Real Estate Investing Basics

Investing with Your Partner: The Key to Your Long-Term Real Estate Success

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It was 8:00 on a Sunday night and our clothes were covered in paint, drywall dust and sweat!  We spent the better part of our weekend rehabbing our latest rental.  Typically, we try to outsource the “make-ready” work to our local handyman, but on this job we decided to do the work ourselves to save on labor costs.  I won’t say it was the most relaxing weekend we’ve spent together, but it wasn’t the first time we sacrificed our days off to work on our rental business – and it won’t be the last either.

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I mention the above story to illustrate an important point: in order to be successful in the long-haul, your significant other must be on the same page with your investment strategy.

When I first started buying rental property, one individual who was most influential to me was Mike Zuber.  In my first conversation with him, I asked him the same question every newbie investor asks a more experienced investor – what advice/suggestions do you have for me?

What was Mike’s response?

It wasn’t about how to increase cash flow or my ROI; but rather, it was to make sure my significant other was on the same page with my investment strategy.  It doesn’t sound like something you would read in a real estate investing book, but I can tell you that this piece of advice has gone a long way in helping to build a healthy rental portfolio.

Over the past three years, I can’t count how many weekends we’ve spent fixing up houses, going to real estate investing clubs, or making random trips to Home Depot.

I love houses and real estate. I'm not exactly sure why, maybe I was supposed to be a contractor in another life, but for whatever reason, I like taking an ugly house and making it look brand new. However, I can't say the same is true for my wife. I'm sure she'd rather spend her free time reading a book or finding a new recipe on Pinterest.

The point is that we differ when it comes to real estate.  For me it’s a passion, while for her, well it’s . . . security.

Let me explain.  When I first started going to real estate meetings and learning about buying rental property, she didn’t quite understand why I wanted to keep buying more houses.  It wasn’t until after I dragged her to a few real estate investment meetings that she understood that I wasn’t just trying to make a quick buck, but that I was trying to give our family financial security.  That is when the light clicked on for her.

It is extremely important that both parties understand the long-term benefits of investing, because real estate isn’t cheap.  Even if you’re buying a modestly-priced single family home, you’re going to be writing a substantial check, and if you plan to build a portfolio of rentals, you’ll likely be shifting most of your liquid assets into the business.

Here are a few tips that can help get your significant other on the same page:

1. Sit down and talk about your goals – I know this sounds obvious, but most people don’t take the time to write out their goals, let alone talk about them.  Set aside time to talk about what you would like to accomplish and what both parties are excited and nervous about.

2.  Be realistic – I’ve noticed that investors tend to only see opportunities with the eyes of an optimist.  The sad reality is that nothing ever goes exactly as planned.  This is especially true in real estate.  Tenants pay late or don’t pay at all.  Rehabs frequently go over budget and vacancies sometimes happen more often that you want them to.  It is good to understand all the aspects of the business before jumping in.  This way, when things don’t go as planned, you’ll already have managed expectations.

3.  Real estate is a business – Just like any other business, real estate requires your time.  If you intend on being successful, you’ll likely need to frequently use your evenings and weekends to visit your market, manage your properties, fulfill repair requests, etc.  The good news is that, over time, you’ll get better at managing your business, but you’ll always have to be involved to some degree.

4.  Ownership – It is also important that both parties feel a sense of ownership over the business.  If your partner looks at the rental portfolio as “your” business, then you’re destined for failure.  I’m not saying that both parties have to be investing equal amounts of time, but both of you should have a healthy input regarding the overall direction of the business.

5.  Make the most of it – Whenever possible, try to use the time spent in the business as time to develop a closer bond.  I know this might sound corny to some, but using the extra time in the car ride can be a great way to catch up on the week’s events.  One thing my wife and I do from time-to-time is stay in a hotel the night before we have to work on one of our properties.  Our market is about two hours away from our house, so we use the night before as a mini date night.

Maybe you won’t choose to spend your weekends fixing up junky houses with your significant other (like I do), but regardless, taking the time to make sure you and your partner are moving toward the same goals is essential for success in this business.

Readers, what are a few things you do to stay on the “same page” with your partner?


    Brandon Turner
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Great article Arthur – this really hits home for me. Without a supportive spouse investing in real estate can be a huge drain both physically and emotionally. I have no idea where I’d be without my wife; probably eating spaghetti out of a can in some crappy apartment alone. Thank God for supportive wives! Reply Report comment
    Brandon Turner
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Great article Arthur – this really hits home for me. Without a supportive spouse investing in real estate can be a huge drain both physically and emotionally. I have no idea where I’d be without my wife; probably eating spaghetti out of a can in some crappy apartment alone. Thank God for supportive wives!
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Great post, and spot on for any self employed business venture. When I was getting my bicycle business together I had a few different people I asked for advice, and most of them had the same thing to say. Make sure you are on the same page as your spouse with the What, Why , Where and When. With those bases covered you then have to agree that you are not completely out to lunch chasing your dream into oblivion and taking the family with you. Much like your seminar example, we just went to our first expo as exhibitors, and the public response was incredible. The turning point came prior to that though, with the realization of the fact that this really is hard work, and how much was done to get to this point. The four questions need to be spoken and understood, without that it will be a much longer and painful road for the entrepreneur.
    John Fedro
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Awesome post Arthur. Some of the best times I can remember where rehabbing with my significant other and really good friends. I really like your 1-5 list above and while they are all good I can really identify with #5, see the glass half full rather than half empty always. Best, John
    Nick DiNardo
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Well said, Arthur. Keep up the great work.
    Antoine Stanley
    Replied over 7 years ago
    This is so true when getting into real estate or any other business for that matter. If you have a significant other and your trying to operate a business, both of you should have some understanding about the business. Time can easily be used up doing your real estate business when looking at properties, putting in offers, and even doing some work so if your significant other is not on board this could cause problems within the relationship. Your tips about how to get your significant other on the same page is spot on, most people forget to include or even share their goals with each other when venturing into business.
    Jim Pratt
    Replied over 7 years ago
    You hit a home run on this one. When I had my own contruction company, my wife never argue about me buying property. After I retired a whole different story, no matter how good a property was or how great the deal was, she fought me tooth and nail. I’m not sure, but I think her brother set her down and explain how good (we) were doing. It took many years of proven success for her to realize the cash flow from these properties provided a great living and retirement. When one’s spouse is on the same boat, sailing is soo much easier.
    Al Williamson
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Whoa Arthur, You’re so correct, being on the same page makes life easier. Unfortunately, my wife has a background of being very loving but financially careless. There was no sense of having financial reserves or delayed gratification. I’ve had to work in cloak mode to build our real estate business to the point where my wife doesn’t work outside our home. I do not think we would be here if we held regular meetings of finances. That being said, if she didn’t allow me to take care of emergencies and run the business in peace, I would be another disgruntled landlord. Three cheers for my wife!
    Mike Z
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Arthur, Nice work. Glad someone listens. You would be so surprised how many times I have shared and they skip over the simple step. Good Investing
    Ryan Siwinski Specialist from Fort Washington, PA
    Replied 7 months ago
    Great article Arthur! I especially like the piece where you mention "if your partner refers to the real estate portfolio as "your business" that you are destined for failure". I could not agree more considering that you inherently share your time for one another, you also have to share interest and ownership to some degree in the business/real estate/etc. Thanks for a great post!