Start with What You Have: Beginning to Invest in Real Estate
Insight Weekend Investor

Start with What You Have: Beginning to Invest in Real Estate

Get Off the Sidelines

Are you one of those would-be investors sitting on the sidelines because you think you may not necessarily be qualified enough, you may not necessarily know enough and you may not necessarily be strong enough financially to invest in real estate right now?

I was there once. Let me tell you how I got myself off the sidelines and into the game and how you can do that, too.  

Here I am now, more than 10 years later, a full-time investor who started out investing part-time while I still had a different, full-time career. I’ll admit, I never really thought I would be where I am today. I had all the same apprehensions and worries as those who are on the sidelines today. I saw all the same obstacles. I had all the same hesitancies about starting out in real estate investing and being unsure whether to start part-time or to dive all-in and invest full-time.  

I think the hesitancies, obstacles, worries and concerns are probably pretty similar to what many of you may be feeling. So I will share what I experienced as I made the leap and started investing part-time more than a decade ago.

At that time—and for several years prior, I think–I was concerned that, “Gosh, I don’t have the time, the money or the knowledge to start part-time real estate investing while managing and working in my full-time career.” I probably also thought, “Golly, there are so many unknowns when it comes to real estate investing! How am I ever going to learn? How am I ever going to get enough confidence or competency to be a successful real estate investor and protect myself from catastrophe?” Finally, I was also very hesitant, whether I realized it or not, for fear that I didn’t have the momentum or couldn’t find the motivation to get started.

The first step is always the hardest

It’s kind of like taking that first step on your morning jog. That is always the most difficult step. Steps tend to get easier once you get going, get your heart rate up and get into a rhythm with your movements and breathing. But it is that first step that is the hardest, and it may even be that step that it takes just to get you out of bed at that hour to get ready for that jog.

Without momentum, real estate investing seemed like a huge mountain to climb, and I questioned whether I had the energy to do that. What I have found, through my experience, is that all of these obstacles that I thought were holding me back were actually all the opportunities that would ultimately push me forward as a real estate investor.  

Here is what I mean by that. Let’s talk a little bit about a common hesitancy or apprehension that, “Hey, I am a busy full-time employee. Though I am enamored by real estate investing, and I can appreciate the value of it and think it is a valid business opportunity for me, I don’t have the time, money or the knowledge to move forward with part-time real estate investing.”

The resources are waiting for you

I am here to tell you that your resources are not as limited as you think. And by resources, I mean time, money and knowledge. I encourage you to embrace the mindset that you need to go forward and spend what you have of each of these resources because you will be shocked how easy it is to acquire more.

For example, I was hesitant about the time I had available to become a part-time or weekend real estate investor. It wasn’t until I bought my first rental property that I realized I actually did have the time. In fact, that time had always been there.

My experience of buying that first property—on my lunch hour—didn’t detract from my career or my work, and I was able then to rehab that property during the evenings and on the weekends in order to get it ready to rent. So I found the time that I needed. And as I moved on to my second and third properties, I was more confident that I knew what I was doing—and I was getting better at it.  As I became more proficient, productive and knowledgeable, time became less of an issue. It is a well-known fact that as you get better at doing something, typically it will take less time to accomplish that task. I found that to be very true in my real estate investing.  

It was the same with my concern about money. The typical hesitation is, “I don’t have the money to become a real estate investor.” But you may be surprised to find that once you make that first investment and you begin to understand the financials better and begin to build relationships with lenders—whether they are private lenders, institutional lenders or family, friends or whatever—then it becomes easier to acquire even more money. And as you are able to invest further, you begin to prove yourself as you gain experience and even profit from your investments, and you will start to accumulate incremental capital dollars that you can use to move forward.

Learn as you go

Now, let’s discuss your fear that you aren’t knowledgeable enough. Obviously, once you get started, and the more you do, you learn a tremendous amount. I will repeat again what another real estate investor once said: Go as far as you can go, and when you get there, you will be able to see further.

I cannot stress enough how much that summarizes my experience as a real estate investor. Yes, real estate can be very complex. It can be very daunting due to all the intricacies, the legalities, the financial aspects, etc. But I cannot overemphasize how, as I just started with what I knew and progressed forward in my investing and acquired more properties—whether they were rental properties, wholesale properties or fix-and-flip properties—I was learning as I went and my knowledge continued to accumulate.  

You will never know everything. So you just need to get started with what you do know, and learn as you go.  

In my experience, action created attraction. Meaning, as I took action and became a part-time and weekend real estate investor, that action started to attract all sorts of new resources, information, solutions and partners and providers. Before I got started, I didn’t even know I had access to those resources.

Once I started and got involved, I began to find places to buy houses that I never knew were resources. I began to find solutions to problems that I never thought I would be able to figure out. I found business partners, and I found different vendor service providers. Once I got started, bought that first property and submerged myself into real estate investing, it all started to come together.  

How I found my property maintenance provider

For example, let me share how I found my maintenance provider, over 10 years ago. Property maintenance is probably one of the greatest nightmares, hesitancies or obstacles for new investors. “Gosh, once I get that rental property, what am I going to do when they call on a Sunday evening and the water heater has burst? Or there is a plumbing leak, or an electrical problem, or there is no air conditioning and it’s a 95-degree summer day here in Dallas?” That is a great hesitancy for a lot of investors.

I found my maintenance provider when I purchased my second rental property. He lived two doors down from that property. He just happened to have his truck parked in front of his house one evening when I was at my new rental property. We met on the sidewalk. I asked him about what he did, and I told him what I was doing. Lo and behold, here we are—more than 10 years later—and that same individual is overseeing my entire portfolio of rental properties as my key maintenance provider. I would have never met him if I hadn’t taken action, started investing and put myself in that position.  He has literally solved one of the greatest obstacles that I thought I had as a real estate investor and that was the proper timely and affordable maintenance of my rental portfolio.

Focus on making money twice

Finally, let’s talk about the lack of momentum and how to get over that hump and take that first step. What I recommend to you as a new, upcoming or want-to-be part-time investor is to focus on the concept of making money twice. What I mean by that is, get that first investment under your belt. Whether it is a rental, wholesale property or a complete rehab or fix-and-flip—do that first investment.

It may go great, and that is going to propel you to want to do it again. That would be wonderful, and I hope that is how it goes for you. But be prepared that it may not go great. The key, though, is that even a less-than-spectacular experience has got to propel you to go do it again with that second investment property. In either scenario, take the lessons, the relationships you have built, the knowledge you have accumulated and, hopefully the profits you have acquired, and go forward to that second investment property and make money twice.

I assure you, once you move on to that second investment property—whether you have done well with that first one and you do even better with the second, or you did poorly on that first one and do better on the second—once you make money twice, you will get that momentum you are looking for.

That first property may be very daunting, and you step back and quit after just one because it went so well. You will find yourself celebrating that success for a long time. You may never move on to the second one. Or the first one may go so badly that you never let go of that defeat, and you never move on to the second one.

But you have to move onto the second one. You will be shocked at the momentum you will have, the knowledge you will acquire, the experience and the confidence you will have that are going to propel you to take even the third step, the fourth step, the fifth step forward to build your real estate investing business.

It took me nine months to buy my second rental property. I paid the exact same amount to buy that one as I did my first rental property, except the second was a three-bedroom versus a two-bedroom. So I was able to find out how to get an even better deal the second time, which propelled me even further. Here I am, more than 10 years later, still buying properties to this day.  

So instead of coming up with reasons why you can’t start, start to think of reasons why you can’t not start. Don’t delay. Think of all the benefits, cash flow, tax advantages, equity buildups, profit and appreciation. All of that is out there for you to capture today. And every day that you delay, you forego the benefits of real estate investing.

Start with what you have. You will be amazed at the resources you will acquire and what you are able to do after you start.

Listen to Kevin’s podcast here: