Real Estate Investing Basics

8 Crucial Points to Consider BEFORE Quitting Your Job to Invest Full Time

Expertise: Real Estate Investing Basics, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Landlording & Rental Properties, Business Management, Personal Development, Flipping Houses, Commercial Real Estate
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You want to leave your job and do what??!!”

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This was the initial comment family and friends said to us when we shared that we wanted to quit our jobs to become real estate investors full time.

Here is the next question we often got as a follow up to the first question:

What will you do about health insurance???”

Love that question. It is certainly a valid question, but not a question that should be the sole reason we should or should not quit our jobs!

Hi, Everyone! Liz back this week to share some key actions to consider before you and/or your spouse quits your jobs. My husband, Matt, and I have some experience with this topic since (between the two of us) we left our jobs three different times over the past 9 years.

Back in 2005, only after having one year under our belts of real estate investing (which included selling our first buy and hold deal and doing a 1031 exchange into a multi-unit) did my husband decide to quit his safe and secure sales job and become a full time real estate investor.

Related: 4 “Real Estate” Side Income Streams to Sustain You As You Pursue Investing Full Time

Then in 2008, I decided to leave my consulting job and join my husband full time in our real estate business we started together. We worked together full time for two years and it did NOT work. I ended up going back to my consulting job from 2010 until I left again in 2013 to give birth to our son and simultaneously got involved once again with growing our real estate business.

It is going much better the second time around. Thus, I wanted to share some suggestions and tips to consider before you and/or your spouse quits your jobs. Here they are in no particular order…

8 Considerations to Contemplate Before Leaving Your Job to Invest in Real Estate

1. Have a Well-Defined Personal Budget

Even though we all “know” to have a personal budget, many people still do not actually have one!

Before you quit your job or your spouse quits his or her job, having a very clear idea of what your income and expenses will be (and currently are) is crucial to your success. We had a general idea of our expenses back when my husband quit his job, but we could have done a better job with budgeting. One of the tools we now use that is incredibly helpful for managing expenses is a free app called Mint.

In addition to understanding where you are spending your money, it is very important to have a handle on your income. It might seem obvious, but when I decided to leave my job back in 2008 and join Matt full time, we did not do a great job at outlining all the places we would earn income. We had savings, and we always said if worse comes to worse, we will tap into the savings to live on.

Because we didn’t have clear income projections, we ended up tapping that savings very quickly. This was a mistake in hindsight. We should have been clearer and more focused on how we were going to earn income in the short term as we built wealth in the longterm.

2. Practice “Delayed Gratification”

It is imperative that you practice “delayed gratification” if you want to become a real estate entrepreneur.

Related: So You Want to be a Full Time Real Estate Investor? 

The terrific Brandon Turner here at BiggerPockets wrote a phenomenal blog recently about living below your means, and I can’t agree with this more. Delaying gratification goes hand in hand with living below your means.

When we bought our primary residence in 2005, Matt still had his day job. So we could have "afforded" more of a mortgage and home. However, we both wanted financial independence more than a bigger home at the time, so we bought a home that we could afford even if Matt decided to quit his job and we only had my income. This choice has made all the difference. Our longterm dreams of financial independence out weighted our short term interest of a larger home.

3. Gain a Support Network & Supportive Partner/Spouse

Acquiring a support network and supportive partner are necessary as you embark full time in real estate investing.

Before my husband and I began investing together, we shared the same interests and values. We both wanted financial independence and abundance in our lives, and we agreed to do whatever it took to get us there.

In addition to a supportive partner, it is very helpful to find a support network as well. This can be a local real estate investing club, the BiggerPockets community, an entrepreneurial MeetUp group, etc. As the old saying goes, you become who you surround with. Surround yourself with people who are going to support and encourage you vs. thinking you are crazy to leave your job.

4. Become Clear of Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Before embarking on your own, it will help to get very honest with yourself and assess your strengths and weaknesses. You want to do this for many aspects — your personality, your leadership ability, your skills, your experiences, your knowledge, etc.

You want to evaluate yourself in each and every area that will help or hinder your real estate investing venture. There are some insightful surveys and assessments out there in the market to help identify some of these areas. You can also ask those colleagues, friends and family who are close to you (and that you respect) to give you some of this feedback as well.

Once you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can identify the types of people who you will need as you begin to build a team and form partnerships.

5. Find a Mentor

I really wish we had done a better job with this one! I wish we found a mentor and learned as much as we could from them.

But we didn’t. When we began, we learned many lessons the hard way — by making the mistakes ourselves.

The key is to find a mentor who is running the kind of real estate investing business you want to run. Once you find these folks through networking, take them out to lunch to pick their brain and look for opportunities to help them right away. As the old saying goes, “Success leaves clues.”

Many of the folks here on BiggerPockets want to help and share their experiences to help new investors. However, if you are looking for an ongoing mentor, you might want to think about what you can do to help them — possibly give them some of your time to help them achieve their goals. Chances are that you have something to offer them, and in return you have the priceless opportunity to learn and soak up everything you can from them!

6. Complete a One-Page Business Plan

Before quitting your job, this is probably one of the most powerful actions you can take.

There is a great book out there by Jim Horan that is absolutely fantastic called the One Page Business Plan. It is simple and straight-forward, which is important when you are starting out.

When we both made real estate our full time focus, we sat down and developed this one-page business plan and in the process gained clarity of our vision, mission, strategy and goals. We developed a “focus” for our investing.

Regardless of which business plan template you use, the key is to have one. If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there? The power of focus is everything when you begin. If you are not focused on a well-defined real estate investing strategy, you can get easily lured into every new, shiny, “exciting” way to make money in real estate. Create the plan, stick to the plan, and be flexible with the plan.

7. Have Access to Enough Capital

Most folks who decide to move from part time to full time real estate investing often do not set themselves up with enough access to capital.

I can remember on first multi-family we purchased very clearly. We did not have enough capital to make the improvements that we wanted to make. We had enough to just get by. We had to make the necessary improvements “out of cash flow,” meaning that we did the work once we had enough rental income set aside to afford it.

This is ok for some longterm improvements, but we lost a few tenants while we were holding out to make more fundamental improvements like plumbing and roof repairs.

Now, we are much more careful in each budget and plan BEFORE acquiring a property to ensure we have plenty of capital for everything in the budget and even some contingencies. Many new full time real estate investors either get stuck or plateau, because they don’t have access to enough capital. This is where utilizing the financial analysis templates/tools out there to crunch numbers on deals helps tremendously.

Don’t let a lack of capital stop you in either making your investment better or getting into more investments. Find the money and get the capital, and all the deals you want will be at your fingertips.

8. Self Awareness, Faith and Gratitude

I left this one to the end because quite honestly this is probably the most important one listed in this blog. If you are going to become a real estate entrepreneur it helps tremendously to have self awareness, faith and gratitude. Let me explain…

  • Self Awareness: Both my husband and I have always been self-aware people; however, we became increasingly self-aware by taking a ton of personal development courses. Here are a few courses that helped us become better people and real estate investors: Landmark Education, Millionaire Mind Intensive, MDI's Legacy Discovery Weekend and Women's Discovery Weekend.

These transformational weekends allowed us to work on ourselves. We uncovered the good, bad and ugly.  We continue to grow and expand ourselves. However, to be a successful real estate entrepreneur, you must be able to look at yourself in the mirror and be humble and confident enough to make changes along the way.

  • Faith: I am not necessarily talking about faith in the religious sense. However, it is helpful to have faith, whether it is faith in yourself, your dreams, in some higher being, God, nature, the universe or whatever has meaning to you. When we stepped out on our own, we could have been stopped by FEAR (which is really just false evidence appearing real); however, our faith in something bigger allowed us to move past our fears and take actions that most people are too scared to take.
  • Gratitude: Since leaving our jobs, various tough situations have materialized along the way. Our real estate investing path has not been all sunshine and roses! We have had it all happen to us — deals falling through, getting sued, losing an investment we thought was a home run, making poor investment decisions, and having large amounts of money stolen from us.

For all those setbacks, we have had big wins, too. We have been grateful for it all, the ups and the downs. We have learned, grown, and became stronger and smarter real estate entrepreneurs along the way.

It is absolutely critical to learn and grow from every experience once you take the leap to make your dreams a reality. A great friend told me today, “For every loss, there is a gain — only if we have the eyes to see it and the ears to hear it.”

I hope these suggestions are helpful to those who have either recently quit their job to become a real estate investor or those who are considering it in the future.

What suggestions did I forget to add to the list? What crucial lessons have you learned on the path towards financial freedom through real estate investment?

Please comment below!

Matt Faircloth, co-founder and president of the DeRosa Group, is a seasoned real estate investor. The DeRosa Group, based in historic Trenton, New Jersey, i...
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    Geoff Van Dusen
    Replied about 6 years ago
    Since you mentioned it, what have you done for health insurance? That is something that I really haven’t seen covered in here for new entrepreneurs (or existing).
    Elizabeth Faircloth
    Replied about 6 years ago
    Geoff, Thanks for the question. For many years, we had purchased a high deductible plan through our own LLC. Then last year we elected to participate in the affordable care act to get our insurance. It was a bit of a process to get it set up, however, we have been pleased with our health insurance that covers me, my husband, and 10 month old son. Hope this helps!! Liz
    Dave Tanner
    Replied about 6 years ago
    I found out quickly after taking the plunge to FT investor that the banks look at you totally different, duh. I would’ve established more funds BEFORE quitting, based on my then current job/income. I had 15 yrs in the plastics industry, quit that to go into REI, with about 5 small rentals and a couple on the hook. When you apply for more money (HELOC, line of credit, etc) they will ask. 1. Is your job the same as it was last time? (smiling) I say, no now I’m FT in RE Investing!! 2. Is that a related field to what you were doing? Plastics vs RE…. No (smile dropping) 3. Do you have at least 2 yrs experience in the new field of work with solid documented income….Some I guess, still getting going. (smile all but gone) That’s when they practically ripped the application out of my hand.(all joy gone, new reality sinking in quickly, start panic attack). Ha, ha I’ve been FT REI for 6+ yrs now and things are great at this point, banks are my friend again. My advise would be get the HELOC, line of credit, etc. prior to leaving. Hate to advocate financing everything to the hilt in the beginning but funds just won’t be available for a couple years if your story is like mine. Hope this helps someone thinking of taking the plunge. Good luck!! Also as stated check into Health Insurance thoroughly.
    Liz Faircloth
    Replied about 6 years ago
    Hi Dave Thanks for your comments. You are so right about securing financing before quitting your job. It is easier to get money from a bank when you dont need it! We have some great relationships with banks now but it took time! Good luck to you. Please stay in touch! Liz
    Replied about 6 years ago
    I love your post and could not agree more. I quit my job as an accountant (controller actually) making over $100k per year to go into RE full time. That was 12 years ago. Looking back I could check off every single one of your 8 points. One of my favorite stories about going FT into RE goes like this, (probably falls into category 8). Short form – My Uncle who is a successful Salesman told me I was going to lose my shirt. That tenants would tear the places up, not pay, and leave in the middle of the night causing me to eventually go bankrupt. I smiled and said thank you for the advice. Fast forward 5 years and my brother wanted to flip a couple houses to pay off some student loans. That same Uncle told him he would not make that much after Commissions, Taxes, holding costs and so on. He also told him, in order to make money in RE you needed to buy and hold like your brother (ME). My brother paid off $70k in student loans in about 2 years. Fast forward to last year. That SAME Uncle told his son, my cousin, to buy RE because it was such a great investment and pointed to my 15 years as a landlord, 64 houses, paid off primary house, and more. That Uncle is still a Salesman, working for his 3rd company in those 15 yrs due to layoffs and such. As for insurance. I have purchased my own policies since quitting (my wife was a stay at home mother at the time so no insurance thru her J O B). She now is a pre-k teacher at our Catholic grade school because she likes working with kids- still without insurance via a job. Tim
    Liz Faircloth
    Replied about 6 years ago
    Tim, Thanks so much! So glad you enjoyed my blog post this week. Your story is also very inspiring! Love the “uncle” story! It is so interesting how people become supportive of these “non traditional” paths after they see it proven! Good for you for sticking to your goals. It is hard to walk away from that high paying job! Thanks again for sharing! I am sure I can learn a lot from you! Keep in touch! Liz
    Liz Faircloth
    Replied about 6 years ago
    Tim, Thanks so much! So glad you enjoyed my blog post this week. Your story is also very inspiring! Love the “uncle” story! It is so interesting how people become supportive of these “non traditional” paths after they see it proven! Good for you for sticking to your goals. It is hard to walk away from that high paying job! Thanks again for sharing! I am sure I can learn a lot from you! Keep in touch! Liz Reply Report comment
    Brandon Turner
    Replied about 6 years ago
    Thanks for the shout out! And excellent post 🙂
    Liz Faircloth
    Replied about 6 years ago
    Thanks so much Brandon! 🙂
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    Finding a mentor is difficult. Who can you trust? Who is willing to spend time to mentor another. I curious as to your (and others) experience in finding a trusted mentor.
    Elizabeth Faircloth Real Estate Investor from Trenton, NJ
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    Hi Tim, I hear what you are saying. However, I have to believe that there are people in your community that could be potential mentors. Begin to look in your real estate investing community (ie local networking groups). Look for folks who own a real estate portfolio that you admire. Create a short list of potential mentors. Mentors need to have time to offer and the experience & expertise you want to learn (as well as the portfolio you want to own). When chatting with potential mentors…. I think way too often people just ask this person straight out to become a mentor without offering something in return. In other words, what can you give to the mentor in return of them helping you? Every great mentor candidate has areas they need help with. I hope this helps. I would be happy to talk to you offline about this and offer some more suggestions. Please feel free to message me! Good luck! Liz
    Zach Mitchell Investor from Orlando, Florida
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    I love reading about the success other people have had from leaving the employee world behind to pursue real estate full time. I’m right on the brink of quitting my job and following this path. I’ve completed 2 very successful flips over the past year and a half and have another, which has been our most challenging one yet, that should be on the market in about a month or so. I have full support from all my close friends, family, and most importantly, girlfriend. Do you have any further suggestions on the business plan or a template you could share that you used back when you started out? Also, any advice on steps to take to turn a side job of a couple one-off flips into an actual business? Thank you in advance for any help!
    Elizabeth Faircloth Real Estate Investor from Trenton, NJ
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Hi Zach: So great to hear from you. The business plan I referred to in my blog post is called “The One Page Business Plan” by Jim Horan. It is a great book and simple system to use. We used this 10 years ago when we started the DeRosa Group. I think there are three keys in order to shift from a side job to an actual business, (1) money, (2) scale-ability and (3) team. The answer to “how can you turn your “side job” into something that could operate as a business” is scale-ability. Just to give you some perspective….our goal this year is to do 10 fix/flips. We did only 4 last year. So we want to double our efforts. There are three key things we are focusing on to get us there : better timeline management, better money management (budget vs actual), and most importantly in my opinion is better handle on staffing. We need to use our own team but hire really good GC’s and sub contractors. I hope this helps in some way. Please message me and I would be happy to talk off line with you and help you however I can!! All the best, Liz
    Rodney Robinson Contractor from Palmdale, California
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Very inspirational. Thanks for the story.
    Elizabeth Faircloth Real Estate Investor from Trenton, NJ
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Rodney, Thanks for your comment and feedback! Glad to hear it was inspirational to you. Take good care , and reach out if I can help! Thanks, Liz