Not many real estate investors can say they started their career in real estate when they were in preschool. But Aaron Norris can. He began rehabbing houses with his dad before he could tie his own shoes.

“My first memory of flipping was being armed with a vacuum sucking up roaches all afternoon after the carpet was ripped up from the house,” Norris said.

And while some might consider this his first real job because it did eventually lead to his career as a real estate investor, his first paying job was a box boy at a local grocery store in California. Later, as a young adult, he waited tables in NYC. These experiences taught Norris customer service and the importance of working with people.

“I think everyone should have to be in a service career. From body language to listening, you learn a lot about yourself and to communicate effectively with people,” Norris said.

Now, as Vice President of The Norris Group, which specializes in California and Florida hard money lending, note investments, and real estate investor resources, Aaron is a national speaker and writer specializing in topics like technology and its effects on real estate. He also hosts a weekly vlog, radio show, and podcast. Norris has also been directly involved in raising more than $2 million for local charities through events like “I Survived Real Estate” and Give BIG Riverside County. But aside from all his to-dos, it’s working with people that inspires Norris to keep doing his best each day.

“I love people. There’s nothing better than getting a letter from someone who has worked with us over the past few decades telling us we’ve changed the trajectory of their family. Helping more Main Street investors succeed in financial freedom gets me pumped,” Norris said.

Clearly armed with a wealth of REI experience and a thirst for staying busy, Norris, like any successful investor, had to endure his share of trial and error. He adapted to what worked and learned he is more conservative than he might have once thought. His preferred REI niche? Buy and hold.

“Coming from a family of flippers, I thought I had to be flipping a hundred deals a year for success. I’ve been slowly acquiring and upgrading a rental portfolio over the past decade from so-so inventory in California to new construction rentals in Florida. I’ve learned I don’t like major rehabs and much prefer new homes that don’t have ticking rehab time bombs,” he said.

QA_AaronNorrisTechnology Blended with Mindfulness

In an industry as widespread and evolving as real estate investing, there are bound to be both exciting and concerning changes ahead. Norris, an avid “techy,” said he is excited about the future of construction with 3D-printed housing and prefab manufacturing especially for the affordable housing issue. But, he does worry that the real estate industry is not tech-focused enough.

“I worry that we aren’t working together collectively to do what’s best for our industry and the consumer. Being protectionist won’t help our industry, it only makes us irrelevant faster,” he said.

Norris is an avid goal-setter but, ironically, has found that limiting technology use has helped him achieve his goals. 

“As a technology guy, most are surprised I’ve gone analogue over the past year. I spend far less time on the Internet and more on my Full Focus Planner. The planner is quarterly and forces me to look at what I want to accomplish four times a year and monitor progress. Turning off notifications on my phone from apps and spending more time reading and thinking have made a huge improvement in my stress levels. It’s helped me be far more mindful.”

What works best for Norris when it comes to goalsetting and achievement is the old-fashioned write-it-down method. He finished his MBA in 2009 and adopted Tony Robbins’ approach, which he said helped him clarify different types of goals and identify potential fears and roadblocks.

“Never in my education journey from high school to MBA had I learned this method of writing goals! What if I had learned that in high school? It felt amazing and I achieved more in a decade than I thought possible,” Norris said.

Before 2019 is over, Norris plans to sit for his Florida broker’s exam and reach a number in his rental portfolio that he thought was several years down the road.

“Hitting goals early is always very rewarding,” Norris said.

Norris understands how easy it can be to get overwhelmed in this industry because of the multitude of ways to participate. He shares this advice with those looking to enter the REI space:

“I see a ton of analysis paralysis. Be very mindful of taking the skillset you have and applying it in a way that fits into your lifestyle and your personality. You’ll launch faster and easier that way. You can always grow, but it’s easier to start small and build,” he said.

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