Real Estate Investing is Just like Surfing
I feel obligated to write an article with reference to surfing since I have finally decided to take that leap and learn the sport. I mean, I do live in Venice Beach, so it would be a waste to not know how to, right? Check out my new board! In the picture.
Want more articles like this?
Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inboxSign up for free
It’s almost sad how often I relate random situations to real estate investing. I can tell you exactly how working out and getting fit is just like investing. I think about it every time I’m at the gym. So now with my new sport, I’ve already figured it out. Not sure how many of you out there surf, maybe a lot of you will have no idea what I’m referring to, but if you’ve at least seen surfing on television, you’ll get it.
Components of Being a Good Surfer Real Estate Investor
Learn to interpret and observe conditions. I can’t say that I’ve exactly figured this part out about surfing, but you have to be able to read the tides, the swells, and the winds. If you can’t understand and interpret those components, there is a good chance you’re going to have a horrible surfing day because you’re likely to get beat around and have a bad ride if the conditions aren’t right. Before you ever set foot in the water you have to know those variables and know how to put them together to understand the whole picture of the conditions. Then, once you are in the water and have paddled out, you have to be patient enough (if you want a good wave at least) to sit on your board and watch the waves so you can pick out the one worth riding. Good surfers don’t just run out to the beach with their boards and jump in. They study and observe.
On the flip side, if you sit on your board all day in the water and don’t go after any waves, you’re not going to get anywhere and you’re going to end up with a sunburnt nose for no good reason.
- You have to get through the break before you can catch a wave. Unless you have someone willing to pull you out through the water, you’re going to have to do a lot of work to get far enough out to catch a good wave. You’re going to get beat in the face by oncoming waves, you’re likely to snort and chug more salt water than you’d ever wish upon your worst enemy, and if you’re like me, for every 10 steps you take forward, you get knocked 5 steps back each time a wave hits you.. That’s a lot of work to get out there. But there’s really no other way. Even if you do have someone pulling you out, you are still going to get beat up and have to at least put out a little effort. Plus who do you know that will pull you out every time you want to surf for the rest of your life? No one. You eventually have to be willing to do it on your own.
- Don’t stop paddling. As the wave starts heading your way, you have to start paddling. If you don’t, you aren’t going to have the momentum to move forward once the wave does hit you. You also can’t stop paddling when the wave catches you because you will again not move forward enough with the wave and you’ll get left behind in the water. Then, if you’ve paddled properly leading up to the wave, it catches you and you keep paddling, there is a brief moment after you catch it where you are going to continue paddling in order to secure the catch and quickly gain your balance so you can stand up. That last one happens fast and you want to always be sure to stand up at the top of the wave, so your balance and timing is critical there.
Regardless, no matter what you do, don’t stop paddling from the time that wave is approaching until you are standing up!
- Keep your balance. You’re standing up, on a moving board, on a moving wave. The board has a mind of its own, the wave has a mind of its own, and your mind’s intuition is telling your body to be in a totally wrong position to handle all these moving parts. It’s no wonder everyone says surfing is hard. At least with snowboarding or skiing it’s only you and the board(s) moving. The ground stays still. But water? It’s moving and it is most definitely not slowing down for you. The only hope you have of staying balanced on that board is your core. If your core balance is off, you’re hosed and you’re in the water without hesitation. Without that fundamental core, you’ll never ride in on your feet, if at all.
- Even when you are braking, you are still moving. Your back foot on the surfboard acts as your brake. If you want to slow down, use that foot. The thing is though, and this is obvious for even the non-surfers, even if you want or need to brake, you can’t come to a complete stop or your ride is over. You can only slow down, you can’t stop, because you have to keep with the movement of the water or you’re done.
- No matter how good you are, you are still going to face plant. And by “face plant”, I mean “face plant, get hit in the head by your board, and be stuck under the water not being able to breath until the passing wave lets you back up.” It happens even to the best surfers. The key to becoming a good, functional surfer? You have to just cough up the salt water you swallowed (and wipe your nose) and head back out. In my first surfing lesson, my instructor told me that 90% of all surfing injuries are from your own board hitting you in the head. The other 10% of injuries are from other people’s boards hitting you in the head. I’m not real sure where drowning or sharks fall into that breakdown, but his version works perfect as a real estate investor analogy so I’m going to stick with it.
I actually don’t think I need to spell this one out. How does each step I wrote out above correlate to real estate investing? If you read through each one, I think you’ll see it. The principals are identical, and maybe ones you haven’t thought about in terms of the journey of becoming and functioning as a real estate investor. The keys things to know are:
- You have to understand the conditions around you. You can’t go in blind and count on luck to get you through.
- It takes a significant amount of work to even get in position to catch a wave an opportunity.
- Whatever you do, don’t stop paddling barreling through.
- Only core fundamentals will allow you to successfully stay on your feet.
- You have to be flexible enough to go with the flow, because there really is no stopping.
- You will still fail no matter how good you are. No way around it. But you can always get back up and go again.
Next feat for me? Understanding conditions. I know how to read all the numbers, but I don’t fully understand how to put them together to get a general idea of what kind of surf to expect. Oh wait, with real estate investing you mean? I’d say my biggest battle is fighting my way to the opportunities. I can always see them out there, but getting to them tends to be a lot harder than it looks!
Which part holds you up the most? Or have you figured out how to just keep riding along?