Land Investing: How You Can Get Started in 2020

Land Investing: How You Can Get Started in 2020

“I told you it wouldn’t work,” I quipped to my partner, Abi, after his first land investing sale fell through.

The sale was already three months in the making and I was frustrated.

But, first, let’s rewind.

It was October of 2018, and the weather was turning chilly.

Like many New Yorkers on the first cold day of the year, we were inside watching Netflix.

We had been too lazy to go on our regular weekend day trip up the Hudson River and were missing the scenery, so we began binge-watching a show about homes in spectacular settings.

The first home in the series was an underground structure built on a rolling, forested property purchased from craigslist.

Sitting in our cramped city apartment, we couldn’t help but think, “wouldn’t it be cool to build a house like that?”

Owning a retreat in a beautiful, secluded setting. That’s everyone’s dream on some level, no?

No wonder Airbnb makes millions each year!

Well, Abi is not known for backing down from a challenge, so he immediately started looking for our dream lot.

Where is the cheap land?

As you can imagine, we quickly found that all the land immediately outside of New York City was too expensive.

Even the properties 4 hours out from NYC were pricey.

Where was the cheap Craigslist stuff?! (Of course, now we know where it is. We even did a video on where to find it!)

That’s when we ran into a land investing course promising that we could find cheap land by mailing postcards to owners of tax-delinquent properties.

It made sense, so why not try it out?

“Perhaps,” we thought, “we could build our dream home and also create a new investing opportunity.”

So we started reaching out to counties for tax delinquent lists as instructed.

Except that none of the counties would give us a list – well one did after we invoked the freedom of information act, but it was in a useless PDF format!

So much for that…

Then there was direct mail

Not to be deterred, we found another land investing course that used county data from third-party aggregators to create postcards asking owners if they would like to sell.

So no more PDFs!

As promised, the first mailer was very easy to put together.

We quickly sent 1000 postcards to a county in Hawaii (it was winter after all).

But only two people called us back….and asked for way too much.

It was beginning to look like direct mail wasn’t a magic bullet either.

So many states to choose from

Perhaps the problem was the state (Hawaii is expensive after all).

Other land investors were talking about mailing to desert states with blind offers of $100 an acre.

So, we tried it.

This time, instead of sending postcards, we would send blind offers.

And we sent a 1000-unit mailer to a county in Arizona…….

….but didn’t get a single response.

Worse than before.

State and price seemed right, at least according to other investors, so maybe land investing is just harder than it looked.

At this point, it was becoming hard to justify the expense, so we took a break.

There’s got to be something to this land investing thing

Still, we kept up with the land investing community and continued to listen to podcasts.

It seemed that so many others were having success, and we just couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something to this.

Perhaps it was still a problem with the state.

If everyone was mailing to desert counties, maybe the market was just too saturated?

So we decided to try a state that no one seemed to be investing in: Michigan.

You may know where this is going.

We sent a number of blind offers at $200 an acre and got a huge response…

…of hate.

No one accepted our offers, but we got a lot of very angry callers.

It seemed we had significantly underpriced the mailer.

That’s what happens when you pick a county with very little market data.

In retrospect, we should not have priced infill lots on a per-acre basis.

But we’ve since learned this and how to avoid a number of other key investing mistakes (you can see our video on this below).

Let’s buy vacant land already!

At this point, we were so desperate to own a piece of land that we tried a Hail Mary.

We went on eBay and bid on a few parcels, hoping we could get a decent price.

Of course, we paid too much, but we did get a few properties, which we immediately listed back on eBay on terms (owner financing).

At that time, you could list the down payment as the price on eBay for a $1 no reserve auction (you can’t anymore), so we found a buyer for our first property quickly.

She bought on terms, and we closed the deal.

Seller Beware!

Happy with the way that deal went, we began looking for more properties on eBay and we quickly acquired a few more.

But then, we found out that our first buyer was trying to sell the plot of land herself.

Except that she was trying to sell five 1-acre pieces of our lot without subdividing it first!

We let her know that (1) she couldn’t sell until the end of the loan term, and (2) she couldn’t just sell a portion of a lot in that county without legally subdividing it.

She quickly defaulted on the loan.

Frustrated with our first foray into owner financing, we sold the rest of the properties for cash and made a profit of about 30%.

Not great, but it was still a profit, and it proved that land investing worked.

And we were back to land investing

With renewed faith, we went back to sending blind offers via direct mail.

We sent a 1000-unit mailer to Pennsylvania – nothing but hate.

We set a 1000-unit mailer to New York – nothing but hate.

But we weren’t giving up.

Maybe it was the mailer count. It was possible we just had to send out more mail.

We sent a 5000-unit mailer at $150 an acre to a county in New Mexico.

This time we got more than 10 signed purchase agreements back in the mail.

What we realized was that direct mail does work, but only if you have taken into account market data, done proper county/zipcode/area research, have a professionally written letter and get the pricing just right.

That first successful mailer was a fluke.

We just happened to stumble upon the right letter at the right price at the right time for the area.

But over time, we have learned how to create a system to accurately price properties, which focuses on smaller sub-areas within counties.

Rather than sending mail to the whole county, we now send mail to a specific zip code or area.

Fast forward a year and a half and we have successfully bought and sold over 190 properties throughout the United States (you can check our listing page here).

We were able to make owner financing work and now have a six-figure annual passive income stream, which allowed me to quit my full time job as a director of affordable housing programs in New York.

But as you can see, we faced a lot of hurdles along the way.

And to be honest, it was only due to my partner’s stubbornness that we didn’t give up.

Is it possible to avoid the pain?

I imagine our story sounds somewhat familiar.

We recently offered free 15-minute consultant calls to new land investors, and unsurprisingly, a lot of people reached out.

During our calls, we began to hear very similar frustrations about starting out in the land investing business.

Unfortunately, just learning the technical aspects of sending out direct mail isn’t always enough.

It can be very frustrating throwing money at mailers only to get back nothing.

Nowadays, we leverage market data, Google Trends, and various randomizer strategies to make sure we never have a failed mailer again.

And we thought we would release a course covering all of the strategies we learned to help you become an expert at land investing.

Because becoming a successful land investor shouldn’t be this hard.

Introducing the GLIP (Gokce Land Investing Program)

We set up a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goal-driven investing course that gives you step-by-step instructions on how to become a pro at land investing while avoiding some of the costly mistakes we made.

SMART goals date back to the 1980s and are a proven way to increase productivity, focus and motivation since they create clear and attainable objectives.

Given that SMART goals are successfully used in forums as diverse as banks and hospitals, we figured they would work well for investing and decided to structure our course around the concept.

GLIP is broken down into 10 modules, each of which contains a number of SMART-goal driven video chapters designed to help you master land investing.

The chapters start out with the SMART goal you are to complete and then cover the steps required to complete the goal.

The following is an overview of what you can expect in each of the 10 overarching modules.

Together these modules cover each step in the land investing business.

Module 1 – Setting up a land investing business

As eager as we were to get started with the land investing business, we didn’t skip the basics.

You need to look professional to prevent unnecessary pain and rejection.

Avoid the mistake of starting a land investing business without first setting up a business entity, website, phone and mailing address.

In this module, you will learn why we selected an LLC as well as the benefits it provides in the investing world.

You will also learn why a professional website is so important (for a sneak peek, here’s a video of the top 6 websites features your land buyers will love):

Module 2 – Building your initial inventory

We went through several failed mailers before we decided to purchase land from eBay.

In doing so, we found that the experience and confidence we gained by selling a few properties helped us tackle our direct mail campaign with renewed insight.

To help you avoid analysis paralysis and wasted money on mailers, we have set up this module to lead you through the process of buying three properties from LandWatch by making medium-ball offers to other land investors.

You will then sell these properties in the next two modules.

This way, you will feel like a pro at land investing before you even touch a mailer.

Module 3 – Due diligence you need to do before buying raw land

The biggest reason we had a hard time selling properties was that we did not collect enough information before setting a price.

If you think about it, the value of a property is directly tied to how useable it is (see our video on how to value land).

And you run the risk of overpricing (both on the buy and sell side) if you don’t understand the basic attributes of the lot.

In this module, we take you through the various aspects that help or hinder various uses of vacant land, such as building a home.

These items include the following:

APN  

The very first thing you must do is look up the Assessor’s Parcel Number, which is the number the county uses to identify the property.

This number will be used to complete all other due diligence items.

We will show you how to find it!

Ownership

Next, you need to make sure the person who is selling to you actually owns the property.

This module will cover how to verify ownership of a property and what to do if there is a problem.

You may also want to look into whether your seller owns mineral rights to the property (see our video below).

GPS Coordinates

Since most rural land parcels do not have an address, GPS coordinates are a crucial way to identify the piece of land you’re interested in purchasing.

We’ll give you the tools to find them.

Wetlands

Did you know that you typically cannot build on a property if there are federally-designated wetlands on it?

We’ll show you how you can find where wetlands are located so you can avoid them when you purchase land.

Flood Zones

Properties that are prone to flooding are generally located in Special Flood Hazard Areas, as designed by FEMA, and require the mandatory purchase of flood insurance (among other things) if a building is placed on the lot.

We’ll show you how to look up which flood zone a property is in so you can understand any regulations that may come with it.

Terrain Issues

I think we all know that a stream or mountain will make it difficult to build on a lot, but there are sometimes additional regulations that come with even gentle slopes.

Size

Another obvious, but easily missed, due diligence item is to confirm that you have the correct property size.

You would be surprised how often there are mistakes in county tax maps and assessor data!

Shape

You will want to take a look at the property shape and use your judgment on whether the parcel will be useable.

For example, a parcel of land that is 10 feet wide and 200 feet long will likely not be buildable.

Legal Access

This is a big one, but most people are not familiar with the concept of legal access.

Just because a road appears on Google Maps does not mean that you technically have the right to use it.

It is very important that you confirm a property has legal access before you purchase it, or you may overpay.

We will take you through what constitutes legal access and how to determine whether a lot has it.

Physical Access

This one is easy, but you also want to check whether there is a physical way to get to the property.

Even if there is a road, it doesn’t mean it will be accessible year-round.

In other scenarios, a property may have legal access, but not physical access, and you should know what to do in those cases.

Back Taxes

Another obvious one, but you will want to make sure that property taxes are up to date.

If they are not, you will want to incorporate this into your pricing.

Reassessment

Keep in mind that many counties will reassess a property when it is sold.

During a reassessment, the property taxes can go up or down.

You may want to know if the assessed value will change dramatically when you purchase land

Zoning

Almost every jurisdiction in the US has an ordinance governing land use.

There are various types of land per most zoning jurisdictions and knowing the type of real estate you purchase is important.

In this module, we will go over how to look up a property’s zoning designation and figure out what you are legally allowed to do with the property.

Certain key items you need to know are:

Setbacks: Setbacks impose a minimum distance that must be maintained from a building to each lot line.

Road Frontage Requirements: Some counties require that all parcels have a certain linear footage of public road access in order to build on the lot.

There are also unique zoning issues that come up from time to time, below is one example:

Mobile Homes

Many buyers of vacant land will be looking to put a mobile home on the lot they purchase.

Unfortunately, many jurisdictions place restrictions on where mobile homes can be located.

You will want to know if mobile homes can be placed on the lot you are selling because your sellers will ask.

RV Restrictions

Again, many buyers will be looking to place an RV on a property that they purchase and you will want to know if this is allowed as well.

Environmental Issues

Endangered species, contaminated soil, environmentally sensitive areas – there are sometimes unique environmental issues that pop up.

This module will cover how you can look up whether there are special environmental conditions on a lot.

Soil Characteristics

For farmland, it is important to know the characteristics of the soil and whether it will be productive.

For more information, you can read our post on Farms vs. Ranches vs. Homesteads.

Utilities

Many rural vacant land parcels do not have access to public utilities and you will want to check on this before purchasing.

Your buyers will ask!

Perc Test

If a property does not have access to a public sewer system, you will typically need to install a septic system should you want to build.

To get a septic permit in most counties, you will need to have a perc test done.

In this module, we will go over what this means.

Well

If a property does not have access to public water, you will typically need to install a well should you want to build.

Keep in mind that, in certain western states, you may need to purchase water rights in order to drill a new well.

Electricity

If a property does not have access to electricity, an alternative system will be needed.

Buildable

Again, value is directly connected to usability.

To accurately adjust your pricing, you will want to know whether you believe a property is buildable or not.

That is what all of the above due diligence is about.

HOAs

Sometimes you will find that even vacant land is on an HOA.

HOAs will typically come with additional regulations and fees, and you will want to know what these are ahead of time.

Comps

Before you purchase land, you always want to double-check the comps and make sure your pricing is correct.

We will cover how to check comps and avoid overpricing.

Surroundings

Take a look at the surrounding area to see if there are any features that may either add or detract from the parcel value.

Existing Junk

In this same vein, also check to see if it looks like there is a lot of existing junk on the property.

School District

We like to check the school district ratings for the zip code the property is located in.

For buyers with families, this can be especially important!

Recorded Deeds

If you are not closing through a title company, look at public records for all the documents associated with your rural vacant land.

Survey

If you are buying a higher-value parcel of land, you will also want to get a survey done before closing.

But what is the point of all this?

Well, the best way to avoid wasted money on mailers is to step into your first direct mail campaign armed with all of the knowledge you need to gauge the value of a parcel of land!

It’s what separates a pro at land investing from the others when it comes to land investing.

Module 4 – Marketing the properties in your initial inventory

Approaching a mailing with confidence was one of the key ways we were able to turn our direct mail strategy around.

We would never have made tough decisions – like pricing a mailer above our competition – if we weren’t confident in our ability to sell first.

We want to help you approach your first mailer with the same confidence.

So, in this module, we will cover how to market and close on the initial properties in your inventory.

That way, you can steer clear of mailing mistakes made from fear.

Module 5 – Sending direct mail

Analysis paralysis often sets in at this stage.

Or you do what we did, rush a mailer and get zero results.

As we found through our first few failed mailings, the trickiest parts of a direct mail campaign are (1) picking a county and (2) pricing.

To avoid costly mistakes, we needed an investing system of selecting a county and pricing a mailer that we could trust.

We want to share our system with you so you feel in control when sending out your first mailer.

In this module, we cover our county selection system, including:

Using Google Trends to select a state.

land investing

Differentiating between high and low investor activity counties.

Mailing to low investor activity counties using a probe slice and a randomizer.

You can see a preview in our video below:

Module 6 – Handling direct mail responses

Once we completed our first successful direct mail campaign, we found ourselves with a new problem: how to close on a property quickly!

Fortunately, this is one of the easier problems to solve in the land investing world.

In this module, we will guide you through how to save money by closing in house.

You will soon be able to perform the functions of a title company yourself and close quickly on multiple properties at once!

Of course, as a pro at land investing, you are also going to need to answer tricky questions, like this one:

And we will show you how to do this as well.

Module 7 – Pricing properties to sell

We didn’t just make mistakes in pricing our mailing, we also made mistakes in pricing on the sell side (below is an example of one of them).

There is a direct correlation between how long a property will be on the market and whether you price it properly.

Pricing on the sale side can, in part, be avoided by proper due diligence.

However, you also need a strategy for how to sell, both for cash and with owner financing.

In this module, we shepherd you through our learnings on how to properly set cash pricing and provide value through affordable owner financing terms.

People buy vacant land if you give them a good deal, and as a pro at land investing, you will master how to do this.

Module 8 – Selling with owner financing

If you recall, our first owner financing deal was a bust.

It can be tricky figuring out how to properly manage owner financing.

Even worse, if your terms aren’t affordable, you won’t get the full benefit of a quick sale.

Yet, offering great owner financing terms is one of the best ways to ensure you can sell your properties fast(you can see a screenshot from our YouTube channel below).

land investing

In this module, we lead you through the ins and outs of owner financing and help you move your properties quickly.

Module 9 – Managing your land investing business with Jira

I left out a few of the challenges we faced between our first successful mailer and now, but one of them was managing a high volume of transactions.

There was a time when we were overwhelmed and felt like our investing processes were out of control.

It’s not ideal when a business that is supposed to give you a sense of freedom becomes a source of stress.

Fortunately, my partner had been using Jira at work for over a decade, he just hadn’t taken the time to apply it to our land investing business.

So, we built up a Jira project management system to help us organize our investing processes and eventually delegate out tasks.

The reason we selected Jira is that it is a proven project management software that is used by most major technology companies to handle thousands of projects and support issues.

The software allows you to create multiple projects that correspond to each phase of the land investing cycle (acquisition, sales, portfolio management, etc.).

In each project, you then add an issue for each property.

The issues have multiple fields that allow you to keep track of all your important investing due diligence items, project costs, and status updates.

You can see a sample screenshot from our main dashboard below.

land investing

As you can see, we even made a Jira project for GLIP!

We want to make sure you start out with such a tool in place, so you can avoid the frazzled phase we went through.

To help, we created this module to guide you through how to set up a powerful Jira interface for your land investing business.

Module 10 – Accounting for land investing

Thankfully, we did not run into any major problems filing our taxes or keeping our books.

In this area, we did things right and set up a proper accounting system before selling a single property.

No one wants to have issues with the IRS – and, luckily, it is easy to get your books organized.

In our last module, we pilot you through the basics of accounting for land investing and get you up to speed on Quickbooks Online.

This way, you don’t have to worry come next April!

And more!

On top of the 10 modules outlined above, we also have bonus content, including additional videos and template documents to help you dive deeper into various investing topics.

And we will be adding more content as we continue to discover other easily solvable pain points felt by those new to land investing.

At the very beginning of our journey, I told Abi that land investing wouldn’t work.

And then proved myself wrong

Now Abi and I are here to help you complete your own journey, but without all the pain.

After all, land investing shouldn’t be so hard!

If you would like to purchase the Gokce Land Investing Program, click on “Buy Now.”

We will only be offering this course for a limited time since we want to keep this a small group so that we can work closely with each student.buy_now_land_investing

We do offer a 7 Day Money Back Guarantee if you do not think the course is for you.

If you are on the fence, here are some pros and cons of land investing:

Pro 1: Affordable

The acquisition cost per property is very low, which makes raw land more accessible than other forms of real estate.

Land investing also requires far less start-up capital compared to many other business enterprises.

Pro 2: High Returns

When purchased at the right price, land can be a good investment as the return can be very high (2-10x) compared to other forms of real estate or the stock market.

Pro 3: Low Risk

It is easy to contain your risk on each individual property by only buying lower-value parcels (under $10,000).

Even in a worst-case scenario, your potential loss on any individual property is less than $10,000 (and this is only if you absolutely cannot sell it).

Pro 4: Motivated Sellers

Sellers of raw land are more likely to be highly motivated to sell.

This is because they are often not using the property (that’s why it’s still raw land) and therefore may have less of an emotional connection to it.

For some owners, the land may even have become a burden as they find themselves paying taxes on something they are not using.

Since commissions can be low on vacant land, real estate agents are less likely to work with vacant land, and even if they do they may not have expertise in it.

This means that landowners can have difficultly selling using traditional methods.

Pro 5: Less Competition

There is less competition in land investing compared to other forms of real estate.

Most real estate investors are looking for residential property or commercial property and have little interest in vacant land.

This leaves the field wide open for new land investors.

Pro 6: No Need to Leave the House

The entire land investment process can be done online.

You don’t even need to visit the property; although, this is assuming you learn how to do proper due diligence.

Pro 7: Fewer Problems

Raw land transactions typically encounter few issues since they are very simple.

And if you should come across a problem, it will be easier to solve than with higher-value real estate.

A general rule of thumb is the smaller the deal, the smaller the problems.

Pro 8: No Maintenance 

There are no maintenance requirements with raw land.

With no tenants, maintenance, or repairs, land is pretty much a hands-off investment.

Pro 9: Low Carrying Costs

Annual property taxes on raw land are usually low.

There are also typically no other annual carrying costs.

This makes land very inexpensive to own.

Pro 10: You Have Control

Since raw land is very affordable, you don’t need to take on funding partners if you don’t want to.

This gives you total control over all decisions made on your investment.

Pro 11: Cash Flow

With owner financing, you can use land investing to create a passive income stream.

With a large enough portfolio of loans, you can even replicate the income stream from a rental property without the headaches and expenses.

Pro 12: Flexibility

A nice thing about land investing is that you don’t have to do anything with the property.

However, you do also have the option of improving the lots you purchase in any number of ways.

Some options include infrastructure improvements (driveway, well, etc.), placing a mobile home on the lot, building a storage facility, or building a single-family home.

There are many creative ways to make money from raw land.

Pro 13: Real Asset

Land is a real asset, so it is highly unlikely that it will ever completely lose its value.

After all, they aren’t making more land!

This means that, even if you find you cannot sell a parcel, you will still have an asset with intrinsic value in your portfolio.

Con 1: Not Passive

Land investing is not a passive investment strategy, it requires a fair amount of work to set up as a proper business.

However, as your business matures, you can delegate much of this work to virtual assistants.

Con 2: Marketing

Land is generally harder to market than other kinds of real estate.

There is a reason there are a lot of motivated sellers out there!

But with the right marketing strategies (which you will learn in our course), you can overcome this challenge.

Con 3: Absolute Profit

The total absolute profit you make on each property is typically lower than with other forms of real estate.

This is especially true if you are keeping your risk low by investing in lower-value properties.

But this can be overcome by increasing deal volume.

Con 4: Leverage

It is harder to use leverage since banks rarely lend to raw land deals.

This means you will be more dependent on your own capital.

However, an alternative many land investors use is taking on funding partners or selling a portion of their notes to reinvest their capital.

Con 5: Not Long Term

The passive cash flow from owner-financing is medium-term.

You will need to keep adding additional notes to your portfolio in order to replace loans as they are paid off.

A strategy for mitigating this is to buy high-value properties and sell these with longer loan terms (although, this is not the strategy we use since we prefer to keep our risk low).

Con 6: Few Tax Advantages

There are fewer tax advantages to raw land compared with other forms of real estate.

Some examples of tax advantages that do not apply to land include depreciation and mortgage interest deductions.

But you still have access to the myriad tax benefits available to small businesses.

Con 7: Lower Appreciation

Land is less likely to appreciate compared to other forms of real estate.

This is why we focus on selling quickly for a high return.

This is not to say that buying raw land for a long term hold is always a bad strategy.

Many people want an affordable real asset in their portfolio that can be handed down as a legacy regardless of appreciation rates.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How much money do I need to get started?

It really depends on what kind of business you want to set up.

Will you be doing this part-time or full-time?

How many deals do you want to do each month?

Will you be looking to sell on cash or terms?

Generally, we recommend you start with at least $10,000 to fund your initial mailer and purchases, but you will likely need to invest more as you grow your business.

Can I do this business part-time?

Yes, many land investors do run their business part-time. 

Just make sure that if you don’t have time to answer the phone, you delegate sell-side calls to someone in the US so your customer service doesn’t suffer.

What are the main reasons why new investors fail in the land business?

A few of the main reasons we see new investors fail are as follows:

They give up too quickly.

They underestimate how much work the business will be in the beginning. Just because land investing is simple doesn’t mean it is easy.

You can get a number of angry calls after a direct mail campaign and this can be difficult for many people to handle.

Having a mentor or being part of a small group can often help many new investors overcome some of these hurdles and persevere.

What skills do I need to be a land investor?

It’s more of the mindset that will make you a successful land investor rather than any one skill.

You will be an entrepreneur so you need to have perseverance, an ability to problem solve and a drive to constantly improve.

You do need to know your way around excel and it helps to enjoy working with spreadsheets.

You or someone on your team will also need to be comfortable talking on the phone since you will be taking many calls, at least in the beginning.

Can I do this business from outside the United States?

Yes, you can but it is going to be more a little more difficult. 

Our understanding is that you will need to go to the US embassy or consulate to notarize legal documents, which can be challenging, and you will also need to call counties in the US to complete your due diligence.

You will also want to make sure that if you cannot answer the phone, you hire someone in the US to answer your sell-side calls so your customer service doesn’t suffer.

Do you really need a business? Can’t I buy and sell land in my own name?

We do not recommend this for two reasons:

A business entity is a vital tool to help protect your assets in the event of a worst-case scenario.

A business entity can also provide many tax advantages that will help you grow your business.

Do I need a website to sell land?

Technically, no – however, a website is a powerful tool to help prove your legitimacy.

Both your buyers and sellers will be asking themselves whether you are a real company or a scammer.

And without a website or testimonials, you have only your word.

We highly recommend that you build a least a basic website before you buy any properties.

Should I start sending mail without building an inventory first?

You certainly can, but we don’t recommend it for two reasons:

Buying a few properties before sending out your first mailer will build your confidence and give you experience in every aspect of the buying and selling process.

Showing that you do have properties in your inventory and that you have bought and sold properties before is a powerful way to prove your legitimacy.

How important is proper due diligence?

Very!

Proper due diligence is the key to ensuring you are making a wise investment. 

Of all the skills you learn in our course, due diligence is number one.

It will help you avoid costly mistakes and will also allow you to acquire properties at a great price.

Do you visit your properties in person?

We don’t typically visit our properties in person, but we do hire a photographer to go out to most of our lots.

Should I do the due diligence myself or should I offshore it?

We recommend that you at least start out doing your due diligence yourself.

This is because due diligence can be a complicated process and it is easy to miss important facts!

While you may want to delegate out your due diligence later on, you should understand every aspect of the due diligence process before you do so.

If you do hire someone, we recommend that you hire a person in the United States who is familiar with US rules and regulations.

How helpful is the county in helping you complete your due diligence on the property?

It really depends on the county.

We’ve found many county personnel to be very helpful in answering our questions around zoning, ownership and taxes.

However, keep in mind that there are often limits to how much county personnel will know about the property.

It never hurts to ask though!

Do title companies help with due diligence?

We’ve found title companies to be very helpful, especially for basic questions such as requests for documents, basic ownership information, form requirements for specific situations, etc.

Just keep in mind that, for more complicated questions, title companies may tell you that you need to pay for a title search.

Do I need to hire a title company to buy and sell land?

Not necessarily.

We close the majority of our properties in-house and have been able to do this in every state where we work.

Whether you use a title company or not is up to you.

Closing with a title company will add to your closing costs (~$1000 for a title search, title insurance and closing fees), but the title search and insurance do give you extra security.

We generally use a title company for properties with an acquisition price over $10,000 or if the chain of title is complicated.

Do you use online notaries to close?

Yes, we do use online notaries in many circumstances.

If you are going to use an online notary, just be sure to give the county recorder a call to confirm that they accept electronic signatures.

How do you record a deed electronically?

Simplifile is the best way to record a deed electronically.

Just keep in mind that not every county will allow electronic submissions.

Why do you offer to pay for all closing costs on the buy-side?

There are a few reasons why:

It saves time.

If you’ve ever bought a house, you’ll find that negotiations can drag closings on for weeks or months.

When you offer to pay for all closing costs, there is very little to negotiate.

It makes the whole process easy for the seller.

Remember, they are selling their land to you below market, the least you can do is provide a simple, easy and straightforward process.

Do you provide cashier’s checks or regular business checks to sellers?

Our typical process is to provide a cashier’s check for closing on acquisition purchases.

However, we do offer to provide a regular business check if the seller is comfortable with one since it can speed up the closing process (especially given the current situation).

How do you handle uncommon deed situations?

If we find something unusual in the vesting deed, we first talk to the county recorder and assessor to see if they can provide more information.

We also reach out to local title companies and/or attorneys for additional help or to confirm any information we receive from the county.

Do I need to get a survey before I buy land?

We usually ask if a survey has been done before purchasing a property.

If one already exists, then you may not need to worry about commissioning a new survey depending on the age and quality of the existing one.

However, we generally don’t commission a survey when we purchase a property if the acquisition price is below $10,000.

Just keep in mind that, if you don’t have a survey, you will need to be clear with your buyers that one hasn’t been done.

Do I need to hire a wetlands consultant to check for wetlands?

Not necessarily.

We generally don’t purchase a property if we believe there are wetlands on it so we don’t hire wetlands consultants.

Having said that, if you are in a state where a wetlands delineation can be done for free by the county (like New York), you should request one before purchasing a property that may have wetlands on it.

Should I buy a property in a bad neighborhood?

We usually don’t buy infill lots in bad neighborhoods.

On the other hand, we don’t typically think of rural vacant land as having a neighborhood per se, so we don’t put as much weight on community statistics.

Should I buy a property if it has junk on it?

That is up to you.

We try not to purchase properties with junk on them, but if the price is right it may make sense to purchase.

You will just need to fully disclose the existence of the junk or have it removed.

Depending on what is on the lot, certain buyers may actually find some of the items useful.

Should I buy a property if the perc test failed?

We typically do not buy a property if we know it failed a perc test.

This is because the property will likely not be buildable.

Having said that, there are instances where a perc test fails and then passes a few years later.

It may also be possible to sell the property as a recreational lot.

Again, you just want to make sure you are buying at the right price if you do decide to buy.

Should I buy a property if there is a cloud on the title?

We would recommend that you do not buy a property with a cloud on the title unless you get a title search done to understand the issue and whether it can be corrected.

We would also recommend either getting title insurance or making sure that a title company would insure the lot.

Otherwise, you could have difficulties selling.

Which websites do you post your properties on?

Aside from our buyer’s list and social media sites, we get a lot of leads from Facebook Marketplace.

Following that, Land.com is our second-highest source of leads.

However, keep in mind that Land.com is not free.

It is also important to note that we have a Signature Account, which is pricey but produces significantly more leads than the standard account.

You can find a full list of selling websites on our blog post: 19 Best Websites to Buy Land for Sale.

Why is a buyer’s list important?

A buyer’s list is one of the most powerful selling tools at your disposal.

This is because it is a list of people who have already bought from you or showed interest in purchasing.

And the most likely candidate to purchase a property is someone who has done so before!

A buyer’s list is also something that you truly own, unlike your listings on other websites.

It takes time to grow a buyer’s list, but you should be sure you start one right away.

How do I build a buyer’s list?

It’s very easy:

Sign up for MailChimp or another email marketing system.

Add a subscribe button to your website.

Ask your buyers to subscribe.

If you are just starting out and want to save money, you can also just keep a simple spreadsheet with the emails of all your leads.

How often do you send direct mail?

We generally send mailers on a weekly basis.

How many letters do you send every month?

Our average mailer is around 1000 units with high investor activity county mailers being much larger than average and low investor activity county mailers being smaller.

Is direct mail the only way you acquire properties?

Direct mail is the primary way that we acquire properties, but we also have a property submission form on our website.

On top of direct mail and our website, we will sometimes buy properties from other investors if the price is right.

Why don’t you focus on one state instead of buying and selling all over the US?

We prefer to diversify our holdings in order to mitigate the risk that any one market will experience a sudden downturn.

Working throughout the US also keeps things interesting for us.

After all, part of the reason we started this business was to learn more about the United States.

When do you hire a Virtual Assistant?

We hire a VA (virtual assistant) for tasks that are not mission-critical and which are highly repetitive.

Some examples of tasks that we delegate out include posting and removing properties on listing sites, document prep, etc.

Can you offshore 100% of the business to a Virtual Assistant?

We would not recommend it.

Again, we delegate tasks that are not mission-critical but would not offshore tasks that are vital for the business, such as due diligence, sales calls, and mailings.

If you do want to delegate out higher-level tasks, you may want to consider hiring someone in the US.

Where do you find your Virtual Assistants?

We find our VAs from freelancer sites, such as Upwork.

Do you recommend US-based or offshore Virtual Assistants?

For backend tasks or tasks that are not mission-critical, you can hire offshore VAs.

However, for a position such as an acquisition manager, we would recommend hiring a US-based VA.

Do I need an acquisition manager?

We do not have an outside acquisition manager at this point in time; however, many land investors do hire one.

If you decide to hire an acquisition manager, we recommend that you wait until you have gone through the acquisition process on a number of properties yourself. 

This way you will understand the process and will be able to give clear instructions to your staff.

How long before you reduce the price of the property on the sell side?

It really depends on the property and the local comps.

Typically, we will wait a few months before lowering the price.

But you should determine what makes sense for your own business.

Does making a video help with selling properties?

Yes, we have found that creating a video is a very powerful tool for selling properties.

It always helps to provide as much information as possible and give a visual overview of the property location.

How important are professional photos of the property for selling?

Professional photos are very important for selling property.

Buyers want to know what the property looks like and the more high-quality photos you can provide the better!

We typically hire a photographer from Craigslist once we have a deed recorded.

Do I need to get a drone video of the property?

Drone videos are very helpful when selling property.

Again, buyers want to know what the property looks like before they purchase.

And the best way to show off the property is with a drone video.

We typically hire a drone pilot from Craigslist to take a video of any property that is selling for over $10,000.

We will also commission a drone video if we have multiple properties in one area.

Do you prefer selling with owner financing or cash?

We don’t have a preference and we sell land both with owner financing and cash.

We like owner financing because it provides a steady monthly income.

However, cash sales are also a necessary source of acquisition capital.

We have found that a mix of both is helpful in both maintaining our capital and providing a stable income.

We have also found that offering different payment options supercharges sales.

Not every buyer is looking for the same thing!

How often do buyers default on terms sales?

In our portfolio, we see about a 10-20% default rate.

This rate would probably be somewhat lower if we had a higher down payment, but either way, defaults are a part of doing business.

To make defaults easy to handle, we choose to retain ownership of the property during the loan term.

Why do you offer a 30-day money-back guarantee?

A guarantee is a powerful way to show that you stand behind your product.

By providing a 30-day money-back guarantee, you provide a sense of security to our buyers and also hold yourself accountable for providing reliable information.

Why do you have a hold option on your properties?

This is another tool that provides a sense of security for our buyers.

We want to give a potential buyer the chance to visit the property and/or complete their due diligence without having to worry that the property will be sold by the time they are done.

We believe in completing proper due diligence when we purchase a property, and we want to give our buyers an opportunity to do the same!

It is important to us that our buyers are happy with their purchase.

And the easiest way to ensure this is to give them time to research the land before purchasing.

Why did you choose Jira over another CRM program?

We chose Jira because we have experience with the software.

However, we also recommend Jira because it is used by major software companies to manage thousands of projects at once.

Given its widespread use, we know it is a powerful and user-friendly tool.

Is accounting for terms sales difficult?

Accounting for terms sales is more complicated than accounting for cash sales.

However, the basic concept is fairly similar.

If you are on the fence about owner financing and your biggest worry is the accounting headache, you should not allow accounting to get in your way.

It is not rocket science!

What business books do you read?

We do love to read and believe it is a great way to keep improving our business.

A few books we would recommend for those who are just starting out include:

Rich Dad, Poor Dad

The E-Myth

Sell Like Crazy

The 1-Page Marketing Plan

Building a Storybrand

Apart from land investing, what are your hobbies?

We love to travel (it’s part of why we started this business).

We also like to ski, play badminton, bike and read.

How much time do you spend on the land business?

I work full-time on the business and put in about 50-60 hours per week.

My partner, Abi, works part-time on the business and clocks about 10 hours a week.

We also have one full-time VA who works 40 hours per week and one part-time VA who works 16 hours per week.

If this didn’t cover everything, there’s much more in our course:buy_now_land_investing

If you want to know more about us and what we’ve learned while investing, you may want to check out our blog plus our article on creative ways to make money from raw land.

If you have any other questions, about land investing or otherwise, please contact us.

Disclaimer

We are not lawyers, accountants or financial advisors. All opinions expressed by Gokce Capital are the result of personal research and experience, and our content is intended for informational purposes only. It is very important that you do your own due diligence and analysis before making any kind of investment. You should also be sure to take financial and/or legal advice from a professional in conjunction with any information you receive from our website when making an investment decision or otherwise. Please also note that we have done our best to make sure all information on our website is accurate and up-to-date, but there may be occasional errors and misprints.

2 Comments

  • DAVID LAND
    Posted May 17, 2020 3:06 am 1Likes

    I am a RAW LAND INVESTOR in boulder Colorado since 1985. always learning, always expanding! [Phone number hidden] anytime 24/7 cheers

    • Erika
      Posted May 17, 2020 3:24 pm 0Likes

      Thank you for commenting, David! We’re always happy to connect with fellow investors. Please feel free to call at any time!

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