just gets rewritten the next day with new stuff and ignored yesterday. I just-

Jill DeWit:
Exactly.

Steven Butala:
You should let [crosstalk 00:42:08] on that. The live event, every year now. People like it, for whatever reason. I do a module on organization and moving things to the next day, not down.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Steven Butala:
You move them down they just go away. When you move it like that.

Laurie Phillips:
Yeah. I got to tell you, there was a there was a podcast where Jill mentioned the book, The One Thing.

Jill DeWit:
Yes.

Laurie Phillips:
Do you recall that?

Jill DeWit:
I do.

Laurie Phillips:
Do you remember Steve’s response to it?

Jill DeWit:
Do not.

Steven Butala:
What was it?

Jill DeWit:
I forgot.

Laurie Phillips:
It was effectively, that’s ridiculous. Don’t do one thing. You have to do everything.

Jill DeWit:
Right.

Laurie Phillips:
But the thing is, there’s a few books that have been really influential for me. Rich Dad Poor Dad, 4-Hour WorkWeek, are a couple. The One Thing is another one which I’m not going to bother explaining it in this amount of time. But it’s definitely worth reading. Because it tells you, don’t get up in the morning from your desk until you’ve gotten that thing done that’s going to move you ahead the mumps.

Jill DeWit:
Exactly.

Laurie Phillips:
Once you’ve done that, it’s easy.

Jill DeWit:
Exactly. That’s very true.

Laurie Phillips:
It’s really, Steve. Yeah.

Steven Butala:
It’s worth doing it. I love it.

Jill DeWit:
It’s, this is why we’re partners. This is good. We each bring different things to the table.

Steven Butala:
That’s right.

Jill DeWit:
It’s great.

Steven Butala:
That’s right. Laurie, it’s been a pleasure.

Jill DeWit:
Thank you.

Laurie Phillips:
Same here. Thank you so much for inviting me.

Steven Butala:
Do you have any advice for new people before we do the closing here?

Laurie Phillips:
Yeah, I have to say, when I got started, I wasn’t sure that it would work if I didn’t have your personalities.

Steven Butala:
Oh.

Jill DeWit:
Oh.

Laurie Phillips:
If I didn’t have Jill’s skills on the phone in dealing with people and being so sweet and getting killer deals at the same time. If I didn’t have Steve sense of really being able to master the data and make pricing so simple that I would have that kind of result. What I discovered was, I am neither of you and I’m sure I don’t have skills anywhere near what both of you have in any way. It’s worked for me. But it’s worked for me because I just stopped trying to be creative and I just followed the directions.

Steven Butala:
It’s fantastic. I’d say, it sounds to me like you’ve got my half licked. No one can do what Jill does. But I think the data part either… I don’t know, that’s just my take on it. When you’re good at something, it seems easy. I don’t know why.

Laurie Phillips:
It does it. That is very easy for me. That’s the part that’s easy for me.

Jill DeWit:
Awe, Thank you very, Laurie.

Steven Butala:
Thanks very much, Laurie. It’s great talking with you.

Jill DeWit:
Land Academy Show remains commercial free, for you, our loyal listener. Wherever you’re watching, wherever you’re listening, please subscribe and rate us there.

Steven Butala:
This is Steve and Jill. Information.

Jill DeWit:
And inspiration.

Steven Butala:
To buy undervalued property.

Steven Butala:
Okay. We’re out. I mean, that was amazing. I’m sure that you’re just going to get this thing. We try to net 2 million bucks a year between two and five, just on real estate and all the other stuff is separate. We’ve hit it. Since we’ve been together we hit it. But I mean, what’s your long-term? I mean, you’ve got to shoot for the fence now.

Laurie Phillips:
Yeah. To be honest with you, I started out saying, I wanted to hit 50 million in five years. That was before I had other investors’ money coming in to help fund what I’m doing. With that, I think that’s probably very low. I think double would be easy.

Steven Butala:
Yep. So 50 million net?

Laurie Phillips:
50 million net when I do double.

Steven Butala:
Right.

Laurie Phillips:
50 million net.

Steven Butala:
That’s cumulative. That’s not a year, right? That’s cumulative?

Laurie Phillips:
That’s per year.

Steven Butala:
Oh, wow.

Jill DeWit:
Okay.

Laurie Phillips:
Which means if you think about it, that’s not residential deals anymore. That’s getting into some bigger stuff. What I really like is industrial space for warehouses.

Steven Butala:
Me too.

Jill DeWit:
That’s a thing now. By the way, we know that industrial and tech.

Laurie Phillips:
Yeah. That’s-

Steven Butala:
I’ve been researching converting office buildings because I think they’re becoming obsolete into condos or apartments.

Laurie Phillips:
Ooh, nice.

Steven Butala:
I’ve been thinking a lot about that.

Laurie Phillips:
New company?

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Steven Butala:
Yeah. What I would like to do is locate the asset, buy it under duress and then package it up like you are with the energy component or the alternative use component and say, this is what’s possible. We all know how easy it is to move an office building walls around it and change all that stuff. Why not just make it a hotel or an apartment building?

Laurie Phillips:
Are you talking about tall or short buildings?

Steven Butala:
The ones that are class B. Maybe even class A, they’re empty. They’re empty now and probably never going to get full. Because of all this. Hopefully, I don’t know, we’ll see. It depends on what the data comes up with and how much of an Exodus there is out of these big cities. I don’t think it’s going to be crazy like everybody says. But I do think it’s going to be significant enough to do something about it.

Laurie Phillips:
Yeah. I think if anything, for office environments, it’s going to turn out to be more of a campus and less of a building.

Jill DeWit:
Right.

Laurie Phillips:
Where people can spread out. But the reason I asked about height of the building is, I had some friends years ago who bought a two story building and put solar panels across the roof and sold it back to the power company and ended up making money on their building. Even more than covering their mortgage on it and were able to turn around and buy another building and do the same thing.

Laurie Phillips:
But they said, really, anything above a certain height becomes squat and you want something that’s spread out so that you can do that. As solar becomes more efficient, you’re producing a lot more power that you can both sell back and use. If you think about it, who are the tenants that want and are going to need a lot?

Steven Butala:
Computer people.

Laurie Phillips:
Yeah. Data centers. That kind of place.

Steven Butala:
What state was that in? Because in California, there’s a severe limit on what you can sell back.

Laurie Phillips:
That was in Georgia.

Steven Butala:
Okay.

Jill DeWit:
Okay.

Laurie Phillips:
Savannah.

Jill DeWit:
That’s cool.

Steven Butala:
Arizona, there’s a severe limit too. It’s just-

Laurie Phillips:
On what you can sell back? Really?

Steven Butala:
Yeah. But at that my numbers are, best thought, might just be for residential. I don’t know what commercial can sell back. There’s pretty… Because I did all the math on this. When we used to live on 5th Street. We had a guy in our group who was a solar panel expert-

Jill DeWit:
Yeah. I remember that guy. In Florida.

Steven Butala:
Was trying to get out of the business. Yeah. I’ll barely contact him. I think he’s still a member.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah. He was there-

Steven Butala:
Whatever he’s doing, he’s doing it now really successfully. He’s just not loud about it in our group anymore.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah. Him and his wife were there. Super, super neat. Cool.

Steven Butala:
[crosstalk 00:49:21].

Laurie Phillips:
Yeah. We’re looking-

Steven Butala:
I’m sorry. Go ahead.

Laurie Phillips:
I was going to say, we’re looking at putting some structures on the property too as we buy it and before we sell it. Like a cabin or a mobile or something like that, which is why I asked you about a mobile for those properties that we were looking at. I think, it would make it easier to sell.

Steven Butala:
I think that’s going to be how we do almost every deal, especially in this. That’s my secret about how I’m going to win this contest. Just to drop some type of structure. Even if it’s just-

Jill DeWit:
Anything.

Steven Butala:
We just dropped about $5,000 on mobile home and don’t connect us to anything and say, knock yourself out and figure it out. There’s a bajillion people out there that love that DIY stuff. I agree with you completely. I hope, the more rural you get, the easier it is to do alternative septic or whatever it is.

Jill DeWit:
I have my own secret weapon that I won’t share.

Steven Butala:
Oh, you shared mine.

Jill DeWit:
I know. Oh, come on. Hey, how much you pay these interns?

Laurie Phillips:
Some of them are paid a fixed amount for the summer and some are paid a commission on the deals we get. We pay them as the deals come in. When we get it in, we send it to title and we figure out what we’re going to price it for. We give them 20% of our profit.

Steven Butala:
You’re creating-

Jill DeWit:
That’s a lot.

Laurie Phillips:
It’s a lot. That’s a lot.

Jill DeWit:
That’s a lot money. Yeah.

Steven Butala:
You’re creating heroin addicts.

Laurie Phillips:
I know.

Steven Butala:
They’re getting ready to stick that needle in their arm, it’s never going to go out.

Laurie Phillips:
Yeah. It’s not a bad thing.

Steven Butala:
No, It’s great.

Laurie Phillips:
Yeah.

Jill DeWit:
Awesome.

Laurie Phillips:
Yeah, it’s been wonderful.

Steven Butala:
Yeah, I might air this. After talk, I might air it, if it’s okay with you.

Laurie Phillips:
Sure.

Steven Butala:
If it’s not, I’ll cut it. Okay.

Laurie Phillips:
No. I don’t know. Have I said, no?

Jill DeWit:
No.

Laurie Phillips:
I think we’re-

Jill DeWit:
No, we’re good.

Laurie Phillips:
I think we’re good. Yeah.

Jill DeWit:
Right.

Laurie Phillips:
Well, I’m hoping to get to the live event.

Jill DeWit:
Yes.

Steven Butala:
Good.

Jill DeWit:
It’s actually on my list of things to work on this week. I’ve got to pick these [crosstalk 00:51:31] together. Hey, let me ask you real quick, Laurie. If you could brainstorm because this will help me out, what would you want to get out of the live event?

Laurie Phillips:
I would love to hear what the other members who are doing other stuff are doing. I mean, we know the basics. Go beyond the training and talk about people who are doing just mountain top properties or people who are actually building something on the property before they sell it. The rezoning part, I know some people are really getting into rezoning, I’ve been through rezoning once with a residential property and it was not only long painstaking, it was boring.

Steven Butala:
That was awful.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah. We hate that too.

Steven Butala:
We have the control of about what we buy now. If you just buy agricultural property, you can do anything with it.

Jill DeWit:
Right.

Laurie Phillips:
Yeah.

Steven Butala:
In most places.

Jill DeWit:
Right.

Laurie Phillips:
That kind of stuff, as well as, people who are looking at alternative uses for the property. That might be buying it and selling it to someone who just use billboards, for an example. I know billboards aren’t slam dunking. But I’ve seen property, someone brought me a piece of property the other day that was this little tiny strip between a rest area, exit ramp and the access road that ran alongside it. And said, what’s it zone? What can we do with it? It might be worth a couple thousand dollars that the property was for. It’s not going to be residential. Do Land Academy 3.0, stuff like that. Beyond the basic buying and selling.

Steven Butala:
Could be niche. Cover some of the possible niches.

Laurie Phillips:
Yeah. Maybe even the topic of data. I’ll tell you what, the greatest thing about the interns going through putting a mailer together was that they could bitch about all the things that were incredibly painful to do. Like finding the right county and pulling the right data from RealQuest. You know what? They probably downloaded, I don’t know, 10 plus 1000 records from RealQuest for the wrong thing. I told them to save their searches.

Steven Butala:
Yup.

Laurie Phillips:
But they thought that meant, export and save the file. I was like, gosh.

Jill DeWit:
Oops.

Laurie Phillips:
Amy’s been helping me try to undo some of that. I mean, four times for the same county, right?

Jill DeWit:
Oh my.

Laurie Phillips:
With the same number of records.

Jill DeWit:
Oh great.

Laurie Phillips:
No, that’s not what I meant. But the sticky points, that’s one of it. I think people get way too tied up with pricing. Pricing is, if you get data, not just go look at individual entries. But get data. That’s one thing. The other thing is we’ve really started focusing on demand and trying to put numbers to demand. I don’t care about housing demand. That’s not meaningful to me. I want land demands. We’re starting to try to put numbers to that and get that. Because I think a lot of people focus on, they gauge demand based on how a few properties are for sale as opposed to, are people looking at them?

Jill DeWit:
Right.

Steven Butala:
Oh, you mean just click throughs and-

Laurie Phillips:
Do people want them?

Jill DeWit:
Right.

Laurie Phillips:
Well, I mean, on Zillow, you can look at views and saves, right?

Steven Butala:
Yep.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Laurie Phillips:
But looking at them individually, it’s hard to get a picture of how good a market that is.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Steven Butala:
What do you think about completed sales, land sales as valid or valid indicator demand?

Laurie Phillips:
I think, indicator demand is a great indicator of demand. But it’s also, that’s limited by supply. So-

Steven Butala:
So limited. Yeah.

Laurie Phillips:
Yeah. There’s a county in Utah, Oregon County, where I just bought a property for $5,000. I must have mispriced it when I sent it out. Because I sent out an offer for $1,200, it’s 10 acres. The guy came back and said, “I won’t take anything less than $5,000.” Well, we looked it up. The cheapest listing is $350,000. We went back to him and said, “Okay, we’ll do 5000.”

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Laurie Phillips:
I kept waiting for it to fall apart before we closed on it. Kept waiting, kept waiting. We’re going to list it at about 190.

Steven Butala:
Perfect

Jill DeWit:
That’s awesome.

Steven Butala:
That’s fantastic.

Jill DeWit:
I love it.

Laurie Phillips:
You don’t need many of those to realize that it does work.

Steven Butala:
Yeah. Great talking to you, Laurie. Thanks again.

Jill DeWit:
Thank you.

Steven Butala:
We’ll get you onboarded into the advanced group here-

Laurie Phillips:
That’s great. Hey, question. When does this air?

Steven Butala:
It will air tomorrow?

Jill DeWit:
It will air on Wednesday, next week.

Steven Butala:
Wednesday.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Laurie Phillips:
Okay.

Steven Butala:
Not tomorrow. Next week, Wednesday.

Laurie Phillips:
Okay. All right, great.

Steven Butala:
All right

Jill DeWit:
All right.

Laurie Phillips:
Well, love to talk to you guys soon.

Steven Butala:
Okay. Bye.

Jill DeWit:
Bye.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me directly at steven@BuWit.com.

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