For Newbies

What Does It Take To Become A Real Estate Investor? Part 1.

What Does It Take To Become A Real Estate Investor?

Real estate investing is a tempting prospect for anyone who is aware of its potential for building wealth. Investors get into the industry to leave their 9 to 5 job behind and to pursue financial freedom, with the additional benefit of having more free time on their hands. Who doesn’t want that?

Plus, the bar for entry in real estate investing is very low. No licensing is required, no special expertise that stands between yourself and the big names, and you don’t even need to have money – you can use other people’s money. The industry appeals to people from all walks of life, which is why there’s a lot of competition you need to stay ahead of.

So, do you have what it takes to make it as a real estate investor? In this article, we will feature excerpts from interviews with investors to help you determine whether you are a good fit for the industry. These are investors who hire us to do their marketing, and were happy to share how they got into real estate investing on our REI Marketing Nerds Podcast.

Before we do that, though, let’s dwell on real estate investing as a career.

Is Real Estate Investing a Career?

People who close wholesale deals and house flipping deals on a regular basis are real estate entrepreneurs and they can consider real estate investing as their “job”’ However, the industry is not limited to these types of investors.

Some investors hold a regular job and do real estate investing part time. These investors are not less successful than those who dedicate their time exclusively to the real estate business. Each group has their own objectives.

The same can be said about the volume of closed deals, or the size of the team. Often, real estate investors are solopreneurs who do one house flip per year. But there are also real estate investors who are involved in multiple markets, who look for a way to scale up business operations and to expand their team.

There’s nothing wrong with either of these approaches. Real estate investing provides a lot of flexibility, and each investor can choose the level of responsibilities they are comfortable managing on a day to day basis.

That being said, we will focus on real estate entrepreneurs, or those who see investing as their job.

Common Traits of Real Estate Investors

Regardless of the scope of their operations, all real estate investors have entrepreneurial spirit. So, if you want to become an investor, entrepreneurship skills are a must, even for those of you who want to do just one flip a year or to manage one rental property. In essence, these are people who seek to improve in house processes whenever possible.

Aside from that, real estate investors are expected to have the following traits:

  • good people skills (for negotiation and networking),
  • creativity when it comes to problem solving (issues will delay and jeopardize deals), and
  • multitasking (taking care of finances, doing marketing on their own, etc.)

Don’t worry if you don’t possess all of these qualities, though. Any weakness can be easily overcome by recruiting the right person or by teaming up with family (or spouses). As you will see in the interviews that follow, everybody’s story is different – no two careers in real estate investing are the same.

How Other Real Estate Investors Got Into the Industry

Now, let’s turn to the investor interviews, so you can check out how other investors got into real estate investing and relate their stories to your own journey.

Note how most of them were prompted to establish their business by circumstances which are out of their control. There is no perfect setting for dipping your feet in the real estate market. We’ve discussed this before, imperfect action will get you much further than any well thought out plan that’s perfect but you are yet to act on. You simply need to be ready to take a series of calculated risks.

Highlights From Interviews  

Joe Cordes – Retired NYPD Cop Turned Investor (Episode #24)

Joe managed to turn his lifelong interest in real estate investing, instilled from an early age by his parents, into a successful business named CoMax Properties. While the benefits he received as a retired NYPD officer served as a buffer in the process, he did face a number of risks when he started out, and shared some of the lessons he learned along the way.

He is active in the market in Long Island, NY (Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties), and mainly does flips and wholesaling deals. Here’s what he had to say on our podcast:

When I was about, maybe between 22 and 24 years old, me and my brother had bought a two-family house. My father was a New York City firefighter, and he was always looking for an investment, and he and my mother had saved up some money, and they bought a two-family house, .. even at that young age, my parents were explaining about depreciation, and my father had had a friend who had done very well at real estate… [My brother] was also a police officer, and we … had some cash, so we were like, you know what? Let’s go in together and buy an investment property, and we did that, and in our minds back then, that was really going to be the first of many..

..[years down the line] I left law enforcement, I took a job in Manhattan, suit and tie, get on a train every day kind of job, which was a rude awakening for me, …, and I hated it. I did it for two years, and I was miserable, and I stood on a train platform every day in my suit, .. and I made the decision then to pull the plug and bail and do real estate. I made that decision very quickly and just did it. As they say, burned the boats, and just jumped in. That was about five years ago.

Keith Gillespie – Active Duty Marine Turned Investor (Episode #28)

Keith has a lot going for him. He is a full time member of the Marine Corps, has a family (wife and two kids), he is active in his Church, and he flips houses on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Where does he find the time to complete tasks related to real estate investing? Well, he shared that the best time to learn a few things about investing is his drive to/from the base he is stationed at, but that’s not his biggest secret.

He actually banded together with a team of five (one of which is his wife, and the others are colleagues from the Corps) to create Crowne Properties. At the time this interview was recorded, Keith was only 23 years old:

I’m actually an active duty Marine and about two years into my first term, my operational tempo was pretty low, I was getting bored at work. One of my friends suggested … that I read this awesome book that totally changed the glasses that he saw life through, and as you can probably guess, that book was “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.” So, I read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and got totally hooked… From there, I read “Unfair Advantage.” That’s my favorite book by Robert Kiyosaki. And like a month later, we joined Rich Dad Coaching. A month after that, we started our real estate investing business. A month after that, we joined Fortune Builders.

We had all this coaching. We had all this network of people around us to really show us the ropes and not screw up as much as Robert did when he was starting. So, we started with a business partner. She was a part of Fortune Builders. She was a member of our church. So, we joined with her. She was also a realtor. So, we just had this huge wealth of knowledge. D.C. is totally saturated with investors which was great… there’s a lot of competition, but if you use it to support you, you use it in a good way. You know, it’s just a huge amount of networking, a lot of wisdom is out there, and a lot of seasoned investors who have weathered the storm of 2008 to 2011, and so, we just used that to start off. We partnered with our business partner. We flipped a house in Virginia right before we left for Hawaii which is now almost two years ago. Now, we’ve just picked up the business here on Oahu from where we left in Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Andrew Dunn – The Red Haired Investor Who Hypes People Up (Episode #107)

Andrew found himself in a company full of senior real estate professionals and discovered that he was good at flipping houses. Although he lucked into real estate investing, he was soon able to focus on his forte in the business – connecting with people.

His real estate market is Las Vegas, and everything in his business revolves around people. Andrew’s advice for investors is to empathize with motivated house sellers. Often, he takes potential lenders and venture partners out to dinner to build relationships before talking business. He shared his introduction into real estate investing with us:  

..Then I met a girl in college. We ended up dating. It was my senior year of college. My dad passed away in November and I graduated in May and I was kind of just like, What do I do? My girlfriend’s dad was like, Come work for me in Vegas. I was like, What do you do? He was like, I do real estate, and I was like, What do you mean? He was like, I don’t know. I just do real estate. I was like, All right, great, that’s super helpful. Thank you. He was like, Well, I’ll include you in on some emails and calls, and see if you fit in and like it, because I wanted to go into the financial industry like investment banking and stuff like that. I was like, All right, fine…

..So, he gave me an offer. He was like, I’ll pay you 800 bucks a week. I’ll take care of your rent for the first year. Come down to Vegas. And my family was against it. Everybody that I knew was against it because of just working for your girlfriend’s dad at the time, moving to a different state, a different city, especially Las Vegas. It’s Sin City. There’s a lot of issues and it was like, Oh my God.

He brought me out here. I knew nothing besides that I was getting paid to just learn, so for the first three to six months, didn’t know anything. I was like, What do I do? We went back and forth on a lot of clashing points on that and there were heated discussions. I was like, Amber, is this really the right thing for me? Then eventually they showed me about them flipping houses and I was like, Okay, and they were doing one to four a year, and so I got my experience.

Dara Abasute – The Girl Who Liked Investing Better Than College (Episode #133)

Dara is one half of the mother-daughter duo that runs Properties ATL. Yes, she works in a multi-generational family team where both herself and her mother benefit from putting their talents together. And they are living proof that you don’t need a perfect plan to start a real estate investing business.

Their specialty are short term rentals in Atlanta, GA and they put people over properties. Dara shares her day to day experience as a real estate investor through a YouTube channel, so you can check her behind-the-scenes footage out. We asked her to provide more details about her first steps in the industry:

..after I graduated from undergrad, I was getting myself out open-minded to all kinds of things like I said I was travelling, I wanted to go teach English abroad, all kinds of things interested me so when I went to the three-day seminar, it was literally influx of information, like information overload, but it was in a good way. I don’t know half the things they were talking about but it was so interesting. I really do like to learn. … At that time, yes, I was rejected from all the schools but also my mom was kind of getting fed up with her career of decades. So she was on the verge of quitting or retiring from there. So all of that in one, she was looking for something new, something different and so was I and so I think both of us were just so intrigued. Because we learned about creative financing and how you can use an IRA to invest in real estate, build wealth, rental properties, all this kind of great stuff. So I was like let me give this a go. … I used to watch a lot of flipping shows on HGTV and the presentation to me was very impressive, of course they get all the best personalities, all the great energy to come in. I was: I want to do this. So I think it was a combination of the fact that I was okay no grad school for me and then my mom was like I’m over this job so we were just let’s try it. Let’s at least just try it.

Josh Eberly – Online Marketer Turned Investor (Episode #93)

Josh is both an online marketer and a real estate investor. For him, the move from digital marketing (developing websites, Facebook ads), to owning real estate properties was logical and natural. He is an advocate of keeping in house processes streamlined and simple and he’s also involved with Software-as-a-Service, and follow up processes.

The preferred investing strategy for himself and his venture partner are rental properties (buy and hold) and wholesaling. Their real estate market is Lancaster County, PA. As a guest on our podcast, he explained the benefits of building an audience on platforms like Tik Tok before these users actually need to sell (or buy) houses. He also talked about his motivation:

…I really didn’t know about [real estate] and I was kind of that kid that went to college, had a degree and a career lined up, and I was like, Oh, I’m just going to do my job, and I just wanted more with my life. And I read a lot of books, and Rich Dad, Poor Dad…was a big book and turning point in my thinking … And that was my first intro to real estate.

…I had no equity. And so, I looked into house hacking. I figured it out. You have four units, FHA loan, all of that, and I just set my mind to doing that and we started out with a house hack. That’s how I got into the game. And from there, I just networked and learned a little bit from a bunch of different people, and got some good mentors for studying the game, and started to grow my real estate investments.

Jesse Trujillo – Lab Manager Turned Investor (Episode #69)

In 2019, Jesse flipped 80 houses in the highly competitive market of San Diego, CA. And if that isn’t impressive enough, himself and his team accomplished this by building relationships with realtors, and other wholesalers active in the same market – not through marketing.

Jesse learned a lot about business growth, but his introduction into the industry was a fluke, because, as he recounted on our podcast, he was simply trying to help his sister out:

I …never knew anything about real estate and … [my] end goal was to be a doctor. So, I was actually studying at UCSD and my goal was you know, pre med and long story short, while I’m going to college, my sister graduated herself from college San Diego State and became a teacher and she told me she was moving out, [from our] parent’s house and she was going to get an apartment now. I just threw out, “Oh, you should buy something, not rent,” without really knowing [what that means]. … And I said, “Well hey, if I can figure out how to, you know, fix your credit, would you be … interested?” … One lender kind of took me under her wing and just kind of lead me to understand how loans work and how to get approved.

.. we found her a condo …, a 3-bedroom condo.. So she went for it and we got it. We got it accepted. We closed. I think I was more excited than she was, and it’s all she wrote. When it closed, I was just, it was like a… man, I don’t know how to explain it, it was like the best hobby ever, you know. For me, it was a rush. And so, after that, I just told her, “Hey, if I could find you another one, would you be interested?” … By the time I knew it, I was buying one [property] every couple of months. So after a while, she got, I think it was like 8-10 rentals, but what happened is being the brother that kind of got her into it, I was the property manager…

I saw something that even made it more interesting to me is I saw the profit she was making as we were selling these properties after she held them for a while, and I was like, wow – there’s something here. That’s something that I like. Not only was it a hobby, but now, it’s something that could produce money and so it just … it opened my mind to a whole different world and after we sold all those, I started [buying my own properties].

There you have it, a selection of interviews with real estate investors that hopefully helps you to decide whether switching careers is an option for you. This is only the first part of a series of posts on the subject, so make sure to check out the subsequent posts. Who knows, maybe some of the real estate investors we feature next operate in your market or they prefer the same investing strategy as you do, so stay tuned.


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