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The ONLY Step You Need to Get Moving in Your Real Estate Investing

by Brandon Turner on March 8, 2013 · 44 comments

  
Real Estate Investing

The ‘Only’ Step?

Really?

Just one?

Yep. There is really only one step you need to take to get started, to get moving forward, to overcome the hurdles you are facing, to step out and begin building the kind of life you want to build. I’m not just talking to newbies here (though, for those stuck at the beginning, in analysis paralysis, this is especially important for you.)

I’m talking about one step for everyone. You, me, your mother. Everyone.

Can there really be just one step to get going?

I’ll admit, it sounds a bit presumptuous, but hang in there with me a minute. There really is only one step you need to take to get your real estate investing game going. Do you want to know what that step is? It’s the most important step of all: the next step.

Why The Next Step Matters

It’s so easy to be overwhelmed by the gigantic nature of real estate investing.

For example, did you know there are nearly 500,000 forum posts over in the BiggerPockets Forums about real estate? That’s almost a half of a million posts! I mentioned in the forums yesterday to someone that the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know about real estate. I consider myself to have a pretty good grasp on single family rentals or multifamily properties – but those encompass just two of the Top 100 Ways to Make Money in Real Estate, as I’ve written about previously.

So in an industry that’s so gigantic and so overwhelming, how do you get moving?

As I said, it’s by focusing on the next step.

The next step is the very next thing you need to get done. It’s not the goal (though knowing your goal is important) and it’s not the plan (though having a plan is important.) I’m talking about knowing the very next specific step you need to take to get moving.

Baby Steps … Dave Ramsey Style

One of my favorite financial authors out there is Dave Ramsey. For those of you unfamiliar with Dave, he became a multimillionaire through real estate investing (well… speculating) and lost everything, eventually going through bankruptcy and having to start over with nothing. After his financial collapse, he re-invented his life and began a journey against debt and against speculation, teaching others the same and becoming one of the most respected names in personal finance.

Whether or not you agree with Dave’s principles on debt is irrelevant. I’m bringing him into this conversation not because of his opinions but because of his teaching methods.

Dave teaches people to get out of debt and begin building wealth using “7 Baby Steps.” These steps are:

  • Build a $1000 emergency fund
  • Pay off all debt (except your home mortgage) by “snowballing” it
  • Save 3-6 months of living expenses
  • Invest 15% of your income
  • Begin funding college for your kids
  • Pay off the house quickly and early
  • Grow your wealth and give it away generously

Each step is not overly complicated or overwhelming – hence the name “baby steps.” Each one builds upon the previous, and you don’t move on until you’ve accomplished each of the steps in order. You don’t think people working through Dave Ramsey’s “Baby Steps” are concerned about paying off the house quickly when they are still up to their ears in credit card debt? No! They just take it one step at a time. Dave teaches this way because it’s much easier than telling someone “you need to shape up and build wealth.” Baby steps enable people to take just little adjustments at a time, to accomplish a much greater goal.

Elephant It’s like the popular joke, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

The same principle of Baby Steps can be applied to real estate investing. You don’t need to always worry about the big picture – you need to worry just about the baby step you are currently on. However, while this sounds easy, sometimes it can be tough to determine exactly what that next step is.

How to Determine Your Next Step

I’ve discussed this before in other posts, but I want to really want to make sure you get this.

In David Allen’s productivity book “Getting Things Done” he talks about always being aware of what your “next actionable step is” for any chore. Let’s say you need to get milk from the store. What is your next actionable step? If you said “drive to the store” you’d be wrong. Your next step is probably to find your keys, or perhaps close the laptop lid and stand up. Don’t overcomplicate things – just boil down your tasks to the most simple, actionable, next step.

Discovering your next step can take practice – it doesn’t come naturally. However, once you train your mind to think this way – you’ll never be the same.

There are two easy ways you can use to determine your next actionable step:

  1. Get More Specific – Just like we did in the example above with the “milk,” you will want to ask yourself “what is the next step?” Then tell yourself “okay, get more specific.” Keep saying “get moe specific” until you can no longer break it down any further.
  2. Ask a Mentor – Perhaps you simply do not know the next step because, as Jeff Brown like’s to say,”You don’t know the answers to the questions you don’t know to ask.” That’s okay! That’s what BiggerPockets is here for! Go over to the forums and ask! It really is that simple. Explain your situation, and ask for help getting moving forward. It doesn’t matter if you are brand new or have been investing for twenty years. Chances are, there is someone on BiggerPockets who can help get you going and figure out that “next step.”

A Few “Next Step” Examples

I’m a big believer in giving actionable advice.

Up to this point, this post has been fairly “motivational” which, I believe, has it’s place when not done in a sleazy way (“You Can Be Rich Today by Sending me $997!) However, I want to give you some concrete examples of the “Next Step” for a few different scenarios. Maybe you’ll find yourself fitting perfectly in one of these, or maybe you can simply adapt this logic to your own situation. Let me show you what I mean:

The Noob – Joe has never done any investing. He was watching an episode of “Flip That House” and thought, “Well darn, that would be fun.” Joe Googles “Flipping Houses” and comes to an article on the BiggerPockets blog about flipping houses. He reads some and begins to get excited. But now what? If Joe were to ask me (and since I’m making Joe up right now, I guess he is!) I’d look at his goals. He wants to flip. Okay – great! Get More Specific. Well, in order to flip, he’d have to know something about flipping. In fact, he’d have to know an awful lot about it. So I’d encourage Joe to start by building his education. Get More Specific. It tell Joe to go and read the “Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Real Estate Investing” for free on BiggerPockets. That’s a next step. After that? I’d show him how to search for topics on BiggerPockets, how to sign up for an account, and how to start asking questions in the forums.

The Analysis Paralysis Starter Jill has been a lurker on BiggerPockets for months, and has read everything there is to know about wholesaling. She is ready to do it – but she just can’t seem to pull the trigger. For Jill, I’d tell her she needs to connect with a local investor who might buy her flips. Get More Specific. I’d tell her to search for an investor in her area on BiggerPockets and make an introduction. If she couldn’t find one – I’d tell her to grab a phone book and start calling real estate agents in the area to ask them about who the big investors in the area are.

The Burned Out Landlord Bill has several properties, including a small apartment building, and he’s burned out. He’s been managing his properties, fixing leaks, filling vacancies, and more for over a decade. He makes decent income from the income- but he’s tired and it’s far from passive. Bill wants to keep the income but wants to stop doing the work. Bill’s next action should be first to post the problem on the BiggerPockets Forum. How have other landlords dealt with this? Chances are, Bill would be told that he should look into property management. Get More Specific. Bill should do a Google search and find 5 local property management companies, calling each one to determine rates, charges, etc. Bill now has an idea to move forward. After this, he will have another step, and then another. But finally, Bill is moving forward.

What’s Your Next Step?

You’ve obviously stuck through my ramblings and come this far – so ask yourself, what is your next step? Get More Specific. Come on – really think… what is the next thing you need to do to move forward? Not sure still? Why not head over to the Forums and ask, or reach out to one of amazing bloggers we have here on the BiggerPockets Blog. The folks that volunteer their time and write amazing content each week here on the site are some of the brightest minds in all of real estate investing – and they actively respond to comments and engage in conversations every day.

So what do you think? What is your next step? I hope it’s to leave a comment below, letting me know what your next step is. After that, perhaps your next step will be to scroll up to the top of this page and click the “share button” to let your Facebook friends know about this post?

So… What’s your Next Step?

Photos: h.koppdelaney, h.koppdelaney

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff Brown March 8, 2013 at 2:45 pm

The ‘next step’ is oft times redundant with the ‘step never taken’. Good stuff, Brandon.

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Brandon Turner Brandon Turner March 8, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Thanks Jeff! Wise words.

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Mark Ferguson March 8, 2013 at 3:42 pm

My strategy does not include paying off my house early. Money is so cheap for your principle residence that I can get much higher returns from using my equity in my home to purchase more rental properties. I”m not maxing out my equity, but I refinanced to a %80 loan to value and used that money to buy my first single family rental a couple years ago.

I agree the sooner you can get started the better. The old saying is so true “don’t wait to buy real estate, buy real estate and wait!

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Brandon Turner Brandon Turner March 8, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Hey Mark, yeah – I haven’t made up my mind on that one yet, but I think I am going to shoot for paying off at least my own home as soon as possible. Might make for an interesting blog post soon!

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Lorene March 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Brandon, I love your posts! Very motivating and concrete! My next step is to contact 20 people on the pre-forclosure list I have downloaded but not made a move on since. That is after I get off work, get to my house turn on my computer, open the spreadsheet choose the 1st 20 with telephone numbers, close my door, pick up the phone… perhaps I could be more specific, but I think I got the point. Thank you again for this awesome post!

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Brandon Turner Brandon Turner March 8, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Thanks Lorene! Very specific next steps! I love it :) Thank you for this awesome comment!

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Terah Harris March 8, 2013 at 5:00 pm

You see, Brandon? Posts like this is the reason why I want to be you when I grow up! LOL! Even though we haven’t closed on our first duplex (next week), my next step is to look for my next one!

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Brandon Turner Brandon Turner March 8, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Lol thanks Terah! ;) Good luck on the closing – and good luck on #2!!!

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John McCombs March 8, 2013 at 7:14 pm

As an elementary school principal, I often give similar recommendations to teachers- to break the objective down, to deconstruct it, to decide how will know it it has been achieved, and then to plan backwards from the objective, breaking each step down into very specific steps. Plannning how to achieve an objective, with specific steps, is a time-honored instructional technique that can help us as RE investors to reach large goals. Great post, and a great reminder to break it down to the next specific step.

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Brandon Turner Brandon Turner March 8, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Hey John, thanks for the comment! I do some teaching for the youth group at my church, and do the same. It definitely makes it more grasp-able. I think I just made up that word. :)

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Steve and berta March 9, 2013 at 2:40 am

Great arlicle! Our next step is to spend some time plan our next couple of steps to reach our RE goals and aquire our first property.

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Joshua Dorkin March 9, 2013 at 7:39 am

Have you guys checked out our free BiggerPockets Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Real Estate Investing? I think you’ll find it to be very helpful as you get started….

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Alison March 9, 2013 at 5:58 am

Hey Brandon, your post is very timely. I am not a noob but I am involved in a complex deal involving condos, tenants, short sales, and the IRS that a year ago I wouldn’t have taken on, thinking it was “too hard.” I’m using the “next step” approach and also have been fortunate to partner with someone who is knowledgeable about this type of deal, and we’re still moving foward. Fingers crossed we get it to the finish line!

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Brandon Turner Brandon Turner March 9, 2013 at 8:36 am

Hey Alison – sounds interesting! Let us know how things progress and if you run into any trouble!

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Ben Leybovich March 9, 2013 at 7:13 am

“No one made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”
~ Edmund Burke

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Brandon Turner Brandon Turner March 9, 2013 at 8:36 am

Deep. :) Thanks Ben!

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Gary Parker March 9, 2013 at 7:32 am

Great post Brandon. I found that once I realized marketing was at the heart of this business things started improving for me. Once I realized I had to take things one step at a time things started happening for me. Again your article is right on the money. I have a horrible habit of bouncing from one thing to another rather than concentrating on the task at hand. I have found that taking little steps really helps me stay focused. Your article was great reinforcement for me. Thank You!

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Brandon Turner Brandon Turner March 9, 2013 at 8:37 am

Hey Gary- that’s a great line: “Marketing was at the heart of this business.” Smart!

I also bounce around a lot – so the “next actionable step” was super transformational for me. Thanks for reading and commenting Gary!

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Tiffany March 10, 2013 at 7:21 pm

I’m such a bouncer too, and not the kind that kicks you out of bars. It’s easy forme to get distracted and busy without being effective. Making to-do items on my google calendar and starring them in order of importance has greatly helped with this (as long as I review the calendar and follow the system).

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Carlos De Jesus March 9, 2013 at 8:22 am

Hi Brandon, Great Post!!! I’m “The Noob.” I started to read, “Ultimate Begginners Guide to Real Estate Investing,” now my next step would be to finish it. Then, I guess it would be to find funding for my deals. I have two Homes Listed for Sale in Georgia, that I am having a bit of trouble getting rid of; but once I do, I will use my Commission to Buy the cheapest House I could find and Sell it “as is” to another Investor. I know where the deals are, I just hope I could get to them before they are all Gone!!!

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Brandon Turner Brandon Turner March 9, 2013 at 8:38 am

Nice Carlos! Hopefully you can get them sold real soon. Homes seem to be selling much faster now days, with the inventory dropping, so that should help!

Get to that guide! :)

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Gary March 9, 2013 at 10:24 pm

Great article! I make lists a lot. Small next steps, feels good crossing a bunch of stuff off

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Brandon Turner Brandon Turner March 10, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Definitely Gary. I like lists so I can feel good crossing them off. Thanks for the comment!

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Vernon March 10, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Hey Brandon I love the article. I’m am finishing the 7yrs to a 7 figure wealth ebook. I am also reading a bigger pockets blog about owner financing which has my interest as well. So hopefully my next step (educating myself) will lead to my “next step”. Good article and a gentle reminder to inch my way to real estate success.

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Brandon Turner Brandon Turner March 10, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Nice Vernon! Let me know what you think. There’s some fun debate about the book over in the Forums, so be sure to check that out (just search for it in the forums.)

Hopefully you’ve read the Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Real Estate Investing? It’s a GREAT first step.

Thanks for the comment!

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Michael March 10, 2013 at 3:26 pm

I love it Brandon. Little steps for you next steps. You are right that it can be overwhelming whether your a beginner or a veteran growing your business.

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Brandon Turner Brandon Turner March 10, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Thanks Michael! It can be, but you (as a house flipper) know more than most how complicated the big picture can seem but how much easier it becomes just by breaking it down. Thanks for the comment!

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Mark Ferguson March 10, 2013 at 3:41 pm

The last couple replies inspired me to write a new post about why now is such a great timee to invest in Real Etate. http://investfourmore.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/why-right-now-is-the-best-time-to-invest-in-real-estate/

I think educating yourself is a great first step,but I also think many people get stuck on this step. They think they have to know every angle before they get started when usually the best education is getting started and learning from your mistakes and successes. Before you can get started in Real Estate a lot of other steps must be taken. As soon as we read our first book we begin to realize how many steps there are. It is actually pretty easy to start taking steps towards buying a property that go beyond education. Driving around neighborhoods, researching prices, finding an agent, developing marketing strategies, writing a business plan.

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Ned Carey March 10, 2013 at 4:18 pm

I am a big fan of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” You take his next step concept to the next level. Great point and great writing.

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Brandon Turner Brandon Turner March 10, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Thanks Ned! Glad you liked it!

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Mitchell Clark March 10, 2013 at 11:45 pm

As per numerous property experts and market analysts, 2013 is a favorable year for real estate investment. Things are in fact pretty clear with statistical figures portraying major development in the housing sector for the past 6 months. Real estate faced significant growth in October 2012 and since then it is expanding at a steady pace. Property sales were 10% more in December in comparison to November and inclined further 15% in January 2013 in comparison to December 2012. Moreover annual incline in property prices for the year 2012 is calculated to be around 5.8% which is remarkably good considering the decline of real estate for the past several years.

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Kyle Pettit March 11, 2013 at 12:13 am

Great article man! I frequently keep finding myself in analysis paralysis. Thankfully I can always count on reading posts just like this one to get me focused and back on track ;)

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Jason March 11, 2013 at 2:13 pm

My next step is learning all the avenues available for purchasing distressed properties; auctions, direct mailing, etc. How do I make sure not to leave any stones unturned so to speak? Where should I start?

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Mark Ferguson March 11, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Remember, you don’t have to know every place to find a good deal, you just have to find one to start out with.

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Vernon March 11, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Yes I agree with you Mark I don’t want to get stuck on the “educating myself step”, but I do want to use wisdom in my decision making. I will continue to read and follow the blogs/forums on biggerpockets it has stimulated my mind! Brandon, I have not yet had the pleasure of reading the Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Real Estate Investing. It is on my to do list. I hope to next meet someone in the Albany NY area who is well versed so I can pick there brain!

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Jeromie April 5, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Thanks Brandon for another great post! I’m about halfway through GTD… Loving it so far, especially the next step principle you expanded on here! Do you follow his system entirely? If so, what do you use to implement it? Evernote, GoogleDocs, etc. Curious what you think!

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Brandon Turner Brandon Turner April 5, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Thanks Jeromie! I have not 100% fully implemented the system (I tried a couple times and never got off the ground.) Right now I am using GoogleDocs for most, as well as a task management system called Lighthouse that is pretty helpful. I need to really re-focus on doing the whole system, cause I know it would help a ton!

Thanks for the comment sir!

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Russell April 7, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Terrific post, Brandon. Taking a few small steps, even if I don’t accomplish EVERYTHING I set out to do that day, gives me some momentum and confidence. My next step is to continue reading about DM on BP.

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Brandon Turner Brandon Turner April 8, 2013 at 8:15 am

Thanks Russell! Thanks for commenting and leaving your next action step! DM – direct mail? If so – be sure to check out the newest episode of the BP Podcast with Sharon, and also the one with Karen Rittenhouse! They both have great info on Direct Mail!

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Stuart May 25, 2013 at 11:42 am

Great article! My first step is to start putting offers out on MLS homes. Then I will contact established investors and see if we can joint venture on a property. This will help me get into one or two flips for fast cash the next 3-5 months.

At the same time I will start looking at multi-family properties – duplexes and up – that I can acquire, get cash flow, and trade up to larger properties. Eventually owning large apartment complexes for long term holding.

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Maria June 8, 2013 at 7:49 am

Thank you BP is amazing! I’m a newbie but I’ve learned so much its insane.
(My next step is creating my website and business card)

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Joshua Dorkin Joshua Dorkin June 8, 2013 at 8:03 am

Thanks Maria! You’ve got quite a few choices for making your site; Brandon put together this awesome tutorial that might help . . . How to Create an Awesome Lead Generating Website in Under an Hour with No Technical Abilities. Good luck and we’ll see you around the site! Be sure to introduce yourself in our New Member Introductions forum.

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Maurice February 19, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Brandon,

My next step is to break things down until I can’t break it down any more for the next step. thanks for a great blog.

Maurice

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tracy February 20, 2014 at 1:30 pm

thanks Brandon I’m reading and working on due diligence for tax lien and deeds and right now I’m trying to stay in my back yard and all i got is vacant land so i think I’m gonna go for it and really pray they redeem i don’t think I am ready for foreclosure or a deed but how am i gonna know if i don’t do it. so away i go !

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