Expectations Can Lead To Suffering… Here’s How to Overcome

by | BiggerPockets.com

As real estate investors our businesses often times revolve around the decisions of other people. While purchasing property we often times can find ourselves mentally crossing-our-fingers or saying our prayers in hopes a seller or buyer will make a decision which favors our wallets. These unnecessary and ill placed expectations can often times lead to misunderstood suffering and anxiety in your real estate business.

For the health and well-being of your business and sanity keep in mind that there are some activities and decisions you can control, and others you cannot control. Keep focus on the items within your control and eliminate the expectations of the others from your mind.

A few tasks and decisions on which you may not want to place high expectation:

  • A seller’s decision to accept your purchase offer
  • A buyer’s decision to buy your property
  • Your buyer becoming approved by his/her lender for financing
  • Any underwriting decision
  • Your handyman’s productivity
  • The speed of your closing company, bank, lender
  • Setting an appointment with any specific fsbo before you first call them

A few tasks and decisions on which you may want to place high expectations:

  • How many offers you make per day/week
  • How many new fsbos you call per day/week
  • How much effort you exert on advertising and marketing your business
  • How much you network with other investors
  • How much effort you put forth in your business
  • Which escrow companies or attorneys you work with
  • Which sellers and buyers you work with

As touched on in the bullets above the only tasks and items you may wish to place high expectations upon are the tasks and items which depend on your direct and complete activity. If you succeed or fail in performing these tasks then the success or failure is solely on your shoulders. When you start including other people, either buyers, sellers, assistants, closing attorneys, outsourcers, contractors, handymen, title agents, etc you have less and less control. This is not a negative or a positive, it simply is something to understand and compensate for.

In short, items and tasks which only involve your physical and mental energy to perform are within your control. Any items or tasks you outsource are outside of your control. Place high expectations on items that you solely control – these expectations with time deadlines are often times called goals.

When real estate is involved tasks often times have the outcome of taking longer and costing more than expected to complete. For this reason it can be sage advice to expect things will take twice as long to complete and three times the amount of capital as expected. Whether you are accounting for holding costs, repair costs, marketing, selling time, or repair time always err on the side of caution and factor in extra time and costs in to your deals.

Be the happiest real estate investor you can be. The less stressed and less you suffer the happier and more likely you will be to consistently put forth effort in your investing business and take daily action.

Love what you do daily,

John Fedro
Photo Credit: Loca Luna / Anna Gay

About Author

John Fedro

Investing since 2002, John started in real estate accidentally with a 4-bedroom mobile home inside of a pre-existing mobile home park. Over the next 11 months, John added 10 more mobile homes to his cash-flowing portfolio. Since these early years, John has gone on to help 150+ sellers and buyers sell their unwanted mobile homes and obtain a safe and affordable manufactured home of their own. Years later, John keeps to what has been successful—buying, fixing, renting, and reselling affordable housing known as mobile homes. John shares his stories, experiences, lessons, and some of the stories of other successful mobile home investors he helps on his blog and YouTube channeland has written over 300 articles concerning mobile homes and mobile home investing for the BiggerPockets Blog. He has also been a featured podcast guest here and on other prominent real estate podcasts, authored a highly-rated book aimed at increasing the happiness/satisfaction of average real estate investors, and spoken to national and international audiences concerning the opportunities and practicality of successfully investing in mobile homes.


  1. John Fedro

    Hey Joe,

    After I read your comment I got to thinking and Googled the definition of fear. Fear is defined as an emotion induced by a perceived threat which causes entities to quickly pull far away from it and usually hide.

    So when you are fearful you (we) have “expectations” of failure or harm coming our way. These expectations can often lead to suffering. I know that they do in my life. Sometimes this suffering is to protect us such as flight or flight however often times they are the old saying of false evidence appearing real. Hope this makes sense.

    Thanks for commenting.

    John Fedro

  2. I think people who suffer the most from expectations are the people who talk with the fewest people.

    You are right on when you said to focus on making x number of calls per day/week instead of whether or not a potential buyer will get financing etc.

    As I’ve focused on things I can control, I’ve found that I can control a LOT more than I thought I could at first glance, especially with rentals. At first it seems like there could be a lot of things outside your control; tenants, handymen, property repairs, etc. But with the right management I’ve been able to control all this much better and reduce the “suffering”.

    Good article

  3. John,
    Very well put. Another item that should not be viewed with high expectations is hoping for that perfect inspection report after rehabbing a house.

    On my first couple of rehabs I was devastated when I received these reports and was actually quite offended. After a while, I got to the point where I did not even bother to look at the reports and simply contacted the Realtor for the buyer and asked them to fax in a “Must Have” list of repairs to be completed, along with an addendum to the contract stating the requested repairs.

    This kept my stress level to a minimum and my expectations on an even keel.

  4. This is some great advice John, thanks for sharing. I think this can apply to many other areas of life too. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past couple of years, it’s that expectations can screw a lot of things up, especially when they haven’t been clearly communicated by both sides, to each other. The points you outlined above are great examples. Nicely done!

Leave A Reply

Pair a profile with your post!

Create a Free Account


Log In Here