Real estate investing—done right—can change your life. It did for Tamara and Jesse Tijerina. Little more than a year ago, they were going about life like many growing, young families do. Jesse had a steady job that he loved and that brought in a good income. Tamara had decided to be a stay-at-home mom after the birth of their fourth child. Their home was comfortable, but starting to tug at the seams. They longed to be able to afford something bigger.
Today, they can, many times over, because of real estate investing.
“Our life has completely changed,” Tamara said. “There was nothing wrong with our life before, but we didn’t have any financial freedom.” Now the San Antonio couple can set their own work schedules to research the best properties to flip, then acquire, rehab and sell them at a very tidy profit. Just as important to them, they also have the flexibility to set their away-from-work schedules.
“We can come and go as we please, and we don’t have to answer to anybody, and we want to keep it that way,” Tamara said. “We can go bowling in the afternoon. We can go out for lunch. We take time to go see our kids at school. Or take a vacation. We can do whatever we want, on our own timetable—not somebody else’s.”
They also have that bigger, almost-new house in an appreciating area. It’s actually one of the properties acquired in the deals they’ve successfully done over the last year.
No Overnight Success
Of course, this didn’t happen by magic. As anyone who’s being honest about real estate investing will tell you, it’s not necessarily so difficult, but it does take commitment. And a never-give-up attitude.
First, however, it requires knowledge and the tools to get started. And just as important, it requires that those tools and resources continue, because there’s always something new to learn—and share.
That’s the premise of Think Realty, a central place for networking, education, legal advocacy, current and archived information and how-tos, member-only discounts and access to a global network of service providers, among other benefits.
Such a resource didn’t exist when Tamara and Jesse Tijerina began their real estate investing career in earnest in February 2015. Instead, they found a mentor in Victor Maas, a well-known and successful real estate investor and attorney in San Antonio. They credit Maas’ teaching them the fundamentals of acquiring and flipping distressed properties—and his showing them how to turn a profitable deal and then providing ongoing support—with their own success. As of the beginning of 2016, they had done six deals.
“For somebody just starting out, that’s awesome,” Tamara said.
Everybody Needs A Helping Hand
Maas himself gained much of his success by learning from the advice of others who had invested before him.
His first deal—netting him $13,500 in profit on an out-of-pocket ante of about $2,000—“kind of fell” into his lap, Maas said. “And I thought, ‘Boy, oh boy, this is easy. I’m going to always do this.’”
But then—nothing. “I don’t think I did another deal for six months,” Maas said. “I didn’t know where to find the deals.” Until he found someone who agreed to teach him.
“I learned so many things from doing that first deal with my mentor,” Maas said. “I learned how to hire the contractors. I learned how to find the sellers. I learned how to ‘paper up’ the deal, and I made decent money on that deal.”
Now Maas is returning the favor through teaching others—and, he said, “Every time I do a deal, I am learning something new, something to keep building my skill set.”
For a fee, Maas provides an intensive, three-day, hands-on, individual class to teach how to find and successfully flip distressed properties. That is followed up with six months of coaching and guidance through every transaction. The fee can be recouped—as it was by the Tijerinas—when the students partner with Maas on a number of future deals for owner-financing or wholesaling. “We all make money by doing the transactions,” he said.
When an investor has the basics and access to knowledgeable peers who will help, all it takes is his or her own hard work and commitment to succeed, Maas said.
Sharing the Wealth
“There are more leads and deals out there than I could ever handle, or that even a hundred people could ever handle, just in my (geographic) area,” Maas said. “So I believe in the philosophy of abundance—I am happy to share the information.”
That is also what the Think Realty portal is all about—it is designed to be a place where members can access everything they need to be successful as residential real estate investors, with new content and benefits being added continually.
“Everybody needs somebody to help them—especially somebody like us,” Tamara said. “Jesse and I knew zero before we started, and we’re still learning. Anyone who goes out there and does real estate investing on their own is going to make mistakes, and it’s probably going to cost them money. They find out the hard way. So if you have a network of people and resources like Think Realty to guide you through the process and continue to help you, that is so valuable.”
The Essential Ingredient
As Tamara Tijerina and Maas both acknowledge, the essential ingredient to making the real estate investing formula work, regardless of which strategy you employ or how much knowledge you amass, is perseverance—yours.
“If you apply yourself, anybody can do this,” Maas said. “Is there a 100 percent guarantee this will work? No. And I will tell you why: The biggest factor is that people just won’t get off their butts and do it.”
Tamara and Jesse have been successful in the strategy Maas teaches—aiding distressed homeowners by acquiring and flipping their homes that are in foreclosure or pre-foreclosure—because they dived in head-first and applied what they learned. The success of their deals so far is motivation to continue.
“The reality is that it is work,” Tamara acknowledged. “It really does take effort to find these foreclosures. And you have to continue to dig, go on websites and anywhere else you can think of, to try to find the owners.” Then comes the task of selling them on the idea of signing over their deeds, which can help them avoid getting a long-lasting black mark on their credit report from foreclosure.
“Some people have a lot of pride or it’s hard for them to handle the idea of losing their home,” Tamara said. “You want them to know they can trust you. You treat them as you would treat your own family in that situation.”
Tamara and Jesse like that aspect of their investing. “It honestly does feel good to be able to help somebody in that way.” The homeowners are able to get out from under payments they can’t afford, and the smart investor who has crunched the numbers carefully is able to make a profit after rehabbing and selling the property.
Whatever strategy an investor pursues, Tamara said, “my biggest piece of advice is: Don’t quit. It (success) may not happen for other people exactly the way it happened for us, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. But you have to keep trying.”
Also, she said, it is both reassuring and motivating to have references, resources and real help at hand—like Think Realty provides. That is the key to real estate investing fulfilling the promise of enriching its practitioners with time, wealth and purpose.