The Most Valuable Piece of Real Estate in the World

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People say and do funny things at Christmas parties.  Back in my W-2 days I attended a company Christmas celebration at the Hard Rock Café in Phoenix.  From across the room I saw my new boss belly up to the bar and order a drink.  Because I believe no one should ever drink alone I quickly made my way over to him.  When I asked what he was sipping he proudly announced, “scotch!”  That’s my favorite I said.  He promptly ordered me a Glen-something and went on to educate me about the origins of the beverage.  After 30 minutes of malt talk and a scarred esophagus from this nasty cocktail I was sorely regretting my decision to suck up to the guy.

Then there was the time I ran into a title representative I know at a karaoke Christmas party a Realtor friend of mine hosts every year.  After we exchanged the usual pleasantries she asked me about my business.  I told her I’d been taking some real estate investment classes – self directed IRA, business financial management and tax strategy classes to be specific.  She chuckled and told me that she would never need to take investment classes like these because she’s been in the title business for 15 years.  She quickly added that she owned 5 rental properties.  Really, I asked?  Do you do straight-line depreciation on them or cost segregation?  Her face went blank.

I’ve been a full-time real estate investor for 9 years.  During that time I’ve bought and sold almost 200 properties in Arizona, Texas and Illinois.  In a single month I acquired 13 houses without a dime of my own money or credit.  Last year, I was accredited by the Arizona Department of Real Estate to teach a 3 hour continuing education course for Realtors.  I’ve appeared on local TV and radio discussing real estate investment strategies.  And, because of my experience I was recently given the tremendous opportunity to write about real estate investing on BiggerPockets.

You would think with all of this education and experience a guy like me would have little use for continuing education.  Not so.  I regularly invest in the most valuable piece of real estate in the world; the six inches between my ears.

Over the past two weeks I’ve spent almost $2,000 and more than 24 hours in the classroom.  The subject matter varied – from real estate technology to acquisition strategies to market analysis.  It was time and money well spent.  I learned how to turn my DroidX phone into a powerful real estate planning and marketing tool, how to calculate contract ratios for a specific neighborhood and a better way to quickly analyze a property’s value.

In The Psychology of Selling, Brian Tracy asks, “would you hire an attorney that had no law books or see a doctor that hadn’t had any ongoing training since leaving medical school?”  Of course not!  So why should we real estate investors be any different?  Real estate investing, like medicine, law or accounting should be treated like a discipline.  Continuing education is essential.

Where do you go to find it?  Attend the next real estate investment club meeting in your area.  Drop by a real estate school near you and pick up a catalog.  Seek out successful real estate investors and ask them what classes they recommend.

As for my title rep friend at the Christmas party, she ended up having the last laugh.  While she didn’t know the difference between straight line depreciation and cost segregation at least she had enough common sense to stay away from the karaoke machine.  I, on the other hand, decided to belt out ‘You’re the One that I Want’ from the Grease soundtrack.

History had repeated itself.  Once again I left a Christmas party with deep regret – and a sore throat.

About Author

Marty (G+) is the Chief Financial Officer for Rising Sun Capital Group, LLC, a real estate investment firm based in Gilbert, AZ. His firm purchases homes at the courthouse steps and public REO auctions. They have two exit strategies, either fix and flip or seller financing.


  1. I completely agree. Continuous education is one of the three main things I teach my students, along with massive passion and take action. No matter what level you’re at, you’re never ‘too good’ to continue your education. The world, the economy and the market are always changing and it’s important to stay on course. Great article.

    • Armando, I think it was Eric Hoffer that once said, “In times of change, learners will inherit the earth while the learned will find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” I once thought I knew it all but in 2007 the music stopped and I didn’t have a chair. If I would have had my ear closer to the ground I could have at least stopped the bleeding more quickly. These days my goal is to get ongoing education at least once a quarter. Thanks for reading.

  2. Hey Marty, a good Glen-something (Glenlivet? Glenfiddich? Glentoran?) is the highlight of any Christmas party!

    As for the serious part – you’re right. You’ve got to strive to improve yourself, otherwise what’s the point? And it’s not just in the classroom – you need to learn from your mistakes. Like by staying away from the kareoke?

    • Steve, what is it with Glen and why does he make so many different kinds of scotch? But seriously, what I didn’t write about in this post is that it’s because of all my mistakes I seek out the knowledge. I lost it all once before due to a lack of education and I don’t plan on letting that happen to me again. I appreciate the feedback.

  3. Marty,

    I’m a firm believer in investing in yourself through continuing education. I’m always amazed when I go to a seminar that I’ve heard multiple times that I can walk away with a couple of good ideas that I had previously missed or had forgotten. If nothing else, it’s positive reinforcement to hang out with like minded people.

    Just curious what classes/training you attended for real estate technology, acquisition strategies, and market analysis?

    I recently saw a presentation at my local REIA on how one investor is using the iPad to transform his business. I had pretty much thought the iPad was a toy, but this presentation totally changed my outlook on the capabilities of the iPad. Now I’m trying to decide whether to buy one now, wait for iPad 2, or get an Android tablet.

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