- In the 90s, Kuldip Verma made real estate investments in Arizona that made him a multi-millionaire.
- In 2004 he founded Vermaland, one of the largest landowners in the state.
- In an interview with Insider, he opened up about how he got into land banking and his path to success.
Kuldip Verma is a 72-year-old multi-millionaire who has been buying and selling land in Arizona for over 20 years.
His journey to real estate success through land investing began in 1995, when he bought 320 acres of land in Phoenix for around $450,000, paying just $112,000. People warned him not to because of low demand for real estate in the area at the time, he told Insider, but he’s since taken $20 million off the property. ‘purchase.
The purchase of 320 acres was just the beginning of the empire Verma would build.
In 2004, Verma founded Vermaland, a land banking and land development company, which now owns over 25,000 acres and has made nearly $70 million in total profits. (Land banking is the practice of accumulating land over time which is then sold, often in parcels, to developers.)
In an interview with Insider, Verma and his daughter Anita — Vermaland’s marketing director — talked about how he made a big bet on real estate in Arizona that paid off.
Try your luck in the southwest
Verma, who was born in India and graduated from university there, began his career as an engineer, C Level magazine reported. He graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1972 with a master’s degree in industrial engineering, then worked at Acme Barrel Company before starting his own engineering consulting firm at age 30. In 1985 he returned to India to help with his family’s business, a successful company called Beltek TV which manufactured televisions.
In 1992, after Verma returned to the United States, he moved to Phoenix, Arizona. Having retired from engineering, he was eager to move into a new industry: real estate.
That year, even though the local real estate market was struggling, he bought a 50,000 square foot office building for $650,000, using $100,000 of his savings as a down payment.
The office building had no tenants when Verma took it over. It was seized by the bank. The people in her life advised her against such a risky purchase – but Verma had a vision.
A year later, he had converted half of the building into a successful wedding venue and, through aggressive marketing, was able to occupy 80% of the remaining office space with tenants. In 2003, he sold it for a total of $4.5 million.
In 1995, the same broker who put him in touch with the office building offered him the opportunity to buy 320 acres of land in the Phoenix area for around $450,000.
The land, located about 30 miles from town, was beautiful, Verma told Insider. Mountains painted backdrop. However, at the time, there was no real estate development around it. The land market was almost non-existent because, as Verma explained, the Phoenix metro area economy in the mid-1990s was not strong.
“In 1994 and 1995, the land market here was very bad,” he said. “There were no land buyers and many developers had gone out of business by the 1990s.”
Despite being told by family and friends — yet again — to back out of the deal, Verma made the $112,000 down payment.
Over the next two decades, Verma sold the land in stages to residential developers. Phoenix’s single-family home market picked up speed; in doing so, the value of each acre increased. In 2019, he sold the last acres for $4.5 million, bringing the plot’s total profit to $20 million.
Phoenix explodes, so does Vermaland
Verma decided to move to Phoenix upon his return to the United States because he had studied migration trends and discovered that the metro area had a high net influx. Indeed, according to a report 2016 per Arizona State University, net migration to the state was “unusually high” in the 1990s and early 2000s, driven primarily by immigration.
His original dream was to develop single-family homes, he told Insider, but he found land investing was easier. After all, it is enough to buy land and sell it to companies who, in turn, build houses or other properties.
About 10 years after buying the 320 acres, in 2004 Verma started his own land banking and land development company called Vermaland.
Vermaland, as Anita explained, buys large tracts of land, subdivides them, and then sells the chunks to residential, commercial, and industrial real estate developers.
The company achieved a high rating in 2005 and 2006. During this time, the Phoenix housing market was booming. Verm, who continued to buy and sell in the area, ended up pocketing $50 million in profit over those two years.
The 2008 financial crisis slowed the housing market, forcing Vermaland to target solar energy developers rather than home builders. She bought land near the power lines to resell it.
In 2013, demand for residential properties began to return to Phoenix, so Vermaland returned to selling land to residential developers.
Today, Vermaland is one of Arizona’s largest landowners, with over 25,000 acres for sale. From 2007 to 2020, the company recorded approximately $20 million in profits in addition to the massive sale of 320 acres which brought in $20 million over 20 years. Verma also made commercial investments following the successful conversion of its office building in 1992.
In 2013, he created the Verma Charitable Foundation, who has since donated $5 million to the Arizona Community Foundation, including $1.2 million of land. The Arizona Community Foundation distributes grants, loans, scholarships and more to state residents in need.
Verma’s first real estate investment advice is to follow migration patterns and establish a network of contacts in the field.
“See where people are moving,” he said. “Talk to as many brokers as possible so you get a clear picture of what’s going on in the current market.”