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How Do You Find a Real Estate Investing Mentor?

by Michael Zuber on September 8, 2011 · 27 comments

  
how to find a real estate mentor - direction

First and foremost I am not talking about a “Mentor” that costs you significant money and requires you sign up for multiple mentoring sessions, buy multiple boot camps, etc.

Thankfully I can’t speak for any of these programs as I am too cheap to sign up for any of them.

Instead I chose the low cost approach to finding, reading and listening to my mentors.  I recommend you at least start at this level and then decide on your own if you are going to step up to that kind of commitment.

When I started out as a new investor I knew two things to be true.

First, I wanted real estate investing to be my long term investment platform.  I wanted it so bad I could taste it, I thought about nothing else; it was all consuming.

Second, I knew there had to be hundreds if not thousands of people that had already done what I wanted to do.

All I had to do was decide what I wanted real estate investing to mean me and then go find people that had done it before.

Finding a Niche

So like many of you I went to various book stores, went on-line, attended various free workshops and attended local investment group meetings.

This investment of time and a few hundred dollars allowed me to review all kinds of possible investment options.  I read or reviewed things on Flipping, Lease Back, Tax Liens, Mobile Homes, Commercial, Probate, etc-etc.

This time investment lead me to the decision of focusing on buying distressed properties, repairing them and holding as rentals for the long term.

The Hunt for a Mentor

Once I had my niche and I was committed to it, I had to go find my mentors.  As expected, I went online, and various search engines became my best friends.  I found more books and websites and started to really hone in on the individuals that were really doing deals instead of the glorified sales people.

Your search may lead to different results, but I found two individuals to be my initial mentors and I did everything I could to read what they had to share.

My first mentor is in my mind the original buy, repair and lease investor, William Nickerson.  Unfortunately, I never got a chance to meet the man as he passed away in 1999 at the age of 91.  The good news is he left several classic investment books.  They are all out of print now but that didn’t stop me from buying what he produced.

His timeless classic ”How I Turned $1,000 Into a Million in Real Estate — in My Spare Time” provides a tremendous blueprint on how to be successful in this business.

Another benefit of Mr. Nickerson’s contribution is the fact he started his investment career during the Great Depression.  I figured 10 years ago if he can make the model work during that time frame I certainly can make it work during my lifetime.

The second mentor I found goes by the moniker of Fixer Jay (AKA Jay P DeCima).  Fixer Jay has produced several investment classics that built on the foundation Mr Nickerson provided.  One of his books “Investing in Fixer Uppers” is the single real estate book I have read the most times cover to cover.

The real life examples, the sharing of his plan and the review of the numbers is exactly what I needed from my mentor, to know I was on the right track and that buying distressed properties, repairing them and leasing them long term was a profitable business.

Why did I chose these two as my mentors over all the others I could have chosen?

  1. They we both deemed to be leading experts in the business model that I wanted to follow.  Said differently, They had already blazed the trail and they left guide posts on how to succeed.
  2. They showed my how one could start with a full time job and then at some point cut over to full time investing.  This was important as I have a full time job I love and I was not looking to make it a full time business for many years.
  3. They seemed to be generally interested in sharing information vs. selling books.  I felt the books were complete and not some big marketing ploy to buy another book or attend another seminar.
  4. They were talking about real deals and real experiences.  I didn’t want theory I wanted to hear about real deals.
  5. I felt I could trust them.  You have to trust your mentors and I trust both of them.

It might seem odd to you that I chose my initial real estate mentors this way, but having a full time job, a busy life and starting a real estate investing portfolio didn’t provide another option.

Put simply . . .

In closing, if you are a new investor the first thing to do is decide on the real estate investment framework that will work for you. Then go out and seek experts that you can learn from without spending thousands of dollars.

You are already one step ahead of me when I started as you found BiggerPockets that is full of experienced professionals.

My final comment is actually a question.

Who are your real estate mentors?  I would love to hear from each of you as you can never have to many mentors.

Good Investing

Photo: Michael Cory

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom September 9, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I’m going to check out Nickerson’s book. Thx!

Reply

Mike Z September 9, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Tom,

Well worth read and investment.

Good investing

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Drew September 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Great point. Having a network of professionals doesn’t hurt either. That’s the aim at REIA of Oakland in Southeast Michigan to bring real estate investors together and provide networking and mentoring opportunities for local investors. Great article as always Mike.

Drew

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darwish alkuteifani September 11, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Liked your tips as Im in that process right now. Thanks Michael

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Mike Z September 11, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Darwish,

You are welcome.

Good Investing

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Rolanda September 11, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Jay P. DeCima, Investing in Fixer Uppers, is a great read!

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Arthur Garcia September 12, 2011 at 9:38 am

Hey Mike,

I’m a big fan of the books you’ve mentioned above, I also like stuff by John Schuab and for non-real estate type motivation – Roberty Kiyosaki and Brian Tracy. They have really helped keep my mind in the game.

As far as mentors I personally know – I talk to this guy from the bay area from time to time. He seems to know what he’s talking about and has the same business model I do – ha!!

Thanks again for the wealth of knowlegdge!

AG

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Mike Z September 12, 2011 at 6:32 pm

AG

Keep up the good work!!!!

Good Investing

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Melinda Allen September 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Hi Mike!
I enjoyed your article, I have read a Fixer Jay’s book that you mention and I am really finding it helpful. John Schuab has great read too. But for me, the most important thing I have found is a local investor I can split deals with. He is teaching me step-by-step how to find buyers, leads, how to wholesale (which is a great beginners step to rehabbing), he has his own contracts that I can use, his own closing company, can help me work the numbers, shows me how to make offers, and negotiate, close the deal, and flip it. I have read in books how to do all of this stuff, but it is really useful to have someone to turn to to ask questions, get immediate answers AND know the area you are working in, the agents you are working with, the ins and outs of contracts, etc.
So while reading books and articles such as these found on BP, local investors willing to share (for a fee or partnership) is priceless to me!

Thanks for the great read!
Melinda

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Mike Z September 12, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Melinda

Getting connected to a local investor is a great idea.

Good Investing

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REI September 12, 2011 at 7:35 pm

A local mentor is ideal, always a great option.

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Nakeya Womack September 14, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Mike,

I am an beginner investor, if that. I am looking for a mentor , a local investor, but I can not seem to find any. I have read books, bought CD’s, and picked apart the internet looking for this indivudal. I am consumed by wanting to be a Real Estate Investor. My niche for starting out will be Wholesale. Any advise on where to look?

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Mike Z September 14, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Nakeya,

Couple of thoughts. My first goal would be to find other investors in my market as well as other agents. Looking for a local Real Estate Club is never a bad idea. Lastly I would post on this site the location of your market and see if you can find other investors with history or experience with it.

Lastly this business is simple but NOT easy so keep working at it and things will get easier

Good Investing

Reply

Melinda Allen September 15, 2011 at 8:11 am

LOL! Persistance is the key! I am finding that out. If you want something badly enough you find a way to make it work.

I have been attending several REIA meetings in my area, networking is the backbone of this business, that is how I found my mentor. I found a couple of meetings by searching on Meetup.com.

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Bruce May September 15, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Great article. Over the years I have bounced around with different teachers. Lately I have been focusing in on one guy, Mike Cantu. I believe his portfolio consists of 30 free and clear properties and each one has a job to do. Let me explain. If Mike wants to go on an annual vacation, then he designates a house to be the Vacation House. He has one for Utilities, he has one for everything and best of all he has the lifestyle that appeals to me. Mike is in San Bernardino County, California and has put out two courses that are great. The one I like best is Don’t Get Voted of Real Estate Island.

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Melinda Allen September 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Bruce,
What an interesting idea that Mike has. Are the courses you speak of books that can be found on sites like Amazon?

Thanks!
Melinda

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Mike Z September 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I don’t believe Mr Cantu has authored a book yet, because if he did I should own it already. But I could be wrong.

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Arthur Garcia September 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Melinda,

here is a link to his site (this isn’t spam) you can purchase his materials there:

http://www.mikecantu.com/?page_id=110

I hope this helps!

Arthur

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Bruce May September 16, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Mike Z. I think you’re right, he hasn’t authored a book, that I know of, but he should it would be a good one. Arthur, thanks for posting the link for Mike’s stuff.

Mike Z September 16, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Hi Bruce,

Following Mike Cantu as a Mentor is a GREAT IDEA!!! I have heard him speak a couple of times and I love his style, his plan and his willingness to share

Good Investing

Reply

Melinda September 16, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Too cool! Thanks Arthur, I’ll check it out.

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Jason Homes November 20, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Great article! Finding an excellent mentor wouldn’t be as hard as you imagined, as long as you know what kind of real estate investment you’ll focus in.

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Mike Z December 18, 2011 at 10:40 am

Jason
I agree you need to know what type of investor you are or want to be before you seek a mentor. Very valid point

Good Investing

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Michael Oster December 13, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Hi Michael,

I came across your website (wealthbuildingpro.com) this morning and was immediately captivated. Since then I’ve been poring over every bit of information you’ve put on the internet. From the moment I read the “Our Strategy” section of your website I knew that we had similar real estate and investment philosophies (it’s just that you’ve got a ten year head start on me :) ).

Thank you for all the wonderful information that you’re providing. You mention that you appreciate Nickerson and DeCima because “they seemed to be generally interested in sharing information vs. selling books”, and I see the same philanthropy in your own content. I can tell that you’re doing this for honorable reasons and are legitimately looking to give back, and I truly appreciate it.

After reading this article I felt compelled to tell you that YOU are my real estate investing mentor. Honestly. Thanks again, and good investing to you as well.

Best,
Mike

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Mike Z December 18, 2011 at 10:41 am

Mike

All I can say is Wow, such an honor.

I’ll do what I can and I will keep sharing our story as we grow and learn

Good investing

Reply

Richard November 9, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I need a mentor, I’m more than willing to change my life through real estate for my family,community,and my future. Assignments and flipping hold my interest. I’m quite sure buy fix and hold or flip would be excellent…if I knew how. I don’t have money now, but if I could learn how to get property without money..I will do it…please help…thanks in advance

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Joshua Dorkin November 9, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Richard – What do you need help with? Did you read the post? There’s lots of great advice regarding finding a mentor. Do a search here on the blog for “mentor” and you’ll find many great additional articles on the topic. If you peruse our forums, you’ll find a ton of great advice on the subject as well. Good luck.

Reply

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