How to Leverage Your Time, Energy and Resources to Become a Successful Real Estate Investor
Written by Steve Cook
Thursday, 25 February 2010 20:14
"The Less I Do, the More I Make.”
Perhaps you’ve heard this phrase before? Yeah, me too. I’ve always found it intriguing and inspiring. And I’d be willing to bet it’s no long shot that most people’s dream is to actually live it – to experience the reality of working less and earning more.
But as attractive as it is, many don’t believe it’s really possible, and tend to view someone making such a claim as “just full of it.” And let’s be honest. At first glance it does, in fact, seem to be an apparent contradiction of logic to claim the ability to earn more by working less. But let’s dig a little deeper.
Have you ever noticed how some people seem to be somehow able to accomplish a great deal more than others, and make a lot more money in the process? I’m talking about people coming from similar circumstances and backgrounds, and with basically the same opportunity. Some people still seem to rise to the dazzling top, don’t they?
Is it good fortune? Harder work? Sheer luck?
In the realm of wealthy, successful people, I would submit that those who were born into it or just “got lucky” are the exceptions. And that a healthy majority of those who are responsible for accomplishing much more, creating more value and building more wealth than the most of the people around them combined, have done so using the exact same number of minutes, hours, and days you and I have.
So without too much of a stretch one can draw the conclusion that some people seem to have “cracked the code” and know the secret of how to work less and make more than most others around them.
How do I know? Because I live it.
Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like to go around “tooting my horn”. It can be hard to tell a successful story without sounding boastful. But for what it’s worth I can testify to you from my own experience that the “less I work, more I make” concept has become absolutely, 100% real for me in my real estate flipping business. And not only for me, but also for a ton of other folks who, like me, have taken the time to really understand, internalize and apply the life-changing truth behind this deceptively simple idea.
The Lesson of the Pulley
Here’s a hint. “The secret” has little-if-anything to do with working harder or longer. It doesn’t take a genius to see that there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish and earn as much as these people do by simply working harder. And often it’s the hardest working souls who earn the least for their labor.
It has to do with leverage.
Think about a pulley. It’s a simple wheel mounted to the ceiling. But lay a piece of rope through a groove in the wheel and suddenly you can lift things you never thought possible. But it’s not by your own strength, is it? It’s you, plus the leverage of the pulley that turns you into a Superman (or Wonder Woman).
Like so much else I’ve done, I’ve been able train my real estate business to make me money with as little as possible of my own time and leg-work required. While most of my colleagues are running around all day, working their tails off, “hopping houses” 12-16 hours a day, I do multiple real estate deals from my office, with a phone and a pen. Sometimes I’ll still do a drive-by, but often I’m deal-making in informed confidence without so much as seeing a house or touching the keys.
What’s My Secret?
You may be asking yourself, “How does this guy buy homes and make money on them without ever touching the keys?”
Are you ready for this? It’s not that hard. It’s strategic and intentional, but it’s also plain and simple. My leverage is knowledge + people.
It starts with me having taken the time to get to know my choice neighborhoods intimately. It’s really not that hard to get to know an area inside and out, and if you are serious about this business you’ll find it enjoyable. This is a key knowledge-gaining phase and a “must do” first step. But you really only have to do it once ever.
You see (and pay attention to this), a deal is found in THE NUMBERS, not in the house. And once you know a neighborhood, its values and the types of homes it contains, you’re armed with “insider information” and can buy and sell profitable deals literally from the comfort of your desk.
The second part for me is the people. More specifically, the people I refer to as my “deal network.”
What is a “deal network”?
It’s a select group of key people I’ve developed powerful relationships with. It’s a core group of people who would otherwise be my direct competition, but instead are bringing me a steady stream of potential paydays on an ongoing basis.
Why do these people feed me with potential deals day in and day out? Because I have made sure they understand that I’m willing to do whatever I can to help them be successful, and that doing business with me as a partner is easier and at least as profitable (maybe more so) than competing with me.
I have strategically invested time and energy whenever possible to help them become more successful and profitable in their businesses. And I’ve made it very clear to them what kinds of deals I’m interested in, and have invested my time and energy in them to help them grow their businesses.
And these people know that I will always do what I say I will do. They know I WON’T consider, and they’ll always have my attention when they bring me solid deals to consider. Also, they know they can trust me. I’ll never steal a deal from them, and I’ll never leave them hanging.
How to Buy and Sell Houses in Your Underwear
Ok, I don’t actually do work in just my underwear (most of the time). But that's the infomercial dream, isn't it? And the truth is, if I did, I wouldn’t miss a beat. Here’s a quick and dirty look at how it works…
When people from my insider’s “deal network” call me, I simply ask them to describe the homes to me and the necessary repairs. Oftentimes I’ll have them email me a picture of the home so that I can look at it from my desk.
Armed with a picture, some information from my network and some websites for checking out comparable sales, I can analyze the deal. It’s sort of like analyzing a stock purchase. I can get all of the information that I need from my desk, make a decision and make a purchase. Like a street-smart day trader, my specific knowledge and connections allow me to do my due diligence pretty quickly, and then simply make a decision to buy or not to buy.
I can email or fax a contract to the seller and then I can turn around and sell it from my desk. Via the internet I can communicate the deals that I pick up to other investors very quickly and efficiently, and I can have the homes sold before I ever actually settle on them or even touch the keys.
The Power of Strategic Leverage
Now if you follow my path and decide to build a business similar to mine, realize that you may have to actually go to a closing now and then. But more often then not if you have the right neighborhood knowledge and “deal network” built, you’ll hardly ever have to actually come up with a dime to buy most houses.
I have literally bought and sold homes within 5 minutes while sitting at my desk and made tens of thousands of dollars without touching the keys or writing a check. The return on these “day trades” is infinite. And frankly, you can’t say that too often about the stock markets.
Steve Cook is a successful real estate investor whose deep faith and love of mentoring has called him to a life of teaching others how to improve their lives and secure financial freedom through real estate wholesaling and rehabbing. A leader and participant in the Baltimore real estate investment field for over a decade, Steve is the author of several books and instruction courses that have enriched the lives of thousands as well as his own.
Last Updated on Friday, 26 February 2010 19:00
First Step in Becoming a Real Estate Investor
Written by Robert Shemin
Thursday, 25 February 2010 20:09
The Importance of Knowing What You Really Want out of Life and How it Will Influence Your Major Life Decisions
Shakespeare says, “Know thyself.” These words speak true for real estate investors, too. Early in my business, I learned quickly what I am not good at…accounting. I stashed receipts in shoeboxes for the first nine months of the year. The other three months, I tried to figure out what I did the first nine months. That is no way to run a business! Now I hire a service that takes care of these bookkeeping and accounting activities that still stress me out.
To “know thyself,” write down the real estate activities you like. If you love to talk to people and sell, you’ll be good at recruiting tenants, putting deals together, and selling them. Maybe you love detail and finance. You could happily pull together mortgages and financing deals. If you easily get irritated at people, you probably do not want to manage property, and so on.
Determine your answers to these questions, then build your team:
- What do you like to do? And not like to do?
- What kind of people do you like to be around?
- What kind of deals would fit your personality?
- What aspects of real estate investing best fit you?
Your Business Plan
Most real estate investors have absolutely no plan. They set out to find that property, they buy it, then figure out what to do by accident. When tenants do not pay rent, for example, they quickly evict them without researching options. Let me save you a lot of headache by insisting you write a plan.
In the next 48 hours, sit down with your loved ones and write out your goals. Decide what you want to have for your 30-day plan, followed by your 60- and 90-day plan, your six-month and one-year plan, your five-year, ten-year, and 20-year plan. Schedule time to record these goals and structure your plan. Remember, it doesn’t have to be long…between two and six pages…and it should include:
- How much property you want to have (during each time frame)
- What type of activities you want to do
- How much money you want to make (in each time frame)
- How much net worth you want
Next, write down how you will reach your goals. How many phone calls will you make? How many properties will you look at? Realize that stating goals means nothing if I don’t determine how you’ll meet them. If you do not have the energy to write down your goals, I can assure you, you won’t have the energy to make your real estate deals happen.
Your Perfect Day
Tie your goals into creating a “perfect day.” Decide how it would look. Would you have a big office, a little office? Would you work out of your home? Where would it be located? What is the nature of your business? What kind of deals are you making? What does your portfolio look like? How much money can you make? What will you do to bring in money? Whom do you work with?
I planned my perfect day at work a few years ago in Nashville, Tennessee. I saw myself by the beach. I would wake up and exercise, ride my bicycle, take some phone calls, do some deals, have lunch, rest or swim in the afternoon, check messages, put some deals together, and spend time with family and friends. And I would also travel a lot. Today, I live in a beautiful condominium apartment overlooking downtown Miami and the beach. I wake up early and work out on the beach, come home, check messages, make calls, listen to a few tenant requests on voicemail, go to lunch, work in the afternoon, and travel a lot…just as I pictured.
Also, take a financial snapshot of where you are today. How much cash do you have? How much credit? What is your credit score? Requesting a copy of your credit report and getting a financial statement from a bank or mortgage company will help you determine what you want to do with your real estate investing. Six months or a year from now, you can compare your snapshot then to now.
Decide how much can you borrow (if you have to) to make real estate investments. How much access to cash do you have? What are your assets? What do you own? Houses, cars, investments. What are your liabilities? What are your debts? Mortgages, credit cards. How much is your life insurance? Your retirement account?
Your Action Plan
So take the next two days, the next 48 hours, to make a plan. Decide where you are and where you want to be. Write down your goals and share them with others. When you do, you are on your way to living the life you know you want.
Robert Shemin, one of America’s top real estate investors and educators is a full-time real estate investor and has been involved in more than five hundred real estate transactions totaling over fifty million dollars. Robert enjoys teaching the strategies that helped him become a multi-millionaire by the age of thirty-two and loves to help his students become millionaires and achieve their goals. Although he is a successful writer, teacher and public speaker he continues to be a full time investor who, in four months alone, was involved in the purchase of over one hundred properties while actively managing his own real estate.
Last Updated on Friday, 26 February 2010 18:59
Why Every Investor Needs a Mentor
Written by Larry Goins
Thursday, 25 February 2010 19:54
Having a Real Estate Coach Can Make the Difference Between Success and Failure
When I was younger I used to think that having a coach or mentor was something only for athletes and the rich and famous. I also used to think that having a coach or mentor was a total waste of time and was for people who had no self discipline. After all let’s face it, how many regular people do you know that have a coach or mentor in any area of their life, right?
In fact it wasn’t until I started teaching my Ultimate Buying and Selling Machine! system (how we buy and sell houses and never look at them and have them sold in two hours or less all over the country that I started having students ask me about coaching and mentoring them to help them get started or get to the level that we are at buying and selling houses. At first I was thinking, you want ME to coach YOU? What can I do to make you do what it takes that you can’t do on your own or get out of my course yourself? But the more I traveled around the country, the more people would ask me.
So I started doing some research about coaching and mentoring programs, not only in real estate but other areas of life as well. I researched health coaches and what they do; I researched life coaches, business coaches, fitness coaches, spiritual coaches and more. Wow, I had no idea you could find a coach or mentor to help you with almost any area of your life! I found many programs available and prices to fit any budget. Coaching is not just for the rich anymore! There are programs for one on one phone coaching, group phone coaching (fancy term for a teleconference, live group coaching and live one on one coaching and mentoring.
I couldn’t believe all of the success stories I would hear from people who had a coach. They would say things like “Having a coach, forces you to do what you know you need to do to become successful”. “Having a coach keeps you accountable and on track every day”. “My coach is much more than just a coach, he is my friend”. “Having a coach is like having a business partner without having to split my profits”.
I started talking to and interviewing coaches, students who have participated in coaching programs and reviewing the programs themselves for real estate to see what works and what doesn’t. There are a lot of real estate coaching programs available and lets face it, most of them have a very bad reputation. I know as I have been called by some of them also.
On the internet you can read horror stories about good, hard working people who have invested thousands of dollars into some real estate guru’s coaching program only to find out that they still haven’t purchased their first property. Not only that but most of the people selling the coaching and providing the coaching don’t know or understand the speaker’s teachings. This can be very frustrating to the student who just purchased a coaching program, thinking that the coach was familiar with the teachings of the speaker. This is not a good way to start off a coaching relationship.
I’m not saying all real estate coaching programs are a bad investment at all. There are some that are bad, some that are good and a few that are great! All I am saying is that some are more interested in “selling” the coaching than “delivering” the coaching. But when you find the right coach and program for you, you will literally be amazed at how easy and simple it can be to become a successful investor.
See, a coach not only teaches you the mechanics of how to invest and help you in the areas you need help most, but they also hold you accountable to what you need to do to become successful. A good coach will pat you on the back when you need it and kick you in the butt when you need it too. A good coach also knows when you need each of the above. A good coach is someone you build a relationship with over time and will give you assignments during each session so you have something to work toward and can see your progress. They share your successes and help you through your failures. That’s extremely important if you want to get the maximum results from your coaching experience.
A good coach will lead you in the right direction based on what YOU want to do with your life. They will not try to slam you into a particular area of investing if it is not the area you want to focus on. See, everyone has likes and dislikes in different areas of real estate. For example, I am a terrible landlord. I don’t like it and I am not good at it. When I started investing, my tenants had me trained to come to their house (really mine) to pick up their rent. What a total waste of my time. A good coach will ask probing questions to find out what you like and do not like about real estate. They will find out where you are both financially and personally in your life and then where you want to be. They will then help YOU come up with a game plan for success and how to make the dream a reality. A good coach will bring out your strengths and help you with your weaknesses. They will help you see the big picture and then break it down into small manageable steps so you can see your progress immediately.
When I finally decided to start my coaching and mentoring program I literally spent days traveling across the country and visited marketing firms, coaching companies, and talking to the actual coaches themselves. I found out what they taught and how they did it. I found out what works and what doesn’t. I found out who to model my program after and who to stay away from. I found out what I needed to do to personally train my coaches. See, I wanted to make sure that they knew all about me, my philosophies and how we do business. I made sure everyone on my team knew my business philosophy which is the same as Truett Kathy of Chic Fillet which is to “Put People and Principles Before Profits, Then Everyone Profits”.
If I was going to create my own coaching and mentoring program I wanted to make sure that the students could learn in detail my Ultimate Buying and Selling Machine! system from my personally trained coaches and receive all the help they need to use these advanced strategies. I also wanted a totally customizable program that would be able to teach any investor any area of investing they desired no matter what their experience level or area of interest in real estate was.
I am happy to say that after having our program in place for a while now we already have many many happy students who have been through our coaching and mentoring program and are well on their way to a prosperous career investing in real estate. I get an email almost weekly that came from a student who did their first or next deal by going through our program. That’s an awesome feeling to know you contributed to someone’s success.
Larry Goins is an active real estate investor and travels the US speaking and training audiences at conventions, expos and Real Estate Investment Associations on his strategies for buying 10-15 properties per month without ever leaving his office.
Last Updated on Friday, 26 February 2010 18:58
Getting Started in Real Estate Investing
Tuesday, 23 February 2010 20:30
Top Tips on How To Make Money in Real Estate
Are you ready to get started in real estate investing,but not sure where to begin?
Afraid to make a HUGE Mistake??
Stuck with the Paralysis of Analysis???
You are not alone! Almost all real estate investors had to spend countless hours at the beginning of their investing careers researching the various strategies trying to figure out where they should begin.
While there is no single right answer for everyone, there are three key questions every potential investor needs to ask:
- How much TIME do I have to invest?
- How much MONEY do I have to invest?
- How BIG and FAST do I want my business to ultimately grow??
A Great way to start any venture is by having an END Goal in mind, then laying out a plan to go get it! Even if you have to make changes along the way – which you will, the "getting there" is a great part of the fun.
Real estate investing can do anything from learning how to put a quick (in 30 days, or less) EXTRA $5,000 in your pocket every month, to making all your financial dreams come true with an annual after-tax income in Millions of Dollars. You really do need to decide upfront, if you are looking for the multi-millionaire status, or just to put some quick cash in your pocket to pay bills.
Regardless of your dreams and desires how you will use real estate investing to get where you want to go in life, we believe that there are three critical rules you must follow, if you are going to be successful. Here they are:
RULE NUMBER ONE IS: FOCUS-FOCUS-FOCUS
If you are looking for a long-term commitment to this business, then you need to establish up-front that you will need to set-aside some money from each of your transactions/deals to re-invest in your education, AND it is probably in your best interest to start with one strategy and be prepared to switch to a different strategy once these goals are met.
As an example, let’s say you ultimately want to be a developer (like Donald Trump, or Sam Zell, or Trammell Crow), but today you have a job and are $50,000 in debt. Your first step might be to generate quick cash over the next year to pay off the debt, then half way through making this happen (say in month six) begin the process of implementing a strategy to generate enough income from your real estate investing to leave your job, then after you have created a stable base (enough to pay bills and then some) from your investing activity, to start a plan to become a developer. All together, this may require three different strategies.
A "Classic" mistake that many novice investors would make is to attempt all three strategies AT THE SAME TIME – DO NOT DO THIS!!! Better to learn a strategy for quick cash, master it, then move on, then to attempt to learn three strategies at the same time.
OLD AFRICAN PROVERB: "He Who Chases Two Tigers Ultimately Gets None"
Regardless of the Strategy to start with, history has shown that people who FOCUS their time, energy and money, are more likely to succeed than those who do not.
Be Patient – Be Focused – Start Small, Grow Big.
RECAP: Rule Number One is: FOCUS-FOCUS-FOCUS
RULE NUMBER TWO: YOU LEARN BY DOING!
The second important thing to know about real estate investing is that you learn by doing! We know that there are a lot of late-night infomercials which say "Come to our FREE seminar, spend $5,000, and tomorrow you will wake up a Millionaire – but the problem is we have never found anyone who will admit that this really worked. Also, there are people who spend good money going to college, or graduate school and study how to "succeed in real estate", and by and large, this can work, if you then go on to commit to 25-40 years working as an employee of a real estate firm, making someone else rich – if you are fortunate enough, you may learn, enough (over time) and then go out on your own.
And yes, we all know of people who buy every book, every tape, and go to every seminar, and become walking real estate investing "Encyclopedia’s" – BUT NEVER DO ANYTHING WITH IT – BAD IDEA! Why, because if you never put into practice what you read, or hear, you will ultimately convince yourself that "this real estate thing" does not work – UNFORTUNATELY, both history and Forbes Magazine would prove you wrong. Ever since John Jacob Astor became America’s First Millionaire in the 1800’s by buying what would ultimately become Manhattan, more American’s have become wealthy through investing in real estate, than by any other means. And those who have made their fortunes in other areas (like operating businesses) have reinvested their profits into real estate than any other asset class.
THE BEST WAY TO LEARN TO BE AN INVESTOR IS TO BE AN INVESTOR.
RECAP: Rule Number Two: YOU LEARN BY DOING!
RULE NUMBER THREE: START TODAY – RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE.
Final Key Thought – many new investors kid themselves by saying thing like "When I get enough money…", or "When I get enough time…", or "When I can get some other things out of the way…" Then I will get started – BALONY!! What they are really saying is "I am Scared to Death of Failing at this Real Estate Thing", and the sooner they stop lying to themselves the sooner something really great will happen in their lives. The truth is almost every successful real estate investor out there (including Donald Trump, and Sam Zell, and Ron LeGrand, and Robyn Thompson, and (Place Millionaire’s Name Here), was scared to death when putting their first deal together. What made the difference is that they moved forward and did something.
Sir Isaac Newton said it best in his first Law of Motion: "An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion…" In other words – if you keep on doing what you have been doing, you should expect to get the same results. But if you want something different for your life, you will have to go "in Motion". You learn the Real Estate Business by DOING, so the sooner you DO, the Sooner you GET. Today is the day to stop making excuses and to "Go In Motion". And as you Go In Motion, make a commitment to continue to learn, so you "Stay In Motion"
RECAP: Rule Number Three: START TODAY – RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE.
So with these three rules in mind, we hope that RealInvestors(TM) will become a key partner in your success and we want to hear about your success, no matter how small, or how great. Most importantly, we want to help you "Go in Motion" and "Stay In Motion"…
So, Let’s Get Started…
Choose ONE strategy to get started. Please Take to Heart Rule Number One: FOCUS-FOCUS-FOCUS … DO NOT TRY TO BECOME AN EXPERT ON EVERY STRATEGY BEFORE EVER GETTING STARTED! If you do, we can almost guarantee you that will become confused from information overload, and you will never begin! Decide on a single strategy that is right for you, learn about it, and go out there and DO IT!
Make a commitment (let’s say 6 months) where you are completely focused on that strategy. Network with other investor’s who are working that particular strategy and do not quit until one of two things has happened: either 6 months has gone by with no results, or you get your first deal done using that strategy and decide you want to try your hand at something else. But do not allow yourself to be taken off course. It was o.k. in elementary and middle school to try out for every team sport, but when Spring came, you had to make a choice; it was either going to be track, or baseball/softball, or lacrosse, or crew, or tennis – but you could not play two sports at the same time.
Each sport had its own rules, and each one required a slightly different mental "game". If you had come to the baseball field with a lacrosse stick and shoulder pads, someone would have asked you to "go home" and come back when you were "ready to play this sport" – same is true with investing – ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU ARE JUST GETTING GOING. Now, one day you will be able to "Play Like Mike", but as a new investor, let’s keep it simple: One strategy, complete focus until you have proven to yourself that it will work, for you, or it won’t, and for most people this will mean at least a 6-month commitment.
Once you have familiarized yourself with this Getting Started section of the website, we recommend that you take the following steps:
- Read and post regularly in the Real Investors Forums to gain exposure to the issues facing other real estate investors. Chances are, those same issues will face you in the near future.
- Real all the Real Investor Articles. This will help to build your knowledge base about real estate investing in general.
- Visit the Real Investor Bookstore and pick out courses that focus on the ONE strategy you have chosen to use to get started. Do not purchase courses on a myriad of strategies before you ever do your first deal!
- Join your local REIA. You will meet many other investors … some seasoned, some just getting started. You will have an opportunity to network with other professionals that may be able to provide you with services you will need as anew investor … a contractor, a real estate agent, a mortgage broker, a hard money lender … etc. You may even find a really great mentor!
- Invest in your education! Attend any and all opportunities to learn more about real estate investing, such as The National Real Estate Investor’s Conference. These events are invaluable opportunities to learn from, network amongst, and make deals with other more seasoned real estate investors and scholars. Look for online class offerings, such as Real Investor’s University (REIU) to fill the times in between live events
- Most importantly … go out there and take action – GO IN MOTION!!!
- Get your first deal done – Your 1st deal will be the hardest – we promise!!!
- Repeat, Repeat, Repeat!
- Then, when you’re ready, come back and add another strategy to your portfolio … and continue the process ….
Sherman Ragland is a Real Estate Investor and Educator based in the Washington DC Metro area. With over 25 years of experience as a Real Estate Professional, he has helped thousands of investors get on the right path to making Quick Cash and building long term Wealth. Sherman runs the most successful REIA in Maryland, with over 250 regular members.
Last Updated on Monday, 01 March 2010 19:40