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Look for Low Hanging Fruit in Real Estate

by Marty Boardman on March 1, 2012 · 11 comments

low hanging fruit in real estate investing

I wonder about a lot of things.

For example, if it’s illegal to drink and drive then why do bars have parking lots?

How does every grocery store in town know to charge $2.39 for a gallon of milk and then subsequently put it on sale for $1.59 at the same time?

Why is it it’s the beginning of March and my neighbor still hasn’t taken down his Christmas lights?

Do the Girl Scouts put addictive drugs into their thin mint cookies?  Because I can’t stop until I’ve eaten the entire box.

Then there’s the coffee I drink.  I pay $1.75 for a medium cup from the little coffee shop three-doors down from my office.  It’s delicious.  I often wonder how much of this java they need to sell to cover the rent, maintain the equipment, pay the employees and buy the product.  How many $1.75 cups of coffee to break even?  How many to get a 10-12% return on investment?

So I sat down with my calculator and figured it out.

In order for this coffee shop to earn $100,000 in annual revenue they need to sell 57,143 cups of $1.75 coffee.  That’s 156 cups a day and about 20 an hour.  Last time I checked there aren’t many coffee houses not named Starbucks that can sell that much product each year.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m grateful for my morning coffee.   But this isn’t the business model for me.  The profit margins are just too thin.  I learned from a successful internet entrepreneur a long time ago that in business always “look for the lowest hanging fruit.”

What does that mean?

Find a desirable product that can be created efficiently with low overhead and sold for maximum profit to a large consumer base.

This is why I love to fix and flip houses.  In order for me to earn $100,000 in annual revenue I need to sell 6-10 single-family homes a year.  I can do this with little overhead.  I don’t need an office, a secretary or a sales staff.  The people on my team (contractors, Realtors, title companies, attorneys) get paid on a per deal basis.  Finding good deals has become a little more difficult lately but they are still out there.

Sure, the business has its risks.  I could over value the retail price of a house, under improve it or over improve it.  The end result is I lose money.

Still, that’s not nearly as scary to me as having to sell 57,143 of something to make ends meet.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin Polite March 1, 2012 at 7:36 am

I love coffee myself and frequent the many local coffee shops in my neighborhood and often wondered how they heck they all stay open. I guess it’s from the folks buying the frappacino mocha latte whatever for $4. Great article.


Marty Boardman March 1, 2012 at 8:37 am

Kevin, I weaned myself off $4 lattes when the real estate market went into the tank in 2007. Thanks for reading.


Karen Rittenhouse March 1, 2012 at 8:01 am

Sounds like a $100,000 per year job.

Do you ever buy and hold? Do you do any investing? Do you have a portfolio?

Great article and great comparison!


Marty Boardman March 1, 2012 at 8:44 am

Karen, we all need a job to generate enough revenue to buy long-term investments. Some people sell coffee, others real estate.

To steal a concept from Robert Kiyosaki, I’m still operating on the self-employed side of the quadrant, diligently working towards becoming a business/owner investor.

I don’t own any rentals, however I do have several owner carry back deals that net me about $1,200 a month in positive cash flow.

And for the record, fixing and flipping IS investing.


Johnson Hong March 1, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Marty, keep doing what you’re doing. I enjoy reading your articles, new blog, and just watched your interview of the AZBidder guy on Youtube! I own a few rentals in the Phoenix area and hope to flip something someday. Reading and watching you brings me hope! Looking forward to hearing you speak at the summit!


Marty Boardman March 3, 2012 at 2:42 pm

I look forward to meeting you too Johnson. I appreciate you reading my stuff. I wish my neighbor did too. I just looked outside and his Christmas lights are still up.


Jillian Cariola March 2, 2012 at 2:13 am

Great article. It just goes to show that you shouldn’t look at run-down properties as losses; the all have the potential to bring in money if you know how to flip them. By the way, I do love those warm little coffee shops, and if your calculations are correct, then I hope that they sell enough coffee to cover their expenses and stay open!


Marty Boardman March 3, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I’ve been to this coffee shop 3 days this week now. They only have 51,140 more cups to sell to break the 100K mark.


Stan March 5, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Where do you buy milk?
It’s $3.99/gal where I live!


Vanessa March 5, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Good stuff! Coffee + real estate! Sometimes it’s encouraging to see what the other guys are doing. Love the idea of owner carry vs. renting. Seems like less expense and higher nets. Thanks for the post, Marty!


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