It wasn’t so long ago that I was in school and boy was I not a student. I can recall struggling just to make C's. In high school I took the SAT three times and my best score was an 880. I took the ACT twice and got a 17 twice. I'm not sure how I was ever accepted it into college, but somehow I did. Once in college, it was the same struggle only this time I was paying money and taking out loans for the same results. It got so bad that I ended up getting a Spanish degree because it was the quickest way to graduate. I paid all that money and wasted almost 6 years of my life and I still can’t speak the language!
The one thing that I did learn was to always keep learning. Mark Twain once said, “I never let my schooling interfere with my education” and it's true. Most CEOs read 60 books a year. When I began developing an interest in real estate, I devoured every book, article, podcast, and seminar that I could get my hands on. Here are some ideas on how you can continue to expand your knowledge base.
As I mentioned in the introduction, I found some great free education by listening to the Jason Hartman podcast. With a catalog of over 1000 podcasts, Jason has covered all of the topics related to investing in long term, prudent, income producing real estate. He specializes mostly in single family home (SFH) rental properties however the same principles can be applied to other investments like mobile homes, commercial properties, apartments, self-storage, even land contracts. There are some other great REI and motivational podcasts including: The Cardone Zone, BiggerPockets, the GaryVee Audio Experience (not REI, but hugely motivational), The Real Estate Guys™ Radio Show and Real Wealth Show. Everyone’s time is limited. Whenever I have free time driving in the car or exercising, I launch the iTunes or Sticker app and listen to a new podcast. This is filling in the time gaps with useful learning verses playing some sugar crush game on my phone.
Seminars and Conferences
Many of the same podcast gurus offer learning seminars throughout the year. Most times the seminar will feature a key note speaker (headliner to get you excited), the podcast host(s) themselves, local market specialists, perhaps financing panels to discuss new lending rules and regulations, networking opportunities, and if you’re lucky some late night entertainment to help add to the fun. I have been to several of these events. What I found to be really beneficial was to go on a bus tour to look at the actual real estate itself. I’ve even bought a house from such a tour. I was able to see firsthand the finished rehabbed product, ask the turnkey market specialist which items were completed, and also got to know their personalities and their company’s history. This helped lessen any reluctance I may have had in buying more properties.
Go to Meet-ups
One way to get inexpensive exposure to REI is to attend local meet-ups where everyone shares common goals of learning, networking and potentially partnering to do deals together. Typically these are hosted in a bar, restaurant, coffee house or local business establishment. Topics may include: trends in the local markets, types of deals people are doing or interested in doing, tips and tricks of finding deals, financing options etc. Many times there are more new investors than experienced professionals. This is the challenge: most experienced professionals are actually out doing deals and are extremely busy. There is not a lot of motivation for them to attend a newbie meet-up unless they believe they can influence and help encourage people to take action. Organizers of the meet-up will have the best outcome if they establish a regular cadence centered around bring in these experienced professionals to discuss how they are having success as well as pitfalls to avoid.
Find a Trusted Mentor or Coach
When you are first starting off you may need some hand holding. Find a mentor who is several steps ahead of you. Try to learn from their mistakes and more importantly learn from the right moves they have made. Mentors and coaches are not free. Their time is extremely valuable. I have a coach who actually trained to become a certified coach. He is several steps ahead of me and has been able to guide me through rough waters. I gladly compensate him for his time and effort because I see this as an investment in myself. If you don’t have a lot of money, find other ways in which you can be of assistance to your mentor. Maybe it’s “bird dogging” which is essentially finding great deals that you may not be able to do yourself but your mentor can close. Maybe you have some personal networking connections that you can introduce to your mentor. Maybe it’s an unpaid internship. Whatever you can do to get into the world of someone more experienced will ultimately help.
At some point you will need to actually get over your fear and buy a property. I can remember some of my first properties were the most challenging. There were times when I questioned if this was right for me. I once bought a vacant property in the dead of winter, relying on my property manager to fill it and watch over my new investment. Little did I realize that the utilities were turned off and there was no heat in the house. After a hard freeze a pipe burst in the kitchen causing over $5000 worth of damage. Even worse, my insurance police did not cover the damages since the house was vacant. This devastated me. I thought I was done. But I pulled myself up, made the repairs, and chalked it up to an expensive learning experience. Poor planning can be a costly lesson. Each time something goes wrong consider what you could have done to mitigate the risk.
Whatever your motivation, the first step is to become educated about your investments and what type of properties work best for you. With all this being said, it is important to become educated, do proper due diligence, and surround yourself with experienced professionals that have “been there, done that” will help you avoid costly mistakes in the future.