You Know That You’re a Real Estate Investor When . . .

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The 20 Best Books for Aspiring Real Estate Investors!

Here at BiggerPockets, we believe that self-education is one of the most critical parts of long-term success, in business and in life, of course. This list, compiled by the real estate experts at BiggerPockets, contains 20 of the best books to help you jumpstart your real estate career.

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101 Ways to Know if You’re a Real Estate Investor

This topic started as a thread on our discussion forums, and has gotten to the point where compiled together, it makes a fantastic blog post.

  1. You’re worth a million dollars and can’t afford to buy a sandwich.
  2. You tell your Realtor to send you properties that smell like cat urine.
  3. You have at least 5 unopened packages of white, Walmart mini-blinds waiting to be installed in the next property.
  4. When your prospective tenant warns you that they think they have bad credit and after running their report you call them to see if they want to be a credit partner.
  5. Your garage is full of used but working appliances.
  6. You carry a flashlight, camera, and tape measure in your briefcase. Bonus points for coveralls and kneepads in the trunk.
  7. You can’t drive into a new area without thinking about values and rents.
  8. You can spot a vacant house from two blocks away.
  9. You have business cards of 114 painters and 345 carpet guys.
  10. You yourself have 4 different business cards!
  11. You spend more times reading forums than you do watching TV.
  12. Your “war stories” include tales of clouds of fleas hovering about 8″ above the carpet (this really happened to me in Houston) and of walking in on tenants/sellers or squatters in “flagrante delicto” (this too!).
  13. When you talk about mortgages you mean the “coming in” kind, not the “going out” kind.
  14. Your tenants/tenant buyers all have nicer; cars, TVs, stereos, (I guess now we can add; iPods, PDAs and cell phones) than you do.
  15. Your tax return is a thicker than any paper you ever wrote in HS or college.
  16. You’ve been asking your local Home Depot manager why they don’t sell fishing, camping and skiing gear, and groceries.
  17. Your vehicles are full of tools, hardware, and fast food bags.
  18. Your idea of a great weekend involves looking at houses, showing houses, and fixing houses.
  19. You hate permits and nosy neighbors reporting on your renovations to the city.
  20. You always try to take a different route to see a part of the town you have never seen before.
  21. You see a “For Rent” sign and wonder how much they are charging.
    Bonus points if you pull out your cell phone and call the number immediately to find out.
  22. When you’re in a large city you look at the apartment buildings and try to guesstimate how many doors there are and what the market value would be for that building.
  23. When you send your parent to look at a house for you because you are looking at other houses.
  24. You have access to Title search accounts when you not a broker, real estate agent, or loan officer.
  25. Your husband travels out of town, and he knows that a gift of the local real estate magazines from the gas station will make you happy.
  26. You go to a Borough council meeting and they mention a corner property has an erosion issue that is washing out on to the street and everyone in the room is mad about it. Suddenly it jumps onto your list of “properties to buy”
  27. Your wife falls in love with a new house for you to live with her in and you immediately don’t like it because it’s not a foreclosure/REO or other deeply discounted property.
  28. You spend a chunk of your vacation, when you are supposed to be unwinding, looking at for sale signs, and picking up flyers—- even when it is far too far away from home to actually buy anything there. But what the heck, you never know… you might find a great bargain and figure out how you are going to manage it.
  29. It’s 3 a.m. and you’re on BiggerPockets because you don’t have to report to a job tomorrow.
  30. The eviction court judges know you by first name.
  31. The cops in your low-rent areas know you’re just checking your properties and not out cruising for crack or some ‘ho.
  32. You really think you’ve seen it all, and then you see (fill in the blank).
  33. You really think you’ve learned a thing or two, and then some tenant teaches you something totally unexpected (and always costly).
  34. You own fifty or more keys which don’t fit anything… not even the couple dozen entry locks you’ve accumulated over the years.
  35. You can instantly tell the difference between the sounds of a .22, a .32, a nine, and a .45; and you know if it’s ten rounds or more in a row it’s a Glock!
  36. Every time you watch the nightly news’ “disaster of the day”, instead of shedding a tear you wonder what the implications on the real estate are.
  37. You know you’re a real estate investor when an attractive young woman invites you to her house at 9 p.m. to “drink some wine” and you turn her down because you want to scout property early the following morning.
  38. You do more real estate deals than real estate “gurus” and so-called real estate experts.
  39. You can predict the price of a home for sale within a few thousand dollars by just eyeballing it.
  40. When you have a FT job and sit on BiggerPockets all day long.
  41. You bought the cat urine house and you’re trying formulas and methods of applying deck and porch enamel on the floors inside yourself to prove to the painter he CAN get that smell out.
  42. Your broker is reassigning a HELOC to one house instead of being attached to several to give you less than 10 mortgages on a loan.
  43. Your lawyer says the title is messed up on the house you’re buying and it’s going to take $2000 to straighten it out and you go out and find a title insurance company to do the job instead for $150.00. YES.
  44. You used “scribner’s error” as a reason for the purchaser to buy your condo instead of the one next door with a contract already on it.
  45. You scream “Get the ____ out of my house” to tenants even though you don’t have a leg to stand on.
  46. You feel the hood of the tenant’s car to see if it’s warm because they won’t come to the door and there are no lights on. This allows you to return and beat on the door and yell, “I know you’re in there-Come out”
  47. You walk down the street and point to all the ugly houses and say I want that one.
  48. You’ve ever screamed “What about holding costs!” at a certain A&E T.V. show.
  49. You haven’t been out on a date in months (by choice) and you spend your Friday and Saturday nights looking for properties on craigslist, talking about deals with your partners and searching the internet for the latest “slight edge” that you can get.
  50. You car looks like a homeless person’s because the back seat is chock full of real estate CD’s, books, signs, and tools.
  51. You are sitting on this website at 3:30 on a Sunday trying to think of something funny to say, instead of spending a beautiful day outside.
  52. You want to kill people who bring you a deal without the necessary information because they have wasted your time
  53. You carry around a stack of “pay rent or quit” notices in your car, just in case
  54. You have a really big metal flashlight in your car, that you think might save you, if you ever get attacked in one of the vacant houses you always go into.
  55. Your rental contract started out at 1 page and 6 years later it 5 freakin pages. (thanks tenants)
  56. You love the smell of fresh paint.
  57. Every time you buy a car it has to have 4 wheel drive to get to those hard to see properties.
  58. Every morning is spent writing down recording #’s of the foreclosure notices by hand.
  59. You know all the extensions on the attorney lines to get the sale date an opening bid of your local attorneys.
  60. When ever you meet some one you ask them how much they paid for there house.
  61. You’re an a**hole to newbies just because you know more than they do and then you feel bad because you were there once. (If they would only listen)
  62. Your contractor buys a new truck and you start rebidding his jobs.
  63. Every relationship with a Realtor is love or hate…. There is no middle ground.
  64. You try to talk your friends out of buying his/her dream home because it’s not REO/Foreclosure.
  65. You write to Microsoft and YELL at them for not having a REI XBOX game!
  66. Talk in CNBC ‘money talk’ and say ‘you don’t need cash or credit for REI’
  67. You empathize homeowners who bought houses at the height of the bubble!! LOL
  68. You have as the default HOME PAGE in your internet browser.
  69. You buy a real estate book from Amazon while your wife wanted you to buy a book on interior decoration.
  70. You’re blogging along and realize there’s a new mortgage cap reduction from 10 to 4 (including purchase) and you try and go to the Freddie Mac webpage to see if HELOC’s count as one or two mortgages. Turns out–no.
  71. You just spent over $400 on REI books from Barnes and Noble because when you can’t be making deals you can READ about making deals.
  72. You save 30% of your after tax income towards the down payment on the next deal.
  73. You have more real estate magazines in your house than books.
  74. You agree with more items here than not.
  75. When, upon waking up in the morning and looking in the bathroom mirror, you find yourself developing a striking resemblance to Quasimodo.
  76. When you realize that over the years you have gone from reading the “funnies” to reading the “obituaries”.
  77. When “bad news” somehow appears to you as “good news”, which you somehow rationalize as “Tony Robbins style” positive thinking.
  78. Your wife uses a foreclosure analogy to help you understand why she needs more of your time.
  79. When you find yourself coveting Donald Trump’s hair piece……… even though you have a full head of hair.
  80. While telling the priest in the church confessional that you’re going the straight and narrow and giving up the mistress, you find yourself preoccupied with calculating the the additional revenue the apartment you provided her, will bring in.
  81. You begin fantasizing that global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps may some day turn your troubled lower income properties into valuable beach front properties.
  82. A death in a house for sale does not freak you out but excites you!
  83. When every color choice you make on any decision whether it be property or vehicles, the colors always must be neutral.
  84. When you are a master at base molding, painting, and yard design.
  85. You know what the name of every granite is.
  86. You do anything it takes to be the first to talk to that defaulting home owner with a bunch of equity and NO WAY OUT!
  87. You ride up to view a property and you’re counting the parking spaces before you go in the house.
  88. It’s a hundred freaking degrees outside and you’re spending seven days a week on your latest rehab after you SWORE you’d start hiring out this donkey labor, but noooooo… you figure you can do it better and cheaper and get it done right. But next time, oh yes, you swear that on the very next deal you WILL find some hard-working donkeys to do this stuff. But not today… today you’ll just try and stay hydrated.
  89. Your wife accuses you of having an internet affair with a woman code named B. Pockets!
  90. You go to REIAs to meet women to make your dating life a tax write off. My Favorite!
  91. You don’t use your iPod to listen to music anymore. All you listen to now are audio books on RE and podcast on RE.
  92. Your friends stop inviting you to social functions because all you EVER talk about is REI.
  93. Your insurance company cancels another policy because of a theft in your “problem property.”
  94. You tie all of your free money up in real estate instead of going on that vacation you’ve been waiting 10 years for.
  95. Your tenants fear you.
  96. Your tenants love you too.
  97. You try to convince your friends and co-workers to unload their home to you because ________ (you want it cheap!).
  98. You know all of the houses in a neighborhood, when they sold, and what they sold for.
  99. You ‘re better at valuing a property by eyeballing it than most Realtors and online sites can do.
  100. You read about some investor horror stories (Example 1, Example 2) and think “that’s no big deal.”
  101. You wish this list could just keep going

Got any more? Add them in the comments below or to our “You Know You’re a Real Estate Investor When” forum thread.

Bloggers: Add to the list by blogging on your own site and linking back to this post.

Photo: Bailey Weaver

About Author

Joshua Dorkin

Joshua Dorkin is a serial entrepreneur, investor, podcaster, publisher, educator, and co-author of How to Invest in Real Estate. He started BiggerPockets to help democratize the real estate investing landscape for himself and others, aiming to make it accessible for everyone, regardless of income or education. Today, BiggerPockets is the premier real estate investing website online with over one million members and reaching over 70 million people with the message of financial freedom through real estate investing. Joshua, along with his wife and three daughters, make their home in Denver, Colorado, and spend any time they can traveling, exploring, and adventuring. Read more about Joshua’s story in 5280 and


  1. Josh… I was drinking a Pepsi while reading the list and after # 88, I laughed so hard that I had Pepsi come back up & out my nose!!!

    Here is my contribution, geared towards my fellow blog contributors:

    You know you’re a RE investor when…
    You have to secretly bite your tongue after a new investor you have just met said to you, “Man! All those deals you have done… You must be RICH!”

  2. Dike Drummond on

    Hilarious … LOL funny.
    I am linking to this for sure in my Newsletter.
    You drive a different route home every day looking for abandoned houses
    Your property manager’s number is on speed dial
    And more and more ….

  3. My favorite is when a man picks up my purse and asks what on earth I’ve got in there! The contents include a Leatherman multi-tool (in case an outlet cover is not installed for the inspection or I can’t open the lockbox, etc.), a tape measure and my camera.

    I choose to buy new windows instead of going to Hawaii!

    You laugh with glee when you enter a “trash house” because you know no one will buy it and the bones are good. There’s nothing wrong with this house that a little elbow grease can’t fix!

  4. Oh, and I forgot. You know you’re an investor when you get a flat tire at least once a quarter because you drive your car into those vacant building driveways that have glass, metal debris, and needles hidden under the six inches of weeds.

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