“I told you it wouldn’t work,” I quipped to my partner, Abi, after our first land investing sale fell through.
The sale had been 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 this 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 just outside of New York City was too expensive.
Even the properties 4 hours from NYC were pricey.
After a few months, we were considering giving up, but then 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 PDF format, which was useless for our purposes.
So much for that…
Then there was direct mail
However, not to be deterred, we searched out another land investing course and found one that used county data from third-party aggregators to create postcards asking owners if they would like to sell.
(We use DataTree these days for our data. If you are interested, here is our referral link).
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.
Perhaps direct mail wasn’t a magic bullet either.
So many states to choose from
Perhaps the problem was the state (Hawaii is expensive).
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 so 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 investment 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 saturated?
Thus, 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…
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.
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).
Using this strategy, we found a buyer for our first 5-acre property in New Mexico.
She bought on terms, and we closed the deal.
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 prior to paying of the loan.
Even worse, she was trying to sell five 1-acre pieces of our 5-acre 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 to a county in New Mexico.
This time we got more than 10 signed purchase agreements back.
Eventually, we realized that direct mail does work, but only if you take into account market data, complete proper county/zipcode/area research, craft 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.
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 400 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.
I used to help residents of New York find affordable housing, but now I help people all over the United States find affordable land!
But as you can see, we faced a lot of hurdles along the way to achieving this dream.
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.
I often hear very similar frustrations about starting out in the land investment business.
Unfortunately, just learning the technical aspects of sending out direct mail isn’t always enough.
It can be very frustrating to throw 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 program around the concept.
Our course is broken down into modules, each of which contains a number of SMART-goal driven video chapters designed to help you master the land investment business.
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 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 investment business without first setting up a business entity, website, phone and mailing address.
In this course 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.
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 offers to other land investors.
You will then sell these properties in the next two course 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.
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 course 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:
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!
Next, you need to make sure the person who is selling to you actually owns the property.
This course module will cover how to verify ownership of a property and what to do if there is a problem.
Sometimes, two or more sellers will each own a certain percentage of ownership in a property (also called undivided interest or tenancy in common).
When ownership is structured this way, you may sometimes find that your seller is only selling their percentage interest in the lot, not full ownership.
Check for any mention of undivided interest in assessor records!
You may also want to look into whether your seller owns mineral rights to the property.
If some rare instances, you may also need to look into quiet title.
If one of the original owners has passed away, it’s important to check whether the property has gone through Ancillary Probate in the county where the property is located.
This will typically be required if the deceased was the sole owner of the property or if the vesting deed did not transfer title to multiple owners as Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship.
Without Ancillary Probate, there is a risk that the title won’t have fully transferred to the surviving owners or heirs, creating a cloud on the title.
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.
You want to make sure your information is accurate so the below doesn’t happen to you!
Did you know that it is very hard to 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.
If you have already purchased a property with wetlands on it, there are a few options.
You may be able to mitigate the impact to existing wetlands and continue with your project.
You can find out more about this option here.
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.
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.
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!
You can read more on our blog, if you are curious about how large an acre really is and whether it is large enough.
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.
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 is not landlocked 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.
Be sure to check through the public records to make sure no easements have been recorded against the property.
Whether the purpose of the easement is for access or to build powerlines, you can bet that an existing easement will place some constraints on the property!
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.
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.
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
Land use is the “character” that the city wants to maintain in a particular area, usually accomplished through density restrictions and land use designations or classifications.
These are usually spelled out in the city or jurisdiction’s general plan.
It’s a good idea to give the general plan a read to understand these standards, especially if you are looking to develop on your parcel.
Almost every jurisdiction in the US has an ordinance governing land use.
This is where various types of land use categories are codified and knowing the type of real estate you purchase is important.
In this course 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:
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.
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.
Endangered species, contaminated soil, environmentally sensitive areas – there are sometimes unique environmental issues that pop up.
This course module will cover how you can look up whether there are special environmental conditions on a lot based on previous uses.
Phase I Environmental Site Assessment
To protect yourself against any potential environmental contamination, order a “Phase I Environmental Report” so you can know the property’s history before you purchase.
This report will review the lot’s previous uses to determine whether there are any potential environmental concerns.
Phase II Environmental Site Assessment
If the Phase I report indicates the potential for environmental contamination, the Phase II Environmental Site Assessment will involve sampling the soil and groundwater to determine contamination levels.
Phase III Environmental Site Assessment
Finally, if the Phase II sampling confirms contamination, then the Phase III report will come up with a plan for remediation.
This will help you determine the cost of the required work so you can assess whether you want to move forward.
For farmland or fishing ponds, 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.
Soils are also important if someone wants to build on a property.
This is because the soil type will determine the kind of foundation you need to build.
Soils need to be strong enough to support the structure and also able to withstand rain and runoff without eroding.
If you know that the land is going to be used to build on, you may want to consider getting a soil report done.
One option is to get a basic report from MapRight to start your investigation.
Prior to building on a property, a geotechnical engineer will need to take samples of the soil to determine the bearing capacity and the kind of foundation required.
This can be done before or after purchase, but the cost of the foundation will vary wildly based on the soil type.
Thus, you may want to have a geotechnical study commissioned before purchase.
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 since bringing utilities to vacant land can be expensive.
If a property does not have access to a public sewer system, your buyer will typically need to install a septic system should they want to build.
To get a septic permit in most counties, they will need to have a perc test done.
In this course module, we will go over what this means.
If a property does not have access to public water, your buyer will typically need to install a well should tey want to build.
Keep in mind that, in certain western states, they may need to purchase water rights in order to drill a new well.
Note: MapRight lets you see information on surrounding wells in certain counties.
If you are interested in a Mapright subscription, you can use our referral link.
If a property does not have access to electricity, an alternative system will be needed.
Your buyers will want to know this!
If you are planning to build on the property and need to excavate, or if you want to know where the closest utilities are, call 811 and have them mark the locations of any public utilities on your lot.
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.
To determine this, real estate developers use a feasibility study.
While not always necessary, it’s good to know what a feasibility study involves in case you need it!
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.
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.
Take a look at the surrounding area to see if there are any features that may either add or detract from the parcel value.
In this same vein, also check to see if it looks like there is a lot of existing junk on the property.
In many western states, erionite is a naturally occurring asbestos-like material.
While searching for land, take a quick look at the CDC’s helpful map to see if erionite may be present in the area.
While it is rare to find a property for sale that is an active superfund site, it doesn’t hurt to check the EPA database.
There is also a map view you can view as well.
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!
Fire Department Registry
Buyers are often looking to build or live on the property, so check out the FEMA Fire Department Registry.
You will want to make sure that your property is within a fire department’s district.
If you are not closing through a title company, look at public records for all the documents associated with your rural vacant land.
If you are buying a higher-value parcel of land, you will also want to get a survey done before closing.
For more, you can also check out our blog post on tracts, lots and plats.
If you see evidence of an existing structure on the lot during your due diligence, ask the owner about its condition.
Many jurisdictions have the authority to demolish unsafe structures and place a lien on the property if the owner is not willing to clear the condition themselves.
You may even want to hire a photographer to go out and take photos for you.
If the structure looks like it’s an eyesore or unsafe, give the county a call to see if it is on their radar.
You do not want to buy a property and find yourself stuck with a $10,000 demolition lien!
Voluntary and Involuntary Liens
Properties, especially higher-value ones, can sometimes have liens placed on them to cover certain debts or unpaid items.
A service like Datatree will give you a property report that details any existing liens.
If you are interested in a discounted DataTree subscription, you can use our referral link.
Ask the seller for a disclosure statement before you purchase.
You can find state-specific disclosures on FreeForms.com to send the seller for completion.
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 investment.
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 course module, we will cover how to close on the initial properties in your inventory.
We will also go over various land marketing tactics to ensure that you can sell your first couple of properties.
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 that we could trust to help select a county and price a mailer.
We want to share our system with you so you feel in control when sending out your first mailer.
In this course module, we cover our county selection system, including:
Using Google Trends to select a state.
Differentiating between high and low investor activity counties.
Mailing to low investor activity counties using a probe slice and a randomizer.
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 investment world.
In this course module, we will guide you through how to save money by closing in house.
You will soon be able to 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 course 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).
In this course 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 investment 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 every 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.
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 course module to guide you through how to set up a powerful Jira interface for your land investment business.
Module 10 – Accounting for land investing
Thankfully, we did not run into any significant 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 course 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!
There are a number of sub-niches in land investing that people may choose to specialize in as they develop their careers.
This section of the course is where we add the content that we develop as we discover more about these various land investing sub-niches.
Some examples include:
how to value timber land
how to buy hunting land
Protecting Yourself From Fraud
Here we provide articles that will help you avoid scammers.
As a land investor, you may find yourself confronted by scammers and, in this section, we add content about various tools and tricks to avoid fraud.
In this section, we discuss various elements related to land development.
Some land investors eventually want to become developers themselves.
Others find that developers are a great buyer set for their parcels.
However, even if you have no interest in development, it doesn’t hurt to understand the basics!
On top of the course 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.
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).
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 difficulty selling using traditional methods.
Pro 5: Less Competition
There is less competition in the land investment space 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 some 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 to take on funding partners (although we do not do this ourselves).
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.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of support do you provide?
You can ask as many questions as you would like within each module and we will answer all of them within 24 hours.
You may also submit questions regarding a specific deal you are looking at for us to review through any of the course modules.
What is the focus of the course?
When we first developed the course, we wanted to focus on due diligence since we thought that there was a dearth of information on this aspect of land buying.
However, we have since pivoted to focusing on how to be a “full stack” land investor.
Full stack is a term from software development, which refers to a developer who can work on both the front and back end of a website or application.
Thus, in our business, we try to master every aspect of the business, including acquisitions, due diligence, marketing, sales and operations.
This is what we strive for in our business and our goal is to make you a full stack land investor as well!
Does the Gokce Land Investing Program have reviews from existing students?
You can find all of our reviews on our Google Business page.
Below are some example reviews for our course.
And here are some sample reviews for our business.
I saw your course listed at a discount price elsewhere, is this legitimate?
No, it is not.
Someone is illegitimately selling a bootleg version of our course on outside sites.
We don’t offer our land investing course on any platform other than Podia, so beware of outside links.
How much money do I need to get started with land investing?
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 have 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 businesses 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. Just because land flipping is simple doesn’t mean it is easy.
You will likely 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.
Can I do this business from outside the United States?
Yes, you can but it is going to be 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 at least a basic website before you buy any properties.
Do I need a separate website for the buy and sell-side of my business?
This is one of those cases where there is no right answer.
We like having only one website since it is easy to maintain and is also a lower-cost option.
We try to be transparent and don’t want to give the impression that we are hiding the nature of our business.
In the end, we don’t think it makes too much of a difference which option you choose, although we would recommend building only one website in order to build a strong brand.
A strong brand goes a long way in helping distinguish yourself from a generic buy-sell website and may, in the long run, help you sell properties at a slight premium.
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 have properties in your inventory and have bought and sold properties before is a powerful way to prove your legitimacy.
How important is proper due diligence?
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.
However, this is because we purchase almost exclusively lower-value properties.
If you decide to purchase higher-value lots, you may want to consider visiting the property yourself before purchasing.
You can also work with a local land broker.
If you develop a good relationship with one, they will likely be willing to visit the lot for you before you purchase.
Should I complete my 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 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 will the county be in helping me complete my due diligence?
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!
You may also want to double-check any information that doesn’t seem right to you.
We have had situations where county personnel have given out conflicting information.
So it always helps to use some common sense when digesting information that third parties give you.
If something isn’t making sense to you, trust your instinct and keep digging!
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, 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?
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.
While not 100% foolproof, a title search is one of the few ways to guarantee that you aren’t missing any title issues that come from earlier in the chain of title.
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.
However, not every county will accept online notaries.
Generally speaking, if a county allows e-recording, then it will allow online notaries.
But if you are going to use an online notary, 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.
To confirm whether you can use Simplifile in a particular county, you can check Simplifile’s e-recording network.
When you use Simplifile to record a deed for one of your buyers, it is a good idea to send an email to them ahead of time informing them of the process.
Some buyers may be concerned that they are not receiving a hard copy of the deed.
In these cases, early communication and full disclosure go a long way to ensuring that everyone is comfortable.
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.
If someone is willing to sell 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?
We typically provide a regular business check, unless the seller is uncomfortable with the arrangement.
In some instances, we also provide payment via wire transfer, Zelle or Paypal depending on the preference of our seller.
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.
In many circumstances, we will also close through a title company if something odd comes up in our public record search.
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 commission a new survey depending on the age and quality of the existing one.
However, we generally don’t purchase a survey when we buy land 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?
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 local government (like New York), you should request one before purchasing a property that may have wetlands on it.
A wetlands delineation is typically done in areas that have state-designated wetlands check zones or other similar designations.
It usually involves hiring a biologist to go to the lot and confirm whether there are wetlands.
Should I buy a property without proper access?
That really depends on the situation.
We generally don’t purchase properties without legal access (for more on what that means, check out our due diligence blog post).
If the property doesn’t have great physical access, however, then it will depend on the situation and the price.
Should I buy a property in a Special Flood Hazard Area?
Being in an SFHA typically wouldn’t prevent us from buying a property.
But again, it depends on the situation.
Many waterfront properties will be prone to flooding, but will also be highly desirable lots.
It is important to remember that the SFHA designation does not prevent you from building on the lot.
It just means that flood insurance will need to be purchased for the property.
The building should also be designed using best practices for flood zones (there is often a discount on the flood insurance premium if proper design standards are used).
Should I buy a property in a bad neighborhood?
We usually don’t buy infill lots in bad neighborhoods.
For us, this means a lot in any zip code that has a C rating or worse on Niche.com.
For rural vacant land, we don’t put as much weight on the Niche.com rating, although we still like to know what the school district rating is for the zip code.
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.
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 a property with a failed perc test 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.
If you do want to try and buy the lot, you will either want to know exactly what needs to be done to correct the title issue and fully disclose this information or have the issue corrected before purchasing.
Which websites do you post your properties on?
Aside from our buyer’s list and social media sites, Land.com is our 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.
Aside from Facebook Marketplace and Land.com, we also post on LandFlip and Landmodo.
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.
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 other similar 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 keep a simple spreadsheet with the emails of all your buyers.
How often do you send direct mail?
We generally send mailers on a weekly basis, but we are comfortable working with a high- to medium-volume of transactions.
Many land investors (especially those working part-time) send mail on a less regular basis.
It really depends on how much time, effort, and capital you want to put into your business.
Why is it important to price your mailers correctly?
If you price your mailers too low, you won’t get many offers and your mailer yield will be poor.
If you price too high, you will either have a harder time selling or you will have to accept a low profit margin.
Both of these outcomes can result in frustration or burnout, especially when you are just starting out.
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.
About 70% of our mailers go to high investor activity counties and 30% go to low investor activity counties.
Is direct mail the only way you acquire properties as a land investor?
Direct mail is the primary way that we acquire properties, but we also have a property submission form on our website.
We do get a number of property submissions through this form, although not every property submitted will be acquired.
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, quality assurance checks of our listing site, etc.
We should also note that we did not hire a virtual assistant right away.
We did every task ourselves for the first year to keep our expenses low and also ensure that we properly understood every element of the business.
Can you offshore 100% of the land investing 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 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.
This is because proper due diligence is vital in ensuring you are making a good investment.
Offshore VAs do not have familiarity with US rules and regulations and may not always catch key issues.
Do I need an acquisition manager?
We do not have an outside acquisition manager at this point in time; however, many land flippers 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.
There is, of course, a trade-off between price and days on market and you will have to determine what your sweet spot is.
The lower your initial price, the quicker you will sell.
But you also want to make sure you are making enough profit on each sale.
If you are low on capital, you may also want to make a quick sale in order to fund new deals.
We often don’t mind waiting a few months for a property to sell, since we always have new properties coming in that we know will sell quickly.
An important exception to the above would be if we learn new information about the property that would indicate we priced it too high (i.e. physical access issues, size discrepancies, difficult neighbors etc).
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’s location.
Creating a video also helps establish a relationship.
If a potential buyer calls you and recognizes you from your video, it helps create trust.
Another benefit of videos is that they reduce the number of calls you receive that are just folks asking for basic information on the property.
So you can spend more time with truly interested buyers.
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.
Who buys your properties?
Our buyers come from all walks of life and are looking to buy vacant land for a number of different reasons.
Some people are looking for recreational land for hunting, camping, hiking, etc.
Others want to build a cabin or home, or even just a small storage shed.
And others are looking to add land to their current portfolio of investments.
Also, neighboring property owners will often want to purchase in order to increase their property’s value.
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 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 and offering options helps bring in more customers.
Are you allowed to sell with owner financing under Dodd Frank?
There is an exception in the Dodd-Frank Act that allows you to sell vacant land with owner financing.
For more information, click here.
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.
It is also important to note that we see taking the property back as the option of last resort.
If someone defaults, we first try to work with them to see if we can arrange a plan that will help them keep their property.
Why do you offer a 30-day money-back guarantee on your properties?
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 your buyers and also hold yourself accountable for providing reliable information.
Buyers are often wary of purchasing property over the internet, and a 30-day money-back guarantee gives them the comfort of knowing that they can recoup their costs if they find the property to not be exactly as they imagined it to be.
That said, I always try to state in my videos that it is important to do proper due diligence before putting any money down.
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!
We will cover how to handle terms accounting in our course.
What business/land investing 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: this is one of the classic real estate investing books. Just about every investor references it as inspiration since it provides a solid foundation for how to think about building wealth.
The E-Myth: another classic. This is a must-read for small business owners, especially if you have never run a business before.
Sell Like Crazy: as a small business owner, one of the key skills that you will learn is how to market your business and your product. Sell Like Crazy gives you an overview on how to grow your business with digital marketing.
The 1-Page Marketing Plan: this is another great book on digital marketing that will help you think through your sales strategy.
Building a Storybrand: an important part of marketing is learning to tell stories. This book will help you think through how to build stories for your business.
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, hike, play badminton, bike and read.
How much time do you spend on the land investing 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.
What are ways of investing in vacant land other than land flipping?
While we are land flippers ourselves, there are a number of other methods you can use to invest in vacant land.
One of the most profitable alternatives is to develop and/or subdivide raw land.
You can also buy and hold vacant land in the hope that it will appreciate.
Finally, you can buy and lease the land (for example, sometimes neighbors may want to use the land for grazing or farming).
What is the primary focus of the course and how is it different from the ones we took?
Even though we go over how to find states and counties to mail, we fundamentally believe that you can make money in any county or zipcode as long as you do your proper due diligence.
For this reason, the course is primarily focused on due diligence.
How much do you pay per mailing and do you have a referral code?
We pay 48 cents for a two page letter and we do have a referral code.
If you are interested, please send us an email.
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.
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.
20 thoughts on “Land Investing: How You Can Get Started in 2023”
I am a RAW LAND INVESTOR in boulder Colorado since 1985. always learning, always expanding! [Phone number hidden] anytime 24/7 cheers
Thank you for commenting, David! We’re always happy to connect with fellow investors. Please feel free to call at any time!
I was out of work for all of covid. I Start at a new company This week, same posiTion. I am hoping anything will happen so i don’t have to go. Land has always been a dream. I really hope this can work for my dreams and sanity! Thank you so much for sharinG! I am going to spend all of my time studYing your info.
Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you are back to work and I wish you the best of luck with your land search. Please let us know if we can help.
Hi I wish to become an expert in land investment also wish to invest. Thanks
Hello Esther, let us know how we can help!
I am land mediator I got lot of good land for investment contact me 7397458955 land around chennai (tamilnadu/India)
Hello Kamalakanna, thank you for reaching out, unfortunately, we only buy properties in the United States.
Here in this blog we get to know about the raised garden beds mistakes. It helps us to decide that which one is best among its types. I enjoyed reading this article and would suggest others it as well. Thank you for this article! This is really very informative for us.
I’m glad our article was helpful!
Is “land flipping” still a viable business model? I understand you are selling a course in the subject, but can you offer an unbiased observation on the state of the market? My biggest concern is that this market is becoming flooded with investors all fighting to low-ball/purchase potential properties. It’s hard enough just managing the process much less fighting to compete with a growing number of investors. I have to wonder if I would be late to the party.
You have a ton of great info and I appreciate the effort to outline the big picture issues.
FYI… I’m not yelling! the interface here appears to have text on caps lock!
Hello Drake, I know a lot of folks are asking this – and it’s true, the market has become more competitive as more investors enter. The common answer I hear is that there is plenty of land out there, which is also true. However, many investors are working in the same few counties, which means that these locations can feel saturated. There are two ways that we know of to deal with this (although there may be more):
1) Take on bigger (i.e. higher value) deals to increase your profit margin. This isn’t the approach we have taken so I can’t really comment on how well this works for others.
2) Find a few counties that other investors aren’t working in where you can become an expert. We did a video a few months ago on how we distinguish between high investor and low investor counties. If you are interested, you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/_fZoOXSMTEA