24 Quick Actions You Can Do Right Now To Become A Better Real Estate Investor!

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Okay, maybe I’m a thief.

Or maybe just unoriginal.

Either way, I have to admit that I cannot take credit for the idea behind this post.  This post concept was used in similar fashion by Adam Baker of Man Vs. Debt as a way to motivate people to take better control of their personal finances. In his post, Baker offers twenty-four quick actions that a person can do immediately to change their financial future.  After reading his post, I thought to myself, “What are some ways I could improve my skills as a real estate investor right now?”

Often times, I look at the “big picture” so much I forget to focus on small things that I could do to transform the way I run my business. I sometimes drop the small things, but in reality it is those small things that the business of real estate investing is made up of. This list, as most of my posts are, was written for myself – but I hope it will challenge you as well.

Without further ado, here are twenty-four quick actions you can do right now to become a better real estate investor:

1.) Read one chapter in your favorite real estate book.

Besides the obvious information books give concerning real estate investing, perhaps the most significant benefit they serve is the motivation they provide. Take a half hour and sit down and re-read a chapter of your favorite real estate book. If you don’t have any real estate books, I can almost guarantee that your library has a wide variety. If you need suggestions for great books, send me a message here on BiggerPockets or check the forums.

2.) Place a “We Buy Houses” ad on Craigslist or the newspaper.

Of the many different roles you play as a real estate investor (maintenance, strategist, etc), your biggest role is that of a “problem solver.” Placing a simple ad on Craigslist enables you to find those with problems and gives you the opportunity to solve them. If you can make money while doing it – great! If not, you’ll still gain valuable problem-solving skills that will develop you into a better investor.

3.) Call a local real estate investor and ask him/her out to coffee.

It won’t cost you much more than a cup of coffee, but the knowledge you can gain from speaking with someone who is more experienced than you can do wonders for your business. Most real estate investors love to talk about their deals and their strategies – especially with those eager to learn. If you don’t know any local investors, ask several real estate agents who the biggest investors in town are and ask for an invitation.

4.) Call your credit card company and negotiate a lower interest rate.

Negotiation is one of the most important skills you can develop in life and practicing with the credit card companies is a great way to build your negotiating confidence. Simply call the number on the back of the card and point-blank ask them if they can lower your rate. Perhaps cite other cards or offers you have. If they say no, hang up and try back again with another representative. You can also try asking to speak to a manger, who are much more likely to negotiate your rate.  Not only will you improve your confidence and negotiating skills – you might save a bundle of money as well.

5.) Write down your five-year goal and plan for achieving it.

Studies have shown that those who write down their goals have a much higher probability of achieving success. Where do you want to be in five years? Once you write that goal, put it somewhere prominent that you can easily refer back to. Some people even go as far as to frame their goal and hang it on the wall!

6.) Teach a family member something about real estate investing.

While you only remember a small portion of what you hear or see, you will remember significantly more of what you teach others. Spend a few minutes learning something new (or clarifying something you are unsure about) and teach it to someone new. For example, if you are unsure of how a cap rate is related to the net operating income (or even what net-operating-income means), spend a few minutes researching it and teach it to your spouse, kids, parents, or the homeless man downtown.

7.) Take a walk around your neighborhood.

You would be surprised at how much you can learn simply by walking around on a nice evening. Often you will notice subtle changes that go undetected when driving by that can help improve your knowledge of your neighborhood. Look for homes that appear vacant and try to find out the story behind it. Long grass and broken windows are questions that can usually be easily answered and often lead to a deal.

8.) Send a thank-you card to one of your long term tenants.

Everyone loves a nice thank you card, but seldom do we think of thanking our tenants. However, a good tenant is often a rare commodity and a card is an excellent way to strengthen your relationships with your tenant. Sending an out-of-the-blue thank you card to a long-time tenant can help a tenant feel cared for and soften your image as just the “greedy landlord.”

9.) Place a Facebook Ad or Google Ad for your business.

As I spoke about in my first BiggerPockets blog post, using ads online might be an excellent tool to attract motivated sellers, find leads for buyers, or even attract tenants to a vacant unit. Placing an ad only takes a few minutes of time and is as inexpensive as you choose it to be.

10.) Watch an episode of any home buying show on HGTV.

Unless you have a designer on your team, it’s good to stay up-to-date on the design trends that homeowners are looking for. Watching shows on HGTV can be an excellent way to see what is popular right now for homebuyers. If you are still putting up brown paneling and flowered wallpaper in all your rentals or flips, you may need to spend some extra time in front of that TV.

11.) Decide On Your Next Actionable Step.

I spoke briefly about this last week in my article “Hate Your Job? How To Transition to Full Time Real Estate Investing.” It is easy to get lost in the “big picture” of your investments – and as a result do nothing. Instead, take a step-back and decide just what the very next actionable step you can take to move closer to your goal is. Perhaps your next step is to pick up the phone and make a call, or perhaps it’s going to the hardware store to buy those nails you need before putting up that final piece of trim. You will probably be surprised at how small that next actionable step really is and how much more productive you will be by continually knowing what that next step is. For more information on this, see David Allen’s excellent book “Getting Things Done.”

12.) Ask one question in the BiggerPockets forum.

One of the most groundbreaking revolutions to take place over the past twenty years is the development of the online forum. It’s a place where people from across the world can meet, exchange ideas, answer questions, and grow together. BiggerPockets has a fabulous forum area filled with tens of thousands of topics. Is there a question you are struggling with right now? Try asking it in the forums!

13.) Answer one question in the BiggerPockets forum.

You may not feel like an expert, but in your experiences you probably have learned the answer to a question that others might be wondering. Spend a few minutes on the BiggerPockets forum and find a way to help contribute. Not only will you help others, but you will increase you confidence in what you know.

14.) Order business cards.

Although business cards might be a little “old school,” they are still one of the best ways to network and stay in contact with others. There is really no good reason not to have good, quality business cards, as you can get them for next-to-nothing online or at a paper supply company.

15.) Call and get several new quotes on your insurance.

Have you recently reviewed the prices you are paying for insurance on your rentals or your own home? You might be surprised to learn you could save hundreds or thousands of dollars by switching to a different carrier. However, remember that price isn’t everything and make sure you are comparing apples-to-apples before dumping a good policy for a cheap one.

16.) Review your business bank statement from last month.

In the world of automated banking, its easy to miss small (or large) charges to your bank account or credit card. Take a few minutes to review your recent statements and make sure you aren’t being charged for anything that you don’t need or want.

17.) Check your credit report.

Even if you aren’t planning on using credit anytime soon, it is important that you review your credit report often and ensure there is no fraud or misinformation on your report. In the USA, you can review your credit report for free each year from each of the three credit reporting agencies. While you don’t get your “score,” you can still see everything on your credit report to scan for errors. To get your free report, go to annualcreditreport.com.

18.) Ask yourself “what’s working” and “what’s not?”

A friend once asked me, “Brandon – what’s working in your business?” It was this conversation that changed the direction I was heading. I realized that, while flipping was fun, my rentals were what truly was working in my life. It is important to know what is working so you can do more of those activities. It is also important to know what isn’t working so you can be more proactive on fixing those things.

19.) Fix that one small maintenance thing in your home that has been bothering you.

Admit it – there is one thing in your home that is super easy to fix but you have been putting it off forever. In my house, I installed new flooring in my bathroom but never caulked around the bottom of the toilet when I put it back. I have had the caulk sitting by the toilet for the past six months, but I have not yet done it. This might not make you a better investor, but it will take one item of stress out of your life and out of your head. I’ll be right back – I’m going to go caulk my toilet.

20.) Find out when your local real estate investment club meets next. Sign up.

If you aren’t part of your local investment or landlord club, you are missing out on valuable information, potential business leads, and relationships that can help improve your business and personal life. Take two minutes and use Google to find when your local club meets and sign up to be there. Make sure you put it on your calendar and actually show up.

21.) Email your Realtor.

If its been a while since you worked a deal (or even if not), remind yourself exactly what you are looking for and let your Realtor know. Agents are not psychic and they have a lot of other clients. Sending a quick email puts you back on their radar and let’s them know what they should be keeping an eye out for.

22.) Connect with your favorite Real Estate Blogger.

I’ve mentioned it time and time again – relationships are key in real estate. Not all those relationships, however, are in-person. Bloggers spend a lot of time online teaching information and would love to connect with you. Take two minutes and send an email, comment on a post, or share their article on Facebook, Twitter, G+ or any/all of your other networks (hint, hint!)

23.) Thank your spouse or partner for their support.

If you are married or in a committed relationship, chances are that your significant other is a huge part of your investment world. I know in my own life it is easy for me to get caught up in the deal and the thrill of the chase that I forget just how instrumental my wife is to my success. My wife is my daily sounding board, my encourager, my organizer, my property manager, my time-keeper, my motivator, and my best friend. Without her, I know I would probably still be working a nine-to-five job for minimum wage and dreaming of real estate as a “someday.” Thank you, Heather. :)

24.) Comment on this post with one thing you are going to do today from this list.

Knowledge is great, but without putting it to action it’s just a waste. Don’t just read this and think “oh that’s nice” or “someday I will.” Instead, tell me below which one of these you are going to do, and then do it. Most of these things will take less than a half hour and you don’t need to do all of them right away. Choose one thing you want to work on and do it. Maybe tomorrow choose another. Becoming a successful real estate investor is like building a Lego castle – brick by brick. What bricks are you going to build with today?

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About Author

Brandon Turner (G+) is the BiggerPockets.com Senior Editor and Community Director. He is also an Active Real Estate Investor (Flips, Apartments, and Buy-and-Hold), Entrepreneur, World Traveler, Third-Person Speaker, and Husband. Come hang out with him on Twitter!

49 Comments

  1. OK Brandon,
    I’m #24’ing now. You reeled me in.

    Today, I plan to #18 review what is and isn’t working. As someone who interested in R&D for landlords, I need to continuously search for and weed out ideas. It is exhausting at time, but that’s why I draw inspiration from my fellow bloggers.

    Also, I’m going to #13, answer a question on BP. Networking cannot be overstated.

    Thanks for being a good thief and constructing a nice post.

    • Brandon Turner

      Awesome! I’m sure you know this, but I just recently learned how to make my Craigslist ads look so much better with HTML. I used to just do the boring text-based ads. Boring! I was super excited to actually make nice looking ads. Good luck!

      • Melinda Allen on

        Brandon,
        I’ve been playing around with CL and HTML too. What I still haven’t figured out is how to attach a link to my website (still under construction) without getting immediately blocked by CL.

        Tips anyone?
        Thanks!

    • Brandon Turner

      VistaPrint.com has good deals and great quality on business cards! One suggestion I’ve seen kicked around here – put your buying criteria on the backside, then leave them everywhere!

  2. Brandon
    I’m going to do #3 today, #2 tomorrow, and sign up for my town’s next REI meeting (#20) this week. I haven’t been as successful at this as I set out to be so have been foregoing the REI meetings. I’ll be saving your Blog post. Great stuff!

    • Brandon Turner

      #3 is probably one of the most important ones on this list, especially for those just starting out. I wish I had spent more time following the big guys before jumping in. Good luck!

  3. Great list Brandon. I had to go straight to work on #23. As I thanked my wife she asked if I was reading another article on Biggerpockets!! I always love to find any area no matter how small in which I can focus on and make sure it is going as it should.

    I am watching HGTV right now as well which brings me to #19, I hope you toliet is on concrete or else caulking it will lead to rotting the wood of the floor underneath. If the toliet is on a wood subfloor then the cault will trap the leak underneath, when it leaks it tells us that the wax ring is not working. I couldn’t help but mention.

    Thanks again Brandon

    • Brandon Turner

      No problem Kyle! Good job on choosing number 23. Wise decision.

      As for the toilet – it is a wood sub-floor – however, I plan on caulking all but the back-side. That way, I get the nice clean look of a caulked toilet (as well as stability from rocking!) but also will know of any leaks! ;) Best of both worlds!

      Thanks!

  4. Great post, and definitely something to revisit again and again. I’m going to determine my next actionable step (11). Calling about a property I saw over the weekend that I believe fits into my overall business plan.

  5. Thanks for sharing the biggerpockets forum. I decided to join today. It looks like a good community of investors and I hope I can learn a lot from it.

  6. Melinda Allen on

    Great list, Brandon!
    Doing # 24 right now!
    I’m going to print this out and use it to help construct my daily action plans!

    As a beginner, I’ve spoken with several local investors, but I feel like I would be wasting their time if I invited them out for coffee. What do I have to offer that can’t be accomplished with phone conversation? Perhaps I’m missing something here…suggestions?

    I’m also going to do #2 today – CL ads, and bandit signs this weekend.
    thanks for helping my motivation monkey get going!

    • Brandon Turner

      Melinda – that’s actually an excellent question about taking guys out to coffee. Here are my thoughts – if someone called me and asked me to go to coffee, I might think “well, I’m way too busy for that.”

      However, if someone asked me, “Brandon, I’ve heard a lot about you and your investing, can I swing by one of your jobs sites sometime while you are there to get an idea of what you are doing?” I’d say “of course!”

      Then, we’d probably get lunch or coffee if they offered. Yes, you might not have a lot to offer, so make it as easy on them as possible. Meet them somewhere they will already be. Get to know them first before asking (REI meetings, landlord associations, etc)

      If they see you are serious about real estate they will be much more enthusiastic. It’s fun to share what we know with others.

      And good luck on the bandit signs! Hopefully you can get some good deals from them!

      • Melinda Allen on

        Thanks Brandon!

        I hadn’t thought about meeting them at a site. I’ll start doing that with those I’ve met at the REIA meetings.

  7. Thanks Brandon! I attended a 3 day Real Estate seminar some weeks ago and much of your list was covered in your list and yours is free :).

    I love to watch HGTV House Hunters and did that about an hour ago (your #10).

    I plan to execute #10 – Order business cards. We are just getting started as investor and have joined our local real estate investment club 2 months ago (#20) and attended the monthly meetings but we have yet to order cards so that we can network more effectively. I plan to do this before the next meeting 2 Mondays from now.

  8. Jayme Tlaloc on

    Excellent post – great suggestions. Iv’e been away from BP for a while now as I have been very busy working on my (relatively) recent acquisition, tending to all the little #19’s. You really nailed it with that one.. I could almost hear my sink cabinet lol as I read that one – a rotted board under the kitchen sink , and I have the new board in the backyard waiting to be cut to size and installed – but alas , many other projects call out to me – also , I recently got my real estate license, so Iv’e been very busy following up on leads, showing houses, and salivating at all the HUD deals that I cant afford to take advantage of just yet.

    This article was the perfect kick in the butt to get things moving along . I miss this site, and articles like this remind me why I like it here so much. I will attempt to accomplish many of these items this week.

  9. Brandon Turner

    Jayme, welcome back to BP! I think it’s cool that you got your real estate license. The tools you have now are awesome! I’m probably going to get mine as well so I don’t need to always wait for an Agent to call me back (frustrating!)

    Good luck!

  10. Nick Johnson on

    Taking two actionable steps in July:
    1) Attend the Omaha REIA meeting for the first time and see what it’s all about.
    2) Pick up a book or two from the library and continue learning.

    I know it’s a little ways out for me to actually “get started” and buy my first property so in the mean time, I will continue to learn as much as possible.

    Thanks for the motivation!

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Nick, Those two are excellent choices for a beginner (and, really anyone!). If you commit to learning all you can, you’ll be surprised how quick you can get your first deal put together. Good luck!

  11. Thanks Brandon for all the great tips!

    I’m gonna do #5 and #17.

    I think the main thing about writing goals is to Act as If it is alreay achieved. I used to always wish for the next thing and now I’m learning to be happy where I am at with what I have today.

    • Brandon Turner

      Awesome Adriana! Being content with what I have is one of my big struggles! I always want to go bigger. However, when I look around at what I’ve got – I’m like super-blessed!

      Also, check out CreditKarma.com to get your credit report AND score, free. They try to sell you on credit cards and such (which is how they make their money and can afford to give you a real credit score) but ignore those and keep track of your credit! It’s a great tool.

  12. Thanks for providing great compiling list and I will do the =5 tips and =10 to see what should I do to obtain my goal’s and will decide about the future. ;-)

  13. Brandon,

    I just did #19 last night. Actually I did a bunch of minor repairs in our house, because we have some tenants moving in next week. Great insights! I’ll probably refer back to your article often.

    • Brandon Turner

      Nice Jason! Glad I could help. It sometimes feels like those little maintenance things just never get finished, but boy is it nice when you can knock them off your mental list. Good luck on the new tenants moving in! I’m in a very similar boat right now (moving to my new house in 4 weeks so I better finish mine before the new tenants move in!)

  14. Michael Siekerka on

    Great list!!

    I wrote down my 5 year goals and started designing a logo for my business cards (been putting this one off for months now!)

    Thanks for the list, #25 should be review this list every X months

  15. Ziv Magen

    Great post, Brandon – I won’t start listing the items I’ve chosen (for today), because there are too many of those – but at least I noticed a few I was already pulling my weight with, so not too shabby – thanks for the reminder! :)

  16. Terrell Hill on

    Just a comment on those who think asking a seasoned investor out for coffee. Always be confident in yourself and your presence and ambitions that you can present to someone experienced. I am the type of person that if someone confronts me with an interest in realestate and I see that drive in them, I will disclose any and all information that I know to them because I know that they are worthy or it and will put it to good use. There are plenty of knowledgable investors that are in the position that you dream of being in that never forgot where they came from and are willing to share there knowledge to worthy individuals the same way someone did for them. So be confident and attentive and you will always have something to offer no matter what your level of exp.

    • Brandon Turner

      Terrell, that is excellent insight. It’s very true for me. I can usually tell when someone is serious and passionate – and I LOVE sharing with those people. It’s a fun thing to mentor those who want to learn.

  17. Hello, still new to the idea of real estate, so I’ll ask some questions on BiggerPockets today and look at some HGTV to get more information on styles.

    Thanks for the post!

  18. Terrell Hill on

    Thanks Brandon!!! I really respect what you have achieved and I am personally using you as my personal mentor daily, reading your blogs and following your progress…THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!

  19. Great list! Very helpful and motivating! I am #24’ing now :) I will do 1,3,5 immediately and remember to do #23 daily. I will also stop putting off #19. Thanks so much for sharing….

  20. I am a student and aspiring real estate investor.

    Tomorrow I am going to attend my local REIA meeting (my 2nd) and become an official member.

    After that I am going to do #11 and take my next actionable step. I like to be as well informed as possible but I think the only place to go from here is to stop being afraid of making mistakes and get out there and do something!

    Great Article – Thank you,
    Travis

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