Picking my first county

Hi all, new here so I want to say hi! From eastern iowa. I am trying to figure out how to decide on a county to mail. Any tips? I have done some research and still cant seem to determine how to choose my first county. The parameters of size and price all make sense to me but I just cant seem to figure out how to decide on a specific county. Just pull a county map of some state and pick a county within 2-3 hours of a major city? How do I decide on the state? Maybe I’m overthinking it. I have a goal to pick a county by the end of this week (Feb. 7th). Thanks in advance.

@richardbiechler, I would advise you should assume that whichever county you start with won't be the last or only county you work in, once you've had some success with this; therefore, you might as well jump in with virtually any state and county for which you find good data on property records (GIS, etc.), comparable sales, accurate and timely leads (whether sourced directly from the county or a list provider), etc. Once you've found one of those, you might as well start with that one, see how it goes, and adjust as necessary.

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Hi @richardbiechler,

I'd agree with @dl7573! I had trouble picking my first county and spent a lot of time on sites trying to survey what counties were popular for land sales etc.

But David has a good point, just jump right in and see what kind of response you get. Best of luck!

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@trevor-land, you raise a great point. I also initially tried to focus on counties where I saw a lot of sales activity on places like Facebook Marketplace, etc. -- and I still think there's a lot of validity in doing that -- but anecdotally, I also decided to give a try with a rural county that didn't have much obvious land sales activity on Zillow/MLS, let alone FB or the Lands sites, and the results were pretty good. The county was a couple hours up or down the road along a US route, from some still-small-sized metros that do have more obvious sales activity. They had decent online data (which is what drew me to the county); it turned out the sellers were relatively untapped with respect to other investors sending mail; and there was plenty of buyer interest for the right property.

So worth a shot almost anywhere, I think, if you can buy at the right price point for the market. And if you're unsure of the buyer demand and price points, you can always test the market once you've got the property under contract -- i.e. put up a "COMING SOON..." listing on Facebook Marketplace with enough pertinent details about the property to get a fair gauge of buyer demand, while withholding exact location/address if you're concerned about somebody snaking the deal from you.

This is very good info, thanks.

Any thoughts on Northern Wisconsin or mid to north Minnesota? It’s close to home that’s why I ask? It doesn’t seem that many people buy and sell land in these areas so I didn’t know if there was a specific reason that has to do with laws of the state.

also, what are some of the when investing Facebook pages/groups?

@richardbiechler, as many people, including myself, will sometimes say, you can really do this anywhere; however, I also think there are a number of advantages in starting somewhat close to home. Aside from that, when considering a new state, I like to check this blog post of Seth's which discusses some of the challenges with non-disclosure states, and has a map that identifies where the various states fall on the spectrum of disclosure/non-disclosure (or in-between): https://retipster.com/non-disc...

Seeing that both MN and WI are disclosure states, I'd expect that, generally speaking, you should be able to find good data on comparable sales, which is a big plus for anyone trying to put an accurate valuation on properties. I haven't worked in either of those states at this point, so I have no idea what the closing process might look like in either one (e.g. attorney closing state or not). I think Seth has a blog post for that, too, but in general, as long as you determine what your closing costs will be for a particular property in a particular county & state, before you lock in a price with a seller, and factor those closing costs (and a realistic resale value) into your final offer, you should be fine.

So, all of that said, I don't personally know of anything obviously wrong with those states, specifically, so if I found one or more counties there that have good GIS / property records websites, and a good source for current leads (possibly from the county, directly), then I'd probably charge ahead with it and see what happens.

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@dl7573 thank you so much for you expertise and knowledge. I appreciate that. I will dig in and see what I can figure out. I will let you know what I come up with!!