Land Flipping…. for Easy Cash Flow
So…You want some cash flow?
You want to get started in real estate investing?
You lack hundreds of thousands of dollars (or even tens of thousands) to buy your first investment?
… And… your market is full of overpriced houses and flooded with investors?
Then, here’s one low-barrier niche that will solve all that…
It’ll cost you very little money ($1,000-$5,000), has a lot less competition than single-family houses, and you won’t ever need to leave your house.
You might already know the answer is “Land Flipping”. But what is Land Flipping and how does it work? When I mention to people that I’ve flipped vacant land, they usually respond with raised eyebrows and saying, “This is a thing?”, “People actually do this?”, “Who buys land?”.
There are hundreds of ways to tap into this niche, but I can only explain and teach what I’ve experienced and the type of land flipping I’ve done.
So, here’s a very brief breakdown (I’ll go into deeper detail of each one):
- You send mailers out to a popular area where retail sale prices (use Zillow.com to find prices) of land are anywhere from $5,000-$10,000.
- In your mailers, you contain offers of 15% to 30% of that retail price
- Sellers respond back (yes, they take these offers all day)
- You do you proper due diligence before you buy (to make nothing wrong with title and the property)
- You do a direct close on the property (no escrow), and send a check to seller with a notary and deed to sign
- Congratulations, you’ve just bought your first vacant land parcel
- You market that property on the internet
- You sell that property either for a discounted cash price or for payments (called a note…. see this article on what note investing is)
Ok, so that’s the rundown of it, which probably leaves a lot more questions. So, here’s the “deep-dive” guide to Land Flipping….
There are billions of vacant land parcels out there. Those owners are doing nothing with those parcels. They are eager to take any offer that comes to them in the mail because most likely, they don’t receive any offers in the mail.
So, to find where you want to buy land, you first browse the web using Zillow and Redfin and the filters it comes with, to look for popular areas near you with lots of sold vacant land in your retail price range of $5,000-$10,000 (you can do this anywhere, even out-of-state).
What you’re looking for are little clusters of many sold properties in the last 2 years, all bunched up in one area
You want to aim for those clusters like the picture below:
Once you pick your area, then…
- You pull a list of those vacant owners by going straight to the county office or using www.agentpro247.com.
- Calculate your offer: I like to use 25% of the retail price (so if the lots on average sell for $10,000, then my offer is $2,500.
- You place the purchase agreement with the offer price in the contract
- You send a letter with the purchase agreement to every one of those vacant landowners (I use a service called www.offers2owners.com )
If you’ve priced your offers right, and you choose a good area for a mailing list of at least 500, you should receive a couple of phone calls ( or contracts in the mail, or emails with contracts, with sellers who are ready to sell at your price. I receive a combination of all those).
Because you’re dealing with cheap, rural, vacant land, there’s no need to pay a title company or escrow/attorney to do the transaction. You can do the transaction yourself using a mobile notary.
Once you’ve established the “ok”, from the seller, it’s time to look back on the property and make sure the chain of title is clean.
To do this you’ll need the ability to look at the old deeds to the property. You can use a site like www.agentpro247.com (www.titlepro247.com works as well and is free to an extent but you’ll need a title rep for access).
You can also access these old deeds from the County. Sometimes the County that the property is in, has a website where you can view the deeds. If not, all you have to do is call the appropriate County Department (usually the Clerk/Recorder), and ask if you can view the deeds to the property at the APN#. Sometimes it cost a few bucks to get it. But it’s worth it and you’ll need it.
Viewing the few deeds (up to three) is important because
You need to be able to view a clean succession of transfer from one person to the next in order.
Example: John Doe sold it to Joe Blow in 1999, then Joe Blow sold to Matt and Jane Crow, and then Matt and Jane sold to 123 Trust, and not 123 trust is the primary owner. In this example, you’ll have 3 deeds showing 3 different transfer ships.
NOTE: This is an important step. You want to make sure there wasn’t any screw ups, or the person you’re talking to can legally sell you a property. Often, the “owner”, thinks that they can sell it, but it hasn’t been properly transferred to them due to a probate issue (person died and the property stayed in teh deceased name… if that’s the case, move on to the next property. You don’t want to deal with cheap rural property in probate. )
Some other items to check while doing Due Diligence (DD):
- Call county to verify the primary owner
- Verifying taxes (making sure there isn’t anything due or defaulting)
- Verifying no liens
- Calling utilities to verify if any utilities
- Verifying road access (if any). Use Google maps and Google Earth
- Verifying the location of the property and that it’s not Land-locked. Use the Parcel maps you can get from County and Agent Pro 247
- The comps (verifying that you’re not overpaying)
Once you’ve determined that this is a property you can easily sell for a decent price and that the DD checks out… then it’s time to buy the property.
In this order this is what you’ll do next:
- Contact the seller letting them know that you’ve finished the DD and you’re ready to close on the property
- Find a mobile notary close to the seller using www.123notary.com
- Fill out a new deed showing the new transfership from the seller to you (often, the County can show you how this is done on their website or you can give them a call)
- Mail the check signed and made out to the seller. Included with the envelope is a filled-out deed to the mobile notary (for the seller to sign over to you), with instructions to mail back the signed deed. (I often use a cashier’s check to make the seller more comfortable. Many Land Flippers just use a plain personal check)
- Once you’ve received the signed deed, you record it at County (Your county will have instructions on how to do that. Most counties allow electronic filings except for CA)
- Congratulations you’ve bought yourself a property
Now that you own the property, it’s time to market it to find a buyer.
You’ll have to “prepare” the marketing material first. This is done with images and ad copy.
You can create images of the property in the following ways:
- Google Street View: use Google Street View, and take screenshots of the front of the property
- Google Earth: use the application “Google Earth” to capture 3d satellite images and screenshot them
- Agent Pro: Use agent pro 247 to capture photos
- Parcel Map: Use the parcel map to capture a screenshot of the plot lines
- Live: hire a live photographer and videographer to travel there and take photos (You can hire one on
- Craigslist or Facebook for $50-$200
- Drone: you can hire a drone to take video and photos.
You can touch up the images by adding unique features about the property to the images, like:
“Ranch Style property at….” , “Hidden Forest Land at….” , “3 miles away from Lake”, “$500 down and $150 a month”, etc.
The point is to grab features, price, location, and benefits (things the buyer can do with the land) and highlight those features in the images by adding text. You can use the application 3d Paint for this.
Here are some examples of marketing photos:
Next, you’ll be writing the copy for the ad. There are numerous ways to go about this but, just like the advice mentioned about the photos, you want to highlight features, price, benefits, location, etc in the ad.
The number one thing you must consider is: “Who is going to buy it and for what reason?”
Answer this question about the property and it’ll make writing the ad much easier.
People do all sorts of things with property. But a simpler way to come up with your “One reason” why someone is going to buy this property is to eliminate what it can’t do.
For instance, if the property is too small to build on, to small to shoot on, too expensive to build, too downsloped for an easy build, too sloped, too many trees, etc. Here, I’m thinking of all the negatives. Because those negatives will come out with certain leads.
Then start thinking about what you can do with the property. There are some reasons why people buy vacant land:
- Pass on to children
- Build a beautiful unique house on a downslope
- Log (if possible in that state/county)
- Build a traditional home
- Build a cabin
- Go shooting
- Go offroading
- Place a tiny home/camper/rv
- And many more
Whatever use that your land may have, use that in the marketing. Highlight what you can do with it. If there’s absolutely no use, it could be an investment opportunity, like, “The price is much better than a car AND doesn’t depreciate!”.
This is where the leg work for selling happens. And there are many different platforms to market land with, but the 2 primary avenues that you’ll be using (because they’re free) are Craigslist and Facebook.
These in my experience are the best ones.
For Craigslist, you’ll create an account, and post a new ad on the property every day, and “renew” it when you can. The important part of CL Marketing is to make sure that at least 30% of the content is unique. There is a strategy to Craigslist that won’t be covered here but there are numerous places that cover Craigslist training including our own website or check out www.carrotcl.com for some training.
For Facebook, if you already have an account, you’ll head on over to the marketplace and post your ad there. And you’ll also post your ad in various Buy-and-Sell Groups that you’re a member of (you’ll have to request access to these ahead of time… the more the better). You’ll have to go back to FB weekly and repost new ads. Be sure to delete the old ones, Facebook is a little picky about this stuff.
Here are some other platforms (some paid), you can use as well:
- Land and farm
- Your own website (use www.newoncarrot.com for hosting your website)
- Email marketing
- Other free online classifieds
- Facebook paid ads
- Google Adwords
- Networking with local realtors
Now the fun stuff comes. I told you in the beginning that you can earn $1,000 of passive income with land, and you might be asking “How?!”.
Well, this is where I show how to conjure up monthly cash flow through these lots. And it’s called a “note”.
Note investing is when you own a piece of paper that says a person (or entity) owes you money. Often, this type of investing is done with real estate, where you buy (or create like I’ll show you in a bit), a note from someone and earn passive income a month. Essentially…
You’re the bank…
And, that’s what note investing boils down to. You’re just the bank; Collecting a monthly payment from a mortgage. You hold on to the title until it’s paid off.
So to do this with land, you just sell it on payments… and here’s the breakdown of a typical note payment when you sell:
- You ask for a downpayment
- You can ask for a document fee
- You charge a monthly payment
- You set the number of payments ( how many months)
- You set an interest rate (if any)
- You add other misc fees (like transaction fees, property taxes, HOA, service fees…trust me, you need to add some of these)
First, you need to come up with a price strategy …
I make a rule with land: “if it’s cheap land where I paid $2k or less, I would like to ask for at least 80% of my money back on a downpayment”. Now you don’t have to go that route. You can do 50% of your money back, 10% of the purchase price, $500 down, whatever it is that makes you comfortable… The nice thing about note investing (or I should say “note creation”), is that you set the rules. Do it however you feel comfortable.
So let’s do a live example:
If you have a property that you paid $1,000 for and you know that’ll it’ll retail at $8,000. Well, you can do one of two things: you can find a cash buyer at a reduced price of the market value. I would advertise it as a $6,900 cash price. The truth of finding cash buyers for the land is that it must be cheap if you want to sell it.
Or, if you want to the cash flow from a note, you list it at $9,000 (You can always list it above the market value since you’re adding another feature: financing).
So you found a buyer who’s willing to put down $500. So now he’s financing $8,500 from you.
You state to him that it’s 0% interest.
(NOTE: you can do whatever fair interest you like. But, with interest, things get a little more complicated tax-wise which I won’t go into detail here so I usually keep it at 0% interest to avoid the complications… and, if you do decide to charge interest, you’ll need the knowledge of a financial calculator to come up with the payments)
It’s for 3 years of payments (36 months; 36 payments)
Which comes out to $236.11 per month ($8,500 divided by 36)
Again, you can make the terms however you want, or whatever the customer can afford.
Once your buyer agrees to those terms, you have him sign a “Land Contract“. In it, it’ll lay out the terms of the agreement, that once full payment is made you will transfer the deed to him, and the consequences of not paying (late fees, and default after a certain amount of time).
Once he signs and pays you the down payment…. You’ve just sold a property.
Of course, you’re probably asking other technical questions about the “how” like, “Where do I set up the payments, what services can I use, what happens if they don’t pay?”.
But, we’ve broken some of those questions into other articles that you can find on our website and possibly a course that we’re creating on this very topic. (the technical details are far too much for one article on land flipping).
The important thing to note is that there are several services that keep track of these “loans” you have with buyers (I use zimplemoney.com and geekpay.io). And if the buyer stops paying… you just send him an email/letter stating that they have so many days 45 days is on my contract) to make up what’s due or they’ll forfeit all rights to the property including their past payments. And once that happens, you sell it again.
There’s no foreclosure process with this method, it’s a “Land Contract”.
The point of this article is an introduction to land investing. There’s obviously a lot more to cover on this topic. And a lot more questions you’re probably asking. But, this niche has been very good to me and many others.
It’s an addition to my portfolio when I need an extra $1,000 of cash flow a month and I have $6,000 laying around.