Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Want more articles like this? Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inbox Sign up for free The house was formerly a duplex and I decided it would make more sense to turn it into a big single family home and try to flip it. After all, the TV shows made it look so easy. I’m a frickin’ genius, right? I started work on it (yes, physically) and myself and a few friends spent the next nine months remodeling this monster of a home. Hardwood floors, granite counters, open concept, new windows, new drywall, new doors… pretty much everything was re-done. And it was beautiful. I put it on the market at $170,000 and waited for the offers to roll in. But they didn’t. Month after month I waited, dropping the price slowly until I was at my break-even point. It finally sold after almost 52 weeks on the market, and I ended up clearing nothing. After two whole years, I had nothing to show. My Hard Money Lender made a lot of money. My friends (who I paid as we worked on it) made a nice profit â but I made nothing. I’m thankful it wasn’t worse- I didn’t lose any money. However, I lost almost a year of my life physically working on this home. And you know what? All this could have been avoided had I simply been smart. This brings me to my #1 tip today for avoiding the mistakes I’ve made and find more success in 2014. Are you ready for it? Here it is: Sign up for a BiggerPockets Pro. “What?” A commercial? What is this… Little Orphan Annie and the Ovaltine Decoder Pen? Well, sorta. But hang on – I have a point here. Are you still with me? Good, cause this is important. There are a lot of reasons why you should upgrade to BiggerPockets Pro – but there is one reason above all else why I think that becoming a BiggerPockets Pro will help you take your real estate game up to a whole new level in 2013: it will help you do smarter math. Seriously. Bad Math = Bad Deals Smarter Math = Good Deals More Good Deals = More Success. See? Let me explain further, and show you a tool that you should be using every single day in your real estate endeavors. How to Avoid the Real Estate Mess I Made Let me go back to the story about the terrible investment I did. I DID the math before I started – but I didn’t do all of it. I used my spreadsheet and I looked at how much it would cost me to buy the property, how much I would put into it, and how much I could sell it for. I even remembered to account for the extra costs like Realtor fees and more. However, I forgot to include a lot of numbers. For example, had I used the BiggerPockets House Flipping Calculator, I would have realized that it was going to cost me almost $1200 per month just to hold onto the property. Had I entered in “24 months” into the House Flipping Calculator, I would have quickly realized that my numbers were WAY off and I was destined for failure. Had a accounted for going 20% over budget, like the calculator will demonstrate for you, I would have realized how thin the deal really was. Additionally, I screwed up in an even bigger way. Did you notice I said this property use to be a duplex? In fact, the property was almost completely RENT READY, just needing a little bit of paint and carpet to make it ready to rent, for a total of $1545 per month. I bought the home for $40,000 – and it was in a GREAT location with an amazing view of my entire town. However, for some reason I got the bright idea that flipping this home and turning it into a single family was the best solution. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Had I used the Rental Property Calculator from BiggerPockets- I would have been blown away with the cash flow potential. Just take a look at what the potential, as a rental, could have been: Not only would this have been a “3% rule” deal and produced a 71% cash on cash return on investment – I would have cleared almost $1,000 per month in cash flow after setting aside reserves! Ah! Do you see now why I feel so strongly that if only I had used the BiggerPockets Calculators, as well as asking for feedback in the BiggerPockets deal analysis forum, I would have been so much better off? Instead of making no money, I could have had a cash flow positive rental, in a great neighborhood, with maybe two weeks of work. It hurts just to think about it. However, after this deal, I began to look at ALL the numbers, and began to tweak my excel spreadsheet to incorporate all of this. Over the next few years, I tweaked and changed my spreadsheet until it was perfect… and then we turned that spreadsheet into the BiggerPockets Calculators. This is why I’m so passionate about this. This isn’t just a sales pitch – this is the difference between wasting unbelievable amounts of time and money and finding incredible success. Now – you may be asking “What does Math have to do with being a BiggerPockets Pro?” Here’s the low down: The calculators are exclusively for BiggerPockets Pro and Plus members (“Plus” is like a miniature version of “Pro”. Still cool – but not quite as fancy.) In other words, if you aren’t a BiggerPockets Pro or Plus member, you can’t use these calculators. (Well, you can use them once, to test drive them, but after that … nada.) (If you wanna see a video of the calculators in action check out this video to see how I used the Rental Property Calculator to buy an Ugly Purple Triplex and this video to see how I used the House Flipping Calculator to analyze a potential house flip.) What Will You Do? You don’t need to become a BiggerPockets Pro member to analyze deals. There are millions of people who have succeeded in life without out it. However, I CAN tell you that these calculators were designed by investors, for investors, with the purpose of saving you time, money, and risk on your next real estate deal. Whether you are a house flipper, buy and hold investor, wholesaler, or not quite sure yet – these calculators, and other tools for BiggerPockets Pro members, can help you avoid mistakes and find success in 2014. Even if you don’t care about the calculators, there are benefits to being a Pro member that you probably do care about, such as: Helping out BiggerPockets See who’s looking at your BiggerPockets Profile See who’s investing nearby you – and connecting with them To stand out in the Forums as an expert To download unlimited files from the BiggerPockets Fileplace To post ads in the BiggerPockets Marketplace And much, much more. To upgrade to BiggerPockets Pro or Plus memberships today, or simply to learn more about the many benefits to going Pro, click here. If you are not even a part of the BiggerPockets Social Network – I invite you to join! Basic memberships are totally free and get you access to a TON of great features on the site. If this is your first time here – be sure to check out the Start Here page! Okay – I’m off my soap box. Now go sign up and avoid the mistakes I’ve made.