6 Weekly Habits of Successful Real Estate Investors

by | BiggerPockets.com

I was asked this week by an investor what my week looks like.

He wanted to know what did I do each day as a way to maybe emulate and learn.  That was a pretty humbling question for me.

Truth is, much of my week is the same as most other real estate investors with the exception that I also help run a $50 million company whose stated mission is to help as many real estate investors as possible.  I figured an article on the habits that help make successful real estate investors would be a great way to answer that question.

These are things that I not only try to do each week (if not daily), they are also the same things that really good investors in other parts of the country and in other real estate disciplines do as well.  Believe me, it is not rocket science.  If you will build time into your week to do these six very basic habits, you will look up 52 weeks from now and find yourself in a very different place.


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1.  Education, Education, Education

I am a big fan of reading and educating myself.  If you have spent anytime reading my articles on BiggerPockets.com or blogs at my website, you know that sharing book lists and suggested reading could be considered a part-time hobby of mine.  I firmly believe that I need to be educating myself constantly.

The rules of the real estate game are changing constantly and there are people who share their information and data constantly.  Many of those people are smarter than me and I have no problem admitting that.  However, that does not mean that I cannot be a sponge and soak up as much of their knowledge as possible.  I think that reading, listening to webinars or presentations and attending presentations, seminars and meetings is an incredibly valuable tool to staying on top of both the good and bad that is in the real estate industry.

I try to spend an hour a day at a minimum reading real estate articles on-line or reading real estate and leadership books.  I also set time aside each week to listen to webinars that are being offered on all sorts of topics from 1031 exchanges, self-directed IRAs and even other vendors ideas on buy & hold real estate.  Lastly, I will spend from 2-4 hours each week reading periodicals on finance and economic issues and even business leadership topics.  I learned these habits from my dad and my older brother and while I may not be as disciplined as they are, the lesson itself of constantly educating myself has definitely taken hold.

I may not be the smartest guy in the room, but I can carry the conversation thanks to proactively staying in the know.


2.  Meeting With Other Real Estate Investors

I had a great lunch last week with an investor here in Memphis.  He had reached out to me and wanted to know if we could go to lunch.  Right off the bat I was impressed because he took a simple step that 99% of all real estate investors will be too self-conscious to take.  He reached out an asked to meet.

He really did not have to invite me to lunch to ask his questions, but I think he understood that there is something inherently valuable to sitting across the table from someone and just talking.  There is a great book that I think every real estate investor should read titled “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi.  Taken literally…it means you should be spending your time with someone who is going to help make you better!  Period.

I try to meet with other investors either in person or on a call – even a Skype call – as often as possible and usually for nothing more than gossip style conversation on what is working in your market.  I have learned so much from simply listening to other investors tell me the ins and outs of their businesses.  I have also learned that I really enjoy helping and sharing with other investors so the social aspect of hanging out and talking really appeals to me.  This is an invaluable habit that has really helped to propel me forward from my very first days as an investor when I invited my first mentor to have coffee.


3.  Talk To The Team

I recently wrote an article about the Myth of Passive Investing.  This habit fits right into my thinking.  If you have surrounded yourself with a high quality team, they still need to hear from you on a consistent basis and you need to hear from them.  It is called accountability and it works both ways.  Your team will hold you accountable to the goals and vision that you have given to them.  You should hold them accountable for their piece of that vision and make sure they are progressing you toward your goals.

The myth of passive investing is that belief that buying from a turnkey real estate company means that you sit back and the checks arrive and you don’t have to do a thing!  That could not be further from the truth and investors have to realize this.  If you hire a property manager or hire a renovation crew or have an inspector whose job is to inspect your portfolio twice a year or even if you hire a money manager who is supposed to keep your books straight and report to you monthly, you have to speak to your team constantly.

In the case of the turnkey company, you have to look at the monthly statements to review capital expenditures and occupancy issues.  You have to make sure that what you believe is happening, is actually happening.  Just because you invest in a passive real estate investment where the day-to-day management is handled for you that does not mean that you passively sit back and never talk to your team.  The best real estate investors are the ones who stay up to date and informed on a regular basis.  They know that their TEAM knows who is in charge and that the investor is always inspecting what they expect from their investments and their team.

Record Keeping

4.  Monitor Your Financials – Keep Good Records

This goes hand in hand with habit number three.  The best investors I know do not leave their finances up to someone else.  They update their rent rolls monthly and keep their financial records in order.  Even those that use accountants and CPA to do the heavy lifting each month are getting reports and updates on a regular basis.

A big part of my background has been learning from really good people AND learning from my own mistakes.  A common theme among all really good real estate investors is a need to know the financial situation of their investments.  They are aware of accelerated pay-offs, refinance opportunities, higher than normal CapEx charges and the effect those will have on their month, so on and so on.  They are in the middle of their financial situation.  Many of them have a folder on their computers or on a separate hard drive that has their last two years tax returns, personal financial statement, rent rolls and financial team with contact information.  The purpose of that folder is to be kept up to date every month so that when and if they need to share that with a possible lender, partner or other entity, they can have it sent in a matter of minutes.  I can promise you, nothing is more impressive to a potential lender than requesting financial data and having it delivered before you can get off the phone!


5.  Monitor Your Opportunities

This may sound silly – almost as if it doesn’t fit with the rest of the list.  However, If you follow the lead of other investors that you respect, you will hear a common theme among them.  Most investors that I know are never in the market for property and yet, they are always in the market for opportunities.  You hear stories of single–family investors who suddenly buy commercial property or a multi-family.  You hear stories of multi-family investors who suddenly 1031 exchange into a triple net lease property anchored by a chain store.

More common still is the story of the single-family investor who has a nice small portfolio that is performing nicely and hitting their long-term goals and suddenly they are under contract to double the size of their portfolio.  All of the scenarios occur because smart, savvy investors constantly keep their eyes and ears open to new opportunities.  I am approached on a regular basis from local banks with great opportunities even though I have never mentioned that I am in the market to buy more.  Sometimes I take action because the deal is a great opportunity either for me or for my company.

The point of this habit is that whether you are in the market to buy more properties or not, you have to be consistently listening to the wire and letting others know that you are a serious player when real opportunities come along.  When you take yourself out of the game completely, your days of scoring good deals are over.

MOnitor Deals

6.  Honest Evaluation

Honest evaluation may be the hardest habit of all.  If you have heard me speak over the last couple of years, chances are you’ve heard my brutal honesty when it comes to my own personal mistakes as a real estate investor.  It is not self-deprecation, but rather honest evaluation of my mistakes and the steps I have to take to avoid those same mistakes in the future.  I do the same thing when talking to other investors.  I do not hold back on honest opinion and advice and I do not hold back on sharing my own experiences.  Honest evaluation means you are able to look in the mirror and own your decisions.

I have a great deal of admiration for the way many investors are able to honestly evaluate their deals.  It is easy to spot a phony when they begin to tell you how great all of their investments are and they want to brag about their latest deal.  When an investor can tell me about the “usual” deal and then tell me that they somehow lucked into a really good opportunity, I know they are the real deal.  Humble, respectful, thankful for the opportunities they have.  These are the words that I use to describe the best real estate investors that I have met.  All of them are able to honestly go through their history and not only learn from their mistakes, but they also share those mistakes with others and acknowledge that a little luck in this business has never hurt any of us!

In no way have I mastered these six habits, but I work on them weekly.  I think there is always a fine line in how you conduct yourself and show appreciation for your own struggles while still acknowledging that you have a long way to go.  I think simply recognizing that as a real estate investor you can always learn and grow is the way we keep ourselves on the side of the line where positive, productive and successful investors reside.

What do you think about the 6 Weekly Habits? 

Photos: Giulio BernardiMike BairdDrew HerronPeterKOM Eventos, Tadas Kazakevicius

About Author

Chris Clothier

In 2005, Chris Clothier (G+) began working with passive real estate investors and has since helped more than 1,100 investors purchase over 3,400 investment properties in Memphis, Dallas and Houston through the Memphis Invest family of companies.


  1. What a great list Chris. I especially like #5.

    Being open to new opportunities might also be called “don’t be too set in your ways”.

    Opportunities are often disguised as problems, or they may come to you in some form you might not be used to (or necessarily expect). Being able to solve a problem outside of what is normally your comfort zone may bring you great rewards.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. Great article, but I really wanted to push Never Eat Alone. Keith Ferrazzi wrote one of the best books that more than every realtor/investor should read, but every business person or socialite. This book outlines how to market yourself effectively while still enjoying life. It also touches on things that many of us should subconsciously know, but usually don’t. Amazing read.

    • Chris Clothier

      Josh –

      I highlighted the book in an article in 2012 of my favorite real estate books. Many of the books on the list were not real estate topic books, but they are so important for investors to grow and learn. This is definitely one of my favorites.

      Thanks for your comments.


    • Chris Clothier

      Hey Stephanie –

      Thanks for reading and writing your comments. That is the reason that I write articles…to hear about investors getting a little assistance or a nudge toward something that is going to help them in their businesses.

      All the best to you –


    • Chris Clothier

      Hey Bennet –

      Thanks for the comments. I have not seen your name too many times. I am not sure if you are new to reading the articles or not, but I definitely hope to read more comments from you in the future.

      All the best to you –


  3. Fab article Chris. I thought it was going to be some oddball stuff but actually these are things that I do. I’m highly analytical when it comes to business which can be bad at times yet its been good more times than bad. Thanks a bunch for sharing!


    • Chris Clothier

      Hey Mary!

      Oddball things?! Your comment made me laugh because I knew exactly where you were coming from. I tried to make the list relevant to any investor regardless of how active they were or if they were new or experienced.

      Thanks for the comments and I look forward to reading more!


  4. Chris! You hit it every single time. I wondered what I could tell people to get to the next level and this is exactly it. I personally am doing all the above but wouldn’t have been able to hone in on these particular aspects with such precision so that I could effectively explain how to set yourself up for success. Bravo on the post!

    • Chris Clothier

      Christopher –

      I appreciate it! Like I said in the article, I have yet to perfect each of these habits. I think that is part of the point. I am not sure i ever will perfect them, which is why it is so important that they remain habits!

      Take call and all the best to you –


  5. RE: #5, it’s easy to get distracted by the shiny object but there is a balance between distraction and being open to wealth-building, relationship-building, education-building or cashflow opportunities which may be out of the norm. I’m finding myself in one right now!

    • Chris Clothier

      Hi Tiffany –

      Hopefully when you say that you are “in one right now” that means you have a good opporutnity that you need to explore. The shiny objective syndrome is something i have written about in the past. You are correct – there is a big difference between researching an opportunity and getting sucked in by a shiny object distraction! Thank you for reading the article and for leaving your comments. Hopefully your opportunity turns out great!


    • Chris Clothier

      Hey Greg – That is the reason I wrote the article. It is so easy to forget to do the basics when most of the tips revolve around very specific steps within making offers or direct mailings or driving neighborhoods. All of those things are important, but I thought these 6 habits more closely fit all investors in all niches.

      Thanks for the comments –


  6. Great article; Chris you hit the nail on the head an investor must be educated, resourceful, good communicator, relationship building, and analytical at times. Like Sharon said opportunities often present themselves as opposition.

  7. Lol I don’t know why I thought you were the older gentleman pictured at the top… Little did I know you were far from that when I finished reading and saw your profile picture! Lol.

    Anyway, incredible post! You are definitely right in what you post, your lifestyle must be meticulous but also adaptable. With these habits you just can’t fail as an investor. Thanks again Chris.

    • Chris Clothier

      Hi onan –

      That picture is definitely not me! You can thank Brandon at BP for the pictures though. He picks the pictures unless I send him a specific one to use. I think on this article, he hit it perfect by using a different picture for each point. I personally think he did a great job on the pics.

      I appreciate the kind comments on the article and appreciate you reading it. Keep reading and let me know what you think of the next one as well!


  8. Chris I always enjoy your articles here but I have to say you have been on fire recently with all of them being pure gold!
    This is another really great thought provoking piece.

    These are all great points and things that can really transform your business if you can be disciplined enough to do them habitually.
    They all make perfect sense and my first thought was “yeah I do all of that stuff” then I took a step back and thought if I REALLY do that stuff enough. In reality I do NOT do all that stuff on a weekly (or just on a habitual basis, some of them might not have to happen every week as long as you have a regular set interval to do it) basis.

    Good things to ponder and work into my 2014 goals.
    Revamping my “schedule” was already going to be a focal point but this makes me think I need a bigger overhaul then just tweaking things.

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