The One Trait to Ensure Success in Real Estate Investing

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As we get closer and closer to our end goal of being 100% financially free, we are being asked more and more, “what is the key to your success?”

As you might expect over the course of 11-12 years of investing, there have been lots of great things. Such as:

  • Running it as a Business Not a Hobby
  • Being bought in together and as a team
  • Selling near the top and buying near the bottom
  • Getting great mentors like Tony Alvarez and Bruce Norris
  • Staying focused on repeating a successful model and not getting distracted by the latest or next great thing
  • Turning to Private Investors and paying double digit interest so they earned their fair share

While each item in the list above is important (and there are lots of other factors I could have listed but didn’t) I still haven’t highlighted our #1 key to success.

Simple put, our key to success as we march towards true financial independence is …


I say that word and people roll their eyes and say yeah – yeah I get it.

But truth be told, most people have no idea what we have sacrificed over the past 12 years now.  In order to appreciate and put some context around our sacrifices I will list just a few examples.

Thank’s Honey

The first one I call “Thanks Honey”.  Flashback to 2008 and 2009 with me for a second.  We were actively buying great REO properties for under 50K that consistently rented for $1,000 or more.  We were prepared for the market as we had capital, investors and a hard money lender to back us up as we kept buying.

But then something happened that could have delayed our date of financial independence by years if not a decade.  What was it?

As our investment market crashed in value, the area where we live also had a decent price drop.  We were seeing nice single family homes in great area’s available for sale at discounted prices.  Now keep in mind we live in the Silicon Valley where prices are never really down for long so we had a choice.

We could stop buying great REO’s that produce cash flow, sell a couple of cash flow assets and then step into nice single family home with a yard.  Would it surprise you to hear we live in the same condo we bought 15 years ago?  It should also be noted that we have long wished to have a single family home with a yard as we have two small dogs.

So after thinking long and hard and seeing some great single family homes we decided to double down and cash flow real estate and forgo the single family home with a yard that we have long dreamed about.

I call this “Thank you Honey” because it was really Olivia’s sacrifice more than mine.  She could have easily said we are buying “that” house and that would have been the end of it.  We would have signed up for a much bigger house payment, higher taxes and lost out on our chance to secure financial independence.  This one sacrifice alone is the single biggest reason we are so close to true financial independence. How many of you would have made the same choice?

I can write a lot more about financial or doodad sacrifices like not having a new car for 10+ years, or not buying this or that expensive item as we have had many an opportunity to derail or slow our march to financial independence.

Sacrificing Time

The last sacrifice I would like to highlight is the sacrifice of time or I should say down time.

The reality is we work crazy hours for our day job and we invest in a market that is 6+ hours round trip from home.  So while some folks chose to relax or enjoy hobbies on the weekends we have chosen to continually research and investigate the next deal which means lots of trips to Fresno.

Again, I have to thank Olivia because by now I am sure we have driven to Fresno north of 200 times and she is just as excited the next time as she was the first time.  The ability to work this hard for this long is great sacrifice because it would have been easy to say “enough is enough” long ago.

So I ask you this question:

Are you and your significant other willing to sacrifice for 10+ years for true financial independence?

If so, great! Get going.

If not, you might want to think of a Plan B, because working at this type of investments at anything less than fully committed together will lead to stress and lost money – not financial independence in most cases.

Good Investing

About Author

Michael Zuber is an active buy-and-hold real estate investor who still has a full-time job. Michael is not an agent or broker, and simply uses the internet and agent relationships to drive his business. He currently averages at least one deal a month and has developed laser focus on his 5 step process.


  1. Traits are part and parcel of your personality. Success in investing in Real Estate requires strong determination and thick skin.Why? because we are surrounded with nay Sayers and when you are wealthy,they think you cheated all those tenants who have paid all your debts and mortgages.
    Very interesting article, it seems it came from the bottom of heart with no sugar coated words.I enjoy reading it and I want to say on behalf of all of us Thank You!
    Keep writing more !

    Navtaj Chandhoke

  2. Terry Hershberger on

    Great article Michael. Nice to see that others are sacrificing as well to reach “financial freedom.” Do you mind me asking what your definition of 100% financial freedom is?

  3. 100% financial freedom means being able to pay all your living expenses without working a job.
    Examples are having enough cash flow from your rental properties or return on investments from stocks or Oil & Gas Mineral Royalties

  4. LOVE this post Michael. A lot of new investors today are looking for the next guru to follow or “get rich quick” in investing plan. No successful business gets there that way. It takes sweat, tears, SACRIFICE, and yes, sometimes blood!! LOL! Thanks for writing.

  5. Kerry Baird on

    Congratulations! We’re a few houses behind our “Out of Rat Race” date, but the end is in sight. You are spot-on about having a partner who is on board. We’re blessed that we, as you do, complement each other and remind one another not to sabotage The Plan with doodads.

    We started out with fix-and-flip houses and it took a few years to realize that we’d been tearing planks out of our Plan’s foundation by selling so many houses. Now a few years later we are back in the game, shoring up the foundations of our Plan with solid planks (long term buy and hold properties). I feel very encouraged by this article and your willingness to share the planks that make up your Plan. Well done!

  6. Michael, great post. And thanks for the link to your website, which has much more to absorb. I’m hoping you can answer one question: how did you settle on Fresno as your niche when you were living in Silicon Valley?

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