Interview with Land Academy Director Erin Spence (HA 1270)

Interview with Land Academy Director Erin Spence (HA 1270)

Steven Butala:
Steven and Jill here.

Jill DeWit:
And Erin.

Steven Butala:
Welcome to the House Academy Show, entertaining real estate investment talk. I’m Steven Jack Butala.

Jill DeWit:
And I’m Jill DeWit, broadcasting from sunny Southern California.

Steven Butala:
Today, Jill and I talk, or I guess, interview or talk with Land Academy director, and House Academy director, Erin Spence. Welcome Erin.

Erin Spence:
Hi.

Steven Butala:
Thanks for coming out from Seattle to do this and other things. I have like 500 questions for you.

Erin Spence:
I’m excited.

Steven Butala:
I really plan on having this go over the time limit.

Erin Spence:
Okay.

Steven Butala:
And what I really want to ask Erin, and before we get into it, though, we’re going to answer a question from a member, but I want to find out what’s on the minds of Land Academy and House Academy members in a really current event style, because like everybody, we’re experiencing the COVID situation, and we’re making adjustments as we go.

Steven Butala:
And my perception is at least, I’m the owner, I’m always the last one to know, but my perception is we’re getting different types of members and they’re needing a different type of experience, and so I want to make sure we’re adjusting to that, and Jill and I are doing our part. So before we get into it, though, let’s pick a question posted by one of our members on the HouseAcademy.com online community. It’s free.

Jill DeWit:
John says, I’m 90 days into House Academy, and I’m ready to send my first mailer, but I have some questions. What is the appropriate channel to ask these questions to get continuing education now, and until I’ve reached my goals?

Steven Butala:
So this is a very, very timely and accurate question about what I just said. I’m going to ask Erin to answer this.

Jill DeWit:
I like that too. I’m sure this comes up.

Erin Spence:
Well, first off I would say, ask questions. Something I’m seeing right now is that some people are coming in and struggling a little bit more and not asking questions that I’m finding out on the backend, longer than 90 days into it, that they have things that I could have answered for them, or I could have set them up with you guys to talk about, or even people who struggled for a lot longer than they needed to just because they didn’t get their questions answered.

Erin Spence:
The best way to get your questions answered is the weekly calls though. So if you don’t know, every Thursday, Steven and Jill go live and just answer any questions for all of our members, and they usually end up running really, really long and we do dealer reviews and Steven usually has some kind of presentation, really, anything you want covered can happen there. And that’s the best way to get really personalized support.

Erin Spence:
And it seems like people aren’t really taking advantage of that as well, so I would definitely recommend that as your first course of action. If you want some more individualized support, we do also offer consulting with Steven and Jill and with our moderator, and you can help with House Academy and Land Academy items, that’s another really good way if you want more specialized support.

Erin Spence:
And then if you’re having technical issues or account problems, or things like that, that’s when our staff support comes in. You can always call us during business hours or email is usually actually a pretty quick way to get to us, and any kind of login issues, any data problems, things like that, that’s what our staff is here for.

Steven Butala:
Excellent.

Jill DeWit:
What are the wrong ways that people are reaching out? Like I got to tell you, I personally get random Facebook Messenger things. And I’m like, “I’m really the wrong person for this.”

Steven Butala:
Give us a good one.

Jill DeWit:
Like account stuff or, “I don’t know how to do X.” I’m like, okay. I’m the wrong one to ask for a quick attention, because I got to go to Erin, where Erin goes to somebody else and to take care of it, and by the time I do that, it’s a while.

Steven Butala:
It’s like calling Bill Gates because your computer doesn’t work. He doesn’t know.

Jill DeWit:
Call Bill Gates because the latest Word update is not loading correctly. You don’t want to do that.

Steven Butala:
And I’m sure he’d be happy to help you, if he knew.

Jill DeWit:
Exactly.

Steven Butala:
We just don’t know that stuff.

Jill DeWit:
He’s not the right guy. Well then also too, it’s like I don’t want to answer it one time for one person, and that’s the beauty of these calls. Our weekly member calls are recorded for all of our members, they can go back and listen to them. If you’re not able to be there live, you could listen in and get the information that you need from them. That’s our whole thing with our program. I want to answer it one time for 500 people, not 500 times a person.

Erin Spence:
I’m glad you brought that up too. One thing I missed too is our knowledge bases. And we have a member knowledge base that’s just all of the login information and how to pull data and things like that, but we also have a knowledge base set up for everyone that’s on all of our websites, and there’s so much information there, pretty much any kind of question we get asked frequently, we throw in there and we update it weekly. So there’s so much information there that people need to take advantage of.

Jill DeWit:
That’s why the buoy thing, [crosstalk 00:04:40].

Steven Butala:
Yes, there’s a buoy on the bottom of the website. The short way to explain that is, chances are somebody’s had your question in the past, so you can learn from that just by doing a few minutes of research through the knowledge base.

Jill DeWit:
Even in our online community, I find that I go and look and like a few questions about who knows, let’s just say eBay. You can easily go on landinvestors.com and type in eBay and watch what pops up.

Steven Butala:
Jill and I in the very beginning of this, it’s our five year by the way, this month, right?

Jill DeWit:
In July. Wait, was it end of June? Oh, it’s the end if June. I think I was supposed to double check.

Erin Spence:
[crosstalk 00:00:05:20].

Steven Butala:
Jill and I spend a lot of time and continue to spend a lot of time structuring this education environment or this… It’s really kind of an entrepreneurial environment to make sure everybody gets what they need and in a participant environment. So what I don’t want you to do is bear yourself in a room, watch the program, don’t get any up-to-date information, don’t listen to the podcast, don’t listen to the Thursday shows.

Jill DeWit:
You’d be frustrated.

Steven Butala:
The vast majority of the basics of this is covered in these programs and in the education, but the stuff that has to do with what’s going on this week, we really do spend a lot of time on these podcasts, and on those Thursday webinars addressing things that are pertinent to right now like the COVID situation specifically for houses.

Steven Butala:
We make any changes internally at all, it gets announced on there. What we don’t do is spend a lot of time producing updates to the program itself. We would never be able to catch up or keep up with… We would never be able to do both, there’s just not enough time. So make sure you’re participating.

Jill DeWit:
Nobody wants that anyway. Could you imagine me like… Don’t we all get frustrating like, “Oh no, they’re going to update my phone. I got to learn something again.” Could you imagine? Especially when they really make… We’ve had some changes, like some of our data sources have really… I got to be honest with [inaudible 00:06:45] is it TitlePro? TitlePro made some changes, and I’m the one that’s struggling a little bit. Like, okay, I got to relearn this system now.

Steven Butala:
Are you afraid to login to TitlePro?

Jill DeWit:
Could you imagine? It’s like, I know I can figure it out, but it looks completely different, so I got to catch up again. So if we did that every time we had a little change, that would be monthly, so we choose not to mess with you like that.

Steven Butala:
I got to tell you a funny little anecdote about this. So I used to be the vice president of a longterm healthcare system, and I was the youngest person in the company by decades. And so we had to change from Lotus 1-2-3 to Excel, because Lotus was being discontinued, and everybody in the company just crawled under their desk. So I had to give this big presentation in a hall, not only about having an open mind and changing software, but to change.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah. It’s about, [crosstalk 00:07:41] first [crosstalk 00:07:41] the psychology of change, like change is good.

Steven Butala:
Yes, and specifically computers, because I was the youngest person. That was the only reason.

Jill DeWit:
It’s not a bid thing. We need to talk about this now that we’ve gone through that.

Steven Butala:
And man, if they had rotten tomatoes, they would’ve thrown them at me that day.

Jill DeWit:
That’s funny. I remember that. That’s funny you say that. I remember being in a company one time and I was like, you had to sign up for the training for the changeover. I was in the last group. Man, I’m [inaudible 00:08:08] I don’t want to do this.

Erin Spence:
A little awkward. I do want to jump in and like Erinify it for a second.

Jill DeWit:
Oh, good.

Steven Butala:
[crosstalk 00:08:21] to hear that.

Jill DeWit:
[crosstalk 00:08:18]. There you go.

Erin Spence:
And I will say that when there are big updates or big changes, we do update programs. Anything with a data source changes, we’ll update that and make sure it’s up to date. We put out Land Academy, a couple of program updates. So if there are big changes, we do definitely update them.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah, 2015 is not the only one. It’s not like, “Yeah, I’ll figure it out.” No, there’s more.

Steven Butala:
Right, let me do this transition and we’ll get back into it.

Jill DeWit:
Okay.

Steven Butala:
Today’s topic, an interview with Land Academy director, Erin Spence, this is why you’re listening. What’s the biggest change Erin that you’ve seen, if any, in the demeanor or the attitude or just the general presence of our membership group since the COVID?

Erin Spence:
It’s really funny because at first, everybody was manic about it. The first week after everything happened, we couldn’t keep up with our inboxes, I was not doing any of my normal projects because I was doing our normal customer service job because we didn’t have the staff to handle it. And it was really, really crazy for a little while, but honestly, it’s even… And now I’m seeing, we always talk about it, but I really am seeing all the members whose sales have just gone through the roof.

Erin Spence:
We have a lot of members who are deal funding other members now who have never done that before, because they can’t get enough inventory, so they’re turning to this to make more money now. And it seems like people are more confident in taking advantage of… Not taking advantage of, but just seeing that this isn’t the downturn that they had expected with some of these sales and doing well that way.

Steven Butala:
That’s what I’m seeing too. From a deal standpoint, Jill, jump in here whenever you think. We’re jamming properties through on the acquisition side and on the sell side times 10. Maybe not times 10, but times five, for sure. We’re gearing up, tooling up and actually re-staffing, increasing our staffing to send out two or three times more the amount of mail.

Jill DeWit:
Not for Land Academy, for our own buying and selling efforts.

Steven Butala:
Right? So there’s a window here. I just got done reading an article about private equity is making a… And real estate development in general, they’ll make data driven decisions like we do, and that’s the big difference between us and I think regular house and land flippers. And the data’s telling them that secondary housing markets are on fire.

Steven Butala:
People are moving out of big cities into smaller cities that are in the area because they think they’re going to work from home forever. So it starts with housing and apartment renting, in my opinion, and then all commercial property and private equity, and all that follows that data pattern.

Steven Butala:
So is there a mass migration? No, but I think the trends are… You look at Phoenix and Tucson as a tertiary market. You look at Los Angeles, there’s tons and tons of smaller towns further out from Los Angeles. You can tell yourself if you’re bored, then you are, if you’re listening to this show, go on to realtor.com or Redfin, and take a look at the pending statistics of properties that are pending or under contract in those tertiary markets, it’s staggering, and it’s all good news for us.

Jill DeWit:
I was going to say used to be like driving… I was just on a webinar the other day where we were talking about that. Now with the COVID in a positive way, because this is the House Show, everything’s changing, and people who are really into, they’re going to go to other markets, like you said, they’re going to sell from places like New York and New Jersey, these compact places and go to where their dollar gets some more rent. Event rent and/or housing. And it used to be, drive to ’til you qualify like it was a bad thing. Used to be, “Oh, you can’t afford to live here, you’re forced to live out there.” It’s not a bad thing anymore. Now it’s a good thing.

Steven Butala:
Yeah, I think there’s theoretically less COVID there too.

Jill DeWit:
Maybe they have more room.

Steven Butala:
If that’s a concern of yours, and I mean seriously.

Jill DeWit:
Exactly. I want to go rack and walk my dog, and my dog can run and have a yard, and my kid could play. I can’t even imagine right now, too, if I was in a New York apartment stuck with a dog and a toddler.

Steven Butala:
I can’t imagine that anytime, but specifically now it’s just as bad.

Jill DeWit:
Exactly. I had a toddler and the dog had to go, because the dog and the toddler, it didn’t work because the toddler terrorized the dog. That’s another show.

Steven Butala:
No, that is a different show.

Jill DeWit:
So what else is current with Land Academy, House Academy members that is either positive or negative?

Erin Spence:
Well, I think because of this, some people are seeing, especially on the sell side, seeing the changes. We’re getting a lot more questions about that specifically, and you guys don’t know it yet, but we’re going to start adding some different portals based on like how to sell and things like that.

Erin Spence:
That’s a big one. We all know that it’s changing constantly, especially the social media aspect of it. The sites that we used to use to sell land and housing, well, not housing, but that we used to sell, we don’t use anymore, and now there’s new things popping up that we’re discovering, and so that’s been a big thing that people are trying to sell and seeing the market, but now not really sure how to do it with everything that’s changing. So that’s something we’re getting a lot in about.

Jill DeWit:
That’s super cool.

Steven Butala:
Excellent.

Jill DeWit:
That’s really good.

Steven Butala:
The more unique requests that we get, like on the Thursday show, we do a thing called, Would You Do This Deal? Where Jill and I review potential transactions for members, and they get our opinions, and then they make a decision. I think we could take that, would you do this deal concept a little bit further? And it sounds like you are, like, would you mail this market? Would you sell this property this way? Would you sell this property on terms or for cash? Would you put up a shed on this property to make it look different than all the rest of the property that’s posted online?

Jill DeWit:
It’s great.

Steven Butala:
Is that what you’re talking about?

Erin Spence:
Definitely. Everybody wants a little bit of a deeper dive, which is really, really cool to see.

Jill DeWit:
That’s great. I think a lot of it too is because we have such a large community that has been with us now for five years. People have been with us for a long time and they’re growing, we’re all growing together and I want to provide them the tools and the information and the knowledge, and they’re good at giving back to and I love that.

Steven Butala:
And we want to give value, we want to continually adjust what we provide in this group, the same way that you adjust as an entrepreneur, or as a land buyer, a real estate investor. So we don’t want to just create half hour little additions here and there about addressing some topics that, it’s like watching TV. We want to be interactive.

Erin Spence:
We’re seeing on the acquisition side as well, too. People are sending out more mail and sending out more mail and now knowing how much they’re bringing in, and how much money they have to spend, so they’re getting more into talk sales and things like that, which is another thing I want us to cover too. But people are just expanding and not necessarily sure how to do it, but ready for it.

Steven Butala:
That’s great.

Jill DeWit:
It’s awesome.

Steven Butala:
It’s just like a college class. They don’t necessarily teach you how to do it, they just make you aware of everything, and make you aware of how to get the information and get into it, and then where you take that as your responsibility with continuing education.

Jill DeWit:
That’s the thing I love about us. It’s everybody has their own little business, their own little company, and I’ve watched so many awesome off shoots where different niches people are picking in areas, and things are going into that’s one of the best things I love too about our weekly calls is I look at deals and I’m like, “Wow, I never would’ve thought of that.” Like, look at that area and what they’re doing. I’m like, “That’s great.” I was going to say kick you know what, but I can’t say that on this show.

Steven Butala:
Well, that’s another thing.

Jill DeWit:
Kick blank.

Steven Butala:
This is all rated a G on the podcast, but the Thursday calls are not. It’s not a public scenario. So you get to see a different side of Jill.

Jill DeWit:
That’s hilarious. Yeah, I show up with, all my tattoos are uncovered. I throw my nose ring in or I don’t know, my eyebrow ring.

Steven Butala:
Well, that’s PG 13, the live event, it gets [crosstalk 00:16:49].

Jill DeWit:
We would all do that. Imagine our weekly calls with alcohol [crosstalk 00:00:16:56]. That’s that.

Steven Butala:
Yeah, everybody’s got questions for sure during the live event. “Oh no Steve, it’s not a question for you. Step aside. I want to hear what Jill says.”

Jill DeWit:
You are the most popular persons. [crosstalk 00:17:06] Thank you.

Steven Butala:
Anything else, Erin, before we tear it off?

Erin Spence:
I really just can’t wait to see how many people, how many of our members don’t return to their jobs. And not that I am thankful for COVID-19, but it did force a lot of people who were put on furlough to kick it into gear and make it or not make it, and I’m seeing people make it, and it’s awesome.

Steven Butala:
Later this week Jill and I, we’ll record a show, it’ll air on Friday of this week and it’s called to Make any Progress. I’m paraphrasing. To really make any change or any progress in your life, you meed to leave. You need to leave a relationship to move forward, then you need to do that. If you need to leave your job to move forward, then you do that. What you generally don’t want to do is wait for somebody else to make that decision for you, and then you’ve got to scramble around. What was saying about a job, Jill? The time to look for a job is when you have one-

Jill DeWit:
When you have one.

Steven Butala:
… not when you don’t have one.

Jill DeWit:
Exactly. The best time, you don’t want to be under the gun and have the pressure of it.

Steven Butala:
Right, so that applies here.

Jill DeWit:
Happy you could join us today. Every Tuesday and Thursday, we’re right here on the House Academy Show. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we are on the Land Academy Show.

Steven Butala:
Somewhere on the episode on the Land Academy Show is called an interview with member, Lori Phillips. You are not alone in your real estate ambition. What’s the biggest difference between Seattle and Los Angeles?

Erin Spence:
Beach time.

Steven Butala:
She is as fast.

Jill DeWit:
That’s so good.

Steven Butala:
[crosstalk 00:18:40].

Erin Spence:
What drives me, I hate it here with that. Everyone just does what they want, and nobody has a schedule and it drives me up a wall.

Steven Butala:
Drives me nuts too. That’s the truth of it.

Erin Spence:
I can’t handle it.

Steven Butala:
She just said that, we’re like, getting ready to do something like leaving the office yesterday or something. She’s like, “Really? I thought we’re leaving now.”

Erin Spence:
Takes half an hour. We have to talk about everything and look at stuff, and it’s not you, it’s everybody out here.

Steven Butala:
There are times that our group of friends go to the beach and I go to the library. When it gets really hot-

Erin Spence:
I love that. Just hide.

Steven Butala:
… and just bring the note or computer and do stuff and write or whatever.

Erin Spence:
Yep. That’s when the library used to be open, where do you go now?

Steven Butala:
Pretty much right here. I just close the curtains so the beach people can’t see.

Jill DeWit:
So good. The House Academy Show remains commercial free for you, our loyal listener. So wherever you’re watching, wherever you’re listening, please subscribe and rate us there.

Steven Butala:
We are Steve and Jill information-

Jill DeWit:
And inspiration-

Steven Butala:
… To buy undervalued property.