Episode 33: How Ray Went From Homeless to Earning $900,000 in 2023

Ray Zhang has been a determined real estate investor for nearly 7 years, but his journey has not been without its challenges. He has dipped into nearly every aspect of property investing but struggled to find success, even after spending over $150,000 on various programs and coaching.

That was until Ray discovered the world of land investing—a complete game-changer for him. Finally finding his niche, he has successfully closed over 300 deals across the nation, all from the comfort of his own home. One of his biggest deals even resulted in a return of 1000%.

Ray joins us today to share the secrets of his success and how he navigated the world of land flipping. Tune in!

Key Takeaways:

  • The world of land flipping
  • The benefit of investing in the comfort of your own home
  • People are not as attached to land as they are to houses.
  • Build credibility as an expert in your niche, and that will speak for itself when it comes to bringing in private investors.
  • Using direct mail for land deals
  • Using cash offers gets you a better discount when making property deals.
  • Tax-assessed value does not equal market value. Market value is determined by buyers.
  • Using sites like Redfin.com gives you a lof data on properties.
  • Ray’s biggest lesson learned: don’t get stuck doing too many small deals.
  • Ray’s final advice: focus on your nice, and you will find success.

Check out my book: 7 Reasons Why Private Money Will Skyrocket Your Real Estate Business and Help You Build Incredible Wealth!

Get it here for FREE: www.jayconner.com/moneyguide

Connect with Ray:

Email: ray@landprousa.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/VirtualFlipLand/

Website:    www.Landflipinc.com


0:01 – Raising Private Money with Jay Conner

1:20 – Today’s Guest: Ray Zhang

3:05 – The Virtual Land Flipping

6:08 – Private Money In Land Investing

7:27 – Give Birth To Private Money

11:34 – Jay’s Free Money Guide: https://www.JayConner.com/MoneyGuide

12:25 – How To Locate Land Deals

14:02 – Paying In Cash Will Always Give You A Better Discount

19:42 – What Is Market Value?

21:25 – Exit Strategies In Land Flipping Business

23:05 – Ray Zhang’s Greatest Lesson Learned

24:42 – Connect with Ryan Zhang: https://www.Instagram.com/VirtualFlipland

25:44 – Ray Zhang’s Parting Comments: Focus On One Niche In Real Estate

How Ray Went From Homeless to Earning $900,000 in 2023


00:00:00] Ray Zhang: 

Let’s imagine Warren Buffet tells you to give him some money, how much will you give to him? So you probably gave him a lot of money, right? Why is that? Because he is an expert in his field. He is going to make a lot of money for you. So instead of trying to find it before we try to do that, we have to be the expert in our niche.

[00:00:22] Ray Zhang: 

And then when you do that, people see that you have results and they trust you. And like you, people only do business with it. They trust and

[00:00:29] Narrator: 

if you are a real estate investor and are wondering how to raise and leverage private money to make more profit on every deal and the right place on raising private money, we’ll speak with new end seasoned investors to dissect their deals and extract the best tips and strategies to help you get the because the money comes first. Now here’s your host, Jay Conner.

[00:01:01] Jay Conner: 

Welcome to another episode of Raising Private Money. I’m Jay Conner, The Private Money Authority, also your host for raising private Money, and I’m so excited to have my guest today for almost seven years now. My guess has been trying to get into this real estate game and hasn’t had much success at all until recent years.

[00:01:25] Jay Conner: 

He’s tried everything. You name it, he’s tried it, he’s tried wholesaling houses, he’s tried apartment investing, house flipping and really couldn’t get any of it to work. He’s invested, $150,000 in different programs trying to learn about real estate investment. And he just got totally frustrated, overwhelmed, and just didn’t see this real estate investing thing taken off until in recent years he discovered land.

[00:01:53] Jay Conner: 

He’s been investing in land and now he’s done over 300 land deals all across the nation, and he is been doing it all from the comfort of his own home. His biggest land deal gave him a return of 1000%, and now my guest is in the world of raising private money. So we’re gonna pick his brain about land deals, about raising private money.

[00:02:20] Jay Conner: 

You’re gonna get to meet my guest, Ray Zhang, right after this.

[00:02:24] Jay Conner: 

Welcome to the show, Ray. I’m glad to have you.

[00:02:27] Ray Zhang: 

Thank you, Jay. I wish I knew you earlier so I don’t have to struggle that many years,

[00:02:31] Jay Conner: 

Right? Exactly. Ray, as I was just talking about, You’ve done all kinds of or attempted to do all kinds of real estate deals.

[00:02:39] Jay Conner: 

But you found your niche to be land. So here’s the big first question Ray, and that is what is about, what is it about doing land that works for you and you just couldn’t get the single-family houses, the apartments wholesaling? Why didn’t those other strategies in real estate investing work, why does land work for you?

[00:03:02] Ray Zhang: 

I think the biggest reason is people do not have emotions attached to their land. And think about it. A lot of people buy land in, let’s say Florida, but they live in New York. And after so many years they thought they’re gonna be a ho, a house on there, but eventually, they’re not gonna come.

[00:03:19] Ray Zhang: 

But over the years, you know what’s grown on land, right? So we the grass and the city asked them to clean it. They don’t have time to fly there too. So the city gave them the tickets. So sometimes they don’t, I got two lands for free last year. They hate their land F a hundred percent, so that’s why I love land because it is super undervalued, and uh, Excuse me. A lot of people don’t see the value in it. And even then, some of the house investors were as well. I talked to a house investor this morning. I ask him, what’s your contact rate? So if you sign out the mailers, how many people are calling you back?

[00:03:56] Ray Zhang: 

He said it is about 0.1%. So he sent, he has to sign up a thousand letters to get one person to call. , but for land, it’s, roughly about three to 5%. So think about it, I’m 30 times, better than that house strategy. I can get a lot of deals happening,

[00:04:16] Jay Conner: 

And of course, one thing that’s intriguing about the way you do business is you’re working virtually, you are doing this. From your own home which you are investing in, are you investing in multiple markets?

[00:04:32] Ray Zhang: 

Yeah, I’m in about 45 different markets. I’m talking about counties as a market.

[00:04:37] Ray Zhang: 

And about 10 different states right now.

[00:04:41] Jay Conner: 

I gotcha. So one reason you like the land is that the people you talk to are not emotionally attached to the property. It sounds as though in the past you’ve talked to some people that were emotionally attached to their property and the conversations were not so nice, right?

[00:05:03] Ray Zhang: 

Absolutely. Yeah. Especially with houses they have a lot of good memories inside, so it’s very hard to get a super good discount. But for land, it’s very normal. We see, we gotta deal under 40% of the land value sometimes 10%. So it’s a.

[00:05:22] Jay Conner:

 Now you’ve recently started raising private money for your deals, but you’ve done a lot of deals without raising private money.

[00:05:30] Jay Conner: 

What is it that came along that you decided, I need to raise some private money? I think you’ve used private money on your last seven deals or so.

[00:05:38] Ray Zhang: 

I right now raised some money for my students. Some of my students, don’t have money when they start.

[00:05:45] Ray Zhang: 

So I do that. And when I first started land investing like when I first started this new way of doing land flipping, I didn’t want to put so much money into it. So I started to find a. Lenders, like people that have money, want a decent return. I just tell them I give you 15, 15% of the deal and either it is a profit of the 15% or the money side, right?

[00:06:08] Ray Zhang: 

So if you put 10,000 in, you get 1500 profit. I start to do that at the beginning, about the end of 2020. I did about 10 deals there, and right now I’m just sometimes getting money for my students.

[00:06:24] Jay Conner: 

I see. So where are you finding your private lenders? I get that question all the time.

[00:06:30] Jay Conner: 

From a new real estate investor that’s wanting to raise private money. They say, Jay, where do you find these, private lenders to talk to? Where do you find yours?

[00:06:39] Ray Zhang: 

In order, let’s think, I wanna think the other way, instead of trying to find you just be who you are, right? What do I mean by that?

[00:06:49] Ray Zhang: 

Let me, let’s imagine if Warren Buffet tells you to give him some money, how much will you give to him? So you probably gave him a lot of money, right? Why is that? Because he is an expert in his field. He’s going to make a lot of money for you. So instead of trying to find it before we try to do that, we have to be the expert in our niche.

[00:07:13] Ray Zhang: 

And then when you do that, people see that you have results and they trust you. And like you, people only do business with, those, they trust and after that you build up this incredible credibility and then you can start to approach them, give them, this is when are you going, what are you going to buy if you invest in this project or yourself, right?

[00:07:34] Ray Zhang: And you can go to this d. Mastermind you and me are, we are family mastermind and they’re like, Tony Robb has their platinum group and all people have their mastermind, right? So you can start to do that after you are an expert in your field, but not before that. You do not just go there and tell them, Hey, I need money.

[00:07:54] Ray Zhang: Give it to me. They’re not going to give it to you. 

[00:07:56] Jay Conner: 

Yeah, I couldn’t agree. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve been raising private money since 2009 and I’ve never asked for money. I’ve never pitched a deal. And people say to me and they say, Jay, how in the world have you got, eight and a half million dollars in private money that you just moved from project to project and single-family house to single-family house, and you never ask for money?

[00:08:20] Jay Conner: 

Here’s the. I put on my teacher hat and I teach people, and of course, to teach ’em, you gotta know what you’re talking about. You gotta be the expert like you just said. And I teach people what private money is. My wife and I, Carol Joy, and I, we’ve got 44 private lenders right now and none of them ever heard of private money.

[00:08:40] Jay Conner: 

Didn’t know what private money is. until we taught ’em about it. They never heard of self-directed IRAs. They didn’t know what self-directed IRAs were and how they can use retirement funds to lend out and invest and get tax-deferred or tax-free income with no penalties. As you say, Ray, It’s being who you are.

[00:09:03] Jay Conner: 

I also tell people, when you have a baby, what do you talk about? That’s all you can talk about your baby, right? Or if you’re old enough to be a granddaddy, that’s all you can talk about is your grandchild. So I say give birth to private money. Get excited about it and talk about it, because that’s what people talk about is what they are excited about.

[00:09:26] Jay Conner: 

And like you say, I’ve never pitched anybody on a deal. I teach ’em about private money. One thing I’ve learned is once they learn about it, you don’t have to chase the money that chases you, right? And so when you’re a teacher and as you say an expert and you know what you’re talking about, then the money is chasing you.

[00:09:45] Jay Conner: 

Now, speaking of money, before Covid there was 18 trillion in private money available that was just sitting in cash in people’s retirement accounts. They didn’t know what to do with it. Now, on this side of Covid, there’s 31 trillion in cash just sitting in people’s retirement accounts.

[00:10:07] Jay Conner: 

And so I know, Ray, that we have got some listen. Would love to get some private money, so let’s give them a gift right now just for listening in. I’m so excited about the new private money guide I just finished writing. It’s called Seven Reasons Why Private Money will Skyrocket your Real Estate Business and Help you build incredible wealth If you want to get private money.

[00:10:32] Jay Conner: 

And never miss out on a real estate deal for not having the funding. You can download my Private Money guide at www.JayConner.com/MoneyGuide. That’s www.JayConner.com/MoneyGuide to get you the private money for your real estate deals. Right back to this niche that you’ve got of the Land deal.

[00:11:02] Jay Conner: 

You’re doing this virtually, you’re doing this from the comfort of your own home, is your primary method for locating these deals is using direct mail and people responding to direct mail letters?

[00:11:15] Ray Zhang: 

Absolutely. Direct mail with the offer price. And when they get the offer price, they have two choices, right?

[00:11:20] Ray Zhang: 

They either reject it or tear it. or they call me back and then and on top of that, I renegotiate again after I got the offer price. So I got a kind of a double kill.

[00:11:32] Jay Conner: 

So when you mail, is it, it’s not a postcard, you’re mailing an actual letter in an envelope,

[00:11:39] Ray Zhang: 

Yeah, I’m actual, I’m envelope with the offer price.

[00:11:44] Jay Conner: 

Is the offer price? It’s not in the envelope. It’s inside the envelope, right?

[00:11:48] Ray Zhang:  

Yeah, it’s inside. It’s about 40 to 50 cents on the dollar. So if the land is worth 10 grand, I offer about 40 four grand or 5,500.

[00:12:00] Jay Conner: 

I got you. And so how do you get the envelope opened? In other words, are they hand addressed, or are they, what does the envelope look like?

[00:12:09] Ray Zhang: 

It looks like there are two windows. They can see their name on there. And my name is on the top left corner just a standard letter. It’s not a hundred somehow printed out. Very simple.

[00:12:22] Jay Conner: 

I gotcha. That’s interesting. , what would you say without revealing all your secrets, what would you say is the gist of that letter?

[00:12:31] Jay Conner:

 What’s the flavor of that letter? Do you tell ’em how they got there, how you got their contact information?

[00:12:38] Ray Zhang: 

Not really the first letter, I’m just talking about you know what my company is and we can pay cash for your land. And the second page is just, Purchase offer. So a purchase agreement. If they sign it, we sign it directly to the title company.

[00:12:54] Ray Zhang: 

And very simple. Nothing fancy. I’m not sure if you make it so good-looking. That will be more response rate. I haven’t tested it yet. But I think it will be, pretty much the same. But for me, I just smell a whole lot. I smell like 20,000.

[00:13:13] Jay Conner: 

20,000. Yeah. Wow. That, that, that’s a lot.

[00:13:18] Jay Conner: 

So how do you get your list and how do you decide who to mail it to?

[00:13:24] Ray Zhang: 

Let’s say this subdivision or the first step is always a market selection. So I choose a market, for example, you live in North Carolina. There is a market there called Brunswick, right? Brunswick County. So I would go to Brunswick, Connie, I’ll look at the data for the last three months, and I want to see which subdivision in that county has sold activity and how much it was.

[00:13:51] Ray Zhang: 

And then I would download my mailing letter based on that sold data because I only mail to the subdivisions that have sold in the last three months. If a subdivision in Brunswick County did not have sold, I don’t even go there. So if it has, I’ll go there and make 40 to 50 5 cents on the dollar, and then I will send it to all of the subdivisions, whoever is online in that subdivision gets my letter.

[00:14:19] Jay Conner: 

So you’re not targeting like acreage or raw land, you’re targeting lots that are not built on in subdivisions, is that right?

[00:14:30] Ray Zhang:

I’m targeting more like infield lots nearby, major growing cities. For example, if you are in Dallas I don’t target inside Dallas because it’s very competitive, but I target

[00:14:43] Ray Zhang: 

30 to 90 minutes away from the major growing city. It’s like a donut, right? So I don’t go in the middle. I go the surrounding ones. ,

[00:14:53] Jay Conner: 

you say it’s like a donut, right? I love it. I love it. So they respond. Do you ever talk to the seller or the owner of that property?

[00:15:07] Jay Conner: 

Or do you always offer cash?

[00:15:09] Ray Zhang: 

Yeah, always all for cash. That’s why we have an edge because cash can give you like so much discount, right? And that’s how I just tell them I buy it for cash. 

[00:15:20] Jay Conner: 

Do all of your records come from public records? Like public tax records?

[00:15:29] Ray Zhang: 

I download the record from ListSource and I download the entire county list based on the subdivision that has sold activity. I’ll mail it to

[00:15:37] Jay Conner:  

Okay, that’s a nugget right there. You’re getting your list for these lots from www.listsource.com, right?

[00:15:48] Ray Zhang: 


[00:15:49] Jay Conner: 

Gotcha. Do you mail to ’em only once or do you mail to them more than once?

[00:15:53] Ray Zhang: 

I mail them. If I have a deal, let’s say I’m, I go to this county. If I have a deal, I’ll mail them again, but only after three months. I made the mistake before I mail it too soon. So, for example, went to this county in Texas and then I got one deal. I bought it for 20 grand, and that land was about 55.

[00:16:14] Ray Zhang: 

So I was so happy. And then I got a second deal under contract, so I haven’t bought it yet. I bought, I was supposed to buy it for 28,000, and that land was about 63 ish, something around there. So what I did was wrong. So do not do that. I got super happy. I thought if I raised the price just a little bit.

[00:16:37] Ray Zhang: 

for my last mailing campaign, I might have more deals coming. Makes sense. So I mailed to that Connie again very soon after, like a month after mail, the first one with a slightly higher offer. And the second guy who was under contract with me got my second campaign for a higher price and he said okay.

[00:16:59] Ray Zhang: 

Since it looks like you are doing this right, not someone. So you are telling me one thing, the market is appreciating. I’m not gonna sell it. I’m waiting for a higher price right now. So he canceled the contract. He did get a higher price from another guy, who offered him 35 grand, and that guy bought for 35 and he sold it for 60.

[00:17:21] Ray Zhang: 

So  I least lost her 30 grand there. So I tell my student all the time, do not to mail the accounting unless for about at least three months.

[00:17:31] Jay Conner: 

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So here’s the big question. So you find a lot you got a seller, they’re gonna sell it to you for less than say 50% of the value.

[00:17:44] Jay Conner: 

Now is the value retail value or is the value tax value? What are you calling 50% of the value? What’s the definition of.

[00:17:53] Ray Zhang: 

The value is the market value. The tax assessment value does not equal the market value. So that’s tax assessment value is just a reference, but it’s not an indicator that’s a market value.

[00:18:04] Ray Zhang: 

So market value is determined by buyers. So whatever on the market is sold price is pretty much the market value, right? So if a land nearby you sold for 20 grand, that’s the.

[00:18:14] Jay Conner: 

What resource do you use to know what the market value is of a lot?

[00:18:21] Ray Zhang: 

There are two other one is a list source I just mentioned.

[00:18:24] Ray Zhang: 

You can download the list for the past three months. You can see everything. What’s the, so price, what’s sub subdivision with the land was in. And if you wanna go more specific, you can go to re. Redfin has a lot more data. A lot of data as well, and very specific, even in non-disclosure states.

[00:18:43] Jay Conner: 

How do you spell that?

[00:18:46] Ray Zhang: 


[00:18:53] Jay Conner: 

www.Redfin.com, That’s another nugget. Thank you for sharing that Ray. So what’s your exit strategy? How do you go about selling that lot and finding a buyer?

[00:19:09] Ray Zhang: 

First of all, I would jump on a call with my realtor in the market.

[00:19:13] Ray Zhang: 

When I pick the realtor, they have to sell, they have to have a sold land in the area. So I picked them that way. And when I talk to them I’ll be like, what is. For sale price going on right now for the entire area. So if they tell me, okay, Ray, the entire area we, for this size of the lot, everyone is selling for let’s say 50,000.

[00:19:37] Ray Zhang: 

And then we would sell that, put that land for sale for about 45, about 46, just slightly lower than. For sale price nearby, and then we can sell it quicker very quickly. But initially, we put everything on the market on the MLS to sell them.

[00:19:56] Jay Conner: 

Do. So you sell all the lots through the Motorable Listing Service, right?

[00:20:02] Jay Conner: 

Absolutely. I got you. It’s a powerful, yet pretty simple process. What do you have for doing this kind of business?

[00:20:12] Ray Zhang: 

Absolutely. We, our profit last year was 900,000 as flip almost a hundred land. So it’s very simple. Sometimes people don’t believe it, right?

[00:20:22] Ray Zhang: 

It’s that simple.

[00:20:23] Jay Conner: 

Yeah. What’s one of the biggest lessons, or you already shared one of them, but that’s another big lesson you’ve learned on flipping land virtually that you do things differently now than you did when you started? One thing you said was you don’t mail them.

[00:20:40] Jay Conner: 

You, don’t mail to an area unless there have been sales in the past three months. You also said that you don’t mail to the same. in less than three months. What other lessons have you learned?

[00:20:53] Ray Zhang: 

Another thing is I don’t do too many small deals, so I stuck there for like almost three years of my entire career doing small deals.

[00:21:03] Ray Zhang: 

And also I don’t suggest people do terms stills. The term still is you buy land and then you sell on terms. I think it, that’s total garbage because if you want to collect cash flow, do multi-family go to the apartment? Units don’t do land. The default rate on land is much higher than on apartments.

[00:21:23] Ray Zhang: 

But if you wanna flip land to bigger areas, there is land selling in some types of areas. They’re selling for a hun a thousand bucks or a couple of thousand bucks. Those ones will not give you a huge. , of course, you can do this there, you can start there. No problem. I started there myself.

[00:21:41] Ray Zhang: 

But I don’t suggest you stay there for long because you flip one land, it doesn’t make too much difference.

[00:21:47] Jay Conner: 

So that’s great. That’s great. Ray, this has been intriguing and very interesting to have you on. I’m sure we may have some listeners that want to learn more about how you actually, virtually flip.

[00:22:04] Jay Conner: 

And, or we may have some listeners as well that want to invest with you and become investors and private lenders. So what’s the best way for people to get in contact with you, Ray?

[00:22:15] Ray Zhang: 

Yeah, I’m always on Instagram. My Instagram is right here, I love your producer. https://www.instagram.com/VirtualFlipLand/

[00:22:23] Jay Conner: So for Instagram, just go to Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/VirtualFlipLand/

 Ray, any parting comments before we call this episode A wrap?

[00:22:54] Ray Zhang: 

One of the last things I have been struggling with for about six years of my, me trying to do real realistic I look back right now, and I see what. Why was it not working? I’ve been trying to do land for right now about 10 years, and the last four years have started to have results.

[00:23:10] Ray Zhang:

What’s the difference? The main difference is the focus. So there are lots of niches in real estate and you see all the big names on YouTube or anywhere, of course, yourself, Jay. And you know that people who have big results because they focus on one niche. They don’t try to jump around and today I’m gonna do house tomorrow, I don’t feel like houses anymore.

[00:23:34] Ray Zhang: 

I’m going to do apartments. So those kinds of people are not gonna make it too far. And so even in land investing, there are a lot of different niches. You can buy and sell land. Like me, you can buy a big parcel and subdivide them. And you can buy and hold. You can buy and build a ranch, right? So there are too many different things to do.

[00:23:54] Ray Zhang: 

Focus on one small niche and invest heavily there. You’ll be successful. 

[00:23:59] Jay Conner: 

That’s great advice. Ray, thank you so much for coming on and joining me here on raising private Money. Thank you, Jay. Thank you very much. Oh, thank you. There you have it my friend, another episode of Raising Private Money. If you found this episode valuable, then be sure and share this episode with your family, friends, and colleagues that would find it to benefit.

[00:24:20] Jay Conner: 

If you happen to be watching on YouTube, be sure and ring that bell so you don’t miss out on any upcoming episodes. And if you happen to be listed on iTunes, be sure and tap the three buttons or dots at the top and hit follows so you don’t miss out on our upcoming shows. I’m Jay Conner, The Private Money Authority.

[00:24:39] Jay Conner: 

Wishing you all the best here’s to take you and your business to the next level, and we’ll see you right here on the next raising private money. Are you feeling inspired by the knowledge you gained in this episode? Then head over www.JayConner.com/MoneyGuide and download your free guide that shares the seven reasons why private money will skyrocket your real estate investing business right now. Again, that’s www.JayConner.com/MoneyGuide  to get your free guide. We’ll see you next time on Raising Private Money with Jay Conner.