Posted on: August 13, 2021
WI 753 | Generate Profit

In today’s episode, Brent Bowers is joined by his very first Land Shark student, Tommy Robinson. Tommy is a wholesaler whose real estate journey began with him doing flips, but his first deal was a land deal. Fast forward to the present—he now has multiple offers in his pipeline, including a massive $3,500 11-acre deal in the Midwest. They discuss the perks and duds when dealing with land properties and the channels Thomas uses to generate deals. Thomas also dives into his experience with unbuildable land and how he salvaged a problematic deal to make a profit.

Spending $3500 To Generate A Mind-blowing $150k In NET PROFIT With Land

Welcome, Land Shark. I have Tom Robinson, my very first land student on with me. Introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about you. You are a celebrity in my mind.

I’m a real estate wholesaler. I started off flipping. My very first deal was a land deal. I’m from the Midwest and was in the Detroit area for a bit, and then South Bend, Indiana. Now I’m living my dream, doing virtual stuff and living out West. It’s super fun.

I’ve got to meet Tom over tacos in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We met on Facebook, and it’s been an amazing adventure. Since then, he’s moved out of Colorado to Utah and we are now in our long-distance relationship. I love the fact that your first real estate deal was a land deal. Were you in any type of land coaching when you did this first land deal?

WI 753 | Generate Profit

Generate Profit: Think outside the box of traditional wholesaling. There is an opportunity to pre-market this land people aren’t paying attention to.

 

No, it was the craziest thing. I was going after five houses at a bank auction. I have never done a deal in my life. I was all interested in flipping homes. I went to the auction and three of them went for more than I thought. The ARV was on these homes. I realized, “I’m not going to get a deal from this or at least on the homes I was looking at.” All of a sudden, this parcel of land came up. It was a city infill lot.

It came up and the guy started the bidding at $1,000, and someone said, “$1,000,” and then he went to $1,500 and no one bid at it. Finally, it was about to go and they said, “$1,500,” and I raised my hand and he said, “Sold to that guy for $1,500.” I thought to myself, “What did I do?” I haven’t seen this lot or anything. I drove past it on my way home and realized that it was not my favorite part of town but it wasn’t too bad.

I’ve got home and my wife says, “Did you get any properties?” I’m like, “Yes.” She said, “Which one?” I said, “It’s this lot that we haven’t even looked at.” That night, I slept on the couch. She wasn’t too happy with me that I deviated from the process or the plan that we had laid out, and shortcut ahead a bit. I ended up selling that property for $9,000. I spent $1,500 and ended up selling it for $9,000 a couple of months later. It was a great start. It wasn’t a complete flop. It opened my eyes to the ROI that real estate has, specifically land.

You bought this property for $1,500 and sold it for $9,000. I’m not very good at math. Was that about a $7,500 profit?

Yes. I had to go mow the grass a couple of times. I didn’t play my cards right and move it fast enough. I could’ve made a little bit more. Generally speaking, it’s big numbers. It’s about $7,500.

I would hate to see if you would have only made $2,000. How long would you have had to sleep on the couch?

I thought it was going to be a complete loss. Honestly, that was a huge win.

I thought we were going to talk about land but let’s talk about marriage counseling. How long did you have to sleep on the couch? Did she let you off the couch when you brought home the $7,500?

I married right. My wife, the very next day, was supportive and she was like, “I think we can do it. What if we spec built on this property?” She was already thinking of how to get through it but make it a win. Surround yourself with good people. That’s all. That’s the best advice out of that.

She was probably up all night long, trying to figure out how to dig you out of that hole she thought you’ve got into. She had a long list of things to do when you woke up the next morning. You put out a lot. You went there and there were five houses, and all of them went over ARV. How in the world are these guys buying these properties an ARV, After Repair Value, so after someone goes in and fixes up this house to sell it? That’s what I don’t understand about houses. Everyone is there at that auction to buy those houses. There was one piece of land and one guy’s hand went up by accident. It sounds to me like you had zero competition at the auction for that lot you bought.

9,000 bucks seem to be the magic number for land parcels.

There was nobody that had eyes on that. Everyone was drooling over these houses and overpaying. No one had eyes on that lot.

They were all probably thinking you were the big dummy for buying it. How long did it take you to sell this lot?

It took me about a year but that was dumb on my part. It was a corner lot and it was long and narrow. I only had the adjacent buyer on the long side of the property that I thought I could sell to. I went to him after I bought it and said, “Are you interested in buying this lot next door? I will sell it to you at a great price.” He said, “I would be but I’m in foreclosure and I’m going to lose my house in the next few months.” I thought, “Maybe I could buy that house and flip it.” That didn’t work out.

I waited for that next buyer and that next buyer bought it. I went to him and he was a bit physically handicapped and was not interested in owning more of a grass to mow. At that point, I realized, “I’ve got to figure out something else.” I put it up for sale by owner sign up. From that point to selling it, it was only two months or something. It was not a long holding period from when I put the sign up to when we sold it.

You sold it in two months with a sign. Did you market it anywhere else like Facebook, Craigslist or Zillow?

I didn’t. It was on the main surface street. Not the main road in town but it was the main road through a neighborhood. People were driving past and they were seeing it so I had that advantage. It took a for sale by owner sign and that’s what moved it.

With a lot of land investors, I don’t know if they are not willing to or they are being lazy. A lot of my land is in other states and other counties, so I have never stepped foot on these properties but I always try and get signs on the properties that I have a hard time selling online. Most of my marketing is online. I like to use the free sites. If we have a hard time moving something or if something is not moved in a certain amount of time, we will pay a guy to go and put signs up all down the street and highway. They absolutely work. Let’s fast forward. When did you start going through my land course?

Not too long. Efforts thus far from the land courses, we have set out one batch of mailers and ended up getting a property for real cheap. It’s a little over an acre and we’ve got it for $250 and have some interest in it for $9,000. I don’t know what it is but that seems to be my magic number for land parcels. From one batch of mail pieces and a lot for $250 plus recording fees, we’ve got some interest on it for $9,000.

That’s crazy that you could buy an acre of land for $250. In the beginning, when I would tell people about this, “I bought a piece of land for $500.” They would think I was crazy like, “Where did you buy this land, Michigan or something?” I say, “Not in Michigan. In Colorado.” You sent out one batch of mail. How many letters would you say that you sent out to lock this one deal off?

We sent off 700. There are some leads in that as well that we are doing some follow-up and negotiation that may still come to fruition. Seven hundred mailers brought this one in.

Where did you find your buyer for this property? It sounds like you haven’t sold it yet and you’ve got an interest in it for $9,000. Where are you finding these buyers at?

I posted on local Facebook groups and also there are some other classified ad companies in Syria. Through that medium, not through a realtor, sign or anything, just online from my desk and finding these classified ads sites.

Are you going to do $9,000 cash or are you going to break this up over financing where they come in with $1,000 down? What’s your plan with this lot?

WI 753 | Generate Profit

Generate Profit: Don’t discount this avenue of real estate investing because it definitely has some good paydays and a lot of cool options you can do for cash.

 

I plan to do a $500 down payment and it will cover a good chunk of the marketing. It will cover the cost of buying the property and the recording fees. I’m pretty much breakeven from my expenses at that point once I get the deposit. I pitched it to him that I wanted the remainder over five years. That’s $142 a month, and there are some additional fees that we will charge for escrowing taxes and processing fees or whatever but essentially finance it over five years. That’s passive income coming in every month, not having to do anything at this point.

I love that you said processing fees as well because, in the beginning, I didn’t charge any processing fees, document fees or note service fees. Now I charge all those things and the buyers do not even question it when my land specialist is selling them a property because that helps pay for our bookkeeping fees, the CPA, and the doc fees pure profits.

Those little fees bump up what we make. It’s over $9,000 at the end of the day because of $10 a month note fee. We charge this, we charged the doc fee, so those things add up. I know that you have another property that you had purchased and you thought it was a done deal. Can you tell us a little bit about that one?

It’s almost a mirror of these other two deals that we talked about. It was a tax sale auction. We were looking at other homes to buy and they all were selling for more than what we were looking to pay. My acquisitions guy pulled up this particular lot that was selling for $1,100. Having had the previous good experience at that bank auction, I decided, “We are going to go forward again.” I pulled the trigger and I knew where this lot was. It isn’t a desirable part of town and generally speaking for the area. I knew that this lot was worth about $20,000 on paper.

If everything is perfect, this thing should be worth $20,000. My ROI was through the roof. However, after I bought it, I discovered that there were some problems with the property and it turns out that this particular lot was in a neighborhood where the developer did some things with leveling out the land, essentially took a swamp area and graded it in a certain way that the law in the state said you couldn’t put a septic field in the situation that it was in.

I’m thinking garbage like I paid some taxes. I’m into this now and paid for soil borings to discover this and it wasn’t looking so good. Once again, I don’t understand it but it’s another corner lot long rectangle. I went to the guy adjacent to it and wanted to sell it to him. I was going to cut them a deal at $5,000 and he was not interested in it. I thought, “This is a total loss.”

He knew you were sleeping on the couch. He didn’t want to have to sleep on the couch, too.

I thought, “I lost out and put it aside.” I joined your course and we’ve got to talk. I had previously forgotten about that lot because I was going to let it go back to taxes. You gave me the vision and encouragement to say, “Take some marketing initiative and go push it out so more people buy this stuff all the time.” In this bad and unbuildable condition, sure enough, I blasted out there. I don’t know what it is but my magic number’s $9,000 and I’ve got a buyer.

It wasn’t like I was holding anything back. I was completely transparent with him and told him, “This is not buildable at this point. I have done soil borings. This is the situation. The good news is you’ve got to have a selling point and this isn’t desirable a lot in the best part of town and there are not a lot of losses like this. There are future potentials where this may work out and these are what they could be but that’s not the case now. It’s a hope that something comes to fruition in the future.”

The guy said, “I see that’s going to happen. I can’t see this not working out because the land is desirable in this part of town.” He’s on contract with me. He put $500 down. He pays $142 a month and it’s passive. That deal was going to be a complete loss for me had we not discussed it. You painted the picture of how lucrative and interested people truly are in land.

Surround yourself with good people.

It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to sell a piece of land with problems like being non-buildable. You probably made every mistake in the book. Generally, we like to see what the land is. We try and pre-sell it before we pay for it to the seller. It’s incredible how you were able to still make lemonade with a bunch of rotten lemons. “This guy bought a piece of land that’s not currently buildable, can’t put a septic system for $500 down and $142 a month.” Where did you find this buyer from?

Once again, I put it out on Facebook and people came flocking. There were a few interested parties. The other people didn’t keep going with it but he did. It was good. The funny thing is people in that neighborhood saw that post and I haven’t been mowing it. I thought it was a complete loss. I was going to not do anything until I had some hate messages from the neighbors saying, “You haven’t been keeping up with this lot. You need to be honest with everything.” I was. I told them everything that I knew. Even with those comments from the neighbors, it still sold.

That’s so funny you bring that up because I cannot stand those comments. It drives me crazy. I call those guys trolls and they never buy. They are there to make your life hard. Thank God I have a great virtual assistant that runs my Facebook advertising and answers all the questions like, “Is this available?” She does an incredible job with it because a lot of people are tire kickers or they are there to give you a hard time. We had purchased 8.5 acres close to Fort Carson, Colorado.

It was an area where everyone thought we weren’t allowed to drill a well or get water. We had real estate agents bashing us, “I can’t believe you are taking advantage of these people.” We went to the state, purchased a well permit for $100, and where they all thought that we couldn’t get water, we now made this land five times more valuable.

We ended up buying that land for $7,000 and we sold it on contract for $35,000, and our down payment was $7,000. We’ve got our money back. We look at areas like that, purchase the well tap permit, and then we buy the land. If we didn’t buy the well tap, we not have any money. We try and do all the due diligence we can first, and then purchase it. Hopefully, we have it pre-sold and use the buyer’s money to pay the seller.

That’s something I have enjoyed working with you on and the different mindset that you can do with the land because I am not sure if everyone on the show caught that. With land, Brent has pushed me to say, “Think outside the box of traditional wholesaling. There is an opportunity to pre-market this land.” People aren’t paying attention to Facebook and everything about land deals when they are looking to sell. Think outside of the box and you will be able to get a pulse on what’s getting a buyer lined up. That has been super helpful. This is way more flexible with land than it is with homes.

I did it out of necessity in the beginning because I was poor when I first started my land. When you say you buy a piece of land for $250, I have been there multiple times. I bought them for $250, $700 or $500 but the difference between you and me is, I was spending rent money and grocery money. I had to have a buyer. I almost tried to get them to sign in blood like, “You will be paying me for this piece of the land tomorrow, right?”

I would get 3 or 4 commitments because God forbid if we didn’t pay the rent that month or our grocery bill, I would have been sleeping on the couch and I hate my couch, honestly. I was freaking out. It was out of necessity so I had to do it that way. I don’t want to talk about too many deals but I know you have one in the pipeline, and it’s a pretty sweet one. Do you want to tell me a little bit about the Midwest deal you’ve got going on?

I do some markets in the Midwest virtually for home wholesaling. This is a cold-calling lead. The whole thing shouldn’t have worked out but it did. We were calling on a property for this guy and the cold caller somehow ended up calling the son. The cold caller was on their toes and they pivoted the conversation because the son couldn’t sell the father’s property but they still asked them, “Do you have any other properties that you would be interested in selling?”

This guy said, “I have 11 acres that we are going to build our dream house on but, to be honest, it’s too much. We’ve got so much going on in life. We are not interested.” He was so ready to be done with it. He’s like, “I’m willing to sell it at even a bit of a loss, just so that I’m done with it.” They had it on a mortgage and I was going to get it on a subject to terms take over the payments. This is really interesting. I have never run across this.

Let me interrupt you just for a second. What do you mean by subject to take over the payments?

WI 753 | Generate Profit

Generate Profit: Take some marketing initiative and go push it out.

 

They bought this property, not in cash. They went and got a loan for the property from the bank and they are making monthly payments to pay it down. Buying it subject to would mean I now have the property in my name but their original mortgage stays in place. I will start making those payments and using that debt towards the purchase of the property. In this case, they bought it for $45,000 and owed $35,000 on it, and they want it to be done. They are fine taking a loss. They just want to get that loan paid off.

He said, “If you want to take over those payments, that would be fine.” This was interesting, Brent. I haven’t talked to you about this. I hopped on a call with him and his wife about this. On the phone call, the wife told him, “How would that work with the lien that’s on our personal home to secure that property?” He didn’t have a clue about this. What happened was when they loaned them the money to buy that property, the bank put a lien on that property and on their personal residence to guarantee it.

When that came up, rather than go forward and they are still lien on their personal residence, we changed the model so that it would be a cash purchase because that’s their biggest fear. They don’t want a lien on their personal property anymore. I was worried they were going to go through a divorce over that.

You never want to make a seller’s situation more difficult. You want to help them. If you could serve a seller, you are going to be served in the end. That’s probably one of those things. You want to pay that thing off and get it out of their hair. That’s smart thinking.

The interesting thing about this is they both know that this is worth about $9,000 to $11,000 an acre. We are talking about $100,000 true value, and they want to sell it for $35,000 and be done with it. They recognize that it’s worth that much but they want to be done. They are so busy that I’m willing to take it off their hands now and help them through the sale process, whatever that entails and looks like so that this is one less thing for them to worry about. We are supposed to connect and hopefully, we have a signed contract and can move forward with it. It will be a home run deal for sure as that comes to pass. It doesn’t need any work to it. It’s a straight wholesale hotel however you want to term this for this but yes, $0.35 on the dollar.

I did a deal back in 2016. It was 44 acres next to Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado. The bank owned this land and we had been offering them $20,000 cash close in 30 days for six months. The banker kept following up with us, which was cool because we had sent him a postcard. He kept following up with us and we kept offering $20,000 but we knew the land was worth at that time over $110,000. That’s being very realistic and conservative.

One day, he called my acquisition manager. I was in the field with the Army at that time. I was still in the Military and said, “We will take $25,000 and that’s it. I’m not calling you anymore. Let me know by the end of the day.” This was Friday when he called and it was already in the afternoon. We had until 5:00 PM. I was like, “Let’s do it. Get it under contract.” I’ve got out of the field Saturday afternoon. I only had one son at that time and my family was in Florida. I had all day Sunday, and I went and got a bunch of yellow signs. I wrote on these signs, “44 acres cash only, $38,000 with my phone number.”

I heard Tom Krol once, “Put out 33 bandit signs.” How many do you think I put out? I put out 33. I was on sign number 26 and I’ve got my first phone call. It was someone yelling at me because I was on their property. On the second phone call, I was bracing for impact. It was a gentleman from Texas who had been riding around for the last week. They had sold the ranch in Texas, they had cash, and were looking to move their cattle from Texas to Colorado. I was like, “I’m about five minutes away from the property. If you want, I will show it to you.”

I met him on the side of the road, pointed at the land, and he said, “It’s mine for $38,000?” I said, “Yes.” We shook hands on the side of the road on a Sunday afternoon. I kid you not. I’ve got a call the next day for $14,000 higher than what this guy was willing to do it. This guy called and like, “We will give you $52,000 tomorrow.” I was like, “My goodness.”

I had one of those crossroad moments in my life. I was like, “$14,000 was a game-changer for me.” It would have changed my life back then, which also $38,000 on a $25,000 deal. I called my buyer, the one that promised to give me $38,000 on the side of the road and I said, “What if you made $7,000 for meeting me on the side of the road?” I was going to split $14,000 with him. He said, “Absolutely not. I want the land.” I didn’t have a contract with him but it hurt. We went through the deal.

I made a quick $13,000 in a week and a half. If I would have known then what I know now, here’s what I would have done. I would have gotten $25,000 down for this land and I would have sold it for $100,000 and held the financing for however many years, let’s say $100,000 minus the $25,000, that would have been roughly $75,000. Let’s divide that by 60 months at 0% interest. That would have been $1,250 a month for the next five years. That’s if I charge 0% interest and sold it at a discount. That’s what we do every day.

Don’t discount the opportunity with land.

One thing that has been a validation point with some of the sellers that I have talked to for these lots that I have worked on is I tell them I’m in real estate and investing, and the paychecks are not consistent. As much as we would like to say as steady as we are with marketing every month, you get X number of deals. Some deals hit in other months versus other months. You have highs and lows all the time, even with consistent marketing. It happens naturally, for whatever reason.

What I tell them is it’s nice on my end to have some level of base consistency doing a seller financing option and everything else works itself out. These buyers are already interested in the land but what I found is that it makes me more personable with them, develops a level of trust and understanding of intentions. They don’t feel ripped off. I know some people were like, “What are you doing? This is not conventional.” This is why I do it.

Last question. What advice would you give to the person reading this and thinking about getting started building their passive income through land?

Two pieces of advice. One, I definitely look to you as a mentor. Right out the gate, you have helped me expand my mindset and salvage a deal that was junk before. That’s a $9,000 swing right to my pocket. I happened to have that deal, so that was good. All other deals came pretty quick with mailing. Your mentorship has really helped out.

Generally, though, don’t discount the opportunity with the land. I did for a long time, even though I was in it, I still discounted it and always put myself in the buyer’s shoes rather than stepping back and recognizing that there are buyers out there for pieces of land that I personally wouldn’t be interested in. There’s still opportunity out there. Don’t discount this avenue of real estate investing because it definitely has some good paydays and it has a lot of cool options you can do for cashflow.

I couldn’t agree with you more. Thank you so much for joining me, Tom. If you are interested in getting started on your way to generating passive income through land, head over to WholesalingInc.com/land. Schedule a call with me. We will hop on a short call together and discuss your real estate investing goals. If it sounds like we are a good fit, let’s work together. I would be honored to help you on your land investing journey. I will see you next time, Land Sharks.

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About Brent Bowers

WI 623 | Wholesaling LandBrent Bowers, is an investor and coach with a focus on buying and selling vacant land. As an Army Officer with over 8 years of service, Brent was spending a great deal of time away from his family, and he knew he needed to make some changes in order to be more present with his wife and children. In a short period of time,  Brent was able to expand his business, hire a team, and (most importantly) spend quality time with his family while still working hard and helping others.  While Brent invests in many different types of real estate, his favorite investment strategy deals with buying and selling vacant land, and he enjoys sharing his expertise in this area with his coaching clients. Brent chooses to live his life based on Bob Burg’s quote, “Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.” He is passionate about helping other people find success in real estate investing, particularly in land investments.

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