Ray Zhang went from being homeless to netting over $800K in vacant land deals and here, we get into all the details about how he did it. The market is changing and every day, more and more people are shifting to flipping vacant land instead of houses. Even though we’re in a recession and there’s a ton of panic, people are still buying and selling. Whether you’re wholesaling deals or selling them with owner financing, it’s a recession-proof strategy. All you have to do is adjust your offers accordingly.
Ray walks us through the tools he uses to run his land-flipping business, and he does it on the cheap with free resources like Google Sheets, Zillow, and Redfin. He gives real-life examples of deals he’s done and how he zeros in on the right target areas. We talk about the types of offers he likes to send and get into neutral offers and blind letters. Ray also shares how he subdivides vacant land and how he uses realtors to get deals done.
Quick reminder – Tom Krol and I are hosting our Coach Marketing Workshop in Orlando, October 27th and 28th. Head to the website below for more information.
Watch and Learn:
Listen and learn:
- How Ray Zhang went from being homeless to netting over $800K in vacant land deals.
- Tips and tools to run a successful vacant land-flipping business.
- How to target the right areas and use realtors to get deals done.
Mentioned in this episode:
Download episode transcript in PDF format here…
Joe: Hey. Sorry, guys. Hey, what’s going on? Joe McCall here. Welcome to the Real Estate Investing Mastery Podcast. Really glad you’re here. As I always say, but I really am. I love doing these podcasts. I’m starting to do more and more of them. It’s been a crazy late summer, early fall, hasn’t it? We just got back from camping, went four days camping with some really good friends from my church. Didn’t get much sleep, but it was fun. It was really cold. Lows in the low forties while we were sleeping. But we’re going to be talking today about my favorite subject, land investing, something that, you know, I’ve been talking about this a long time on my podcast. I’ve been doing it with my two teenage sons for the last three or four years. Together with them, with their deals that they’ve done, we’ve grossed over $151,000 in profits with just the deals that they’ve done. I’ve done much more than that on other deals that I’m doing on the side we just sold in the last week. In the last few days, we sold a couple of deals, one of them in Park County, Colorado, another one in Putnam County, Florida, on terms that we’re getting anywhere from 200 to $400 a month on average, so let’s just say 300 a month on every deal that we flip. So we’ll buy it for. And Ray is going to be talking about that on today’s podcast, but we’ll buy it for, you know, three or four or $5,000, sell it for 20 grand on owner financing. That’s a typical type of deal we do. But I wanted a strategy that was so simple that my sons could do with me. And that’s what I like talking about on this podcast. And I’m glad you’re here. I got a cool thing for you that I’m going to give away for free, and in a second I’m going to bring Ray on here to interview him because he netted. Now, it’s not what you keep. It’s what you do. I’m sorry. It’s not what you make. It’s what you keep, isn’t it? He netted over $600,000. Now, I’m not sure if this is. I think it’s this year in the last 12 months. I’m going to ask him here in a minute, but netted over $600,000 flipping vacant land. And we’re gonna be talking about it because you don’t have to have a complicated business. You don’t have to have a huge team. You don’t need to be spending thousands and thousands of dollars in marketing every month. These are vacant land deals that you can flip from your computer from anywhere in the world and your teenagers could do it. All right. We’re gonna be talking about that now. If you want more information, I got a free giveaway that I’m going to give you here. You can actually get the contract that I use for all of my vacant land deals and simple land contract dot com simple land contract dot com. Just put your name and email in there. We will send it to you and I’m going to invite you to a 60 minute class that teaches you how to use that contract. You get it for free. Simple land contract dot com. Go there right now and check that out. Now this is a podcast I do live on YouTube and Facebook, even LinkedIn and a lot of you guys are watching right now. Most of you are listening to the audio podcast, which I’m really, really appreciative of all of you all. But if you’re watching live, I really appreciate it. Just give me a thumbs up and comment. Tell me where you’re from in the comments right now. Tell me where you’re from in the YouTubes or the Facebooks, wherever you are, and just say hi. Tell me where you’re from, where you’re listening in or watching from. And if you have any questions, type them in the chat or in the comments of YouTube or Facebook or wherever, because I can show them here on the screen. And then that will tell me, Hey, I can ask Ray this certain question, or maybe if something is unclear and we can make it more clear, right? It’s like Angel here says, hey, from Arlington, Texas, what’s going on in, Sam? Samuel Bell from Kansas City. Hi, how you doing? So love seeing those kinds of comments and chats. Keep them coming in. Say hi, tell us where you are from. And I want to make sure you are liking what you’re getting here. And good one more time. Again simple land contract dot com. Is this time to bring Ray on? This is Ray Zhang. Let me bring him on here. Boom. There he is. Ray, how are you doing?
Ray: Good. How are you, Joe?
Joe: Really good. Guys. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Ray. And he netted over 600 grand flipping vacant land. Over what period of time is that, Ray?
Ray: Actually, it’s over 800 for now because we’ve just closed two deals in the past month, I closed one today. It was I bought it for 70. I sold it for 155 now.
Joe: Awesome. So okay, I want to talk about this because market’s changing. I thought homebuilders weren’t buying land anymore. I thought everybody was getting scared and not buying vacant land because interest rates really high. Inflation’s really high. We’re getting into recession. There’s a ton of fear and panic out there. But you’re still doing deals as recently as today. You’re closing on these.
Ray: Definitely because we have a recession proof model, I believe, because our motto is we determine how much we buy by the price sold within the last three months. So as you know, even we are in the recession, there are still people buying and selling, right? Yeah. Even the price drop, we just buy it on the percentage of the top price. So, you know, basically we are not at risk.
Joe: That’s such a good point, guys, because, you know, whether you’re wholesaling these or selling them with owner financing, you’re buying land for 20, 30, $0.40 on the dollar and you’re selling it for, you know, 75, $0.80 on the dollar maybe or if you’re selling it for its owner financing on terms, you’re selling it for maybe 100% of what it’s worth. But here’s why. This is recession proof. And I love this point. Ray made a good point of it. Like no matter if the market is going up or going down, we’re looking at recent sold when we make our offers. So if prices are going down, guess what? We’re making lower offers and we’re still selling at low enough. Where we get a lot of demand. Doesn’t matter what price they’re selling for. It doesn’t matter if market’s going up or down. There are still people buying land right now. There’s still people buying houses. Right. And we’re just going to sell it to them for whatever price they want it for. Does that make sense?
Joe: Awesome. Okay. Very real quick, back to my original question, though. Did you net six or 800 grand in the last year or in the last two years or what?
Ray: From January this year.
Joe: Okay, you guys. This is October 3rd is we’re recording this right now from January one, 2022 to October 3rd, 2022. And even if you’re listening to this two years in the future, don’t let these dates throw you out. Okay? Because I was I was first learning about land six or seven years ago, and I was like, oh, man, this is awesome. And I was afraid I missed it. And I started doing deals with my sons for three or four years ago. I was like, Oh, no, I missed it. I was too late. There’s too many people that know about this or any of the secrets out or whatever. Guys, this is now still today and two, five years in the future, this strategy will still be working. Just want to clarify that. So in the last nine months, now we’re into our 10th month of the year, you’ve netted almost 800 grand.
Ray: Yeah, I know that. The good thing is I only do the work about 2 hours a day.
Joe: 2 hours a day.
Ray: And I only have one virtual assistant on my team, I pay him $2 an hour. That’s about it.
Joe: So $2 an hour. Well, that’s really generous of you, right?
Ray: Yeah. Maybe I should pay more, but.
Joe: Maybe then we’ve got a bunch of comments coming in here. Here we go. Samuel says, I came in late on the podcast. I just want to get started with land flipping. You’re in the right place, Matt. Bill’s my brother. Matt. Bill’s is a good dude. He we do a lot of deals together and work out together, even go to the same church. So cool. Ray How did you get into land investing? What interested you in it and why not houses?
Ray: I tried houses. I was living in Hawaii and the wholesaling in Hawaii is very, very hard. I bought a lot of your course about virtual doing the house. Was that about notes or something like that?
Joe: Well, we did a couple of them. It was virtual wholesaling or automated wholesaling maybe.
Ray: Yeah, yeah. I tried them all. But you know, for houses, if you’re not in the market, you’re you are again it’s going to be a little bit harder to wholesale. Even virtual is very hard but.
Joe: Much, much harder yeah.
Ray: Yeah. And in Hawaii, it was almost impossible. And I really want to get into the real estate game. So I was thinking, what about that? So I just try to flip land and out of pure luck. The first year I had a guy who owns about 150 parcels and he said, You can just buy them for a thousand each. I bought them all. I sold every single one of them for a month for 20 to $2300.
Joe: So you bought them for a thousand?
Joe: And you sold them each for about 23 or $2400.
Ray: Yeah, yeah, yeah. About four a month. And I was, I thought there was a little bit more to it because I think there was just luck. I can go lucky every day. So I try to, you know, think if there’s a better way to do it. I try to term sell like, what do you are doing right now? I didn’t really like it because I want to accumulate cash fast. Yeah. So I asked Tom Krol, who was your friend, I said, Do you know anyone who do more land deals that me and he introduced me. A guy called. His name is Brian Bowers.
Joe: Yeah, I’ve interviewed Brian. He’s a good dude.
Ray: Yeah, he’s awesome. And he does primarily terms as well. Yeah. I asked him, do you know anyone who does, you know, just cash flip people like, you know, they do a lot of volume. And he said he know a guy from the military and he does more than $1,000,000 profit in ten months. So I thought, you know, I’ll find the right guy. So I followed him like a puppy. So and that’s how I did, I guess.
Joe: Okay, so talk about what you’re doing now then and then what parts? Yeah, well, let’s talk about your overall business strategy. Your goal is to wholesale the deals that be in and out really quickly, right?
Ray: I buy them and I flip them right away.
Joe: You buy them. Are you buying them with your own money or using private investors?
Ray: Yeah, I use my own money yet right now.
Joe: Give an example. What’s a typical deal that you’re not your best deal, but like in a typical deal that you do actually.
Ray: And that’s about 20,000 is still right now. And I normally buy today I just got two deals. We are under contract for 29,000 each. He has two side by side and the realtor just called me and he said, conservatively speaking, we can sell this for about 65 each. To think it doesn’t happen every day, but at least I want a net about 20 grand each deal.
Joe: Okay, you want to net 20 grand on each deal? Now what? What’s your typical buy box? What are you looking to buy and what are you trying to sell it for?
Ray: I when I look at the sold price, typically look at or up about 50,000.
Joe: You want to buy for 50.
Ray: No, I look at the sold price and then I will offer the neighborhood, the entire neighborhood for about 20,22. And then when they call me back, I would renegotiate again to bring down that price. Maybe I’ll buy them for 20. I sell them for 47, 45ish.
Joe: All right. So you’re looking for properties vacant land in the what you say 40 to 50000, around $50,000.
Joe: That’s about what it’s worth. That’s what they’re selling for.
Joe: Then you will offer 20. Did you say 20?
Ray: Yeah. About 40% of the sale price.
Joe: Okay. So if it’s worth 50 times point four, that’s 20 grand. Yeah. That’s one of the things I teach too. Like when you’re going after the smaller lots that are worth maybe 10 to 20000, 25,000, you want to offer $0.25 on the dollar, but you can get away with offering $0.40 to $0.50 on the dollar. And the general rule of thumb in the 50 to $100000 price range, you can offer a higher percentage.
Joe: Okay, cool. So typical deal, it’s worth about 50. That’s what they’re selling for. You’re making an offer for about 20, and then you have a little room to negotiate. And your goal then is to sell it quickly for a little bit less than what they’re currently going for, right?
Ray: Correct. And for land, there is a natural disadvantage for land owners, which is, first of all, the land don’t have power, some of the land outside their power, but you have to drag a line into a property. So normally when people call me back, I would just tell them, hey, brother, your land don’t have power, your land don’t have water, your land don’t have septic tank, your land don’t have, you know, have a lot of trees I have to cut. So there’s a lot of fees. And the what’s the best you can do for this land? So normally when they hear that, they got, you know, kind of hammered that this is the disadvantage. So they will bring down a lot of price. For example, I bought a deal in about March this year. The typical solid price nearby was about 65. I got I offered 22 for the entire area and he called me back. I just tell him your land all have business. And I said, How much the best you could do. He said, Maybe the best I could do is as eight out. So he discount himself. You’ve actually bought it for six grand? I said, amazing. I saw that the next day for 57. So yeah.
Joe: Okay. So talk about this then. Are you sending blind offers or are you sending neutral letters?
Ray: No. Neutral letter is everything is has to offer.
Joe: So you all your initial mail is the actual offer of what you would offer them?
Joe: And then when they call, does it go to voicemail or do you try to answer it?
Ray: I try to answer them live. But if they go to voice mail, I think it could be better because some people just don’t like the price they were coerced. And I just listen to the voice mail you’ve there. You know, I don’t want to sell or I just don’t call them back, okay? Yeah.
Joe: Have you ever tried neutral letters?
Ray: I tried before, and it can work. But the thing is, I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this. I that’s why, you know, I start a coaching business with this. And a lot of my students are full time job. They don’t have a lot of time. And that’s what I learned from that military guy. He only have one hour a day and he did more than a million profit in a month. Yeah. So, you know, if you do it the neutral letter, I think it will be very hard to handle.
Joe: Okay. I think I like the neutral letter for one very good reason. Simple reason. I get more calls. Yeah. And everything goes into a voicemail and my VA sends the offer out. So I want as many calls as possible that go to voice mails. We send them an offer. We still don’t talk to them until after they get our offer. But before we send an offer out, if it’s a property that’s on a lake, they’re going to get a higher offer than a house that’s not on the water. Right. So I want I’m always trying to adjust my offers based on similar comps. And they’re easy to find on Zillow, but. Okay, very good. How do you pick the counties that you’re going into?
Ray: It’s very easy. I right now, I probably in like 30 different counties. What how I pick it is I just go on Zillow. And then choose the sold and only land sold within the last three months. And you see those yellow dots. So, you know, just zoom out. And there you see, first of all, you pick a space you want to go into, let’s say Florida, and you just put a Zillow sold land only. And that’s already within the last three months. You see where that yellow does concentrate.
Joe: I want to share my screen right now. Those of you watching on YouTube or Facebook, you can see. Here we go. All right. You guys see my screen? I’m on Zillow and you look in in the entire country or just you’re going by state?
Ray: I go by states.
Joe: So look at Florida. Do you do any kind of pricing parameters?
Ray: Yeah. You know, that’s why I love this. Even you have little money to start with. You can mess a little bit with the with the pricing. Let’s say let’s say you have 10000 to US, you just put 20 grand max.
Joe: Okay, so let’s do let’s do sold in the last year. But up to these properties are in areas that are sold for under 50 grand, let’s say. All right.
Joe: And you want to make sure that only lots land is checked. Right. And then do you do any kind of lot size filtering? No, you don’t know. All right, then. Okay. And then you do. Sold in last 90 days or three months?
Joe: Okay, 90 days. All right. So what do you see here? If you are listening in to the podcast, we see the entire state of Florida, a bunch of yellow dots. There’s 80, 100 vacant lots. It’s sold in the last 90 days. Now, by the way, again, you know, the recession kind of started six, eight months ago. Interest rates, inflation, everybody freaking out. This is the last three months. People are still buying land. I love it. All right. And so you see pockets here, right? Like, what if we look at this area right here, there’s a bunch of things that are selling right here. This is kind of southeast of Tampa, northwest of Miami. So we zoom in here. Would this be an area you might be looking at right here?
Ray: Yeah, definitely. I believe I was Orange County, maybe Lee County.
Joe: All right. So I’m going to I’m going to remove boundary right here and then I’m going to do a draw tool. I’m going to draw in this area. This is near. And then I click apply. So it shows me just these properties that are in this area. This is kind of like right in the center of Florida, kind of in between Tampa and West Palm Beach, Port Saint Lucie, right in the center of Florida. Down there, there’s 381 properties that are sold. And so you can find what county that is, right? Yeah. Let’s just pick one of these. Here’s one that’s sold for such. You want to find a good one. Here’s a quarter acre lot that sold for five grand. So this is in the city of Lake Placid, Florida. And I want to see what counties see if Zillow tells me what county this is and I don’t see it here. Taxes are $65 a year. I don’t know.
Ray: It’s a lot of money. Yeah.
Joe: Well, okay, maybe I’m not looking in the right.
Ray: You can just search Google the zip code and search what counties are.
Joe: All right, so the zip code is 33852. Let’s go to the Google search and zip code county, 3385 to Lake Placid County, Highlands County, Florida.
Joe: All right. So you think Highlands County, Florida, is a good area. And actually, there’s probably you can start looking through all of these and see all of the ZIP codes. 338253387533872. All right, now what?
Ray: After that, it’s a good area, but not good for me because the price of it is so low. I don’t have many margins here.
Joe: Let’s fix that because I want to do it the way you do it. Let’s look back again at the state of Florida and let’s do pricing. Let’s do these are properties that sold for between 25,070 5000. Can we do that?
Joe: Okay. Now, that pocket doesn’t have as many areas right there right now, but we see maybe this area up here. You want to look at this area?
Joe: This is an area north of Tampa, west of Orlando. So via zoom in, there’s a lot of activity here. I’m just going to remove boundary, then I’m going to click draw and I’m going to kind of draw in this area right here, 515 sold properties in the last three months. Again, it’s north of Tampa, west of Orlando. And we can dove into one of the cities is Webster, Donlin, Dwight Dade City, Yankee Town, Florida. All right. So now what do you do?
Ray: I typically first of all I figure what Conti is that most the soda so last in and right now you’re looking at about Hernando County this is Hernando County. Oh, it is. Yeah. I was in this area.
Joe: It’s Citrus County.
Ray: Okay. So it’s a combination of searches and Hernando County. So all you can do for them now, there’s two ways you can do it. First of all, you go to a list source and you download a list for all of the sold lots within the last three months, and you get that as a comparable. And then you go to list source again and download the last that people bought it for over five years and you compare that to you can determine your offer price.
Joe: So you’re downloading lists from list source.
Ray: Yeah. That’s a one way to do it. Yeah.
Joe: Can you show me how to do that real quick?
Ray: Yeah, definitely.
Joe: Because I don’t use list source. I normally use price and perhaps trim. But I’m just curious, how do you get vacant land in list source now where I log in to list source, you get a free account that list source dot com and you go to create your own.
Joe: So there’s a button for create your own. You pick geography. I’m going to select counties that are right.
Joe: Must select Florida and then let’s pick Citrus County. By the way. Again, again, guys, if you’re listening to this on the audio podcast, go to my YouTube channel, do a search for Joe McCall and find this video because we’re doing some real this is so good. I hope you guys are getting a lot out of this. And if you are type in the comments, give me a thumbs up and a heart in the comments and Facebook and YouTube. I appreciate it. Okay, so we got geography, Citrus County, Florida. Then what do I go to property here?
Joe: Property type is one of the selections.
Ray: We can land as the top maps.
Joe: Vacant land right there. That’s one of the options. Click add.
Joe: All right. So there’s 43,561 vacant land records in Citrus County right now. And now what do you do?
Ray: And then you select the last. So that lesson.
Joe: Last market sale.
Ray: Date. Yeah.
Joe: And what, three months.
Ray: That’s three month. Yes.
Joe: Last three months. You bring that over, there’s 507 in the last three months. Then what?
Ray: And then you can do a price range. So that’s all at the last market. So a price.
Joe: All right. Yeah, last market sale price right there. And what do you want to do here?
Ray: It depends on your budget. But you know, for me, if I do it, I would do it for 20 grand to 150 at.
Joe: 20 grand to 150 grand add. There’s 182 lots. That’s all between 20,000 $850,000 in the last 90 days.
Ray: And then I will go to options. Options under the corporate owned properties, no preference.
Joe: Okay, good. So we went to options, corporate owned, no preference that will bring you LLC and individuals that buy. Yeah. That jumped it up to 247.
Ray: Yeah. Just for your knowledge. So any counter sold within the last three months, over a hundred I think is a good market. Yeah. So right now you can see we are double more than double. So is a good very good area.
Joe: This is a great market, a lot of recent activity.
Joe: And then do you download this list.
Ray: Yeah. I go ahead and click a purchase list.
Joe: Okay. We won’t do that here.
Ray: Yeah. Go ahead and click that. There’s another thing we need to do.
Joe: Oh I know what you’re going to do.
Ray: Mhm. Yeah. This is key. We’ll add the subdivision to it, go down and add additional field is all the way to the end.
Joe: So there’s additional fields and there’s something called subdivision. Subdivision for $0.
Joe: And you can add the order.
Ray: Yeah. And then I go up, there’s one car lot area.
Joe: Lot areas that would be acreage or square feet or whatever. Right.
Joe: Add to order $0.
Ray: So this is a complete comparable we need. And then after you purchase that, it has a solid price, it has a subdivision of that property is and because I made a mistake at the beginning of my career, I now true the entire zip code for the same price. That was a huge mistake because in anything area zip code is not the smallest unit. Yeah subdivision is that’s interesting.
Joe: Now does every vacant lot belong to a subdivision? What if it doesn’t belong to one?
Ray: I think everyone belongs to something. Really? Yeah. And the four, four, those ones are blank. I just delete them and. Okay. And then after we download this, we go back to that crate list and instead of choosing the county.
Joe: I’m going to see this criteria real quick because I want to play with this after Ray’s awesome list, I just called it Ray’s awesome list. Okay. So I’m going to look at that later. Now you buy the list. This is the reason why we’re doing this and we’re using. You can do the same thing in Priced or Prop Stream, but you’re trying to get. Who are these buyers? Right. And what subdivisions are they buying in?
Ray: Yes. And right now we are going after the land owners who owned the land for five years.
Joe: Okay. So show me how you do that.
Ray: And then you create your own.
Joe: You create your own. You go back to county.
Ray: No, I go to a subdivision.
Joe: Oh, look at that. That is cool. So endless source. And I don’t know if you can do this in priced or sub or prop stream.
Ray: And then you choose the same county, Citrus County in Florida.
Joe: Citrus County. Okay, now, now you need to put in the subdivision here.
Ray: The subdivision will be from the comparable list. You just download it.
Joe: Yeah. So I don’t know what that is. Let me just type in one word. One letter. Yes. Okay. Here’s I typed in the letter and it gave me all the ones that started with ads and there’s hundreds of them.
Joe: So I could pick one of these, let’s say I don’t know which one to pick. Seven river ranches. Yeah, there’s 363 to choose from, but there’s only two in my search criteria there, so. Yeah, you’ve got to find the subdivision. Wow. Okay.
Ray: Yeah. So, you know, that’s the subdivision. It has to match the one. You just download it, and then we go to the property again. Which, who’s the properties that still vacant land but the last sell last sell date will be well be more the last five years.
Joe: Okay. Let me show you just how to do that real quick. Let’s just pick I’m going to pick the Florida Citrus County again. I apologize if you’re just listening to this, will type in all of the subdivisions to start with. So I’m going to highlight all of them and click Add. So brought them all in. So there’s 1356 records. Now I’m going to go to property, I’m going to do the last market sale date.
Ray: And from I just choose from 19 zero zero.
Joe: Okay. From 1900.
Joe: To 2019 or 2017.
Joe: So the sale date was 1900 to 2017, bring it over. So they’ve owned this property for at least five years now. One of the things that I used to do for houses when I was using list source is I would go to the length of residence because they have a thing here for unknown. Now I don’t know if that will work for vacant land because sometimes in some counties, Ray, if I do the last market sale date and there is no sale date on county records, I don’t know if that will show up.
Ray: So I think maybe taxes those nondisclosure states, maybe they don’t have a that but I’ve used this method for in Texas too. But in Texas there is something I made a change because if you go to list source in Texas they won’t have sold price. Yeah. Or very few have. So what you do is the second method I do with those nondisclosure states. Yeah. Yeah. Which is we go towards Redfin. Redfin. Yeah. And we can see the, the subdivision there and so price.
Joe: Oh, okay. Okay. All right, let’s we’ll show that here in just a second. This is so good. So last you know they’ve only for five years and then is there what other criteria do you search for here?
Ray: Vacant land.
Joe: Oh, yeah. Property type vacant land add goes from 925 down to 201.
Ray: And then I choose the company to company owned and the option.
Joe: Go to options on the upper right. And so this is you’re sending mail now to people.
Joe: And so you only do corporate owned?
Ray: No, no, no preference.
Joe: You do no preference.
Ray: No preference, yes.
Joe: So you send offers to LLC or individual ownership.
Ray: Yeah. Yeah.
Joe: What it makes. So let’s see if there’s anything changes when you click absentee and it goes from 244 thing of shouldn’t matter because it’s vacant land.
Ray: I think we be zero. Oh, okay.
Joe: Well it goes from 244 to 210. There was a small change there. But anyway. All right. And then you download this list and you know, these properties are selling for an average of whatever you determine from your other download. Right. And you’re going to offer 40% of that.
Ray: Yes. In the same subdivision they offer 40%.
Joe: Yes, in the same subdivision. All right. Now, let’s look at Redfin here, because I want to I really like Redfin in a lot of ways for a couple of reasons. Citrus County, Florida. Okay. Then I’m going to look for sold last three months, home type. We want land and we go here in the extra filters. You don’t do any filter here my lot is let’s to price it sold for what was a 25,000 150,000. Is that what you did?
Ray: Yeah, pretty much.
Joe: All right, so here are my filters. Sold vacant land in Citrus County that sold between 25 250 grand in the last 90 days. And I’m not doing any lot size parameters or. Filters. So I’ve got 183 properties here, and if I scroll down to the bottom boom, there’s a download button right there. You can download these and put them into a spreadsheet. Now, will the spreadsheet give you subdivisions.
Ray: That I’m not sure about? You can click individual one and go the subdivision.
Joe: All right, let’s click this one here. This sold for 38 grand. I click view details and I’m looking at the spreadsheet. I just. Probably there are some of the properties have subdivisions and some don’t are all my city I see the city, the state and the zip code. And then there’s this thing called location. All right. Interesting.
Ray: So if you go down and see the community there. Yeah. So that’s normally the same verbiage of the subdivision. That’s about the same every time.
Joe: Awesome. All right, Selena Hills, let’s go to let’s look at another one just on random here, 32 grand view details. Scroll down. Community Green Acres.
Ray: Yeah. So you see it there. Not too far away, but there are different subdivisions. Yeah. Yeah. So if you it the same the two guys out the same price, you know, they’ll be that bit, but they’ll be back. Nice. Yeah.
Joe: All right, cool. So you are you’re finding I love this because you’re going to see which areas have the most activity. You’re looking at it from the entire state level. You zoom down into an area I guess you could do that here in can we just do the whole state of Florida in red zone. I have to pick an area, don’t I?
Ray: Yeah. Hey, you can zoom out and see the numbers.
Joe: Oh, that’s right. You’re so smart. All right, I’m zooming out on Redfin, and now soon, I will see the entire state. Maybe it’s loading 70%. Well, anyway, you can do it in Zillow, and you. You can zoom in, you find the areas. Now, can you get to subdivisions in Zillow?
Ray: You can, but not as much as I. Redfin has a lot more data than Zillow, especially those non-disclosure nondisclosure states like in Texas. Zillow, don’t you have the sale price?
Joe: Okay. But I do see some of these. If I’m looking at them, they will show and Zillow, I’m looking here. It does have subdivisions like Crystal Heights.
Ray: Yeah, they do.
Joe: All right. So the key, though, is getting down to the granular level, the granular level of subdivisions to get your target areas. When you know the good areas where there’s recent activity, you can find then all the landowners who own property in that subdivision and you’re sending them a blind offer at $0.40 on the dollar.
Joe: Super cool. And then how often do you send mail?
Ray: I send them out every month. Right now I just do more mail because I have more Marcellus, you know, more cash I want to spend. So I expand to a lot of different counties. The kind of you just mentioned with your son, Park County, Colorado. That was an awesome county. I was I just mail it. So that was an awesome county, too.
Joe: So I found it was very competitive. My response rate was really low, lower than normal, but I got two deals out of it. Yeah, and here I am complaining about the low response rate. I got two really good smoking deals. We just sold one of them yesterday.
Ray: So, yeah, Colorado. I would I would offer about 47% or 50%. Really. Yeah. Because they’re so competitive there.
Joe: And so you’re targeting higher priced properties. When you were just getting started, who did you use your own money or how did you find other how did you buy these deals and close on them?
Ray: Last year, everything we talk about was just a theory in my mind, so I just try to see if it will really work. So I just start with ten grand with my own money for the sole price. I just changed it for a 5000 to 20 grand because 40% of 20 grand is 8000. Right? And then I did my first deal. I bought it for a couple thousand that sold it for the 20 ish. So I kind of started there. So after that one county I was like, you know, the theory works, but does it work for other you know, I don’t want it to just work for one county. And that’s it. So I tried another county, It works. And then I was like two county works. What about other states? So I tried other states, other state. It works. So right now, so far I’m out to about at least 30 different counties. Every time my mail, I think they’re about owning three counties. I didn’t got a deal and that was because I offered to allow. Colorado was one of them. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. And for every single other contest, I got at least one deal.
Joe: By the way, for Park County, Colorado. I was offering $0.25 on the dollar and I got those two years. I got a lot of angry people. Right. And I could have gotten more deals accepted if I would have offered more. But now we’re doing the follow up stage. So I think I got we did some texting as well. So we sent about 6000 letters. We did a lot of skip tracing and texting, which started to do cold calling here soon. And we’re sitting on about 80 leads that we got any leads and we sent them offers. And the way I like to do is I like to send them the same offer every 30 days just and keep following up every 30 days after that. Okay. So let’s see what is your virtual assistant, your VA do for you that.
Ray: He only does that for the nondisclosure states. He collect the data from Redfin for the sale price address acreage and the subdivision, and that’s all he does.
Joe: And so then you who do you use to send the mail.
Ray: I use this company Offer to owners Dot com. And they do you know about 60, $0.60 per letter and sometime the guy just gave out a discount too. So it’s pretty good.
Joe: And you’re sending it. Well, what kind of letter are you sending? Is it a one page letter and contract or is it just.
Ray: Yeah, yeah. The first page is talk about who I am a company dealing with, and the second page is the offer letter.
Joe: Okay. And so how many is are you sending on average every week or every month?
Ray: I used to send about 10,000 pieces a month, and this month I did. Last month I did a lot. I did almost, almost 18,000 last month. So.
Joe: Ray, you send 18,000 letters or an average about 10,000 letters among some people here that. Yeah. And start getting hives and they start freaking out because that’s a lot of money. Yeah. You’re spending about $8,000 a month in marketing.
Ray: Yeah. And compared to the, the profit you’re gets is a no brainer. But you know, if you’re just started, you know, start with small one county. 3000 letters. One calls you more than 2000. You got a deal. You’ll see the power of that. Imagine you sent, you know, let’s say $20,000 a month. You learned a deal like the one I just closed today. You know, you will get very good return.
Joe: This is why I love this business is there’s so many different ways you can do it. There is not one right answer. There’s a lot of different ways you can do it. When it comes down to very simple math, it’s the numbers you follow the area where the demand is now raised. Somebody might get nervous when they’re looking at Zillow here and I’ll share my screen again. Where’s my thing? Hold on here. Okay. They get nervous when they look at Zillow and they see all these yellow dots and I’m like, oh, my gosh, there’s too much competition there. There’s too many investors already doing deals there. I can’t I can’t make any kind of dent into that. What do you say to them?
Ray: One thing I can promise is no matter what, like if you are in 2000, the year 2000, or you are in 20, 2010 or right now 2022 or maybe ten years later, you will find out the same thing. Why? There are so many, so many combinations. There will be, I’m sure you know, it’s. Oh, you have done this a lot. Yeah. For many, many years back then. Maybe there are a lot of yellow dots too. So yeah, you know, you just have to choose a market and mail it and some people will respond to you. And I got a lot of people asking me, you know, why do they even sell for 40% or, you know, or your math, why do they even sell for 25% of their value? You know, they’re not stupid or anything. It’s not that they’re not intelligent. It’s because they have their personal financial situation they have to deal with. Imagine you’re live in New York. You have a land in Florida and the land cost you money every year because you have to pay taxes. And look at this land that you just showed. It has a lot of ground gas, a grass and an A with are trees. And the city will find you because you cannot cut your own lot. Yet if you are in New York, how can you cut the lot in Florida? So email it to them and they will sell it. I got there so far this year. I got three lost for free. I sold the first one for 12,000. The second one, I sold it for four, four, 9000 and the third is about 20 something. Go to oceanfront lot. This lady bought the last 450,000 in 2000 150,000, 2022 years ago. And guess how much she gave it to me? $700.
Ray: Yes. So as an oceanfront in South Carolina. Wow. And I ask her, why do you sell it for $700? She said, I want a person who can close quick so I can claim my tax loss this year.
Joe: She was actually. This is really good. Yeah. She was going to she’s going to lose more money than that with taxes that she had to pay.
Ray: Yeah. So she, she, she sold it to me for 700. Was able to close that deal for in, in two weeks now.
Joe: Okay. Let me ask you something, Ray, because you sent her an offer, a blind offer letter, right?
Joe: So was your blind offer. How much was it? Was a higher than $700.
Ray: Of course, that was 24 grand.
Joe: Okay. So then she calls you and says, yeah, I’ll sell it for 24 grand, but then what did you do?
Ray: I did the same thing. Your land don’t have this and that. And how much was it? What do you think? The best you can do? She said, Oh, I really want to get rid of it. You can kind of sense the urgency of the owner, right? It’s not that I want to take advantage of them because but because I want to solve her problem. I just. Oscar, what’s the best you can do? She said, probably about free thought. So she this con herself from 20 something to three grand and I was able to bring down even more after that. Nice. Yeah.
Joe: So you’re talking to the sellers and you’re just asking them, does it have power? Does it have utilities? Does it have septic because they have. Well, water?
Joe: Okay. And then you ask them, is that what’s the lowest you’d be willing to take?
Ray: I would ask, what’s the best I can do if I pay cash.
Joe: What’s the best you can do.
Ray: Yeah. Yeah. And they, they, they just tell me a number. I don’t want to throw the numbers because if you throw a number, there’ll be an anchor. I don’t want to do that. So I want them to do it first and then see where are they at if there are so if they’re so high, I’ll bring down super low as the anchor. Let’s say if they said, Oh, I was also for 20, I would tell them, how about sex, crack? You know, it’s just a very a number that you feel like guilty, you know.
Joe: Well, one thing I like about what you’re doing is you’re talking to them on the phone. You can always close more deals when you’ve got them on the phone and you’re talking to them, but they’re calling you. So there’s already some motivation. There’s already they expect to sell for a lot less than what they thought it was worth. But then you’re saying, well, boy, I can’t pay you 22 grand for this because it doesn’t have utilities already set up or whatever. But so what’s the best you can do? And you probably ask them two or three different times. Two or three different ways.
Ray: Yeah, pretty much.
Joe: I like to ask them, why don’t you just listed with an agent?
Joe: That sounds like a nice property. Why would you even want to sell it? You’re not in a hurry, I’m sure, right? You don’t have to sell it right away, but that’s really good. I love it. Okay, then let me ask you some more questions. This is so good. Once you get a deal under contract, you close on it and then you you as soon as possible. Is that right?
Ray: Yes. All right. And before I close it, there’s another verification I need to do because I don’t want anything happening to this led. Yeah. So first of all, if this land as a wetland, there’s a website you can check.
Joe: The wetland flood area.
Ray: Yeah. And secondly, I’ll call three different realtors of all the sold, sold properties nearby. I’ll, I’ll ask them hey I just got it under contract and I am going to fund this deal but I haven’t closed it yet. But I want to keep my money safe. So if you list this for a sale was the absolute minimum you think we can sell this for. And they said this to me, they said do you mean the maximum? I said, No. I said, What’s the absolute minimum? You think they can sell this for it within 30 days? So they gave me a number because realtors always kind of want to list the property for a very high price. Yeah, I don’t like that because I tell them, you know, you will ask the site within 30 days, what’s the minimum we can get? So they give me a number. Compare that to the price I’m buying and the see if there’s any, any, you know, if they’re too close, I won’t buy this.
Joe: So you’ll verify still with three different realtors.
Joe: What they think they could sell it for now. Do you use realtors to sell your deals?
Ray: Yeah, I’ll use realtors.
Joe: Okay, good. And what kind of commissions do you pay them as?
Ray: Some time I paid they one 10%. Sometimes they do 6%. I’m fine with both, as long as they’re good.
Joe: Do they, do any of the own of your own advertising for these properties yourself? Do you put them on Lands of America or land flip dot com or any of them?
Ray: No, I don’t do nothing. So, you know, that’s why I can bring down the work load to one hour to 2 hours a day because, oh, the sale side is not my job, you know, they sell it and they sell it pretty quick.
Joe: So the realtors they’ll do the they’ll be the ones taking the pictures and everything too, right?
Ray: Yeah, definitely.
Joe: Do you intentionally go find realtors that already have maybe an account with some of the premium land websites so that it gets sold faster or do you even care?
Ray: I think price will determine how fast you can sell that for. Okay. So if the nearby lots all you know they’re selling for about 60 grand I tell them just listen list at for 50, 56. 57.
Joe: So your goal is to be the cheapest?
Joe: In that area.
Ray: Yeah. Because I bought it cheap, so. Yeah. You know, I want it fast.
Joe: Okay. Now, what do you tell people who are just getting started and they’re, you know, they’re doing what you do, but they don’t have the 20 grand to buy this deal and clothes on. What do you tell them to do?
Ray: You know, so I don’t know if you know me. I was homeless when I first came to America.
Joe: I saw, I know that. Yeah.
Ray: Yeah. If you if you talk about you don’t have money. That that was me.
Joe: You better shut up. In other words, right? I don’t want to hear it.
Ray: I ate one meal a day. And what I did is I go to Craigslist, I look for free stuff, and then I’ll bring to Craigslist again for sale. So I so I used to sell mattresses as I used to sell cars, I used to sell microwave or whatever I can get my hands on to fit in my small little car. Right? Because I drive around, I sleep in the car. So, you know, you just have to change your habits of spending. There is something you don’t need, like a TV, cable or whatever. So if you’re so determined to do this, you know, go, go, go pick up free stuff and collect your first 20 grand first. You know, you can you can do that.
Joe: I thought you would say, like find a private investor. Or go fund to go to a funding company or something.
Ray: You can do that, too. Right now, I find dealers, too, so you can reach out to me if you have a really good deal. I’m sure some I reach out to, you know, they say I bought this land, it’s under contract. We can do a 50/50. Would you want to do it? You know and of course they do it.
Joe: Oh then yeah. That’s a really, really good point. You could just post a deal into various Facebook groups like if you’re one of my students, I have a simple land flips Facebook group, post your deal and there you’ll find somebody that will partner with you on it that doesn’t have to even be a 50/50 split either, could it? It can be just post something on their Hey, I’ll pay you 10% of the profits or I’ll pay you 10% interest. You choose.
Joe: There is no excuse. Right. You got to we got to get that out of our heads.
Ray: Yeah, there’s no excuse.
Joe: Okay. Let me ask you, what kind of tools and software do you use?
Ray: I use Land Source. I use Zillow, Redfin, and that’s about it.
Joe: Do you use any CRM spreadsheets? How do you track your leads?
Ray: Oh, I use a Google sheet. I try to be cheap, no spending, no office I’m at home so.
Joe: Yeah. Wow, that’s amazing. All right. So Google sheets, your what do you track on Google sheets?
Ray: I just put the owners, you know, name and phone number, the property address, their mailing address, their email and their phone number and the notes, some notes. What’s going on? Sometimes, you know, if you follow up, you have a lot of more deals. I just put what’s going on for the last call and that’s about it. No CRM for me though.
Joe: Which is one of the benefits of doing blind offers. Like the way you do it, you don’t have as many leads to manage. It’s easier to just manage it for free freeze tool like spreadsheets, Google sheets or something.
Joe: Okay, very cool. Let me ask you one or two more questions. I appreciate your time, Ray. The market is shifting right now, right? People are concerned, afraid of the recession. They’re afraid of whatever. Is this affected your business at all in any way? Are you offering less than you used to? Are you finding harder to find buyers? You know what I mean?
Ray: Yeah. Typically in recession, there are more people willing to sell because they want cash and you know, they need money as much as you do. So it will be easier to find the sellers. And based on the model we’re talking about, there should not be any problem. You kind of find the buyer because we base our model on sole price. Yeah, you can. As long as there’s activities in that city, you’re good. Yeah. Plus, with the realtor verification step, I don’t think you can lose, but there is. I lose some deals. I didn’t lose it, but I, you know, I couldn’t sell as much as I wanted to because I bought land with a wetland. I didn’t know. So you got to check if your land is flood zone or wetland. Yeah. And if there is a drainage problem. Yeah, a lot.
Joe: So what are some deal killers for you that you will not close on it?
Ray: So if that’s a wetland I don’t buy if the area is too cheap, I don’t buy meaning if you look at the average so large compared to the average sold houses, there are about 10% of the house price. So if a house nearby sold for 330,000 and the lots nearby typically sell for 30, you know, that’s a 10% range. So if the nearby house is only a. Third or even lower than that. I don’t go to that market because too much trouble and I don’t buy anything in flood zone. And I don’t. There’s a whole bunch of list. I list it, but.
Joe: It has to have road access, for example.
Ray: Of course. No land lock.
Joe: No land lock. What if the title isn’t clear? You know, there’s some probate issues or a title.
Ray: You can work with title company and the seller, but until it is cleared, I’m going to put in my money.
Joe: So you’re using you’re not self-funding or self closing any of your own deals, right? You’re using title companies.
Ray: Yes, I used to do that self closing and then I ran into some troubles because the title is now clear. So is I have to sell it cheap so I don’t. Yeah. Yeah, that’s I stopped doing that.
Joe: Okay. Very good. I got through all of my questions. Anything that maybe I forgot to ask, that would be a good question to ask.
Ray: Yeah, I think you asked yourself them all. Yeah, yeah. You’re, you know, I have now, even though you don’t know me much, but I have listened to you for years. I know you’re a very detailed person and you know and Tom are a huge inspiration for me.
Joe: I really appreciate that. You know, Tom Krol and I are doing a workshop in a couple, three weeks from when we’re recording this in Orlando. Maybe we’ll see you there, Ray.
Ray: Yeah, probably. I’m in his coaching program.
Joe: It’s called Coach Marketing Workshop dot com. If anybody is interested, go to coach marketing workshop dot com. Awesome. So any people how can people get a hold of you right you Instagram I think you said is one of the best ways.
Ray: Yeah. If you look at my name, I spelled it out in my Instagram you can search virtual flip land. You can find me.
Joe: Virtual flip land.
Joe: On Instagram they can message you on there.
Ray: And they can ask me any questions, I’m willing to help.
Joe: Awesome. Yeah. We’re getting some really great feedback here in the comments to guys. Hey, listen, I’d appreciate if you were watching this or listening right now. Give us a comment and review. What did you what were some of your big takeaways? One of the big things that you learned on this podcast, I thought this was really, really good. I really love how you kind of self-imposed these constraints on yourself because you don’t want to work more than 2 hours a day. Yeah. And so and you don’t you want a you only want a $2 an hour virtual assistant. So like what can you do? Well you number one, you get a realtor to sell the deals, right? You use a title company, you send blind offers, you only have your VA, you know, do that little data entry stuff. And so you’re not talking to a lot of sellers. You’re only talking to a few sellers. That’s really, really key and insightful. I love that.
Ray: Yeah. I tell my students, direct mail is your little army. They fight for you when you are sleeping, you know? And that’s how I do it. Maybe I should start testing too, because I know another guy he owned into testing. He did about half a million this year so far. On land only.
Joe: Only half a million, alright.
Ray: Not only, but it’s a lot of money.
Joe: Well, Ray Zhang, this has been very helpful. Very good. Again, guys, you can find Ray Virtual Flip Land on Instagram, Virtual Flip Land on Instagram in the comments here are coming in. Good. But we need to wrap this up. Very cool story. Thank you so much and I hope to see you soon, Ray.
Ray: Thank you, Joe. Thank you very much.
Joe: All right, everybody. We’ll see y’all later. Take care. Bye bye.
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