Easy Action Steps to a Successful Start in Real Estate Investing
If you happen to watch cable or satellite television on the weekends, you can find between 20 and 30 channels early in the day with get rich quick infomercials hawking everything from books, tapes, seminars and even personal coaching services. Most are centered around real estate and I am not sure they are worth the time it would take you to order them by phone. I have spent thousands of dollars on real estate home study courses through the years and will continue into the future. I am always looking to further my education and understanding of what is really working in the investment real estate world.
Because of the time, energy and dollars that I have spent in the past, I have a pretty good idea of what a real estate investor wants to avoid as well as the best steps to take for a successful start. Education definitely plays a role in the success of a real estate investor as well as business savvy, attitude and at times, luck!
Here are a few detailed steps that an investor can take to improve the chances for success.
– Learn the basics of real estate in general.
As with any investment strategy or business, real estate comes with its’ very own lingo. There are terms and phrases that many of us have heard in the past, yet may not know the exact meaning. It is very important from the get go to do the research and learn the basics such as the meaning of the terms and phrases that are used in the real estate industry every day. You can start by using a search engine and searching the phrase “real estate definitions”.
– Begin home study education.
There are great benefits to home study and I do not mean the courses we eluded to on weekend cable T.V. At your local library, in the real estate investing section, there will be multiple titles recently written by authors with experience in their topic. Check out as many titles as you can read in a week and o to work reading. Write down sentences and topics that come up in the books that interest you and that fit into your reasoning for starting to invest in real estate. This will be the start of your plan for getting started.
– Develop a game plan.
By this point, you have an idea of the general terms and phrases for the property investing world and have begun to grow your interest and understanding of the specific strategies for real estate investing. It is time to formally develop your plan and start taking action. Each of the real estate investing books that you will be reading give specific advice about team building. It is a crucial step for your success and the best books offer advice about who to put on your team, where to find them and how important they are to your over-all success. Before you can start investing, you must have a plan for where you are going and how you are going to get there.
– Join local organizations for investors.
In every city, county and state there are multiple organizations whose missions are to assist real estate investors. Each of these organizations holds monthly meetings and some of the best even hold weekly meetings, where investors can network and learn. These meetings are crucial to a beginner investor because they offer the opportunity to build your team with experienced members. They also are fantastic groups to attend for tips, tricks and education. Join a group close to you and make your attendance mandatory. Attend as many meetings as possible each month. Often times, the simple step of surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who are positive and re-enforce your determination to succeed, can have the biggest benefit on your future success.
– Find partners & Do not fall for get rich quick!
One mistake that is easy to make in the beginning is to set off on the path of “go it alone”. Another is to believe that just around the corner is a pot of gold if I can just find a deal like those guys on T.V.! One thing that is seldom talked about is the fact that most real estate investors have used partnerships in the past if they are not using them now. Partnerships are a great way to spread the risk of investing while learning the ropes. Those risks include using less of your available capital, credit and time. Partnerships can also be structured to be a simple 50/50 partnership splitting all costs and profits or a slightly more complicated partnership with one partner providing money and the other providing the deals, follow through and managing the investments. Either way, going it alone can be a lonely, long and expensive way to get started investing.
– Do not quit your day job!
This is a biggie and is a MAJOR mistake made by some first time real estate investors. Investing in real estate requires a total commitment – a “burning of the boats” mentality. There is no turning back when you decide to go all in. And in that statement lies the problem with leaving your day job first. Take time to develop your team, to build cash reserves, to learn the ropes. Take time to make small mistakes before you leave your full time employment and make a big mistake! Investing in real estate is a big picture endeavor and as an investor you have to be able to clearly see your future and plan accordingly.
These last two tips really go to the heart of why some investors not only fail, but fail miserably. Many times you can overcome the mistakes with the first few tips here by perseverance and a little luck. If you make one of the following two mistakes, they can quickly break a new investor and sour the experience for a good long time. Then again, if you follow all the previous tips, chances are you will have the team around you to guide you right past these last two tips and onto smooth investing.
– Once started, DO NOT under estimate repairs.
When you are estimating the repairs to a property for investment, unless you have an experienced contractor and trusted advisor on your team, you can miss the mark wildly. Even the best home study courses are not able to provide you with an accurate ability to estimate costs. It takes experience and time before you can accurately guesstimate repair costs. Missing the mark on estimated repairs can quickly break a bank account and take a property from profitable to money pit quickly!
– Do not purchase investment property for equity or appreciation
There is no bigger mistake an real estate investor can make today than to purchase property for its equity holding or future appreciation. Long-term investing today is centered around the ability of a property to perform with a positive monthly cash flow. In my home city for investing, Memphis, real estate investors purchase properties at extreme discounts, but over look those discounts if the property does not provide a high enough monthly cash flow. Equity and expectations of future home values are not good reasons to purchase investment property.
3 Things You Must Do to Succeed at Real Estate Investing
Here are three simple guidelines that must be followed if you plan to succeed at real estate investing. It’s not everything, of course, but at the very least, you must be willing to commit to these things if you want to become a successful real estate investor.
Shall we get stared?
Acknowledge the Basics
Real estate investing involves acquisition, holding, and sale of rights in real property with the expectation of using cash inflows for potential future cash outflows and thereby generating a favorable rate of return on that investment.
More advantageous then stock investments (which usually require more investor equity) real estate investments offer the advantage to leverage a real estate property heavily. In other words, with an investment in real estate, you can use other people’s money to magnify your rate of return and control a much larger investment than would be possible otherwise. Moreover, with rental property, you can virtually use other people’s money to pay off your loan.
But aside from leverage, real estate investing provides other benefits to investors such as yields from annual after-tax cash flows, equity buildup through appreciation of the asset, and cash flow after tax upon sale. Plus, non-monetary returns such as pride of ownership, the security that you control ownership, and portfolio diversification.
Of course, capital is required, there are risks associated with investing in real estate, and real estate investment property can be management-intensive. Nonetheless, real estate investing is a source of wealth, and that should be enough motivation for us to want to get better at it.
Understand the Elements of Return
Real estate is not purchased, held, or sold on emotion. Real estate investing is not a love affair; it’s about a return on investment. As such, prudent real estate investors always consider these four basic elements of return to determine the potential benefits of purchasing, holding on to, or selling an income property investment.
1. Cash Flow – The amount of money that comes in from rents and other income less what goes out for operating expenses and debt service (loan payment) determines a property’s cash flow. Furthermore, real estate investing is all about the investment property’s cash flow. You’re purchasing a rental property’s income stream, so be sure that the numbers you rely on later to calculate cash flow are truthful and correct.
2. Appreciation – This is the growth in value of a property over time, or future selling price minus original purchase price. The fundamental truth to understand about appreciation, however, is that real estate investors buy the income stream of investment property. It stands to reason, therefore, that the more income you can sell, the more you can expect your property to be worth. In other words, make a determination about the likelihood of an increase in income and throw it into your decision-making.
3. Loan Amortization – This means a periodic reduction of the loan over time leading to increased equity. Because lenders evaluate rental property based on income stream, when buying multifamily property, present lenders with clear and concise cash flow reports. Properties with income and expenses represented accurately to the lender increase the chances the investor will obtain a favorable financing.
4. Tax Shelter – This signifies a legal way to use real estate investment property to reduce annual or ultimate income taxes. No one-size-fits-all, though, and the prudent real estate investor should check with a tax expert to be sure what the current tax laws are for the investor in any particular year.
Do Your Homework
1. Form the correct attitude. Dispel the thought that investing in rental properties is like buying a home and develop the attitude that real estate investing is business. Look beyond curb appeal, exciting amenities, and desirable floor plans unless they contribute to the income. Focus on the numbers. “Only women are beautiful,” an investor once told me. “What are the numbers?”
2. Develop a real estate investment goal with meaningful objectives. Have a plan with stated goals that best frames your investment strategy; it’s one of the most important elements of successful investing. What do you want to achieve? By when do you want to achieve it? How much cash are you willing to invest comfortably, and what rate of return are you hoping to generate?
3. Research your market. Understanding as much as possible about the conditions of the real estate market surrounding the rental property you want to purchase is a necessary and prudent approach to real estate investing. Learn about property values, rents, and occupancy rates in your local area. You can turn to a qualified real estate professional or speak with the county tax assessor.
4. Learn the terms and returns and how to compute them. Get familiar with the nuances of real estate investing and learn the terms, formulas, and calculations. There are sites online that provide free information.
5. Consider investing in real estate investment software. Having the ability to create your own rental property analysis gives you more control about how the cash flow numbers are presented and a better understanding about a property’s profitability. There are software providers online.
6. Create a relationship with a real estate professional that knows the local real estate market and understands rental property. It won’t advance your investment objectives to spend time with an agent unless that person knows about investment property and is adequately prepared to help you correctly procure it. Work with a real estate investment specialist.
There you have it. As concise an insight into real estate investing as I could provide without boring you to death. Just take them to heart with a dash of common sense and you’ll do just fine. Here’s to your investing success.
Real Estate Investing – Books,TV Infomercials, and Seminars
Real estate investing has become popularized today because of real estate investing TV infomercials and traveling seminar circuits. But real estate investing has not always been so popular.
In the 1960s, William Nickerson wrote, “How I Turned $1000 into Three Million in Real Estate” and “How to Make a Fortune Today Starting from Scratch.” It was one of the first real estate investing books to get national attention. A little later, Al Lowry authored “How You Can Become Financially Independent by Investing in Real Estate.” Al Lowry might be called “the father of the modern-day real estate seminars,” because he was the first to hold seminars as a result of his book sales.
But it was Mark Haroldsen who carried the real estate investing book/seminar thrust to the next level. Haroldsen wrote, “How to Wake Up the Financial Genius Inside You.” If you were tuned in to real estate investing at that time, you remember the newspaper and magazine advertising showing a picture of suave and bald-headed Mark leaning against the front hood of his Mercedes. The picture appeared everywhere in full page ads of major publications. And as Mark began selling his books, he began holding real estate investing seminars. I have had lunch with Mark and Al Lowry as they swapped stories of the advertising blitzes that vaulted them into national prominence for their real estate investing prowess. Mark later wrote “The Courage To Be Rich” and “Tax Free.”
But it was Robert Allen who capitalized on the previous groundwork by Lowry and Haroldsen. Robert Allen was reportedly paid $1 million advance royalties for his best-selling book, “Nothing Down,” a compilation of 50 techniques for buying property with no money. Robert had learned these techniques from several years experience with a commercial real estate firm. He later wrote “Creating Wealth” and “Getting Started in Real Estate Investing.” The Robert Allen Real Estate Investing Seminars became a phenomenal marketing bonanza. Conventions were held in the major cities across the country, like Orlando, LA, Dallas, Chicago and Atlanta. The authors of various real estate investing techniques spoke at these seminars, but their spiel focused on selling packages of real estate investing materials that they offered for sale. Millions of dollars of real estate investing materials were sold at these 3 day conventions. The convention frenzy ushered in what has since become known as “The Nothing Down Real Estate Movement” of the early to mid-1980s.
I keep all of these books in my personal library, and you can probably still find them in your public library and book stores. There’s a lot of great information in these books that can make you very knowledgeable, even though some of the ideas are out-dated.
We are now presented a variety of ways for making money in real estate investing in TV infomercials, books and seminars. Which is best? Who can say? Real estate investing is learned through trial and error. Real estate investing skills and techniques are acquired by practice. I don’t think anyone can dogmatically recommend a technique best for another person. Every real estate investor has unique needs and is in a unique situation. Objectives of real estate investing differs.
However, if you are limited with real estate investing educational dollars and need to generate quick return on investment, I think fixing up cheap houses is an ideal beginning point. Real estate investing in makeover properties generates quick, profitable dollars with low risk.
Real Estate Investing Skill Acquisition
Real estate investing is not in any list of high school electives. You can’t get an accredited degree in real estate investing. You won’t find a high school or college guidance counselor who recommends a career in real estate investing (if the guidance counselor understood real estate investing, he or she probably wouldn’t be a guidance counselor!)
The public school system and educational curriculum in the U.S. is only a feeble attempt to prepare students to just “get a job.” Unfortunately there is no class in “Making Money 101.” You don’t have the opportunity to take a class in “How to Become Financially Independent.” No teacher ever taught a class in “How to Succeed When Everyone Else is Failing.” I never learned anything about succeeding as an entrepreneur or becoming wealthy during my 10 years in the university classroom. I only became a multi-millionaire when I learned the skills of real estate investing, and I paid the price out-of-pocket and out-of-the-classroom for that education. I learned these skills in the ole University of Hard Knocks through trial-and-error.
Never disparage the cost of education. There ain’t no free lunch. You’ve gotta get this know-how outside of a classroom, and learning how to make money is gonna cost you. But if you think the cost of education is expensive, you should calculate the cost of ignorance!
However, learning real estate investing doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Yes, I know, the real estate investing TV infomercials and the real estate investing seminars held around the country charge big bucks for those 3-day seminars and week-long Boot Camps. But that’s pocket change compared to the fees they want to collect from you later. Catch this fact: all the real estate investing infomercials and seminars target you as a candidate for “real estate investing coaching.” That’s where they charge you up to $25,000 and over $50,000 per year for “coaching.” And often you are assigned to some kid “still wet behind the ears” to call you each week or month to hold your hand and whisper in your ear what common sense and a persistent drive should already tell you! I’m not exaggerating the real estate investing educational system, because I know it inside and out. I personally know many of the so-called “gurus.” I’ve been close to it for 25 years. My opinion is that the fees charged are exorbitant because the promoters have found deep pockets in the marketplace.
When I started my real estate investing career 25 years ago, real estate investing TV infomercials were unknown and real estate investing seminars were extremely rare. Back then, Mark Haroldsen followed an emerging trend started by Al Lowry and Nick Nickerson by holding occasional real estate investing seminars across the country. Later Robert Allen expanded the industry. Robert Allen promoted real estate investing conventions in the major cities across the U.S. He found a market for costly real estate investing packages of information with cassette tapes and note books. TV infomercials, expensive seminars, and outlandish coaching fees followed in subsequent years. Would-be real estate investing aspirants today who want more than an inadequate salary from a job in Dullsville often conclude that they have to “pay through the nose” for real estate investing know-how.
However, through diligent searching, these want to-bees often find that this education in real estate investing is more readily obtained from other sources than they previously imagined.
Real estate investing is probably one of the most easily learned skills never taught in school. Real estate investing is probably one of the most prolific careers available on Planet Earth. Because families now live in houses instead of caves, houses available for fix up are everywhere. And probably nothing contributes to upgrading the deplorable housing conditions across America comparable to real estate investing in fix up properties.
The entrepreneur-minded aspirant who discovers the real estate investing industry often catches a vision of life-beyond-a-job. Books and online courses offer an alternative to expensive seminars and coaching.
Questions To Ask Before Enrolling In A Real Estate Investment Education And/Or Coaching Program
If you are like me, then you have an interest in real estate investment and want to do the right thing by educating yourself so that you can obtain your first real estate investment cheque. I have spent thousands of dollars over the years trying to find the company that would help me accomplish this goal. So what did I do? I watched various infomercials on the television with amazing testimonials of real estate investment success. I quickly found that once I registered to attend, my information was sold to various marketing companies, and I was in receipt of invitations to other investment opportunities that I didn’t even know about. Okay. Now I have sifted through all the invitations and I am on my way to a one-day seminar.
For the most part, the information delivered is tantalizing and I am hungry for more knowledge and the opportunity to start working on my first deal. I also find that the information delivered in the one-day seminar is in bits – for a beginner investor, it is not enough material to be useful. But what do I hear? I now have to register for a weekend workshop to learn more. Full of excitement and determination, I pay the $1500 to $2500 cost for the workshop and off I go. Again, the information presented is titillating and at least one of the presented methods is immediately implementable. The other participants and I followed the instructions given, but no results – we could not find a property matching the given search criteria. Therefore, the audience was not taught what the next steps would have been had we done so. Still filled with hope, I took careful notes and listened intently for the remainder of the workshop. What’s this I hear? I can have advanced training if I want, a coach to work with me one-on-one, and the almost guarantee that I would make money at that level? What’s the cost? Oh, only between $10 000 to $100 000. This is where I hit the proverbial brick wall. Where was I to find all that money, and for some of the workshops, the money had to be paid the very weekend! The long and short of the model is this; one has to spend anywhere from $1500 to about $100 000 without even doing your first real estate deal! It didn’t make sense.
Wait a minute. I now found that most of the real estate investors, who were calling themselves and each other gurus, were doing a massive on-line marketing campaign during the market’s downturn, only this time downplaying the ‘guru’ title. They were all offering one-on-one coaching. Why? No one was attending the conventions and workshops as before. The personal coaching idea sounded good. I decided to check out a few of them and tried one of them. I tell you the truth, because I was a rookie, I didn’t know what to ask for or what to expect from this coaching. As you can imagine, I did not get my money’s worth. By the way, the coaching was through e-mail and sometimes instant messaging only, at a cost of USD $1000 per month. Now, I could have allowed all these disappointments to derail my vision and cause me to be bitter. I refuse. Instead, I decided to use the experience to help others in similar situations make better decisions, spend less, and actually make money in real estate investment.
The sum of it all is this: not having the right real estate investment education will cost you money and just as truly; obtaining the right real estate investment education will cost you money. However, obtaining the right education is an investment, not a liability. What should one look for in a real estate investment coach/coaching program? What questions should be asked? Here are a few to consider:
• Before any money exchange hands, an outline should be provided to the student to ensure that both parties/sides understand what will be offered.
• Costs should be clearly defined and explained.
• Discuss funding. Will the coach/organization provide funding for your real estate deals? If not, will the coach/organization provide you with information that will allow you to access funding? What type of funding can you expect? Will it be transactional funding, hard money, private money, other?
• Discuss if there will be or is there an option to partner on deals. Will the coach/organization put up the funding for the real estate deal while the student does the ‘ground’ work? If partnership is an option, discuss and agree on the split. Will it be a fifty-fifty split?
• Discuss availability of the coach: Does the student have telephone, e-mail, and/or text access? What response time might the student expect? Does the student have to pay the fees for services like Skype or is it included in the coaching fee?
• What are all the things included in the coaching fee?
• If the coach is not available, is there a mentor or someone else that will be available?
• Is this a stand-alone coach or is there a professional team available to the student? Is there a lawyer, accountant, contractor, et cetera that are a part of the team? If the coach is a one-man-band, then this might not be a good option for you.
• Is there creative financing for property acquisition?
• What are the payment options for the coaching costs? What are the financing terms?
• How will the education be delivered? Will it be delivered through webinars, CDs, mp3’s, other? For how long does the student have access to the education?
• How current are the strategies being taught? Is there proof?
• Relative to the cost, how long is the coaching? How many hours of one-on-one coaching?
• Will the student be provided with a virtual assistant?
• What peripheral costs are entailed in the program? For example, LLC, websites, 800 numbers, et cetera. What other additional costs might the student expect to pay/cover?
• What real estate investment qualifications does the coach have? If the coach is reticent to discuss this, then that might be a cue to not sign up with that particular coach/organization. Also, if the coach has a bad attitude, then you should reconsider using him/her.
• Research the coach on-line. Look at reviews. Check out Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, LinkedIn, et cetera. Also use these sources to review his/her profile. Hint: If the coach has less than five hundred contacts in their profile, then that could be proof of inexperience.
• What is the approximate turn-around time from the time the student signs up and follows all coaching instructions, to the time the student does his/her first deal?
• How many hours per day/week is the student required to invest?
• How are deals analyzed? Does the coach personally review them? How many exit strategies does the coach utilize per deal?
• What is the coach’s real estate investment specialty: wholesaling, fix and flip, buy and hold, et cetera?
• What real estate strategy are you expected to start with? Will this complement or go against your current financial situation?
• How much money is the student expected to have on hand to do his/her first real estate deal?
• If student does not make any money in say the first three months of the coaching, what is the next step? Will the current real estate investment strategy be changed or adjusted?
• What guarantees does the coach/organization provide?
• Is there a rescission period? What is it?
• Can the student do the coaching with his/her spouse or business partner at no additional cost?
With these points to consider, you should be well on your way to making the right decision as to your real estate investment education and coaching. I am sure that as you read through the points, they caused you to think of other questions that you might ask. Good.