What Colin Powell and Mark Cuban Can Teach You About Green Real Estate Investing

by | BiggerPockets.com

Now is the time.  Now is the time to do something about green in your real estate investing business.  There are tons of reasons to do nothing and three major reasons to push forward.  They are:

  1. Make more money – Earn more money, more profit on all of your deals.  Land bigger deals, gain favorable financing, grant funding, etc. Be the only game in town and get a higher return on all of your investments.
  1. Have more free time – The more you make, the more you can hire the best and delegate out.  Work ON your business instead of IN your business.  Quit your full-time job (if you have one) and work 10 hours a week remote from any beach or golf course in the world.  This is not as far fetched as you may think.
  1. Leave a legacy – Is there anyone reading this who wouldn’t want to be seen as a savior in their community?  Someone who left a legacy of taking bad properties in bad areas and transforming them into healthy high performance homes?

There are literally millions of real estate investors in the US. That said, there are probably less than 100 green real estate investment companies operating right now and they are extremely successful largely because they have no competition.

Putting this another way, would you rather sell sandwiches at the airport or at the supermarket? Vanna, your answer should always be the airport because you have almost no competition from other sandwich companies.  Maybe that’s why the last tuna sandwich I bought at SAN only cost $11.95.

Competition for deals, lending, private money, buyers, renters, etc. is fierce.  Why be a player in the real estate investing market when you can control it?  Be the house, not the poker player.

If you haven’t adopted green into your RE investing business you’re not alone.  The two single biggest reasons investors don’t pursue green are that think they are ‘too busy’ and/or they feel don’t know enough about green.

Let’s look at each of these reasons, show why the logic may be flawed and what to do right now to get on the right path. Maybe you’ll see yourself in some of the reasons below:


Logic – Do you know what time Oprah is on? Do you get five emails in for every one you send out? Does your to-do list have less than 10 things on it?  If you answered, “No, Yes, No”,  then you could be considered ‘too busy’.

Quite frankly, it’s not that we’re too busy, it’s that we don’t prioritize well enough. We tend to do what’s ‘most urgent on a reactionary’ basis rather than ‘most important on a proactive’ basis. If we get a handle on that, our ‘busyness’ dissipates.

Question One: Would you spend 10 minutes on a website and send one fax  if it meant receiving a $750 check in 2 months?
Question Two: Would you read 2hrs a week if it meant earning an additional $200k annually?
If you answered yes to both of those questions, then you are not too busy to become a successful green real estate investor.

What to do right now – Call your mayor and ask his/her office what specific green programs they offer to green businesses in your city. Is there funding, rebates, incentives, research, etc available to you?  When possible, get a meeting with them.  Right now they’ll probably be very receptive because what you’re doing [green]makes them look good.  Politicians love looking good.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a solid green plan yet.  Don’t worry if you can’t spell ‘green’. Go in with your ideas and your passion. Stop planning and take action.  you will be the only investor in your town calling them about green. Use Colin Powell’s 40/70 Rule: Powell said that he would take action once he had enough info to have a 40-70% chance of success. He wouldn’t wait until he 100% because that is often too late to take advantage of the opportunity.

Mark Cuban is a perfect example of the Colin Powell rule. Why is he a billionaire? Is he that much smarter than you and I? Or did he just see an opportunity and take advantage of it?  He sold Broadcast.com at the top of the tech boom to Yahoo for Yahoo stock. He then immediately shorted Yahoo stock to protect his investment.  He had a gut feeling the market was going to crash so hen opportunistically sold and then covered his sale. I bet those Pets.com people wished they had done the same.


Logic- If I don’t know enough about green how can I can I become a green real estate investor? How can I make sure I don’t make mistakes if I’m not an expert in green? This is flawed logic because with the speed of technology it’s tough to be an expert in anything these days.
My guess is few people reading this post are experts in paint. I doubt most investors could explain how paint is made, the chemicals used in it and why it sticks to walls.  Yet we are all fine with not being paint experts and still using paint all the time.  We know enough about paint to make it work for our businesses.  Green should be treated the exact same way.

I have been involved in green real estate for 5 years. I know light years more now than I did when I started.  However, there is STILL an ocean of info I don’t know.  If you’re reading this post you’re a real estate investor and an entrepreneur.  Entrepreneurs take risks, go with their guts and take action. So be an entrepreneur, not an expert.

In all reality, greening your RE business takes a small leap of faith.  Before you can sell anyone else on it, you have to be able to sell yourself.  Some sales guy once said, “The first sale is to yourself” and I truly believe that.

So before you think you think  you can’t do it or that the green real estate investors crushing it right now are so much better/smarter than you, know this:

  1. They are successful because they took action first.
  2. They are everyday people like you and I.
  3. They took a deep breath and dove in even though they didn’t know everything.
  4. They are entrepreneurs like you, not experts.

What to do right now- Find 2-3 things to green on your property. Start small but start.  Apply for and get one rebate check.  You’ll be amazed how motivating it is when you go to your mailbox a month later and get a big check from it. Start talking to your potential buyers, lenders, etc about your initial approach into green real estate.  Get their opinions/advice and start formulating your position.  Are you going to be an energy-efficiency person or healthy home? or is water conservation going to be your thing?  What opportunities are available in your market?  What do your buyers/renters want?  Find this out and let your business start growing from there.

Again, now is the time.  Prices are at all time lows. Interest in green is at an all time high. Green is not YET an obligation that you have to follow, it’s still an opportunity. You have little to no competition. As Virgil said, “Fortune Favors the Bold.”

About Author

I help real estate investors increase profits and property values through a variety of green strategies. I help clients find hidden rebates, tax incentives and credits to maximize returns on any property. www.JimSimcoe.com


  1. Jim,
    This was a very good article. I was curios since you put two names in the title that attracted my attention and then the story only reinforced it. When I was in Texas a few years ago I wanted to add solar panels to my house since we had more days of sun than anything else. But there really wasn’t a market or the prices were still high for solar panels.

  2. It’s a wonderful thing that green investments are making more and more financial sense. The non-economic benefits are great too, like you said.

    “Question Two: Would you read 2hrs a week if it meant earning an additional $200k annually?”
    Could you please explain how green real estate investing achieves this? Thank you.

Leave A Reply

Pair a profile with your post!

Create a Free Account


Log In Here