Updated: Apr 14
I was a teenager when I started my first entrepreneurial endeavor, creating a business of duplicating and selling training CDs from my mom's business. Sure, that might have been called piracy...but who's going to hold that "law" thing against a cute kid delivering a service while trying to make a buck ($2.50 if we're being particular)??
Nearly 20 years later, it was time to step up. I graduated from Iowa State University on an Army ROTC scholarship, spent 6 years as on active duty as an Infantry Officer (RLTW!), and was about 6 months into my new life in Charlotte, NC that included my first job outside of the Army in consulting. I moved to Charlotte knowing that I wanted to get into real estate, giving myself a little time to get a lay of the land and figure out where to invest.
THE [PERFECT] PLAN
Truth be told, I made the mistake that so many new investors make - I overthought everything. I was going to spend months planning my next steps, years even. By the time I had the perfect plan, would I even want to get started? Why do you think so many people never make it past the planning phase?
Here was the plan that started in May 2018:
1. Spend a year renting while I learned the neighborhoods around Charlotte
2. Buy my first house (in the perfect neighborhood) with $0 down thanks to the VA loan at the same time my apartment lease ended
3. Spend the next year learning even more and develop a network to help me invest
4. After a year, leapfrog into another VA or FHA home and rent out the first
5. Eventually, once I was comfortable, start buying rental properties
By that timeline, I should have my first rental in May 2020. It's September 2019 and I just closed on my first fourplex, with 6 additional units closing in a few days. Boy am I glad I didn't stick to that plan!!
ACTION TRUMPS PLANNING
In late 2018 (October to be specific) something changed. I got locked in. I started working on me. I began soaking up books, podcast, and education like I never had before (here are some of the most meaningful). November 8 was my 30th birthday, and I was becoming focused. At that point, my plan still sounded good enough because I hadn't taken the first step...so I had to change that.
On March 4, 2019 I closed on my first home, and thanks to a combination of the $0 down VA loan and my agent negotiating for seller credits, I paid a whopping $560 out of pocket. I continued learning, using platforms like the Bigger Pockets, attending real estate meetups, and starting a local GroupMe chat with investors in the area (there's more info about the chat and meetups on the Networking page, or you can reach out with questions!).
My plan that I loosely adhered to changed on June 6. After speaking to a couple who owned a few rental properties, something about that conversation sparked a changed once again and suddenly everything took off. Less than a month later I was under contract for my first investment property, a fourplex, and 3 weeks after that I was under contract for another property, 3 duplexes, with a partner (more details to come on the project page). In a month and a half from when I had that conversation, I had 10 units under contract.
That certainly wasn't part of the plan.
BUT REAL ESTATE IS DIFFICULT AND COMPLICATED!!!
I'm here to tell you it's really not. It seems that way because there are a couple extra dollars involved, but don't let that fool you. This entire website, and this blog in particular, is meant to show you that it's really not that hard. My goal is to connect you with resources, share my stories and lessons learned, and simplify each of the seemingly daunting steps along the way.
Less than a year ago my friend and real estate agent was blowing my mind explaining due diligence and earnest money to me over coffee (if you don't know what that means, stick around. I'll help explain it soon!). Fast forward 10 months and I'm about to close on my 10th unit. I promise you it's not that difficult, you just need to take action.
There are plenty of tactical and detailed steps to follow, but as a starting point I have a couple recommendations:
1. Identify your long term goals-what do you want to accomplish from your investing?
2. Figure out what you want-ya, it's the same as #1. It's that important
3. Set your goals-no, I'm not joking. Nothing else matters until you know what you're trying to achieve
How often do you get in your car and start driving without having an idea where you're going? Unless you're doing it for fun (both driving and investing), it's stupid to start without having a goal.
That doesn't mean your goal today is permanent. Remember my goal and plans through 2020? Totally changed. But if it weren't for the initial goals, I'd never be where I am today. Spend some time seriously thinking about what you want. Be specific about it, don't sell yourself short, and keep it in front of you.
Once you have that goal in mind, or if you need help setting it, start getting your mind right. Connect with like-minded people; read powerful and impactful books; engage in active and meaningful discussions. I've shared examples of some of these elsewhere on the site for you to use for your benefit. Leverage all of the resources at your disposal, but don't forget to set a goal!
WRAPPING UP - LET'S GET REAL
I'm here to not only tell you that it isn't that hard, but also to show you. In subsequent posts I plan to dive deep into various steps in the real estate investing process...things like how to find a good deal, how to make a solid offer, and what to do once you're under contract. As these thoughts and steps are compiled and posted, I have an ask of all of you:
Tell me what you want to see.
Do you want more detail on a certain step, activity, or strategy? Do you want a certain topic covered? Does my writing style put you to sleep? What can I do to add more value?
I'm going to be extremely honest and up front with you about all of this, both now and as I continue to add content. I've never blogged before, I've never really been active on social media outside of LinkedIn, and I'm still figuring all of this out. What I do know is that over the past 10 months I've learned more than I can describe from more people than I can count I want to pass that along to you (all 3 of you reading at this point).
I'm not writing any of this for my health or because I really love staring at my laptop. I'm doing it because I'm extremely excited about what I'm doing, and I want to help other people do the same. So if I can be more effective in doing that, please tell me!
I look forward to continue sharing my journey with you and helping you achieve your aspirations. Now start identifying and working towards your goals!