If you’ve ever doubted the potential of real estate investing to generate fast results, think again. Listen as Paul Brewer reveals how he went from being a firefighter for 18 years to becoming a successful land investor in less than two years using a proven strategy.
In this episode, Paul shares how he became a highly successful real estate investor and learned from this business venture. He also spills the blueprint that closed him on 49 land deals.
How a Firefighter Closed 49 Land Deals in Less Than Two Years of Wholesaling
In this episode, I have a very special guest. His name is Paul Brewer. He’s been a firefighter for years, but there’s a unique quality about Paul. He’s married and has two amazing children. He has a son and a daughter. He’s fire-fighting and doing the entrepreneurship thing at the same time. What I think about the most amazing thing is to be married for years and he does land investing on the side.
I had the pleasure of meeting Paul through another investor group and I purchased four parcels of land from him, which was an absolute pleasure. It came with all the due diligence. He had already done all the leg work. He sent me photos and even videos on some of those properties. We are going to put them on our website. We’ve already pre-sold to before we even have taken ownership of them, but it’s been an amazing pleasure getting to know Paul. Paul, tell us about yourself.
Thanks, Brent, for having me on. I appreciate it. I’ve been married for years, been in the fire service for years. I got a couple of kids. I live up to 5 acres myself. It helps people realize their dreams of owning some land. Years ago, I heard some podcasts about land flipping and thought I’d give it a try. I’ve always been interested in doing something entrepreneurial. As firefighters, we do have some extra days off. We work 48-hour shifts and have 4 days off. We needed something to fill the time and never quite found something that resonated until the whole land investing business came along. Once I got started, I was hooked.
Not a lot of people know about land investing. That’s why I love the fact that we’re doing this show and presenting this to our audience. How long have you been investing in land, Paul?
I heard about it in 2018. I didn’t get going until about the middle of 2019 or so. I got a little bit of material and tried to do stuff myself for about 3 or 4 months and was getting nowhere. While listening to one of the other random entrepreneurial podcasts, I heard someone. I’m going to butcher the quote, but it was like, “To become a master, you need to sit at the feet of masters,” or something like that. I’m like, “I’m going to take this seriously. I should probably pay for some training.” I did.
Somewhere in between deciding to pay for training and starting the training, I bought one piece of property. I was like, “Maybe I can try and see if this model works before I go into training.” The day that training started, I sold that piece of property for cash and it paid for all the training, plus the marketing and acquisition of couple more properties through the training process. I’m like, “This is it. It works. It’s time to dive in headfirst here.”
You started taking action roughly in 2019. How long did it take you to do your first deal when you made that decision to, “Let’s get some training and take action?”
My first deal was in September of 2019, but I was still scattered at that point, trying to get things lined up and follow the recipe as they say. I didn’t do my first legitimate deal until about January of 2020. That was when I started. I have my ducks in a row and knew what I was doing, mailing, marketing consistently. In January of 2020 was the first note that I collected.
I’ll backtrack a little bit. Consistent mailing and marketing are your words, not mine. Would you say consistent mailing and marketing is what’s driving your deals? Has that been good for you? Is that bringing you lots of business? How does it look when you consistently mail and market each month?
Luckily, I had the six months leading up to January 2020 to look back on it because I was mailing 500 letters in this county and 200 in this county. It wasn’t being laser-focused or very specific as to where I was mailing. Once I started mailing a consistent number, the software I used drifted out every day. Depending on how swamped I wanted myself or my intake manager to be, I mailed. I mail between 20 and 35 letters a day, Monday through Sunday. They go out.
Once I got on track to do that, there’s always some deal in the pipeline ready to go. I’m never out of inventory. Sometimes I have too much, which is why you bought some land from me because I decided I was going to wholesale and I always like to buy the rest in my queue. That is a huge thing. They teach any education program you take when it comes to land. There’s some recipe. It usually has something to do with mailing and marketing, then rinse and repeat. It’s so true. Once you are doing the same thing on the scheduled timeframe, you’ll be surprised what the deals that come in your door are like, “This is cool. Here we go.”
You gave me a great deal and I’m still on cloud nine, seeing how fast these things are selling. Let me know when you get too many.
We’ll get ready to kick out another big mailer, so you never know.
You hit it on the head. It sounds to me like you’re mailing Monday through Sunday with no breaks every single day of the week.
I find that when I do stop, life gets in the way and you forget to get going again. There’s a couple of different software systems out there that will help you drip it out. What I ended up doing is when I decide I’m going to mail a specific area of accounting, I do everything in areas. I don’t shotgun things. I pick specific areas. Once I get that list dialed in, usually, it’s between 1,000 and 5,000 names. I put it on autopilot and I forget about it for 2 or 3 months, then I work with the deal flow as it comes in. That has been amazing. It makes it so much easier. It’s one thing that’s checked off my plate and it’s one thing that I have to spend 2 or 3 hours once every 2 to 3 months doing.
I feel like a broken record with this, but I want to mention it because you hit something huge. It puts a pin to my heart when you say you automated it. It’s done like if you’re on vacation or at the firehouse. You don’t even have to think about it and that’s how we get things done. I’m not a huge tech guy. I don’t understand a lot of that stuff, but I understand that somebody out there knows how to do something better than I do.
We’re trying out land speed with Howard Zander. It’s been incredible. My virtual assistant got 26 a day going out and we finished the campaign. He’s looking up what the properties are worth and coming up with the offer letters. That is getting done. We’re using a little bit of automation and delegation at the same time. Someone’s still running that software. However, it’s getting done, whether I’m working, not working, sleeping or reading a book. Tell us what software program you use for your automation.
To become a master, you need to sit at the feet of masters.
I am using Pebble from the REI Conversion guys. They ended up building my website. The nice thing is with Pebble, we interact with my website. As I bring leads into Pebble and property information, I click a button and it posts it over to my website. Automation cuts down on some of the steps. They’re brand new.
Paul, you started years ago and started pushing in January of 2020. How many transactions would you say you completed?
I have completed 49.
I’m not a math magician, but roughly almost 4.9 deals per month are what you’re doing. How has that changed your trajectory as far as financial freedom?
It is on the path to change it greatly. The interesting thing about firefighters is that we have pensions, but they put a timeframe on it. I can’t collect any of that until I’m 50. I have a few years left of working, but that will cut seven years off of that. Technically, I have to go to 57, but we’ve got this business up and running, so I can only imagine where it’s going to go in ten years. I’ll be able to leave and take a lower pension at 50 because I’m going to have this nice little passive income stream on the backside, waiting to cover any gaps that might be lacking there. That was one of the main reasons I would have been looking for some type of a side business in retirement.
They say retirement, but in actuality, at the kiss of death, when you say retirement, I feel that you should always be doing something. It doesn’t necessarily need to be working for someone, but you need to have something that you’re doing. Never retire. That was one of my other reasons for trying to find something to jump into. The land was one of those niches. Land and I clicked. I’m fortunate that I found it and I love to see where it goes next.
Never retire. Always be building, creating and helping others improve their lives and other people’s lives. Eventually, you stopped doing it to pay the bills when that passive income reaches or surpasses your monthly payments or you pay your house off and you have no car loan. It’s okay. How can I contribute? Meet those basic needs that Tony Robbins always talks about contribution and growth. I’m 100% on board with that.
Land click with you. I couldn’t agree with that more. That’s exactly me because we’re flipping houses and have rentals. We still have rentals, buying and wholesaling houses. This is something that didn’t click with me of having to go to another stinky cat pee house, sit on the couch, talk with the seller, plug my nose and not breathe for 35 minutes. Have you ever had to go to somebody’s house, sit on their dirty couch and feel like you’re breathing in asbestos while you’re buying or selling a piece of land?
No. With land, there are no renters, rehab, renovations or rodents. That was my father-in-law. The other reason too is my father-in-law and we’ve been talking about starting the business together. He’s owned the tool business for years. We’d always talked about flipping houses because he is super handy with a tool. He can go in and fix something up. There’s no big deal but us flipping houses, having to go there, talking to people, a lot more money involved, time and effort, we never quite got that off the ground. He’s getting ready to retire and jump on, hopefully, with the land business here.
My dad’s in the land business and I couldn’t be prouder as a son. I try to get him in so many businesses, maybe 5 or 6 MLMs or house flipping, but he never went for any of it. He let his son learn the MLM business like we were talking about when you first started with land. He’s like, “You heard mailing and marketing.” “No, that’s not for me. It sounds like an MLM.” My dad is on his 31st land deal. I’m so proud of him. Are you flipping all of your lands? Are you holding any of it and seller financing it for the passive income? Do you have a mailing and marketing machine go in and sell them off to guys like me?
I do a three-pronged approach to the land that I have. I’m going for terms. I want that passive income. That’s the main thing. Probably about 70% of my deals have been termed. The rest have been some one-off cash sales. Once I get 4 or 5 in an area, I’ll wholesale 1 or 2 to get a little extra income back in so that we can keep the deal machine going. I also offer on certain properties like land arbitrage. Another investor comes in and they want to rent-to-own it a little bit over the wholesale price. We can go that route as well. That helps them out. They’ve got time to get it on terms or a cash sale.
It also helps me out because I’m still getting some passive on maybe a piece of property that I didn’t care to put too much time and effort into marketing. There are always those pieces of property where you get them. Nothing ever doesn’t sell. Every piece of land always sells. There are certain pieces of land you don’t care about the time and effort you do. Those are the ones I usually offer up for arbitrage. I do a three-pronged approach. We’ll see how that works because, so far, it’s been going well. The problem is if folks run out of money quickly in this business.
I’ve had people reach out to me for land arbitrage. I love that you broke it down there. You sell a piece of land to another land investor and they go out, take the pictures, do the due diligence or put it on their website, sell it for $300, $400 a month and pay you $100 a month.
If you’re doing it right, there is always a wholesale price, whether you’d sell to other land investors with that price. Usually, with the land, our price is somewhere between the cash and wholesale prices, so pick a number. The cool thing about land is it’s what you and the buyer agree on for a price because it’s such an inefficient market. That’s how I typically do it. If I’m going to land on something, pick a price right in between what they can get cash and what I could sell it for wholesale.
You open yourself up to so many more buyers. What we’re going for is the passive lifestyle. I get too much time into a piece of land. We don’t go and see this land. We’ve had some parcels of land that are within 30 minutes of us. We’ll meet the buyer if they ask us to on the land once they’ve made their down payment and their dock fee, but we’ll never go out and meet them. We’re always trying to keep our business as passive as possible. If you can get help from other land investors, that’s amazing. Seventy percent terms, whereabouts are you at? What’s your passive income each month?
We hit $2,800 or $3,000 per month. Unfortunately, in the beginning, I was so off track. I did a lot of land art. True passive is probably around $2,400. The rest is going to some land art payments. That gets to go right back into the business and keep things growing.
When you stop doing something consistently, life gets in the way and you forget to get going again.
$2,400 a month, plus you’re a full-time firefighter. That’s way more than my mortgage payment.
For the next years, if everything stops, my mortgage payment is covered. I can’t complain about that.
We hadn’t been doing this too much longer than you. I did my first land flips in 2016. I did not start seller financing my land until April of 2018. We started to build a passive side after we had flipped multiple parcels of land and saw like, “I let that go at $0.50, but I bought it at such a massive discount. I still get a ton of money.” It changed my life. However, I was looking at it as like, “What if I got $300 a month passive income to cover my student loans?” We sold our first one on passive and we’re still getting that same check day. It was for 52 and a half months and it’s 5-34. That covered my student loans and some of our car payments.
This is me talking to my wife, Emily. I was like, “What if we can cover student loans and your car payment?” Before we knew it, we were taking care of that and then it’s like, “What if we cover all of our payments?” We’re more than 2, 3 times that, but it’s amazing how fast this grows. I’ve never seen anything like it. I can attest. We have almost 37 doors, but none of those things provide the net passive income that land provides for us. We don’t like buying rentals. However, it does offset some of the taxes we have to pay to Uncle Sam. It’s easier to pay for a rental with that money and send it to the IRS each month. Paul, what would you say is the most creative land deal you’ve ever done?
It’s probably my first one, which was odd because I had no idea what I was doing. The buyer or the seller of that piece of land happened to live right off the freeway in an area that I drive through on my way home from work. He got four letters in the mail that week to purchase his land and because I lived close to him, he picked me and wanted to meet me. Three hours later after meeting him, I got to hear his life story and everything else, got that deal done and I’m like, “What do I do?” The funny thing is I was doing this on the side because I didn’t want to have a wife that was spending all this money doing things.
It’s like, “I want to make sure it works first.” She’s like, “Why are you three hours late coming home?” I was like, “Late getting off work.” I did that and made it all work out. When I went to sell it, I had no idea about pricing. My pricing was all wrong, so I’m pretty sure I sold it for about $5,000 or $6,000 less than I should have because a guy offered me cash. I’m like, “I’ll take it. How do we do this?”
At that point, it was a scramble to figure out how would take $10,000 cash from a guy in the world? I had no system set up or anything. That one sticks in my mind, being able to think on the fly and figure it out. One thing to take away from the land business is the dirt you’re selling. There’s no such thing as a land emergency. As long as you’re buying it at the right price, there’s almost nothing that can go wrong with buying and selling raw vacant land. There’s no emergency. Take your time. It’s going to be there no matter what.
We’ve made so many mistakes buying parcels of land, but we’ve always got our money back. There was once or twice where we broke even. We probably didn’t need to sell the land so fast, but in the beginning, I would freak out and try and sell it within 1 or 2 weeks because I was using rent and grocery money. I need that money back because your wife is like, “Why are you coming home late? Why didn’t we pay the mortgage this month?”
The biggest one we’ve done so far was someone brought us cash, but it’s weird when people bring you all these $100 bills. We had a guy bring us a bag that had all the $100 bills. My realtor helped me out on that one because I was like, “This is getting a little crazy.” We bought one of those fireboxes. You saw one of those. I’m sure you probably pull those out of houses all the time. Do they work?
They do up to a certain point. That box gets so hot that it starts to charge the stuff inside. They only work for so long.
For a while there, we were keeping a little cash in the house and it got to the point where it’s like, “I’m hiding this box and I’m hoping no one finds it.” When I started getting a little paranoid about that, we started putting more of it in the bank. We would always report it to the bookkeeper because real estate’s a highly audited business. We run everything on QuickBooks, but sometimes it’s fun to keep some of that cash because that’s real money. It feels real tangible rather than something in the bank account. It makes it fun.
It’s nice to have a check or water cash where you’re like, “What do I do with this?”
Paul, it’s been fun. Last question I’m going to ask you, what advice would you give to the person reading and thinking about getting started building passive income or investing a land?
Stop sitting on the sidelines and do it, but about half a dozen educators are in the land flipping business. You can get some stuff. If you google enough, you’ll figure out how to do this. However, if you want to make this a business and I guarantee it, this business does work. Pick the educator that you resonate the most with, go through the training and take action.
The other thing with that is you need to set one goal per day to move your business along. Before you know it, in a year down the road, if you set one goal per day, that’s 365 goals that you’ll meet per year, and your business is going to take off. It can’t not as long as you’re following whatever recipe that the educator you’re following teaches. Get off the sidelines and get going. It works.
Take immediate action. Educate yourself but don’t only educate. Take the action steps. You can’t hire a coach and they say, “Do fifteen pushups,” and not do the fifteen pushups. You know the answers. You only got to do what the coaches are telling you. I love the fact that you said one goal a day because I started catching myself doing that. I was like, “What is the most important thing that I have to do?” If I do it before 9:00 AM, everything else is downhill. I get that one goal out of the way and the to-do list becomes not as anxiety-producing because I got the most important thing done. If an emergency happens or I come to my office and hang out with the team all day, if I don’t get anything else done, it’s still a success. That’s powerful. Thank you so much, Paul, for joining me.
If you’re interested and getting started on your way to generating passive income through land, head over to WholesalingInc.com/land and schedule a call with me. We’ll hop on a short call together and discuss your real estate investing goals. If it sounds like we’re a great fit, I’d be honored to help you on your land investing journey. I’ll see you next time, Land Shark.
- Paul Brewer
- Be sure to join the Wholesaling Inc Facebook group
About Brent Bowers
Brent 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.