The “Right Way” To Invest In Real Estate Is…

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Do you know the one “Right Way” to get started investing in real estate?

I gained interest in Real Estate in 2003 – I bought the Carleton Sheets and then after reviewing it I returned it in the 30 day requirement because I was broke and needed my $100 back. No – I didn’t get into Real Estate at that point but that is where it all started.

Fast forward to 2008/2009 and my first attempt which I failed miserably at Real Estate. In 2011 I dipped my toes in again with 1 rental property purchased – for cash this time. I even took it one step safer and rented to my mom and uncle for the first year.

Finally in 2012, 1 year after my “testing the water” phase, I jumped all-in and went from having only 1 property in June of 2012 to acquiring 4 more cash purchases by June of 2013. I dug in and got my hands dirty as needed. When I need to know something – I become obsessed with it and research until I got the answers. I lost sleep at night thinking about Real Estate, calculating numbers, learning how to find private lenders, how to resolve rehab issues, and so on. I only speak on what I personally have experienced or know is fact. If I get a ‘No’ I move on and figure out how to overcome my obstacle.

I’ve learned the hard way and only since July of this year have I been able to network and meet people smarter than me and doing this longer than me because I travel for work a lot. It’s been great and it’s been disappointing at the same time.

What is the “Best Way” To Get Started?

This leads me to my blog topic today. One thing about learning the hard way is you are forced to learn the ways, how to solve problems, and ultimately what works for you personally as an investor. We all have different life situations. We all have different financial backgrounds. Some of us have friends and family who can help financially and supportively.

Some of us do not.

Although my wife is very supportive, she was the only one in the beginning who supported me. Now a few family members are not so negative about it – but still have their personal reservations. I also do not and never have had friends or family with money.

Can you relate?

Since July I have been meeting new people online and offline that are either investing or want to invest. This, now going back to my previous statement, has been great and not so great. You see, with everyones different background also comes different mentalities, ways of thinking, opinions, and more.

This is a problem, in my eyes, and I can get offended by some people in certain situations. I just had another experience myself for the maybe 5th time or so in the past 3 months. I had a company come out to give me a quote on my personal residence for repairing my roof. Come to find out – he is an investor as well.

So this led to a lengthy conversation which was nice but ended with him offending me. Not only did he offend me by his remarks towards me, but he also insisted that the REIA I attend is not as good as the one he attends (there was more descriptive words that I’m choosing to keep out of this blog).

He told me I need to get out of rentals if I want to stay married. I need to network. I need to find lenders. I need to be focused. I don’t know how to research my market… and on and on and on!! So now my curiosity is arise and I will be attending his REIA. Not only because I want to know why he believes this but also because the guy who runs it. I met the investor who runs this group and even hit it off with him. We were working on a deal for him to help me learn to find private investors. We had a plan laid out, a time frame and everything- but then he stopped returning my emails and didn’t answer my calls. (That’s kind of off topic but I wanted to explain why I’m so curious about this REIA now.)

Now, if this investor I met last night knew me or what I have already accomplished, he may not have said these things, but solely by appearance and after telling him I have been investing for a couple years, it led into this rant that lasted 30 minutes and I could hardly get a word in edge wise.

(Oooh yeah… this guy last night also told me I need to be open minded… HA HA HA… but yet he was the one telling me that rentals are not the way to go!)

Truth be-said, at first I thought it was great. I was getting some insight from an experienced investor. But unfortunately that was not the complete case. Although he did give me some good information he also was pre-judging me.

Another Know-It-All

Let me give you another example (with a better ending.) At dinner the other night, after my REIA meeting, I met a couple people on a more personal level. I had an investor telling me I will never make it if I don’t quit my job and concentrate on real estate full time.

He had all the answers.

He told me how he was once broke and found his way. This actually hit close to home and it’s how we started talking- but it was the same thing. In the beginning he was telling me what I need to do and telling me I didn’t know anything. By the end of the dinner he had completely changed his mind after finally letting me talk and give him some insight on myself.

Here’s the Point

Here’s the thing: there are investors who think their way is the RIGHT and ONLY way to invest.  Now I’m all for people having their opinions and beliefs – but my point to this post and to a similar post I put on the BiggerPockets Member Blogs a while back is that there are many, many ways to invest in Real Estate.

There are always ways to improve a process or become more efficient. There is no one RIGHT way when we are talking about the different types such as rentals, flips, commercial, wholesaling or whatever your preference may be; however, this seems to keep appearing in front of me from long time investors who want to push THEIR opinion and beliefs onto others as the only way to invest.

This clouds peoples minds especially for the newbie investors.

I, myself, have even gotten off-track by those shiny ‘new’ techniques for investing; I started listening to these people because I thought I was still too new at investing and thought maybe I wasn’t doing something right. It has become overwhelming and stressful but the more I talk with these people the more I realize how much I have learned and that even I can be helpful to them with experience I have. I also learned that I was more productive with my process and investing before I tried taking on other investors ways.

As I mentioned on BP many times- if you are an experienced investor looking to help others, don’t push your ways on them. We all have certain things that work for each of us. I like being a landlord so don’t tell me I can’t make money at it. I want multi-families, apartments, and eventually commercial.

But I’m not going to tell someone that my plans and goals should also be their’s.

To make a community work and be flourishing, we have to work together, be open minded, listen, and only offer help where we can.

Don’t worry about what someone else thinks is the RIGHT way. Do what is right for YOU. Follow your dreams and goals. Take the advice you get and use it as fuel. Use it to help you determine what you really want to do. But don’t let it change your goals or dreams.

Lessons to be Learned Here?

There is NO RIGHT WAY to invest in regards to what type of investing you want to do.

Thank you for reading! Please leave a comment below – and I’m sure I’ll be giving my $.02 in the comments as well!
Photo Credit: Gary A K

About Author

Aaron Yates

I am strong willed and motivated. I have been building my personal Real Estate portfolio as well as always looking to learn more. More recently I have been trying to help others with the experiences I have acquired in my investing business. Currently building a local investors group to help people learn from each other and create deals. My experience is 2+ years buying, rehabbing and renting out properties. Extensive Property Researching abilities Project Evaluation Rehab cost estimations Project Planning and managing


  1. Great article Aaron. I’m a newbie myself and have been going through the same struggles myself of hearing ppl tell me I should start investing by doing x,y,z or else ill mess up. It gets intimidating but usually my rebuttal is that I’m only 23 so ill just pick a method and hey if I mess up it’s no problem. At my age I’m sure there will be a lot of life lessons to learn so why not one more.

    • Hey Chudi, I’m glad this article has touched you. So many of us on an individual level think we may be doing something wrong and wonder if we are the only ones experiencing the situation we are in.

      This is one thing I like about Bigger pockets is that it allows people to share and thus letting others no that they are not alone in their experiences and dreams.

  2. “Finally in 2012, 1 year after my “testing the water” phase, I jumped all-in and went from having only 1 property in June of 2012 to acquiring 4 more cash purchases by June of 2013″

    Just out of curiosity, how did you do 4 cash purchases in just one year, especially as first time investor?

    • Hi Jeff. I make a pretty good salary with my regular job. If I would have started buying for cash years ago instead of waiting til 2011 to start, I would have well over 20 properties by now. But I didn’t come to my senses until being laid off for all of 2009 and going through bankruptcy.

      This made me change my direction and priorities for what I use my money for. So last year I started a big project in Maryland in November and used all the over time pay to buy and rehab properties.

      I am actually writing an ebook right now that will go more into detail of how I am doing my investing. There are a handful of us doing it in my market. A few of them figured it out well before I ever did. Not I am meeting them and building relationships with them. It basically let me know that my thinking is NOT the wrong way to do things and thus led me to this topic and article.

      • Also, I am new at physically investing not with the knowledge and understanding of investing. I have had a hard failure early on as well back in 2009. I have spent years learning to research and evaluate properties. I started back in 2004 when I bought my first property.

        It just grew from there.

  3. Hi Mr. Yates, I really enjoyed your article today. It sounds a little like me yet I have yet to start investing. I also purchased the Carlton Sheets program except I kept it and tried putting it to good use. Unfortunately I was unable to find the cooperating individuals to venture with so I put it on the back burner and ended up sending it to my uncle one day. The same uncle that gave me the desire to want to be someone. I became interested in Real Estate and Business very early in life around 14. Boy did I hear a lot of negative remarks towards my choices in life. But I finally made the choice to change. In 2005 I chose to get separated, start a business and focus on my goals and future. I have since put up a website and I am working towards my WB which brings us to Real Estate Investing. At them moment I am working on putting a team together, finding a mentor, and funding for this project that I would like to purchase. And I really though you article was sincere because I also have run into snobs who know it all.

    I would really appreciate it if you would allow me the opportunity to pick your brain so they say and ask if you would consider being a virtual mentor? I too am interested in residential land lording and this would be my first deal in real estate.

    • Hi Diana, I’m glad you appreciated my post. I do like helping people but being a mentor so-to-speak at the stage I am isn’t really something I can take on right now. I don’t mind posting my experiences and asnwering questions but with everything I have going on and still building my portfolio, I just don’t have much time to devote as a mentor on an individual basis. Not to mention that there are many more people on BP that have loads more experience than I do.

      My best advice is find some local investors. Invite them to lunch. Build a relationship with them. It’s not always easy but that is what has worked for me. But don’t look at it or even ask them to be a mentor. Most likely you will always get no as an answer. And if someone says yes but for a fee.. then I suggest moving on and meeting more people.

  4. Hi Aaron – congratulations on your successes thus far! It sounds like you’re moving along at a good pace and that you have a solid understanding of your niche and your goals. I look forward to hearing more about your journey.

    I hope you don’t mind me asking, but I wonder why that doofus roof guy offended you? Sounds like he was a blowhard who wasn’t worth the time! I often hearken back to a quote that I believe is usually attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.” (Of course we’re talking about taking offense, but I think that and feeling inferior are pretty similar. Also, that we allow ourselves to be offended, or not.)

    I’m at a similar stage of investing as you are, so I understand completely about sometimes getting shaken a bit by people who start pontificating. But I’m sure you’ve also started figuring out pretty quickly when they’re full of it! At that point it’s just sort of humorous and annoying. And if they could read my mind, then THEY might be offended … 😉

    Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Karen, thank you for you comment.

      It wasn’t just the roof guy. He was basically the last straw and I just got tired of it. And you know, after all his praising about the REIA he attends.. he wasn’t even there and it was subpar to say the least. But I know where he gets his direction and opinions. The guy who runs it flat out told everyone in the room that rentals are bad and horrible and only flipping is the good way to make money in Real Estate.

      Yes, it is becoming easier and easier to see through the real and the talkers in regards to real estate.

      Thank you again for your comment.

  5. Hi Aaron,

    Your story sounded a note with me. I’ve always been the dreamer, the visionary, among most of the people I know. And it’s amazing how many people don’t want to see others succeed even when all the words coming out of their mouths say differently. I don’t buy and hold for the most part because its hard to where I’m located. The average home in my area runs about $200k. Duplexes to 4-plexes will push you into the $250k-$500k range. So I’ve had to find another way. But that’s just it. Local conditions are different. My personality is different. Everyone is different even when they are similar. Learning how other people handle or approach real estate gives you more tools in your toolbox to use. Probably one of the best concepts I ever got out of higher education (lol) was the concept of equafinality. Here’s the definition:

    Equifinality is the principle that in open systems a given end state can be reached by many potential means. In business, equifinality implies that firms may establish similar competitive advantages based on substantially different competencies.

    Thank you for taking the time to tell some of your story. A lot of people hesitate because they think people will think differently of them if they didn’t accomplish things in a certain way.

    • Hi Roy,

      I like that definition. I have never heard of the word ‘Equifinality’ before but then again I don’t have a higher education… ha ha ha.. I graduated with a 1.8 gpa from high school because I just wouldn’t do my work. I got good grades when I did it but basically if I couldn’t get it done in class then it just didn’t get done. I hated school.

      Now I wish I would have pursued college for business reasons but I am contemplating some type of schooling to help my business grow. It’s all a matter of managing my time though.

      Thanks for your comment. As I have mentioned to others, if I can help anyone else with what I have experienced, then that makes me happy. My life was a struggle for many years when I was younger and pushed to get where I am. Now it’s applying to Real Estate and want to help others so the struggle isn’t so bad for them.

  6. Hi there,

    Yes I did buy the materials From Carlton sheets And been reading for it for about Three years since I had to take my time because I just had a baby Around that time But regardless I was still determined to buy a properties for investments So we did happen in 2010.
    Did Buy one that’s in foreclosures And continue investing since then In fact I had a very good experience being a landlord Which motivates me more to buy more properties However I had to put my money down 20% conventional loan because I had nobody to To ask money from and it’s hard to find some other investors to partner with is just a lot of work and it’s so overwhelming and it’s a waste of time. Now I have another baby and it’s hard for me to manage properties with a brand-new baby again so I ended up calling and hiring a management company which I sometimes actually told him what to do my many years of experience being a landlord was such a wonderful Experience and even the management company couldn’t fool me around There just there listening to what I said Is most of the time agreed with me. So I really have to say thank you to Carlton sheets and a bigger pockets because you guys are helping me out especially with landlording I am very pleased And it’s a money well spent it pays out On the end. My best advice is stay away from those negative people and stay focused to your dreams and live with it and work with it and sure you will be there. Just trust yourself and think about these successful people(If they can do it then I can do it). Great article by the way.

    • Hi Elma, I’m glad to see you are following your dream and not listening to the nay-sayers. You are right about investing being a lot of work. Guru’s are so full of crap with their systems but the information can be helpful. I have went to two small seminars and that is how I learned about all the different ways of investing in Real Estate.

      I didn’t sign up for their big expensive training but the seminars did allow to do my own research on what I learned about and helped me move forward.

      As of now, all my properties are free-and-clear. I don’t have the credit to get the financing as you have. So I use my overtime cash to buy, fix, and rent properties.

      Congrats and thank you for your comment.

  7. Great article! I am trying to help as many people as I can, because we lean on our “experts” for advice, but when you get this dogheaded “this is the only way to do it mentality,” not only does it stifle the desire of new investors, its really painting you in a hole you really don’t need to be in. I think its time for us “experienced” investors to start self regulating, and understand that there is room for a lot of strategies. My properties are in working class neighborhoods with high cash flow. Im not wrong for going into these neighborhoods, and new investors should not be discouraged for it, its one more way of exploring “equafinality” —I like that term too!

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